Mike Oseback felt confident heading into the decisive third game of the CHSHL Class A semifinals Sunday night. But the Archbishop Molloy goalie and his teammates got an extra boost when Danny Scagnelli, with equipment bag in hand, unexpectedly arrived at Abe Stark Rink on Coney Island.
"For him to show up the way he showed up, it's like having God walk into the rink," Oseback said. "It was a big lift."
Buoyed by Scagnelli's return and another stellar performance by Oseback, the Stanners defeated Iona Prep, 4-1 to advance to the best-of-three 'A' finals for the first time. Molloy takes on unbeaten Fordham Prep, which swept Monsignor Farrell in the other semifinal series, Tuesday night at the Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon.
Scagnelli missed the opening two games of the series, sidelined for two weeks with a partially torn labrum of his right shoulder. But the junior defenseman knew a loss would end his team's season and decided to return to the lineup.
"I just really wanted to play," Scagnelli said.
Scagnelli showed why he is considered one of the best defensemen in the league four minutes into the third period when he slid to break up Iona's 2-on-1 break. And Oseback again was spectacular between the pipes. The senior from Ozone Park made 30 saves, his best a stunning glove save on a blistering slap shot from the right circle by Iona's Kevin Baum with 1:11 left in the first period.
And as was the case in the opening game of the series - a 3-1 win by Molloy - the only thing separating Oseback from a shutout was a rebound goal. This time Jerry Ciffarelli, who scored a natural hat trick in the Gaels' 5-4 victory in Game 2, stuffed the puck past Oseback on a third attempt with 6:33 left in the second period.
"It was almost the same exact thing," said Oseback, who was mobbed by teammates after the final horn. "I can't get [a shutout]. I don't know what it is. But you know what? I'm just as happy we got the win."
Brendan Tracy put Molloy (11-7-1) in front, 1-0 just 1:09 into the game and then Pat Brown made it 2-0 when he knocked in the rebound of Matt Zay's shot with 3:04 left in the first period.
Molloy captain Chris Francaviglia scored the backbreaking goal, after some sick stickhandling allowed him to split the Iona defense with 7:53 left in the third period.
"I pulled it behind me and then put it through [the defenseman's] legs," Francaviglia said. "It was a big momentum booster for me because it was so nice, everyone in the stands was going crazy."
Ciffarelli gave Iona (10-8-1) some hope a little more than a minute later but James Shea iced the game with an empty net goal with 52 seconds left in the game, 10 seconds after Kasey King (28 saves) left the net for the extra skater.
And now Molloy faces Fordham Prep, with its perfect 18-0-0 record. The Rams swept the season series, winning both games by scores of 4-1. But the games were closer than the final score and the Stanners are confident they can play with Fordham Prep.
"We're not going to give the game to them," Molloy coach Richie Rodgers said. "We're going to do everything we can to beat them...we're not going to play dead for them. We're going to go after them."
Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2006 Community News Group
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