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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Falcon's Nest Notes: Power Play-Off – Varsity Hockey Shuts Out HANC

A packed Falcon's Nest urges on the Flatbush team
On the night where the Flatbush fans came out to honor and support the graduating Senior student-athletes of the Falcon Varsity Boys Hockey program on February 18, 2014, it was the impact of a total team effort that carried the home team to victory over a game but overmatched opponent from the yeshiva hockey hotbed of Long Island. After a nearly two-month long lay-off from game competition, both the coaches and the fans were not certain how the team would play in the opening round of the win-or-go-home playoff format. Add to that that the team would be without the services of two key regulars, including Senior goalie Stephen Esses (who had played every minute of every Varsity game this season), what the Falcons would bring to the table was very much a big question mark prior to the drop of the puck. But the pre-game ceremonies recognizing each graduating Senior, followed by the introductions of the two starting line-ups for both teams and the obligatory playing of the national anthems of the USA & Israel, served to provide an added jolt of energy to the home team and their faithful fans that lined the upper gallery. The home team clearly fed off the crowd energy and showed from the start that they were ready to play, and had come to the Falcon’s Nest with their “A” game in hand.
Ben Vilinsky tallies the opening goal for Flatbush
Three things were evident from the initial minutes of play: the Falcon defenders were intent on keeping the puck deep in the Hurricane zone, the Falcon offense planned on peppering the HANC goal with shots from everywhere and anywhere, and the HANC goalie was up for anything Flatbush looked to throw his way. That the game would be physical was clear from the get-go and that the officials would call the game tight was equally clear as only a few moments into the game the men in the zebra shirts whistled both teams for a double minor for excessive extra-curricular contact (read: a near fight). But whether playing 3-on-3 or at even strength, the Falcons set out to bring the game to the Hurricane defense, and expert passing created a wealth of scoring opportunities. Only the outstanding play of the HANC backstop prevented the Falcons from registering an early TKO. For more than one-half of the opening period, HANC’s goalie was equal to the task of stopping the potent Falcon offense. But with 7 minutes gone in the opening period, the Falcons finally got one past the opposition as second line center Ben Vilinsky took a centering pass and deposited the puck cleanly in the back of the net breaking the stalemate. Playing even the rest of the period, the Falcons took the 1-0 lead into the first break.
The Flatbush offense keeps the pressure on
Power Play Period
The second period was all about the man advantage. The stanza began with a Hurricane in the penalty box (a carry-over from the end of Period 1) and ended with a Falcon in the opposing box. And in between, the lone goal of the period was recorded on the power play. Coming off a stonewalling of the Falcons man advantage at the start, HANC upped the offensive pressure and sustained it for the first time in the match. But Flatbush Junior goalie Elliot Zakay played big! In his first action in the pipes all season, Zakay was not as flashy as his Hurricane counterpart, but he was everything the Falcons needed him to be. With solid defense all night from Moe Maleh, Michael Tawil, Sol Sasson, Abie Cohen and Marc Barsano working to keep the defensive zone clear most of the night, Zakay was there every single time the puck found its way on net. So when the Hurricanes drew another penalty midway through the period, and Morris Bijou found defenseman Sasson with a crossing pass that Sasson deftly tucked past the brilliant HANC goalie, Zakay found himself staked to a commanding 2-goal lead that he was determined to make stand up. With the wind out of HANC’s sails and the Hurricanes clearly on their heels, the Falcon offense, behind tough play from Maleh and Freshman teammate Sam Laniado, amped up the pressure and kept the lion’s share of the play in the HANC zone.
Elliot Zakay stood tall in the goal all evening
The final period was more of the same: Flatbush peppering the HANC goal, the HANC goalie doing everything to keep the game close and the Falcon defense minimizing the time on offense of every HANC possession. The focal point of the period came early as the tension of a 2-goal playoff contest was building to a crescendo, resulting in a flare-up of emotions (what is a hockey game without at least one emotional outburst – with cooler heads prevailing to stem a near player brawl that appeared about to break out after a little too much extra-curricular contact between Falcon Forward Sam Laniado and the HANC goalie who took offense to Laniado’s attempts to stuff home a loose puck in the HANC goal crease). With the play occurring below the overhanging balcony filled to the brim with vociferous Falcon fans, the members of the Flacon’s Nest elevated their cheers to the point that after assessing double minors to both teams, the officials relocated the HANC goalie and defense to the opposite end of the gym. From that point on, the teams played even-Steven, with Elliot Zakay standing tall against a late HANC barrage after pulling their goalie for an extra player in the games waning moments.
Morris Bijou was one of many Falcons who spent time in the penalty box
When the buzzer finally sounded, the Falcons had dispensed with their Long Island guests, quelling the Hurricanes by a final score of 2-0. In the end, Flatbush had everything in place and working, from “A-bie (Cohen) to (Elliot) Z-akay” and all the letters in between!
Moe Maleh clears the defensive zone

Nest Notes:
With the victory over HANC, the varsity will move on to a 2nd round playoff matchup with Frisch at Frisch, the site of the Falcons’ early season upset over the favored Cougars. The game is scheduled for Thursday, 2/27, at 8:00 pm. All students interested in riding a fan bus to the game should sign up in the Athletic Office (travel fee of $10.00 required at sign up).

The JV Boys Hockey team’s season came to an end earlier in the week with a road loss to TABC by a score of 7-1. The lone bright spot for the Falcons came from the play of rookie Nathan Mosseri. In his first game action in a Falcon uniform, Mosseri tallied the lone goal for the Flatbush JV squad.