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RYE, N.Y. — After suffering its first two losses of the season to McQuaid Jesuit and Mamaroneck last week, all Rye wanted to do was get back on the ice.
First, however, came a torturous seven-day waiting game, which came to a merciful end on Wednesday evening at Playland.
The Garnets — playing with a renewed vigor — took out their pent-up frustrations on visiting Fordham Prep, cruising to a convincing 4-1 victory over the Rams (2-8-1)
“We came out with tons of intensity knowing that we had to get back on track,” said Rye senior captain Ryan Rogers, who notched a goal and an assist. “We had a couple off games, but we came out flying, hitting and it worked out well for us.”
Rogers set the tone from the onset, deflecting in a blue-line blast from senior defenseman Justin Uzcategui to give Rye (10-2-1) a 1-0 lead with 3:52 left in the opening period.
Rye's first-period urgency was reflected on the stat sheet. The Garnets outshot Fordham Prep 14-5 in the opening period, sending a steady streams of pucks toward Rams netminder Richard Gullo (35 saves).
“(Rye) had a step on us it seemed like all night, but particularly the first period they came out and they were flying,” Fordham Prep coach William Beck said. “I think we caught up with them a little in the second, but we just couldn't catch them tonight.”
Uzcategui doubled the lead with 1:10 left in the second period, scoring a power-play goal on a wicked wrist shot from just inside the blue line.
“I caught (the puck) on my stick and I tried to drag it toward the middle a little bit to get a better angle on my shot,” Uzcategui said, detailing the goal. “I just threw it on net and it turned out lucky.”
The good fortune quickly vanished, as Rye was forced to play 5-on-3 for the first minute and 17 seconds of the third period. But Fordham Prep failed to take advantage of the golden opportunity.
“We wanted to set it up and get a couple of good shots,” Beck said. “I give Rye credit. They took that away from us and didn't let us get in our groove.”
Rye then sealed the game with back-to-back third-period goals in the span of two minutes and 28 seconds. Senior forward Ben Schaffler struck first at the 12:38 mark, pouncing on a loose puck in front of the net. Junior forward Michael Benincasa (1G, 1A) followed it up at 10:10 with a precise blocker side wrister.
Martin Bartoszewicz tallied Fordham Prep's lone goal with 9:32 left in regulation, but any potential comeback was merely a pipe dream.
For Rye — which was shutout against Mamaroneck and scored just once against Section 5's McQuaid — the victory marked a step in the right direction.
“We had to regroup as a team and get focused again to accomplish our team goal of winning and keep it rolling,” Uzcategui said.
While the result was important in terms of getting back on track, Rogers still doesn't think the Garnets resemble the team that opened the season 9-0-1.
“We aren't at the top of of our game right now,” he said. “We kind of hit a bottom [during the two-game losing streak], but we are slowly coming back and hopefully we will be back to the top of our level by playoffs.”
GAME NOTES: Michael Benincasa leads Rye in scoring with 31 points on 12 goals and 19 assists, while Ryan Rogers is second with 22 points (9G, 13A) … Rye's Ben Schaffler notched his first goal of the season … The Garnets have averaged 4.6 goals a game in 2011-12 … Rye is currently No. 2 behind top-ranked Brewster in the Section 1 Division 2 playoff standings … Garnets goalie Aidan Talgo lowered his goals against average to 1.92
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Rye starts on fire: The Garnets opened the game like they were shot out of a cannon, outshooting the Rams 14-5 in the first period to grab an early 1-0 lead. Fordham Prep never managed to match Rye's intensity. Justin Uzcategui had this to say about the hot start: “We came out with a lot of fire. The desire to win grew and grew. It was an all-around strong team game and we really came together.”
2. Fordham Prep spoils 5-on-3 opportunity: Fordham Prep's chance to get back into the game came at the start of the third period. The Garnets were down two skaters for the first minute and 17 seconds of the period, but the Rams came up empty on the power play.
3. Gullo great in net: Rams goalie Richard Gullo made 35 saves to keep the Rams competitive throughout. Fordham Prep coach William Beck offered the following assessment of Gullo's play: “He had great stuff tonight. He had some really great saves and really kept us in the game. If he didn't make a couple of those saves, it could have been an 8-1 game. He got a couple of tough breaks and a couple of screens and that's how it went.”
Fordham Prep: 0 0 1 1
Rye: 1 1 2 4
RYE (3:52) Ryan Rogers from Justin Uzcategui and Michael Benincasa | 1-0 RYE
RYE (1:10) Uzcategui from Cal Hynson | 2-0 RYE *
RYE (12:38) Ben Schaffler from Hynson | 3-0 RYE
RYE (10:10) Benincasa from Rogers | 4-0 RYE
FP (9:32) | Martin Bartoszewicz from Brendan May and Henry Striano 4-1 Rye *
* Indicates power play goal
Fordham Prep: Martin Bartoszewicz (1G); Brendan May (1A); Henry Striano (1A)
Rye: Ryan Rogers (1G, 1A); Michael Benincasa (1G, 1A); Justin Uzcategui (1G, 1A); Ben Schaffler (1G); Cal Hynson (2A); Kirk Holmes (1A)
Fordham Prep: Richard Gullo (35 saves)
Rye: Aidan Talgo (24 saves)
Fordham Prep: 5 12 8 25
Rye: 14 12 13 39
Email Isaac Cass at Icass@cablevision.com | Follow him on Twitter @MSGV_Icass