By Dylan Butler
Chris Francaviglia knew exactly what to call Archbishop Molloy's 5-4 loss to Iona Prep in Game 2 of the CHSHL Class A semifinal series Thursday at Murray Rink in Yonkers.
“A missed opportunity,” the Stanners captain said.
Indeed, Molloy had a chance to put away the Gaels, to sweep the best-of-three series and advance to the championship series against either Fordham Prep or Monsignor Farrell.
But instead, the Stanners stumbled and are forced to play a decisive Game 3 Sunday night at Abe Stark Rink on Coney Island. And they'll do so without two of their better players – Paul DiNublia and Stephen Romano – who will be away on previous engagements.
“It's going to be a tough one [to put behind us],” Francaviglia said. “We had the game right there. We came back from a two-goal deficit, which is tough to do. We had it won.”
Molloy (10-7-1) rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead early in the second period. For a second consecutive game, the Stanners dominated the shot total, outshooting Iona Prep (10-7-1), 38-26.
But the Gaels capitalized on its chances, stuffing in three rebounds, scoring on a controversial penalty shot and making Molloy pay for a costly defensive zone blunder late in the third period to live another day.
“It's a game of mistakes and tonight they made fewer than us,” Molloy coach Richie Rodgers said. “It's a test and we got a 95 and they got a 98.”
After Molloy's impressive 3-1 win in the opening game Tuesday night, Rodgers said the first few minutes of the game Thursday would prove a lot.
And it was in those first few minutes Iona took a 2-0 lead on back-to-back goals by Jerry Cifarelli, the second on the power play.
But Molloy answered on a pair of power play goals by Jon Pflug and then took a 3-2 lead when Pat Brown knocked the rebound of Pflug's slap shot past Iona goalie Kasey King.
Cifarelli completed his natural hat trick, on another rebound, to tie the game at 3 and then, in the final three seconds of the second period, the game would be controversially altered.
With Molloy on the power play, Iona Prep was awarded a penalty shot after Pflug broke his stick across Cody King in an attempt to stop his breakaway. It appeared Pflug was on King's shoulder but the referees signaled for the penalty spot and it was King who took it. After a series of dekes, King's high backhand put the Gaels in front, 4-3.
“I broke my stick over him but I didn't affect the shot,” Pflug said. “It was definitely a penalty but not a penalty shot.”
And yet, Molloy still tied the game when Brendan Tracy, who, moments earlier was robbed by Kasey King, with a pass to the slot to James Shea. His shot from between the circles tied the game at 4 with 4:12 left in the third period.
Iona Prep took a 5-4 lead with 2:57 left on King's second goal and Molloy had a big chance to tie the game when Joe O'Shea was called for interference with 2:09 remaining.
But the Stanners couldn't beat Kasey King, who made 34 saves, even after Molloy goalie Mike Oseback was pulled for an extra skater with one minute left.
“Their goalie played really good,” Francaviglia said. “He kept them in.”
Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.