It doesn’t matter which sport you lay claim to, or which side of the bench you’re on – player or fan alike – both know that last bit of daylight left in the regular season, whether a week or a couple of matches strung together, can feel as dragged out as a Monday morning at your desk after a weekend bender.
The $64,000 question for the members of the Chaminade varsity hockey team is thus: as they play out their bender of games in a compounded schedule this week – five total in six days – and coming off a 3-1 loss to St. Anthony’s, how do you stay fresh?
“I don’t know if we are fresh,” head coach Frank Bendl said Friday night at Iceworks in Syosset after dropping St. Mary’s 4-2. “Young lags baby. Interjecting third and fourth lines once in a while, things like that.”
But while the sports world is talking about Alex Rodriguez and his injections, how long can the Flyers – and their bench – keep going before they need a few shots of cortisone themselves, figuratively speaking.
Chaminade had cut their lines to two on occasion, going to three both against the Friars and the Gaels Friday night. They also had backup goalies Ryan McLoughlin and Francesco Rojas filling time in net for Brandon DeStasio, who was out sick and will return Saturday night against Iona in Westchester.
The mental aspect of the grind will wear on you just as bad as the physical and despite St. Mary’s having fallen from hockey grace to the bottom of the league, it was either going to be a welcome blowout or an understandable loss for the Flyers taking just as big as a nosedive in ranked opponents.
“I don’t think we let down that bad,” Bendl said. “When it was 1-1 and 2-2, I knew we were in for a big, big game, a tough game and their goalie was playing exceptionally well and that was ok. If we tied this game, I wouldn’t have felt bad.”
A big game, maybe, a big team, yes – particularly if you look at some of the St. Mary’s captains.
“We got some speed,” Bendl said, “they’re a little bit slower thank goodness so it kinda worked out.”
It worked out to a spread-out offense with four goals from James Henry, Andrew Veglucci, Alex Balbo and Brian Lynch on 50-plus shots on goal while allowing less than 20.
“Even though we came from St. Anthony’s, this was a tough game tonight because of him,” Bendl said of Gael netkeeper Congeno, “it made all the difference in the world; a goalie can take you a long way.”
The heavy schedule has also taken its toll on the defenders, as the team has done without it’s No. 5 man Liam Fitzgerald who sustained a concussion has been out for the past three games.
“Not that many, that’s a lot,” Bendl said. “We’ve been going with four defensemen.”
But one position’s loss is another’s opportunity – just ask Wally Pip and Lou Gherig – as in response the Flyers have had to swing back John Stevenson and John Oddo to the second line.
“We’ve been taking our turns,” said Bendl, adding of Oddo that “we used him back on defense two games and he was dynamite. He’s got good wheels and he’s got great hands. He’s solid second line.”
Which is to many, a relief.1 2 3 F Chaminade 0 0 1 1 St. Anthony’s 1 1 1 3
Chaminade Scoring Statistics Player Goals Assts. James Henry 1 1 Andrew Veglucci 1 1 Alex Balbo
1 0 Brian Lynch
1 0 Brendan Ekstrom 0 1 Michael Minarczyk 0 1 Dillon Radin 0 1
St. Mary’s Scoring Statistics Player Goals Assts. DeAngelis 1 1 Salerno 1 0