As Mike Minarczyk picked up the pick at the blue line and darted toward the St. Anthony net, the Chaminade forward was living a situation most hockey players only dream about.
It didn’t end up the way Minarczyk and the Flyers wanted – he was slashed from behind and was never able to get a shot off – but Chaminade left Iceworks with a hard fought 2-2 tie with St. Anthony’s Friday night in Syosset.
Not the stuff dreams are made of, but it definitely helps foster a healthy rivalry between two of the top teams in the CHSHL Class A this year.
“It proves St. Anthony’s can’t just run the table anymore,” Minarczyk said. “We were a little shorthanded tonight, too. If it was the full team I have no question we could beat them.”
Chaminade (6-1-1) remained in the hunt for the top spot in the CHSHL with the tie. The fourth-place Flyers now have 13 points, but have played four fewer games than first-place St. Anthony’s, which is now 9-2-1.
The Flyers lone loss this season came to St. Anthony’s 7-2 on Dec. 6. However, on that night they were without star goaltender Brandon DeStasio, who made 27 saves Friday night.
“If we keep playing the way we are we should be able to finish in first place,” Minarczyk said.
First place has been where St. Anthony’s has resided for the past three years. Those were nearly invincible teams, ones that cruised to three straight Class A league titles and a first-ever state crown last March.
Some of the faces may have changed, but the mentality at St. Anthony’s hasn’t, according to coach Jeff Stelmok.
“We remind the guys constantly who we are, where we come from and what we do around here,” he said. “There have been flashes of it, but what we’re trying to do is work on consistency and maintaining it.”
What the Friars weren’t consistent with Friday night was maintaining their composure. St. Anthony’s took four penalties and Chaminade converted twice on the power play.
“There was a big crowd here and we let our emotions get the best of us,” St. Anthony’s forward Michael Vaiano said. “The penalties wound up costing us in the end.”
After Baylee Modugno gave the Friars a 1-0 lead in the first period, James Henry deflected Bryan Lynch’s shot from the point past St. Anthony’s goaltender Daniel Peterson (21 saves) to tie the game at 1 and Minarczyk followed seven minutes later to put the Flyers in front, 2-1.
“We had a bit of a shorter bench and they have more skill than us so whenever we get a chance when they take a penalty we have to capitalize on those opportunities,”
Vaiano made sure the Friars earned at least one point from Friday night’s grudge match, scoring the equalizer 1:39 into the third period.
“Joey Slevin took a shot and I just went to the net looking for a rebound and I banged it in,” Vaiano said.
While a winner wasn’t decided from a game played with playoff-type intensity, it did heighten the anticipation for Round 3 Jan. 29 in Dix Hills.
“It just got bigger,” Stelmok said of the rivalry. “It’s great for us, great for them, great for the league. Anytime you have that type of a rivalry it gives everybody something to look forward to. I can’t wait to play them again. I wish we could play Game 3 right now.”