James Henry was itching at the door of the Dix Hills Rink penalty box Tuesday night.
Slowly, agonizingly, he watched the seconds tick off the clock, saw double digits dwindle to single before expiration, finally opening the door, his skates hitting the ice pushing him toward the Chaminade zone where five St. Anthony’s linemen had ganged up on John Oddo, Brendan Ekstrom and goalie Brandan DeStasio after Alex Balbo had gotten called for hooking in the second period.
For two whole minutes the defense held from the five-on-three onslaught.
Not at least it would be a bit more even now that No. 25 was on defense as well, providing a bit of relief off the line.
He was two seconds too late, crossing the blue line just as Brent D’Iorio banked a shot to DeStasio’s right and finding daylight to put the Friars up 2-0.
“We were able to mix in a change and we sent a direction to get more traffic in front of the net and the puck squirted out to a man on the side,” said St. Anthony’s head coach Jeff Stelmok, who desperately wanted to play the archrivals’ third game immediately following the 2-2 final in the second match. “We also made sure that we played more physical tonight; every single time a red shirt touched the puck we wanted contact and we got that.”
“I kinda moved over to the slot, Joe Slevin just held onto the puck an extra second, found me open and I just put it home,” D’Iorio said.
“It’s a tough call, it’s part of the game, the penalties are part of the game but being down two men against them is no easy thing,” Chaminade head coach Frank Bendl said, disagreeing with the roughing call. “Two men against St. Anthony’s is tough.”
Henry would find a bit of redemption in the third, bringing the Flyers to a 2-1 hole off an assist from Andrew Veglucci, but in an attempt to overwhelm the St. Anthony’s lines and goalie Dan Peterson backfired when DeStasio was pulled and Mike Martino scored on the open net.
“The game was not that critical at this point in the season,” Bendl said of the 3-1 final, fully expecting to face St. Anthony’s in the finals. “We had the opportunity down on this end, with six men on the ice, that’s what you have to do… everybody’s supposed to stay on a man so you don’t give them the opportunity to shoot and it didn’t happen.”
The Flyers have only had two defeats this entire season – both against St. Anthony’s – and their only tie comes against the Friars as well.
“I’m satisfied with it,” Stelmok said. “I thought that we should have won the last game but they played very well; they’re a challenge for us.”
As typical in the Friars offense, most of the action took place in the opponent’s zone with heavy pressure put on their goalie, keeping a high-pressure four-check the entire three periods.
“Their game that they played in Syosset, they swarmed a little bit, today they didn’t,” Bendl said. “I think we broke up their momentum pretty good.”
The Friars opened the scoring 7:14 seconds into the game when Baylee Modungo got an even-manned goal off an assist from Matt Martino.
“I just saw a lot of traffic in front (of the net),” Modungo said. “The goalie didn’t really see it. I thought I’d take a quick, low shot and I didn’t think it was a goal, I thought it was maybe a juicy rebound but it just went in.”
“We didn’t convert,” Bendl said. “They made some mistakes and they didn’t convert. I think we had some opportunities early.”
Chaminade has been in the midst of a gauntlet of games, playing three in the last four days, including back-to-back meetings against St. Joseph by the Sea, and five games in a six-day span, their only off day being Wednesday and a half-day for practice on Thursday.
“I think we definitely showed signs of being tired,” Bendl said, noting the decision to go with two lines instead of three. “You’ve got to be careful with them and I think we definitely showed at the end of the game we were tired; we didn’t have our legs.”
Barring any losses, the victory lets St. Anthony’s all but wrap up the regular season championship and the No. 1 seed going to the playoffs since the Friars own the tiebreaker on both Iona and Chaminade, if both teams were able to win out on the season.
Even more, with both going in as the top two seeds, it sets up a yet another meeting between the two, should they advance that far.
“If it’s Chaminade, it’ll probably be a little bit sweeter,” Stelmok said. “I don’t want to presume too soon but, I tell you what, right now, I think that they are probably our most difficult opponent that we’ve seen all year.”
A matchup that will have everyone itching at the door, desperately wanting to play as they watch the seconds tick off.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 0 1
Chaminade Goalkeeping Goalie Shots Brandon DeStasio 20
St. Anthony’s Scoring Statistics Player Goals Assts. Baylee Modungo 1 0 Brent D’Iorio
1 0 Mike Martino 1 0 Matt Martino 0 2 Chris Calandra 0 1 Joseph Slevin 0 1
St. Anthony’s Goalkeeping Goalie Shots Daniel Peterson 38