As the teams came off the field at the end of the third quarter, the student section of the jammed Chaminade bleachers stood and chanted, at ear-piercing decibel levels, "Awesome [clap-clap]! Awesome [clap-clap]!"
Volume aside, the message was as accurate as many of the Flyers' shots. Chaminade scored eight straight goals and easily defeated its top CHSAA rival St. Anthony's, 10-5, Tuesday before an overflow, SRO crowd at the Mineola school.
Matt Kavanagh led the Flyers (5-0 overall, 4-0 CHSAA) with three goals and an assist and Shane Thornton and Paul Urbank each scored two goals. Joe Locasio had two goals and an assists for the Friars, who led 4-2 in the second quarter and could have led by more if not for superb goalie play by John Connors. He was one of the stars of the game with 16 saves, several from point-blank range in the first half.
"John kept us in the game," Kavanagh said. "After some of those saves, our sideline and the fans went nuts. We feed off the crowd. We love it when our boys start screaming."
The players on the field felt that energy, too. "Once you make a big stuff, it gets the fans and the team rolling," Connors said. "We lost two All-Americans , so I expected a lot more action this year."
It was Connors' reactions that turned the matchup of two of the nation's top 10 teams in the Flyers' favor. Several of his saves led to fast-break scoring opportunities. Thornton scored two goals late in the second quarter to help Chaminade grab a 5-4 halftime lead. Then Kavanagh led the charge in a 4-0 third quarter that broke this one open.
He took a crease feed from Brendan DeTommaso to score early in the third, then finished off an extra-man opportunity off a no-look pass from Sean Mahon. Kavanagh hit DeTommaso on the left wing to finish off a fast break that made it 9-4 with 27 seconds left in the third quarter. That was the cue for the Chaminade fans to make their loud proclamation.
"We want to be a transition team," Chaminade coach Jack Moran said. "If they let us run, we have guys who can score. It was an even game except for that burst in the third quarter when we got out on the break."
Moran acknowledged that "St. Anthony's outplayed us in the first half, but John kept us in it." Then Kavanagh took over.
"He's a talented hockey player with great hands," Moran said. "He's used to getting banged around. He's 5-7 but he plays with what I call a good chip on his shoulders. He thinks he's 6-2."
Plenty of Chaminade players stood tall and gave crowd-pleasing performances Tuesday.