SCIAA Semifinals – the curses continue

December 27, 2005 on 10:11 pm | In game recap | 1 Comment

Both SCIAA tournament semifinals produced shutout upsets on Tuesday, with Central Red powers Bridgewater-Raritan and Ridge falling to first-year program Hillsborough and 2003 champion Montgomery, respectively.

Montgomery 3, Ridge 0
In their previous meeting Dec. 10, No. 17 Ridge beat Montgomery despite missing two players due to suspension. If anything, the Red Devils were expected to inflict more damage on the White Division Cougars in this meeting. But Montgomery (6-1) got two power-play goals in the first 5:42 en route to a surprising 3-0 win over Ridge (4-2-2) in the day’s first game at Bridgewater Sports Arena.

The Cougars opened the scoring through Mike Yetter at the 2:46 mark when he stole the puck as a Ridge defenseman tried to clear it and quickly snapped a shot underneath Jon Lyons before the Red Devil goalie could react. Given another power-play opportunity less than three minutes later, Montgomery needed only 20 seconds to convert. This time Sean Hover’s point shot trickled off the inside of Lyons’ pad and into the net for a 2-0 margin. After killing a Ridge power play, the Cougars struck again with an element of fortune at 9:53. Mike Violette threw a blind backhand in front of the net from the right corner. The puck caromed off a Ridge defender and on goal, where Lyons made the initial save. Robbie Sparno was first to the rebound, however, and tapped it in at the back post for a commanding 3-0 lead.

The remainder of the game was a blur of power plays, turnovers, and solid goaltending. Coasting with a 3-0 lead, Montgomery was able to get the puck deep in the zone and rely on its forecheck to slow down the opposition. Ridge forwards, in contrast, were too often dispossesed while stickhandling into the zone and lacked the tape-to-tape passes necessary to get through the netural zone with space. Sophomore goalie Ian Healey had a tremendous game for Montgomery, stopping all 25 shots he faced, including 20 saves over the final two periods.

Hillsborough 1, Bridgewater-Raritan 0
The second game was expected to be the closer contest, and it did not disappoint. First-year program Hillsborough (8-0) condemned No. 1 seeds to an 0-3 all-time record in the tournament with a 1-0 upset of No. 10 Bridgewater-Raritan (6-1) in a pulsating semifinal.

A first-year program with a lot of junior hockey experience, Hillsborough skates just four seniors and relies on its top line, especially junior Michael Lysyj, for most of its offense. The Raiders served early notice they would not be intimidated when they were able to kill off a power play just 15 seconds into the game. Perhaps the most crucial play of the first period, however, came just past the halfway mark. Raider goalie Eric Visnovsky came out for a loose puck, but with pressure from each team, his clearance was deflected toward the empty net. Visnovsky’s helmet flew off, mandating a stoppage of play and, in this case, nullifying a Panther goal.

Bridgewater-Raritan had a slight edge in even-strength play during the first period and early in the second period, but the game completely changed at the 6:02 mark. Hillsborough forward Alex Merry took advantage of a defensive slip to skate in against Gary Biggs with a semi-breakaway. Biggs reacted well to save Merry’s wrist shot, but a sliding Bridgewater-Raritan player inadvertently knocked the puck into his own goal, sending Hillsborough and its crowd into rapture. The Panthers almost tied the game within two minutes, as Visnovsky made a sprawling toe save on Chris Caravanos after a deft backdoor pass from Kevin Tino. The remainder of the period was all Hillsborough, as Biggs made a ridiculous total of 16 saves, at least half of them in the final five minutes.

Having skated three lines most of the game and playing with desperation, Bridgewater-Raritan was able to turn the tables in the third period. The Panthers had four minutes of power-play time from the 7:15 to the 11:29 marks of the third period, forcing nine saves out of Visnovsky. After stopping three chances in a row on the first power play, he made the game’s biggest save on the second by getting across his crease to deny Tino, who had snuck to the back post for a rebound. The defending champions pulled Biggs with 1:08 to go but never came close to tying the game.


Montgomery 3, Ridge 0

Scoring
Mtgry 3 0 0 3
Rid   0 0 0 0
Shots
Mtgry  7 5 7 19
Rid    5 10 10 25

1st
2:46 Mtgry (pp) #20 Mike Yetter (#12 Jim Yetter)
5:42 Mtgry (pp) #7 Sean Hover (#20 Mike Yetter)
9:53 Mtgry #2 Robbie Sparno (#19 Mike Violette)
2nd
none
3rd
none

Goalies
#35 Ian Healey (Mtgry) 25-25
#45 Jon Lyons (Rid) 19-16

Power plays: Mtgry 2-5, Rid 0-6

Hillsborough 1, Bridgewater-Raritan 0

Scoring
Hboro 0 1 0 1
BR   0 0 0 0
Shots
Hboro  4 17 8 29
BR   8 5 8 29

1st
none
2nd
6:02 Hboro #18 Alex Merry (unassisted)
3rd
none

Goalies
#32 Eric Visnovsky (Hboro) 29-29
#23 Gary Biggs (BR) 29-28

Power plays: Hboro 0-4, BR 0-5

1 Comment »

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  1. history shows in this tournament and it still stands true that the 1 seed has never won this tournament. Should be a good game today

    Comment by tracy — 28 December 2005 #

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