Fairchester Championship Perfect Antidote for Wildcats’ Challenging Season

Inexperience and injuries were just two types of adversity the Rye Country Day boys’ hockey team faced as they stumbled through the first three-fourths of the season to an unsightly 3-12-2 record. The Wildcats managed – somehow, some way – to turn it all around in their final six games, however, and capped the season by winning the inaugural Fairchester Athletic Association tournament.


Rye Country Day defeated Hamden Hall 5-4 in a back-and-forth championship game February 27 at home, finishing the season on a high note with a final record of 7-14-2. Goalie Michael Mossman, one of 13 freshmen and sophomores on the team, made 31 saves in the victory.


“It was very gratifying to see our kids have success at the end,” said head coach Gary Bingham. “It’s a step in the right direction for our team in beginning a culture of winning.”

The green Wildcats went down 1-0 less than two minutes into the game, but freshman Serafim Rocco answered 2:37 later on a shot that slithered its way into the goal from way out. Sophomore James Kissell made it 2-1 with 9:06 remaining in the first. The forward snagged the puck on a break from Henry Beshar, and streaked down the ice and scored before crashing into the boards.

Henry Beshar makes his move.

Hamden Hall answered on a power play at 12:15, but RCDS senior captain Shayne Bingham put the Wildcats back in front when he blasted a shot from the blueline with just under 2:30 remaining in the first.

Freshman Michael Mossman made 54 saves in the FAA tournament.

The game’s high-scoring nature continued 32 seconds into the second when the Hornets knotted the score at 3-3. The Wildcats responded once again, with sophomore Michael Rocco connecting on a power play near the midway point of the championship tilt. Rye Country Day never relinquished the lead, as freshman Connor Hatch pumped in an insurance goal – the eventual game-winner – to put Hamden away in the final period.

Michael Rocco scored a goal in the title game.

The Wildcats, who play a difficult non-league schedule, advanced to the FAA title game by defeating visiting King 5-2 in the first round of the tourney. Zach Coppola and Hatch both scored a goal and recorded two assists, and Mossman made 23 saves. The victory avenged an earlier loss to the Vikings, a team RCDS has historically had their way with.

“We talked about how we would see them again in the playoffs,” said Bingham. “We had a long way to go, but we weren’t finished yet. The kids were down, but they pumped themselves back up again. It means a lot to us to have accomplished this.”

Sam Fleischman, Shayne Bingham, and Henry Beshar celebrate the big win.

— Jim Byrne

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