Holy Cross hockey comes up short in loss to Iona

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While Rye Playland in Westchester County may be the practice site of the New York Rangers, it was the Iona Prep Gaels who put on a clinic on its ice Friday afternoon in a 9-2 romp over Holy Cross.

The red-hot Gaels, winners of 12 of their last 13 games, put forth a performance that would make even Rangers' coach John Muckler proud. Iona Prep worked the break-out like a professional team, with pinpoint accurate passes.

"We practice this every single practice, to the point that they get sick of practicing it," said Iona Prep head coach Darryl Kowal. "There's no substitute for breaking the puck out. If you can't break the puck out of your zone, you can't score."

The Gaels also made sure to put a man in front of the net, which led to several goals from just outside the crease. Defensively, the Knights had very few good opportunities thanks mostly to the poke-checking work of the Iona defense.

"After the Xaverian game [a 3-1 win last Thursday], I told the team that the final piece of the puzzle finally came and that's our defense," Kowal said. "Our defense was our Achilles' heel. Tonight they played with a lot of confidence. I think our defense has come of age and it's not a weak link anymore."

Iona Prep (8-3-0 CHSHL AA) went ahead 1-0, 1:06 into the first period when Anthony Williams, who was wide open in front of the net, beat Holy Cross goalie Adam Stuckey with a wrist shot glove side. Line mates Peter Ferraro and Joseph Dewaters assisted on the goal.

Ferraro put the Gaels up 2-0 when Williams set him up on a breakaway from the blue line and the sophomore forward beat Stuckey through the five hole on a backhand.

Just three seconds after Stuckey was called for interference, Iona Prep capitalized on the power play. On assists from Anthony Longhitano and Dewaters, Williams stuffed the puck into the net on a one-timer.

Williams completed the hat trick with 4:30 left in the first when he deked Stuckey and slid a backhand into the open net to put the Gaels ahead 4-0. Ed Andrade assisted on the goal.

"We clicked through practice," Williams said of his line, which accounted for six of Iona Prep's nine goals. "As far as coming out tonight with the goals and assists, it comes and goes. But it takes the whole team, from goaltenders to defense to the forwards. Any team that is a one-man show is not going to go anywhere."

Longhitano put Iona Prep ahead, 5-0, on the power play when he followed his own shot from the slot, which hit off Stuckey's face mask, and scored on the rebound from in front of the net 1:54 into the second period. Dewaters followed with 7:46 left in the second, with a one-timer from the near post assisted by Ferraro and Williams.

"I said to them in the locker room, out of the nine goals they had, I'll give them two, maybe three, but other than that their guys camped out in front of the net," said Holy Cross head coach Mike Mitchell. "It's been like that for three games now, it's the same mistakes. We worked on it in practice Wednesday. We told them before the game and then they go out and make the same mistakes."

Holy Cross (2-9-1) finally found the back of the net with 6:23 remaining in the second period. On a delayed Iona Prep penalty, Sean O'Neill poked home the rebound of a shot off the crossbar by Tim Fung. Mike DiNublia also assisted on the goal.

The Knights were burned again from in front of the net when Longhitano scored his second of the game from Ferraro and Williams with 2:15 left in the second period to put the Gaels ahead, 7-1.

Junior forward Peter Genesi scored on a backhand from Longhitano while the teams skated four aside to put Iona up 8-1 with 10:45 remaining. Mike Massa scored the Knights' second goal on a blistering slap shot from the left circle with 5:41 left in the game. DiNublia and Ed Bergin assisted on the goal.

Junior Chris Donovan capped the scoring for Iona Prep, which outshot Holy Cross 26-10, including 14-2 in the first period, by walking in front of the net from the side board and beating Stuckey on a backhand. Anthony Guarino assisted on the goal.

"Once we get the puck, five guys have to think offense, when the other team gets it, five guys have to think defense," Mitchell said. "What they've been doing when the opponents get the puck, two or three guys get back and the other two are like they're on the Sunday pond skating."

While the win catapulted Iona Prep to the top of the league standings, Holy Cross continues to be mired in last place in what Mitchell calls, "the toughest year" of the program's four years.

"It's like they're just going through the motions now," he said. "They just want to get the game over with, they don't care how they do it, get out of here and go home. I think they can't wait for the season to be over."

CHSHL All-Stars selected: The league announced its picks Monday for the 15th annual Senior Classic Game, which will be held at Madison Square Garden on Feb. 13 at 4 p.m.. This year the Archdiocese of New York face off against

The Diocese of Brooklyn and the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Representing Queens in the tilt will be goaltender Vic DiRico and forwards Ed Bergin and Sean O'Neill from Holy Cross. Christ the King sends defenseman James Holford, forward Mike Olech and goalie Chris Kolyviotis. Defensemen Mike Begy and Pete Lilkerdey from St. Francis Prep will play on the Garden ice. Monsignor McClancy's forwards Matt Brand and Sandro Pardo and defenseman Tom Irwin and forward Anthony Famiglietti from Molloy round out the Queens players.

Richie Rodgers, head coach of Molloy, will join Keith Doran from Kellenberg and Rich Meyer from Bishop Ford on the bench for the Diocese of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre team.

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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