RCDS hockey edges Iona Prep
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RYE, N.Y. — Members of the Rye Country Day School hockey team neatly filed away the pain of last year's heartbreaking loss to Iona Prep.
On Friday afternoon, the Wildcats used it as fuel to make sure history didn't repeat twice. RCDS was successful in its revenge quest, scoring a 7-5 victory over the Gaels in a back-and-forth affair.
“We had a tough game against Iona Prep last year,” RCDS senior captain Henry Beshar said. “That was in the back of our minds, losing in the last couple of seconds to them in front of MSG Varsity. It was a big deal for us. We knew we wanted to turn it around for this game.”
The Wildcats have also managed to turn their season around, overcoming a 3-4 start to improve to 7-5 on the year. Friday's victory was RCDS' third straight. Iona Prep (10-7-1), meanwhile, saw its three-game winning streak come to an end.
“We are definitely playing much better and playing with a lot more confidence,” said Wildcats forward Zach Coppola, who led the way with two goals and an assist. “It was huge to get goalie Jack Carroll back — he's awesome. I think we can put it together and win out for the rest for the season if we keep playing like this.”
Against Iona Prep, RCDS showcased its depth and well-conditioned lungs. The Wildcats outscored the Gaels 3-1 in the third period, getting a goal apiece from Coppola, Tommy Garry and Michael Rocco. Garry broke a 4-4 tie at the 15:40 mark and Coppola made it 6-4 at 8:32. Iona Prep's Kieran O'Meara buried a shorthanded breakaway with 3:55 left, however, the Wildcats sealed it behind an empty-netter from Rocco as time dwindled down.
It's worth noting, of course, that RCDS had a few things working in its favor. The game featured 18-minute periods with ice cuts between the first and second, which is standard for all teams in the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council. Iona Prep — which competes in the CHSHL — plays 15-minute periods with no ice cuts between periods.
Coppola pointed toward the obvious advantage.
“We play 18 minute periods in all of our games, so I think we have a little bit more stamina and we are a little more prepared to play these games,” he said.
Iona Prep coach Mike Boneilli said it was a factor, however, he added that it was no excuse.
“I think RCDS has done a really good job,” Bonelli said. “They have a lot of depth and kids who play hard.”
RCDS really made its mark digging out pucks in the corners. The physically imposing Wildcats continually won the loose pucks and sent 40 shots whizzing at Iona Prep goalie Matt Lipsky (33 saves).
“Our coaches preach to us to make (the opposition) work down low and that's how we are going to score our goals,” Beshar said. “I think that's where we excel. We just dump the puck in and then one man is hard on it. If that man can get a puck loose and a puck on net, we are probably going to score.”
The Wildcats wasted little time finding the back of the net, grabbing a 1-0 lead just 57 seconds into the opening period on a Kyle Halloran goal.
Iona Prep proved it was up to the challenge early, getting back-to-back goals from Jack McDermott to take a 2-1 lead at the 14:26 mark of the first. RCDS' James Kissell scored the equalizer at 11:05, but Gaels star forward Phil Logerfo zoomed in and converted a breakaway at 8:16 to make it 3-2 heading into the second.
At that point, the Wildcats wrested away control of the game. RCDS outscored Iona 5-2 over the final two periods of play. Serafim Rocco and Coppola both notched second-period goals, helping the Wildcats grab a 4-3 advantage at the 12:24 mark. Coppola's tally was particularly impressive. He weaved through Iona Prep's entire defense before whipping a top-shelf wrister.
“I had been shooting low all game and it hadn't worked,” said Coppola, who was surprised he didn't get checked earlier in the play. “(Lipsky) is awesome and I just knew I had to get it high if I wanted to score.”
Iona Prep managed to tie it at 4-4 with 10:55 left in the second on a Gino Chiariello power-play goal, which created some suspense heading into the final period. But RCDS wasn't about to let the Gaels write a sequel.
“We knew we weren't going to let that happen again,” Coppola said.
GAME NOTES: RCDS will look to stretch its winning streak to four games on Monday against Princeton Day School … The Wildcats are 3-0 since starting goalie Jack Carroll returned from a concussion.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Wildcats win the battle in the corners: With a pair of 6-2 talents in Henry Beshar and Michael Rocco, not many teams will beat RCDS in the corners. Iona Prep coach Mike Bonelli scouted the Wildcats' previous two games and had this to say: “We saw them against Clarkstown and Harvey, but we didn't react well to their strength of coming out of the corners, which we knew about. We are out there with five defensemen — senior starter Peter Lipsky is out injured — and that doesn't give us a lot of depth on defense. We were trying to play a bit more of a passive game and we didn't react well to it.”
2. Coppola the creator: RCDS forward Zach Coppola was arguably the best stickhandler on the ice, making a handful of impressive rushes into Iona Prep's zone to record two goals and an assist. He created a ton of additional chances and was the Wildcats' top playmaker.
3. RCDS' depth, stamina shines in third period: While the Wildcats had an advantage in terms of the 18-minute periods, there was no denying their overall depth and conditioning. In a game of back-and-forth momentum swings, RCDS just never stopped pushing. Despite falling behind 3-2 in the first period, the Wildcats were never on the ropes and a victory seemed inevitable. Basically, RCDS' depth and talent was eventually going to win out. In the third period, that's exactly what happened.
Iona Prep: 3 1 1 5
RCDS: 2 2 3 7
RCDS (17:03) Kyle Halloran from Zach Coppola and Serafim Rocco | 1-0 RCDS
IONA (16:18) Jack McDermott from Shawn Benesh | 1-1
IONA (14:26) McDermott from Matt Donaghy | 2-1 IONA *
RCDS (11:05) James Kissell from S. Rocco and Michael Rocco | 2-2 *
IONA (8:18) Phil Logerfo unassisted | 3-2 IONA
RCDS (15:42) S. Rocco from Halloran | 3-3
RCDS (12:24) Coppola unassisted | 4-3 RCDS
IONA (10:55) Gino Chiariello from Erik Oddoux and Logerfo | 4-4 *
RCDS (15:40) Tommy Garry unassisted | 5-4 RCDS
RCDS (8:32) Coppola from Kissell and Michael Ince | 6-4 RCDS *
IONA (3:55) Kieran O'Meara unassisted | 6-5 RCDS **
RCDS (0:04) M. Rocco unassisted | 7-5 RCDS
* Indicates power play goal
** Indicates shorthanded goal
Iona Prep: Jack McDermott (2G); Phil Logerfo (1G, 1A); Gino Chiariello (1G); Kieran O'Meara (1G); Matt Donaghy (1A); Shawn Benesh (1A); Erik Oddoux (1A);
RCDS: Zach Coppola (2G, 1A); Serafim Rocco (1G, 2A); James Kissell (1G, 1A); Kyle Halloran (1G, 1A); Michael Rocco (1G, 1A); Tommy Garry (1G); Michael Ince (1A)
Iona Prep: Matt Lipsky (33 saves)
RCDS: Jack Carroll (24 saves)
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass