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McClancy hockey drops ‘C’ championship series, 2-1

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Kevin Moran’s eyes widened and he felt like he was about to drool.

With his team trailing 2-1 in the decisive third game of the best-of-three CHSHL ‘C’ championship series, the senior defenseman on the Monsignor McClancy hockey team pounced on his own point-blank rebound and let loose his second wrist shot.

But Xavier goaltender Angelo Samataniello, already on his knees from the first save, robbed Moran for a second time as Xavier defeated the Crusaders 2-1 at Abe Stark Rink on Coney Island in the finale Friday night.

“My heart just stopped,” said Moran, who played despite suffering from bronchitis and a walking pneumonia. “I couldn’t believe it. I should have had it, but he made a great save.”

George Stephan, a junior forward who is one of the top scorers in the ‘C’ division, scored both Xavier goals, including the game-winner with 3:30 left in the third period, to earn playoff MVP honors as Xavier (19-2) wins its first hockey title.

“He’s a junior but he didn’t play [in this league] his first two years,” said Xavier coach Brian Geissler of Stephan, who scored four goals in the series. “He’s a huge addition. He does everything on the ice.”

Stephan sent the raucous Xavier-heavy crowd of approximately 400 to its feet 11 seconds into the second period when he scored his second shorthanded breakaway goal of the series.

Fresh out of the penalty box from an unsportsmanlike conduct minor, Tim Spillans leveled Moran near center ice and Stephan picked up the loose puck. He split a pair of defensemen at the blue line and then deked McClancy freshman goaltender Sean Rock, just as he had in Xavier’s 4-2 win in Game 1 on March 11.

“We just didn’t work the puck well; we didn’t take advantage of [the power play],” McClancy coach Mike Brenneis said of his team’s 1:14 two-man advantage. “Unfortunately we just couldn’t get the puck deep enough and work it down low.”

Jason Andjelovic answered back for McClancy (12-8), which played all season with just 10 skaters, when he stuffed the puck in from the right of the net with 9:27 left in the second period.

The Crusaders had a golden chance to take a 2-1 lead midway through the third period, but Keith Morrice’s shot from just inside the left face-off circle that had Samataniello (26 saves) beat rang off the crossbar.

Stephan clinched the title after he shed a check along the McClancy bench, cut into the left circle and beat Rock with a wrist shot stick side.

“I didn’t see it, it was deflected,” said Rock, who made 29 saves. “It got me above the blocker. … It was a good shot.”

“I don’t think we backchecked well enough. That second goal we just let them walk in,” said McClancy senior Anthony DeMarco. “And their goalie was fantastic. We just couldn’t put the puck in the net.”

McClancy 4, Xavier 2. Mike Spiteri scored 40 seconds into the game and then fed Morrice 40 seconds later to give McClancy a quick 2-0 lead in Game 2 March 12 at the Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon.

Morrice scored his second of the period with 2:54 left in the first on assists from Spiteri and Andjelovic.

Carl Muraco and Stephan brought Xavier to within one, but Andjelovic clinched it with a soft shot from the left point through traffic with 1:30 left in the third period. Rock made 34 saves for the Crusaders.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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