Warwick, Rhode Island was the site of the much anticipated showdown between New England’s top teams, Sunday. Long Island 495ers came in fresh off their first loss of the season. The day before the Hartford Fire Ants had put the first blemish on the 495ers record, winning 4-3 in OT. Weary from the games and road, Long Island limped into RI minus three starters banged up in Hartford.
RI set the tone early, Christian Iacobellis scored short side, seven seconds into the game on a pass from linemate Josh Antunes. The 495ers Jim Brady beatMulissha goalie Derek Antunes to even the score just below the 8 minute mark. The score remained deadlocked until the last minute of the period, when RI’sKJ hunter crashed the LI net. Linemate Brian Beaudette emerged from the pile of sprawled bodies alone with the puck. He tucked it into the open net to again put the home team up.
In the second half, RI’s Justin Greene took a high sticking call and on the power play LI drew even as league scoring leader Vinny Bianco scored a slick goal on passes from Mike Saporito and Chris Bracken with ten minutes to play. The score remained deadlocked until just under three minutes remained. LI attempted to break the puck out of their end when RI’s leading scorer, Josh Antunes alertly picked off a pass intended for an open area. Antunes swept wide and whistled a wrist shot over the shoulder of 495ers suprised keeper Jerry Gioia for the game winner.
Gioia stopped 26 of 29 shots, while Antunes grabbed 18 of 20. RI went 0-1 on the PP, while the 495ers went 1-3.
The second game began just as the first had, Iacobellis took the same pass from Antunes to beat AJ Frey short side on the first shift, this one 50 seconds into the game. On the next shift Josh Melo put RI up 2-0 when he swooped in to tap in a rebound. LI’s Bianco scored 30 seconds later on a laser beam blast from the right circle. Iacobellis returned the favor to his linemate, setting up Antunes for Mulissha’s 3-1 lead. With 3 minutes left LI’s Saporito scored. Then as the period seemingly ticking down, Mulissha’s KJ Hunter broke down the left wing and took a pass from Greene . Hunter potted his first goal of the season by tucking it past the far, glove side of Frey with :05 on the clock.
The second period began with LI trailing 4-2, but Saporito again got the 495ers within a goal on his second of the game, just 22 seconds into the half. Mulissha goalie Jay Willard made a huge stop, gloving a shot earmarked for the top shelf. LI’s Jim Cody took a hooking penalty at 8:15 and Mulissha defender Matty Love scored an unconventional power play goal, racing down the floor with partner Justin Zarella to put the home team up 5-3. The 495ers Bianco netted his second of the game, but it was the last time the horn sounded for LI. Mulissha’s Antunes scored twice on the next shift to complete his hat trick, and Sean Grady knocked home a bounding puck to complete the scoring as Mulissha completed the sweep.
Willard raised his record to 6-0 stopping 15 of 19 shots, while Frey kept 17 of 25. RI scored on its only power play, while Long Island went 0-2.
Long Island remains in first place despite falling to 11-3, as their two games in hand and point in the OT loss leaves them atop the division with 23 points to RI’s 11-1 record and 22 points.