The Fordham Prep-Iona Prep rivalry means a little bit more to Louis DePaolis.
The forward from Valhalla was at Iona Prep as a freshman, but transferred to Fordham Prep. He had to sit out his sophomore year because of the CHSAA’s strict transfer rule, but the senior forward made a huge impact in the latest installment of the rivalry on the ice.
DePaolis scored a pair of goals, including the equalizer as the Rams rallied from a pair of two-goal deficits to tie the Gaels, 5-5, at the Playland Ice Casino in Rye Saturday afternoon.
“We were down, but we came back,” said DePaolis, who is also a midfielder on Fordham’s lacrosse team. “I thought we were going to have them at the end. I felt like if we had another couple of minutes, we would have won it.”
The Rams lost the previous two games against their archrivals – two of six losses to open the season – and fell behind 5-3 on Brian Reilly’s wrist shot from the top of the left circle 1:51 into the third period.
But Fordham Prep (1-6-1) rallied. First Nicholas Fiorentino scored on the power play at 3:15 of the third and just 48 seconds later DePaolis leveled the score at 5, deflecting Henry Striano’s shot past Iona goaltender David Commender.
Momentum had swung to the Rams, which had another power play late when Jack McDermott went off for a roughing minor with 2:44 left. But the final two minutes had to be played on running time with a Manhattanville College game scheduled for 7 p.m.
“We showed a lot tonight,” first-year Fordham Prep coach William Beck said. “We brought a lot to that third period. Kids didn’t let up and they turned it around. I wish we would have had last minute to play because I think we could have pulled that game out.”
The Rams actually raced out to a 2-0 lead on first-period goals by Anthony Rizzo and Kevin Flynn, but Iona Prep (5-3-2) struck twice in a 42-second span on goals by Rob Dillon and Kieran O’Meara.
The Gaels dominated the second period and took their first lead on an O’Meara power play goal at 5:06 and just 32 seconds later was awarded a penalty shot when a Fordham Prep defender closed his hand on a puck in the crease.
However, Rams goaltender Richard Gullo stopped Erik Oddux on his low shot.
Still, the Gaels had a two-goal advantage on McDermott’s slap shot from the left circle at 11:27 of the second.
“We were up 3-1, 5-3, we had other chances, but we just stopped skating,” O’Meara said. “Once they got one goal, we lost all the momentum and got down on each other. We fought hard to make sure they didn’t get the winning goal.”
DePaolis responded 37 seconds later to pull the Rams within a goal and had the all-important equalizer less than five minutes into the third.
Iona Prep left Rye upset, believing a valuable point in the CHSHL Class A standings was lost even though the Gaels moved in front of Chaminade into sole possession of second place.
“We had a chance to kind of get Fordham Prep out of the picture for the playoffs, we had a chance to move ourselves up in the division,” Iona Prep coach Mike Bonelli said. “I think it’s realistic to be in that second or third playoff spot.”
Fordham Prep remains in last in the CHSHL ‘A,’ but followed a win against St. Mary’s with a tie against Iona for its first three points of the season. The Rams are currently six points out of the final playoff spot, but still feel they can make a run at the postseason with a must-win game against St. Mary’s coming up Monday in Flushing.
“We had a lot of one-goal games early in the season,” DePaolis said. “But I definitely think we can get a run going.”
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