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Garden of dreams for Fordham Prep skaters

Stephen Imbasciani managed to do something his idol Scott Gomez and the New York Rangers couldn’t do on Sunday – score and win at Madison Square Garden.

The senior scored two goals to help lead Monsignor Farrell to a 3-2 win against Fordham Prep in a CHSHL Class A league game played on the Garden ice about an hour after the Blueshirts were shut out by the Florida Panthers, 4-0.

“It’s just great,” Imbasciani said. “Not many kids could say they played at Madison Square Garden. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”

Thanks to a connection a Fordham Prep parent has with MSG, the two teams got the chance of a lifetime – to play at the World’s Most Famous Arena. Fordham Prep coach Alan Pilla said Farrell was chosen as the opponent because there’s a mutual respect between the lone New York City teams in the ‘A’ division.

“We hoped they would have accommodated us and let us win,” Pilla joked. “But that didn’t seem to work out.”

Farrell captain Michael Singer was one of the first on his team to be informed and was told to keep it a secret from the rest of his teammates at first.

“Coming in here and saying you played at Madison Square Garden is one thing, but saying you won in Madison Square Garden is another thing,” he said. “That’s the important part, that we won.”

It certainly beats playing at Clove Lake or the Ice Hutch, where the Lions defeated St. Anthony’s, 3-2, on Friday night.

“When you get out there, it’s a lot brighter and you look around you and you realize a lot of famous players have played there and it motivates you to play better,” Singer said.

Before stepping on the ice, the players from both teams watched the Rangers and Panthers do battle. Imbasciani said that’s when the nerves started to settle in.

“Before the game we all had butterflies in our stomachs, we were all talking about it when we were watching the Rangers play,” he said. “After warm-ups and the puck drops, it all goes away. It’s a regular game from there.”

After a scoreless first period, Fordham sophomore Joe Regan broke the deadlock when he stuffed in a pass from Joe Nicosia on the power play with 4:23 left in the second period. Regan has a story for life when he tells his children and grandchildren where he scored his first varsity goal.

“He was thrilled,” Pilla said. “What I like about him is that he reads the plays well and goes to the net when he’s supposed to. He’s gotten a lot of scoring chances that way and this was his first varsity goal. He worked his way into a senior-heavy lineup so good for him.”

Playing in an NHL arena is nothing new to Nicosia, who also skated on the ice of the Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils.

“It’s a lot different than it looks when you’re just watching the game, definitely,” the sophomore forward said. “The ice is definitely a lot different than we’re used to. When you’re on the ice you can hear crunches. It’s so crisp I guess you could say.”

Farrell (3-1 CHSHL A) responded with Imbasciani’s first goal, a one-timer on the power play from Singer with 1:38 left in the second. Andrew Lurie gave the Lions the lead with six seconds left in the second on a wrist shot from the slot.

“I thought right away we did really well,” Farrell coach Peter Jerabeck said. “I thought we took it to them right from the opening face-off. They had a very difficult time getting out of their zone. They played a system that we kind of picked up on and we really wouldn’t let them breakout.”

Imbasciani scored the backbreaker, capitalizing on a giveaway in front of the Rams net for a shorthanded goal that gave Farrell a 3-1 lead with 4:24 left in the third period.

The Lions would need the insurance goal because Fordham Prep (1-1), which defeated Iona Prep, 6-5, in an emotional Homecoming game Friday night, answered back a little more than a minute later on a wrist shot by Michael Spillane.

“It happened very quick,” the senior forward said. “I just made a move and shot it and it took about five seconds (for me to realize) that I just scored at Madison Square Garden. That’s pretty cool.”

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