By Dylan Butler
They play in rinks in places like Yonkers, Mount Vernon and Coney Island. In front of sparse, dedicated family and friends, they skate on choppy ice and dress in drafty, cramped locker rooms.
But for at least two hours, members of the Christ the King and Molloy hockey teams made it to the big time. Just two days after facing off at Rye Playland — the former practice home of the New York Rangers — the Queens rivals took the ice at the Nassau Coliseum for a CHSHL ‘B’ league game Feb. 26.
“Every game we play hard, but when we get to the Coliseum, all our parents come, they break out the video cameras and we go out and do our best just to show everyone what we’ve been doing all season,” said Molloy junior forward Chris Pisarski. “It’s our one day in the NHL.”
After routing struggling Christ the King, 8-0 48 hours earlier, the Stanners cruised to a 6-0 win, but the final score was secondary to the experience of playing in a professional arena.
“To stand here and to know so many great players have skated on the same ice is a privilege. At least you can always say you did it, that you skated in Nassau Coliseum,” said Christ the King sophomore John Del Rios, a self-proclaimed Rangers fan. “You look up, see all the seats and all the banners, it’s great.”
Added teammate Mike Whelan: “You get a little taste of what the pros are like; it’s just an honor to get out on the ice.”
The game at Nassau Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders, has become an annual event for Archbishop Molloy, thanks to its head coach Richie Rodgers. The East Northport, L.I. resident watched his own son Brendan skate at the Coliseum as a member of the Suffolk Police Athletic League and inquired about renting the ice three years ago.
Molloy played St. Anthony’s from Huntington in 2001, but Rodgers decided to give the other Queens teams the thrill of playing at Nassau Coliseum as well. Last year the Stanners faced St. Francis Prep and next year, Rodgers says, plans are in the works to host Holy Cross.
“It’s great; you try to give the kids an experience, something that they’ll look back on when they’re older,” he said. “They’re going to forget the score, but they’re going to remember skating at Nassau Coliseum. It’s like the baseball team playing at Yankee Stadium.”
As for the game itself, it was all Molloy. Matt Davino, Dan Marsanico and Matt Lavanco scored first-period goals, and Pisarski, Mike Farrell and Sean Murphy also lit the lamp for Molloy (11-2-3) as sophomore goaltender Harrison Knee earned his second straight shutout.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Marsanico said. “It’s like you’re in the major leagues.”
Molloy 6, Kellenberg 2. Sean Kearney netted a hat trick, and Lavanco, Jimmy Grogan and Paul LiVecchi scored for the Stanners Saturday at the Ice Hutch.
McClancy 7, Salesian 1. Jason Andjelovic had two goals and four assists, Anthony DeMarco had two goals and one assist, Pat Mulroy scored a pair of goals and Matt Sammut added one for McClancy (9-6 CHSHL C) Friday at the Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon. Sean Rock was denied his second consecutive shutout when Ralph Faiella scored the lone goal for Salesian (2-12-2) with 33 seconds left in the third period.
Holy Cross 5, St. Edmund 4. Chris Ryan scored a pair of third-period goals and added two assists, Joe Temperini had one goal and two assists and Ray Wilson and Mark Goetzger also scored for Holy Cross (8-4-4 CHSHL B) last Thursday at Murray Rink in Yonkers. Lenny DiMauro had two goals for St. Edmund.
Playoff pairings set. Molloy, which clinched its first-ever CHSHL ‘B’ regular season title, will face No. 4 Kellenberg (7-7-2) in a best-of-three semifinal series.
No. 2 Holy Cross will take on third-seeded St. Peter’s (9-3-3) in the other ‘B’ semifinal series. Monsignor McClancy (9-6) finished third in the CHSHL C division and faces second-seeded Cardinal Spellman (10-4-2) in a best-of-three semifinal series.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by email at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.