By Adam Berger
RYE — Everything changed in 12 seconds.
That’s the amount of time that elapsed in the second period between Rye Country Day’s first and second goals, on the way to a 4-1 victory at home over King in the Fairchester Athletic Association tournament championship game.
“We made a point before the game: The minute after a goal will be a huge key for both teams,” RCDS coach Erik Kallio said. “We wanted that puck to be right back in their end after a goal, and we did it.”
The Wildcats have won all three FAA titles since the tournaments’ inception in 2011. It was the first for first-year coach Kallio.
After a scoreless first period that saw the No. 2 Wildcats outshoot the No. 1 seeded Vikings 18-6, it looked like much of the same for the first five minutes of the second period.
But after Billy Grossman made a nice defensive stop on King’s Alex Miller, the puck trickled out to James Kissell near center ice. A furious one-on-one fast break with Vikings goalie Andrew Carlin ensued.
“(Grossman) hit it out to me and I just skated as fast as I could,” said Kissell, a senior who has been on all three championship teams. “I was getting hacked and just got a single shot off and it trickled in.”
That goal was scored with 9:42 remaining in the period. After the puck was dropped at center ice, the Wildcats won possession. Zach Coppola skated behind net and found Kyle Halloran in front of the goal at the 9:30 mark.
“I just circled to the middle of the net,” said Halloran, a junior. “(Coppola) passed it and I just slammed it home.”
Rye Country Day would add two more goals in the third period. Kissell scored his second off a scrum in front of the net with 8:20 remaining.
King’s Declan Thorton responded quickly, finding the back of the net on a bullet to the left of RCDS’s Michael Mossman to make it 3-1 at the 7:50 mark. But King pulled Carlin in the final minutes and Will Halloran, Kyle’s brother, scored an empty netter with three seconds remaining to seal the win.
“For these guys that have been here, they’re on the ice six days a week and they work hard,” Kallio said. “You’ve got to give them all the credit, because it’s not easy to work as hard as they have to work here and then in school.”
Rye Country day out-shot King 66-24 in the game, and over the two-game tournament Mossman let up just two goals on 27 shots, good for a 92.6 save percentage. Fellow junior keeper Eric Herbst, the son of Westchester Hall of Fame powerlifting champion Robert Herbst, also saw some time, in the semifinal game, and did not allow a goal.
Once the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard, the Wildcats met for a team picture and trophy ceremony. Kissell stressed the importance of the two quick goals that gave RCDS momentum.
“In the locker room between the first and second period, we sat down and said, ‘Hey we’re getting chances but we need to finish.” Kissel said. “The first one went in and we knew the second one was coming.”