Rye Country Day’s Michael Rocco tries to get a shot off as Rye goalie Aidan Talgo and teammate Jason Chin defend during a hockey game at Rye Country Day School in Rye, Jan. 22, 2013. RCDS beat Rye 2-1.( Mark Vergari/The Journal News ) To view a gallery of photos from the game, click here.
By Mike Dougherty
RYE — It’s quite the neighborhood rivalry.
There was no room for the game on the schedule a season ago, but Rye and Rye Country Day picked up Tuesday right where they left off, going after each other like cranky siblings in the backseat.
Each hit added fuel.
Zachary Coppola scored as time on a critical third-period power play was running down, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 win and lassoing bragging rights. He whistled a shot from the left circle inside the post with 4:40 left to play.
“It took you long enough to shoot,” RCDS coach Erik Kallio joked when he crossed paths with the junior forward after the game.
Coppola was too open to do anything else.
“On the power play in the first period, they were leaving the slot wide open so we were able to make some good passes through it,” the Irvington resident said. “I guess they tightened the middle up in the third and that left me open. My teammates were yelling at me to shoot it the whole first minute of the power play, and when I finally got it off, there was a lot of space open on the side of the net.”
Garnets goalie Aiden Talgo was otherwise on his game, making 32 stops.
Overtime seemed likely as Rye (10-3-1) got low and continually applied pressure in the closing minutes. The Wildcats had a physical advantage, but struggled to win the puck against pesky forwards who began to swarm deep in the zone.
And the hits just kept on coming.
“We practice at the same rink,” Garnets forward Griffin Tutun said. “We know a bunch of the kids. We came out of the same Rye Rangers system, and play a lot of travel hockey with them. I remember growing up watching this game, it was always nuts.”
Jason Chin drove a nasty slap shot from the point that RCDS goalie Michael Mossman controlled with 11 seconds to go. A pileup and a penalty resulted in the Wildcats (8-7-1) going a man down so there was nervous tension until the puck was pinned in the corner and the buzzer sounded.
“This is going to be a close game no matter what the matchup is on paper,” said RCDS defenseman Michael Rocco, who lives in Greenwich, Conn. “They have very skilled players, too, and there’s an extra intensity. When we scored that first goal, then we knew we had something. And then we gave it up and I was getting a little nervous, but we got another big goal. At that point you have to tighten things up and we did.”
Kyle Halloran broke a scoreless tie when he poked in a rebound with 2:20 to go in the second period. It was Coppola who skated the puck in and got off the initial blast that unleashed a major scramble in front. Tutun knotted the score with a second-chance goal in the opening minutes of the third period.
“I was able to get the puck into the zone and get a shot,” the junior forward said. “I missed, but then I got a great pass back from Jack O’Brien. He got the puck right on my stick and I was able to put it right in the net.”