By Dylan Butler
At times Jimmy Grogan doesn’t even have to look. He just knows where to find Paul LiVecchi.
It’s a confidence built from playing on the same line for three years with the Molloy hockey team and two years with the Long Island Edge travel team.
So when Grogan momentarily paused to the right of the Holy Cross net in the opening minute of the third period Tuesday night, LiVecchi knew just where to go.
LiVecchi cycled between the circles and beat Holy Cross goalie Matt Cammarata with what proved to be the game-winner in the Stanners 4-3 victory in the opening game of the CHSHL ‘B’ best-of-three championship series at the Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon.
“He has eyes in the back of his head,” LiVecchi said of Grogan. “He just knows where I’m going to be and vice versa.”
Molloy (16-1-2) can capture its first ever hockey championship with a win in Game 2 of the series Thursday at 5:15 p.m. at E.J. Murray Rink in Yonkers. A Holy Cross victory would force a decisive third game Saturday at Abe Stark Rink on Coney Island.
Grogan also set up LiVecchi late in the second period to give Molloy its first lead of the game after Holy Cross (10-6-3) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a pair of goals by Chris Anastasio, the second a power play tally on the Knights’ lone man advantage.
But senior-laden Molloy gradually chipped away with extended pressure in the Holy Cross defensive zone. First Sean Kearney scored a power play goal, tapping in the rebound of Sean Murphy’s shot with 2:57 left in the first period.
“It seemed after Molloy scored that first goal our intensity went (down),” said Holy Cross coach Mike Mitchell. “This wasn’t the same team that played St. Joe’s in the third game (of the semifinal series).”
Matt Lavanco slid the puck to Bryan Elfant on a 2-on-1 to tie the game at 2 less than three minutes into the second period before Grogan and Jonathan Pflug set up both of LiVecchi’s goals.
“They cycled the puck extremely well. I guess they choreographed their moves,” Molloy coach Richie Rodgers said of LiVecchi and Grogan. “That’s fine with me. However they want to dance I don’t care as long as the puck goes in the net.”
Pat McHugh made things interesting when the Holy Cross captain scored a wraparound goal with 8:28 left in the third period but the Knights couldn’t net the equalizer, even after playing the final 1:15 with the extra skater after Cammarata was pulled.
“We know we have to come out a lot harder than we did tonight,” McHugh said. “If we do give up the lead we have to keep pounding it in on them.”
Molloy 12, Christ the King 4. LiVecchi had a natural hat trick, Pflug had two goals, Matt Davino, Mike Carney, Murphy, Kearney and Mike Farrell scored for Molloy, which swept Christ the King Friday at Abe Stark Rink. Johnny Del Rios had two goals and two assists for Christ the King (6-9-3).
Holy Cross 6, St. Joseph by the Sea 3. Chris Ryan had two goals and three assists, McHugh had two goals and an assist and Joe Temperini and Rob DiRico scored for Holy Cross in the final game of the best-of-three semifinal series Friday at Abe Stark Rink. Nick Carro scored all three goals for St. Joe’s (11-7-1).
McClancy 5, Mount St. Michael 0. Stephen Ferguson had two goals, Patrick Mulroy, Ryan Ferguson and Keith Morrice scored while Sean Rock made 16 saves to notch the shutout for McClancy (17-1) in Game 2 of the CHSHL ‘C’ semifinal series Friday at the Ice Hutch. The Crusaders will face second-seeded St. Raymond’s in the CHSHL ‘C’ championship series beginning Thursday at Murray Rink in Yonkers.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.