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Stepinac clicks with tactic

Varsity - 2007 Season
Posted Thursday, January 11, 2007 by Lohud.com
Westchester/Putnam/Rockland notebook:
By Daniel Kiernan
The Journal News


(Original publication: January 10, 2007)

It has been an exciting week in the Catholic High School Hockey League.

Stepinac had an unusual approach to its game against Iona Prep on Thursday, and it helped get the struggling Crusaders back on the map.

They singled out the Gaels' leading scorer, Cody King, and one of the Crusaders shadowed the junior every minute he was on the ice.

Stepinac coach Greg Egan said he picked one player from each of the three lines the Crusaders run, and assigned that player to watch King. Nothing was to distract that player from his duty.

"I told them, 'The puck does not exist for you,' " Egan said.

Junior Dan D'Onofrio of Cortland Manor, senior Brendan Gomez of Port Chester and junior Dan Viggiano of Yonkers were chosen for the task.

Stepinac even had a code word they would yell when King came off Iona's bench so that D'Onofrio, Gomez, or Viggiano would know he was on the ice. On penalty kills the Crusaders would form a three- man zone and allow the fourth player to continue shadowing King.

The strategy apparently worked as Stepinac earned a 5-2 win to avenge their 5-3 loss to the Gaels earlier this season.

Egan saw the extra attention King received as a testament to the junior's skill and the danger of forgetting about him.

"He'll put a knife in your heart," Egan said.

Fordham Prep knows all about King. He scored two goals for the Gaels in their last meeting with the Rams on Dec. 15, a 5-1 Iona Prep victory.

Fordham, the defending CHSHL champion, is having a tougher time this season than last, losing two of three games to the Gaels and recently falling 8-4 to Archbishop Molloy (Queens).

The Rams bounced back with a recent crossover win against Section 1 League 1's Mahopac. Senior Brian Loftus (South Nyack) scored the winning goal with 1:17 left in the game. The 2-1 win meant little in terms of defending the CHSHL championship, but it helped the Rams' confidence and solidified their place among the best hockey teams in the area.

Power rankings: Fordham Prep joins Iona Prep on the list after beating Mahopac. Mamaroneck, which lost two games upstate this weekend, falls off.

1. Clarkstown North (8-1): The Rams have beaten Suffern and Mahopac. They will play Mamaroneck for the first time on Jan. 20 at Hommocks.

2. Suffern (9-3): The defending Section 1 Division 1 Mounties lost to Mamaroneck earlier this season, but their 7-1 win over Mahopac on Dec. 22 was very encouraging, especially coming a day before Mahopac snapped Mamaroneck's unbeaten season. The Mounties host Mamaroneck on Jan. 19 and Mamaroneck on Feb. 9.

3. Iona Prep (11-4): The Gaels drop a spot with their loss to Stepinac. They'll play Suffern at Sport-O-Rama on Monday in an interesting CHSHL-League 1 crossover.

4. Fordham Prep (11-3): The defending CHSHL champion Rams defeated Mahopac on Sunday. They play Stepinac on Jan. 18, having won their first meeting with the Crusaders in mid-December.

5. Mahopac (9-4): The Indians recovered from their 7-1 loss to Suffern on Dec. 22 by giving Mamaroneck its first loss the next night. They will host Mamaroneck Feb. 3 and Suffern the next night.

Daniel Kiernan writes a weekly high school ice hockey notebook. Reach him at dkiernanlohud.com or 914-696-8237.


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