By Dylan Butler
“I saw a couple of guys who are usually the comedians in the locker room, they were a little quiet,” Oseback said. “It was more serious tonight.”And that nervous energy carried over onto the ice, through nearly two scoreless periods. Good thing the goalie from Ozone Park was playing, in Stanners' coach Richie Rodgers' words, “the best game of his four years.”Oseback made 23 saves and carried Molloy to a 3-1 win over Iona Prep at a packed Ice Hutch in Mount Vernon. The only thing separating him from a much-deserved shutout was a controversial tap-in five minutes into the third period.”Coming out there, I was nervous, but after the first couple of shots my nerves just calmed down and I was ready to go,” Oseback said. “I had to do my job. I don't really acknowledge the scoreboard.”After an even first period, Molloy (10-6-1) scored the critical first goal on a set play off a face-off from the right circle. Stephen Romano won the draw and Matt Zay slid the puck to Charles Gotard. The sophomore from Maspeth skated between the circles and his wrist shot trickled past Iona Prep goalie Kasey King with 1:51 left in the second period.Gotard's goal was like letting the air of out a balloon for the anxious Stanners, which outshot Iona Prep, 14-9, in the second period and 35-24 for the game.”Stephen won the face-off, Zay knocked the puck to me and I just shot it,” Gotard said. “I did the least.””I didn't know it went in at first,” he added. “But then after I realized it went in, I felt great.”Molloy made it 2-0, 13 seconds into the third period on its second two-man advantage of the game. Brendan Tracy deflected James Shea's shot from the left point for the power play goal. King protested Tracy touched the puck with a high stick.Iona Prep came roaring back and got within 2-1 with 10:32 left in the third period. Oseback saved shots by Cody King and Jerry Ciffarelli in front of the net and appeared to cover the puck with his glove.But King jarred it loose and stuffed the puck into the net to spoil Oseback's shutout bid.”I've only been here a year but this is the best I've ever seen [Oseback] play,” Zay said. “He played great.”Iona Prep (9-7-1) grabbed the momentum and had the Stanners reeling, but Oseback stood strong. And after struggling for sustained pressure in the Iona Prep zone, it was the Molloy second line consisting of two sophomores and a freshman that came up with the clutch third goal.Zay threw the puck towards the net where Romano pushed it past King to give the Stanners a 3-1 lead with 3:56 left in the third period. Zay, though, was credited with the goal on the official score sheet.”We were reeling a little bit,” Rodgers said. “But a couple of lefts don't mean a knockout punch.”Molloy could clinch a berth in the Class A finals with a win in Game 2 Thursday night at Murray Rink in Yonkers. But the Stanners know that is no simple task.”We have to match their intensity,” Rodgers said. “The first couple of minutes are going to show everything.”Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.