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Christ the King hockey ends season with 8-2 loss to Kellenberg

That’s because the Royals, a team full of roller...

By Dylan Butler

The ice at Rye Playland is level, but for the Christ the King hockey team it felt like it was tilted steeply upward in the Royals’ season-ending 8-2 loss to Kellenberg in the CHSHL ‘A’ semifinals Friday.

That’s because the Royals, a team full of roller hockey players who are getting acclimated to ice, had to work so hard for the smallest things against a Firebirds squad chock full of players who have been playing travel ice hockey for years.

“It comes down to experience,” said Christ the King coach Pat Boller, whose team was swept in the best-of-three series, 2 games to 0. “They have kids who have been playing [ice] hockey all their life. The only ice experience our kids get is from this team. Not one of our guys play travel hockey.”

To make up for the difference in talent, the Royals had to double Kellenberg’s effort on the ice just to get a loose puck in the corner, or find a teammate for a cross-ice pass, or get a shot on net.

“We had to work so hard just to dig in the corner, just to get the bounce of the puck,” said Royals senior captain Mike Brugess. “It seems like all our hard work was for nothing.”

Their hard work did pay off early as Christ the King (5-11-3) outplayed the Firebirds in the first period. After falling behind two minutes into the game, the Royals tied the game at 1 when Greg Cutrone scored from just left of the net.

Kellenberg (15-2-1) regained the lead 3:22 into the second when Michael Keane scored his first of three goals, shielding a Royals defenseman and beating CTK freshman goaltender Jeremy Siracusa on a wrist shot from the left circle.

Less than a minute later the Firebirds struck again as Craig Minio poked in a rebound to put Kellenberg ahead, 3-1.

But Kellenberg’s lack of discipline offered Christ the King a golden opportunity to cut its deficit as the Firebirds took three straight penalties, allowing the Royals to work on their power play which is considered by Boller to be one of the team’s strong points.

But instead it was the Firebirds delivering the backbreaking goal as James Purpura’s wrist shot beat Siracusa high glove side to put Kellenberg ahead, 4-1.

“I tried to stress to them to stay out of the penalty box. Sooner or later it’s going to hurt you,” said Kellenberg coach Kevin Doran. “That short-handed goal really helped us.”

Christ the King had six second-period power plays, but could not score once.

“The last game [a 6-3 loss to Kellenberg] we scored two power play goals,” Boller said. “When we didn’t have success on the power play, it threw us off.”

Christ the King cut it to 4-2 on a goal by Bobby Glade, but the Firebirds scored four unanswered goals in the third period to clinch the win as Kellenberg advances to its first CHSHL championship series in eight years. It plays the winner of Molloy/St. Edmund’s.

Molloy 3, St. Edmund’s 0. The Stanners forced a third and deciding game in the CHSHL ‘A’ division semifinal series with a 3-0 victory at Abe Stark Arena on Coney Island Sunday. Alex Kalaf, Chris Edele and Joey Evengelista scored first-period goals for Molloy (8-10-1) and goaltender Adrian Podpirka made 33 saves to earn the shutout.

The two teams will play a deciding playoff game for the second year in a row. Last year the Eagles defeated Molloy 2 games to 1 to win the CHSHL ‘B’ division title.

St. Edmund’s 4, Molloy 2. John DiGregorio and Edele scored for the Stanners in the opening game of the best-of-three ‘A’ semifinal series Friday at Abe Stark Arena.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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