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College Hockey:
Revitalized Gaels Pound Yellow Jackets

Carter Notches Pair Of Tallies For Iona

— Coach Frank Bretti’s pregame speech to his Iona Gaels was short and to the point. In fact, it was a silent speech.

Rather than pump his team up with a Knute Rockne performance, Bretti simply held up a sign that said, “We need this one!”

While AIC scored early in the opening minute of the first two periods, Iona scored often as they tallied six unanswered goals on their way to a 7-2 victory over AIC at the Olympia Ice Center on Friday night.

MAAC Player of the Week Ryan Carter paced the Gaels’ revitalized offense with two goals and an assist. Rob Kellogg and Brent Williams each contributed two goals and Brian Schroeder added three assists.

AIC coach Gary Wright was less than pleased with his team’s effort, “It was a pretty disappointing performance for us. Credit Iona, they played very well and with a lot of energy. They came up and really beat us in our own rink.”

While Wright was disappointed at the end of the night, the start of the game told a different story as the Yellow Jackets caught Iona in a line change as Kevin Fournier sent Ron Miller in on a breakaway. While Scott Galenza stopped the initial shot, Miller followed up and scored on the rebound just 58 seconds into the game.

AIC followed up on that goal by using their speed in attempts to break home-run passes against the Iona defense. It was a strategy that caught the Gaels by surprise.

“I thought AIC did a great job in the first period — they were just passing the puck extremely hard and I thought maybe we weren’t ready for it. They do a couple of interesting things {offensively] and I thought it took us a period to digest it. We made some adjustments and took away some of their things,” Bretti said.

Iona’s first adjustment came when Williams converted on a rebound of a Schroeder shot to tie the game at 1-1 at the 12:12 mark. Iona’s adjustments were almost for naught as Miller nearly made it 2-1 but his shot with 30 seconds left in the period clanged off the underside of the crossbar.

The Gaels’ luck held out for all of 24 seconds, or the amount of time it took AIC to take that 2-1 lead for real as Guillaume Caron intercepted a pass in the slot and beat Galenza for the unassisted goal.

That was the last bright spot in a game that turned against AIC in a hurry.

Iona would dominate the rest of the game as they poured on six unanswered goals. The 7-2 loss might have been worse if not for the solid play of goaltender Chad Davis, who stopped 45 of Iona’s 52 shots.

The Gaels broke the game open early in the second period as they scored three times in the space of five plus minutes. Kellogg opened the scoring as he converted on a Ryan Manitowich centering pass at 2:19. Carter put the Gaels ahead for good on the prettiest goal of the night as he one-timed a slapshot past Davis from the high slot at 3:52. Carter capped off the second period scoring with unassisted shorthanded goal as he put in a rebound of his own shot.

Carter was at a loss for words for his sudden offensive rebirth that has seen him score five goals and six assists in his last three games, “I don’t know why [I have been scoring] — probably just because I am shooting the puck more. I think getting back into the conference has been a help and our confidence is really high.”

Carter’s coach believes his team’s work ethic is the key to Iona’s resurgence of late. Bretti said, “Our players have been working hard. Since we came back from the break, we have put a pretty good emphasis on working hard and getting ourselves in shape. I thought our guys showed, in the end, that we were physically we were pretty much there tonight.”

Iona continued making adjustments as they managed to survive the opening minute of the third period without surrendering a goal. With that out of the way, they concentrated on putting the game out of reach. They finished off their run of six unanswered goals with a three-goal outburst in the space of seven minutes.

Williams started the Gaels’ second run as he found a loose puck in the slot and scored his second goal of the game and fifth against AIC in two games at 7:04. Kellogg added his second of the game as he beat a sprawling Davis at 7:57.

Kellogg had his own explanation for the Gaels play of late. “We have been going over a lot of the same things in practice. I think it’s starting to stick in a lot of guys’ heads. It’s starting to come together. Tonight was the night that the puck was bouncing our way and we got a couple of goals and built up our lead.”

Iona finished off the scoring with a four-on-three power-play goal at 14:14 as a Nathan Lutz shot from the point found its way through a John Gilbert screen and into the net.

Wright explained his team’s breakdown this way, “In the first period we were doing some pretty good things, but maybe that woke Iona up. As the game progressed, we became less and less effective. We put a lot of emphasis on this game and we felt this was a game we really had a chance to win. Obviously, with that kind of effort it’s not going to happen.”

Bretti had his own take on what wrong for AIC, and what went right for Iona. “I thought AIC was very quick in the first period, but the scenario came down to us getting better as the game went on and, obviously, finishing off some of our opportunities. It was a really big game on the road for us as we start to get ready for the stretch run.”

Iona (8-9-2, 7-4-2 MAAC) and AIC (6-11-0, 5-10-0 MAAC) finish their home-and-home series on Saturday night with a 7:30 p.m. game at the Skate Nation Arena in New Rochelle, N.Y.

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