Beard drops Gordon foe

December 19, 2005 on 8:32 pm | In game recap | Comments Off on Beard drops Gordon foe

Morristown-Beard 5, Bergen Catholic 2
No. 5 Bergen Catholic became the first Gordon Conference team this year to lose a game to a non-Gordon opponent, dropping a 5-2 decision Monday to No. 18 Morristown-Beard at the Ice House in Hackensack. The Crimson played their best game of the year by using accurate shooting and superior goaltending to earn an important victory.

After a scoreless first period that saw only eight combined shots on goal, the offenses woke up in the second period. Crimson forward Greg Alberti deked around BC goalie Jesse Adler just 10 seconds into the period for a 1-0 lead, but the Crusaders’ Danny Picinic deflected in a back-post pass just eight seconds later to re-tie the game 1-1. Bergen Catholic went on the power play soon after, but Mikey Minskoff reached Corey Schneider’s clearance in the right face-off circle and snapped a low shot under Adler’s blocker to make it 2-1. Morristown-Beard (4-1) added to its lead just a minute later, when Alberti’s wraparound pass went through the crease and, with Adler unsure of where the puck was, Matt Kruvant wristed the puck into a virtually empty net.

After a mid-period series of odd-man rushes that entertained but produced no shots, Morristown-Beard took a commanding three-goal lead with just 2:18 left in the stanza. Curling behind the net, Alberti placed a perfect pass on the tape of cutting forward Turner Paine, who one-timed a shot into the top right corner. Things continued to happen in flurries, with a slashing penalty against Beard, and another Crimson player was given an unsportsmanlike conduct minor on the play. The Crusaders only needed 16 seconds to score with the 5-on-3 advantage, as Picinic scrambled home the rebound of Brian Giblin’s point shot, making the score 4-2.

Morristown-Beard essentially sealed the game 1:39 into the third period, as Greg Alberti beat Adler from the left corner with a power-play wrist shot. Bergen Catholic (1-3-1) upped its intensity for the rest of the period, but the outstanding form of John Yanchek (20 saves) kept the Crusaders at bay, and intensity finally turned into frustration toward the end of the period, as Morristown-Beard had four power plays in the period.

Morristown-Beard 5, Bergen Catholic 2


MB  0 4 1 5
BC  0 2 0 2


MB  2 10 11 23
BC  6 9 7 22

0:10 MB #19 Greg Alberti (#9 Sam Altiero)
0:18 BC #20 Danny Picinic (#31 Drew Arndt)
2:29 MB (sh) #4 Mikey Minskoff (#23 Corey Schneider)
3:26 MB #5 Matt Kruvant (#19 Greg Alberti, #21 Dan Shurts)
12:42 MB #3 Turner Paine (#19 Greg Alberti, #12 John Donnally)
13:42 BC (pp) #20 Danny Picinic (#16 Brian Giblin)
1:39 MB (pp) #19 Greg Alberti (#9 Sam Altiero)

#30 John Yanchek (MB) 22-20
#1 Jesse Adler (BC) 23-18

Power plays: MB 1-6, BC 1-5

weekend update

December 19, 2005 on 2:06 am | In analysis | Comments Off on weekend update
  • I was out of town for a wedding this weekend, but I got back in time to cook up my first Top 20 rankings of the season. I’m sure there will be plenty of criticism, and I can’t wait.
  • Meanwhile, scores? I think I got one e-mail on Sunday with a score when there were 13 games. I much prefer e-mails with some little tidbit about the game (even if it’s just shot totals) to tracking down scores on the NJO forum.
  • I’m looking forward to this week, though. Monday is a bit slow, but there are good games every night, culminating with a 31-game extravaganza Friday. Without going to South Jersey, I think my best bet is to start Friday at the SCIAA tripleheader at Bridgewater and leave during the second game to drive up for the Don Bosco-Randolph game at 8:45. But I’m open to suggestions. EDIT: Apparently, the Randolph game is at 5:30, so I’ll have to concoct a new plan.
  • Southern Red action, SCIAA pairings

    December 15, 2005 on 11:59 pm | In analysis | 8 Comments

    well, the Southern Red certainly deserved some attention tonight, so let’s take a look. All seven teams were in action, and the biggest result might have been Toms River North’s 4-3 win over Bishop Eustace. The Crusaders went 11-1 in division play last year and have won three consecutive Handchen Cup titles. St. Augustine Prep also earned a big win, beating up-and-comer Monsignor Donovan 6-3 at Winding River. The Hermits ascend to the division lead thanks to a win over TRN, but they still have to beat Eustace. Finally, RBC cruised past Middletown North 9-3 and Middletown South was very respectable in a 5-4 loss to Gordon Conference foe St. John Vianney. Right now, you would have to rank the teams as follows: SA, TRN, BE, MD, RBC, MidS, MidN.

    The Somerset County (SCIAA) Tournament seedings also came out tonight. I’m really looking forward to this tournament, as you have two big rivals – Bridgewater and Ridge – and two great first-round matchups: Pingry/Hillsborough and Montgomery/Watchung Hills. Personally, I’m waiting for the year Pingry strikes it rich and holds the Somerset and Morris County championships at the same time. This is the tournament’s third year, with Montgomery the unlikely 2003 champion and Bridgewater-Raritan proudly taking last year’s title. Pingry has lost in the final each time after upsetting Ridge in the semifinals; the Red Devils should finally get their first tournament win in their opener against Bernards.
    Additionally, there are now 31 games scheduled for Friday, December 23, including some real treats – actually there are too many to list here. But I think I may end up seeing at least half of the SCT’s 6 games.

    Randolph 3, Chatham 0

    December 15, 2005 on 6:28 pm | In game recap | Comments Off on Randolph 3, Chatham 0

    Randolph 3, Chatham 0
    Another day, another Mennen Division battle. Randolph and Chatham beat the storm Thursday, with the Rams wearing down the Cougars for a 3-0 victory. Randolph dominated most of the game, finishing with a 33-11 shot advantage. Typically, the Rams’ team speed and aggressive forecheck proved decisive. Despite a barrage of second-period penalties that produced six power plays, the game remained scoreless and, really, without any noteworthy scoring chances until the third period. Chatham goalie Ben Kepler showed quick reflexes to keep the game scoreless, while Dan Diamond was solid but untested in the Randolph goal.

    The breakthrough came just 50 seconds into the third period. Randolph defenseman Kyle Krannich, pinned against the right boards in his defensive zone, backhanded a bank pass out of the zone to forward Rob Kral. He advanced into the offensive zone and past the right face-off circle before dropping a pass for trailer Ed Keenan, whose wrist shot trickled through the pads of the heretofore solid Kepler. Randolph had to kill a Chatham power play before adding to its lead, but the Rams finally put the game away midway through the period. Third-line center John Beatrice controlled the puck in the low slot before snapping a shot past Kepler’s blocker. The Rams capitalized on the momentum to score again just 13 seconds later, with Ricky Roma setting up Kral for the clinching goal.

    In some sense, not much has changed in the Mennen Division; Randolph still has tremendous speed and depth but lacks dominant scorers, while Chatham seems one step behind.

    Randolph 3, Chatham 0


    Ran  0 0 3 3
    Cha  0 0 0 0


    Ran  11 12 10 33
    Cha  3 5 3 11

    0:50 Ran #16 Ed Keenan (#9 Rob Kral, #3 Kyle Krannich)
    7:42 Ran #19 John Beatrice (#17 Chris Maloney, #11 Chris Tamminga)
    7:55 Ran #9 Rob Kral (#22 Ricky Roma)

    #1 Dan Diamond (Ran) 11-11
    #34 Ben Kepler (Cha) 33-30

    Power plays: Ran 0-4, Cha 0-6

    freezing at the Cron Tournament

    December 15, 2005 on 12:05 am | In game recap | Comments Off on freezing at the Cron Tournament

    I bundled up in a turtleneck, two fleeces, and a jacket, and I still froze my butt off at the Cron Tournament Wednesday night. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I fought through an hour of traffic to get there for the last two periods of Mendham’s surprisingly lopsided 7-1 win over West Essex. Sean Hermann scored twice for Mendham to finish as the tournament’s leading scorer with six goals and four assists. During the break, I enjoyed some real hot-stove baseball (fireplace baseball, if you want to get technical) fireside while reading Five Seasons, by Roger Angell. I’m only partway through it, but so far I highly recommend the series of pieces on the 1972-76 baseball seasons. His elocution is amazing.

    Morris Knolls 3, Old Bridge 1
    This was an intriguing contest between two teams with a combined record last year of 44-6-5. Pregame focus centered on enigmatic Old Bridge forward Nick Geraci, who was on the roster but not the ice to start the game. With Geraci absent and Old Bridge dressing just 13 players, Morris Knolls (4-0) looked to be strolling along after a persistent rebound goal from Tommy Tomensky just 55 seconds into the game. But Old Bridge did not back down for the rest of the period, and the game exploded into life at the 10:32 mark. Golden Eagle forward Justin Lewandowski knocked an Old Bridge defenseman into goalie Travis O’Brien at the whistle, and O’Brien remained on the ice as tempers started to flare. Geraci picked this moment to arrive, and, 10 seconds later, he drew the first of three Morris Knolls penalties in the period.

    Set to open the second period with 40 seconds of 5-on-3 action, Old Bridge (3-1-1) was slow to line up for the face-off, huddling for a team cheer, and was assessed a delay-of-game penalty. Still, the difference in the Knights was readily apparent, as Geraci’s presence made defenseman and captain Ryan Melis (who showed some class by shaking hands with all four Knolls coaches before the game) more willing to go forward and the whole team more assertive. This aggression led to penalties, however, and Morris Knolls had five virtually consecutive power plays in the early part of the period. The Golden Eagles finally cashed in at 6:44, with Dan Duda patiently waiting for a lane to clear before dropping a great backdoor pass down low to Steven Jones, who slotted it behind O’Brien.

    The penalties continued immediately, as Knolls took a five-minute boarding penalty just 10 seconds later. For the period, Knolls skated 5-on-3 for almost 2:30, while Old Bridge had 3:49 of consecutive power play time thanks to the major penalty. Yet the Knights were unable to get a single shot on Morris Knolls goalie Josh Ofner during the lengthy power play, even against Knolls’ second-line penalty killers. Old Bridge got one more power-play chance in the period, and Ofner truly rose to the occasion as the difference in the game, although he did get some help when Geraci wrang a wrist shot off the post. By my unofficial tally, Ofner made at least nine saves in the game on Geraci alone.

    Morris Knolls essentially put the game away just 34 seconds into the third period on a brilliant individual goal from Dan Duda, who stepped up perfectly to intercept a pass at center ice, sped around one defenseman, and beat O’Brien with a high wrist shot. Old Bridge had four more power plays late in the game, finally breaking Ofner’s shutout bid with an even-strength goal at 14:14. Melis made an excellent pass from the right point to Geraci in the lower left circle, and he one-timed a high shot past Ofner. But Knolls hung on, despite nine Old Bridge power plays, for the win.

    Morris Knolls won its fourth consecutive Cron Tournament title, a feat surpassed only by the five consecutive championships St. Joseph Metuchen won from 1993-97. Ofner was named MVP for the second consecutive year, this time stopping 25 shots in the championship game and 47 of 49 for the tournament. Knolls extended its winning streak against public schools to 12 games. The loss broke an 18-game regular-season unbeaten streak for Old Bridge, which lost in the public round of 16 to Middletown North last year and was eliminated in the Southern Blue cup on a shootout.

    Morris Knolls 3, Old Bridge 1


    OB  0 0 1 1
    MK  1 1 1 3


    OB 7 14  5 26
    MK 7 10  5 21

    0:55 MK #41 Tommy Tomensky (#44 Steven Jones)
    6:44 MK (pp) #44 Steven Jones (#14 Dan Duda, #11 Danny Coiro)
    0:34 MK #14 Dan Duda (unassisted)
    14:14 OB #12 Nick Geraci (#22 Ryan Melis)

    #33 Travis O’Brien (OB) 21-18
    #33 Josh Ofner (MK) 26-25

    Power plays: MK 1-5, OB 0-9

    Monday at Mennen

    December 12, 2005 on 11:00 pm | In game recap | Comments Off on Monday at Mennen

    I caught the first two games at my home rink, Mennen Arena, Monday, both crucial games for Mennen Division teams.

    Morristown-Beard 3, Randolph 2
    In the first game between the three teams who appear to be actively chasing Morris Knolls in the Mennen Division, the Crimson were slightly fortunate to come away with a one-goal win. Neither team shot well on the day, and Beard (2-1) held off a spirited third-period comeback for the 3-2 win over Randolph (1-1).

    After a fairly even first period that saw Randolph use its speed to produce a swarming forecheck but fail to cash in on any opportunities, Morristown-Beard took control of the game in the final minute. After Dan Swenson made a save on Crimson forward Greg Alberti, Dan Shurts controlled the rebound in the right face-off circle, deked between one defender’s legs, and lifted a backhand over Swenson’s glove at the near post for a 1-0 lead. Then came the crushing blow, after a penalty against Randolph with 0:03 remaining in the period. Beard head coach John Puskar pulled his goalie for an extra attacker on the offensive-zone face-off. That decision, combined with a slow clock start, set up Pat Yannotta for a bad-angle slap shot from the right corner that snuck through Swenson at the buzzer.

    The game appeared to swing in Morristown-Beard’s favor early in the second period. With the Crimson on the power play, Ram defenseman Ricky Roma stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated in against John Yanchek with a brekaway. Skating in from the left side, Roma deked to his backhand, but Yanchek made a sprawling glove save at the right post to preserve the 2-0 lead. The Crimson added to their lead just one minute later on their third power play of the game. Yannotta was again the key figure, keeping the puck in the offensive zone with a gloved knock-down at the blue line before whipping a shot on net. Swenson made the save, but Sam Altiero was on hand to slot in the rebound. Randolph increased its pressure, aided by two power plays, and had a 26-15 shot advantage through two periods but remained in a 3-0 hole.

    After killing an early penalty in the third period, Randolph came to life on a strange goal at the 4:04 mark. Ed Keenan’s wraparound attempt was deflected straight up in the air. With Yanchek down to protect against the wraparound, he lost sight of the puck, which caromed off his back and into the crease, where Greg Da Silva was on hand to tap it in. The Rams got to within a goal just 1:36 later, as forward Rob Kral rode a defender inside from the right boards and squeezed a bad-angle wrist shot between Yanchek’s glove shoulder and the crossbar for a terrific goal. Randolph only got more aggressive and confident as the period wore on, but never seriously tested Yanchek; his second-period save on Roma turned out to be the key play.

    Randolph will turn its attention to another crucial division clash with rival Chatham on Thursday, while Morristown-Beard could have trouble with Mountain Lakes, a tough defensive team, the same day.

    Morris Hills 4, Pingry 2
    It is far too early in the season to be talking about must-win games, but Morris Hills’ contest against Pingry was as close as you can get. In their first season in the Mennen Division, the Scarlet Knights played well but lost their first two divisional contests. They have yet to suit up all three first-line forwards in a league game, with the trio of Jon Gaffney, Scott Shapiro, and Joe DiScala each missing a game.

    It did not matter which two were playing in the first period, however, as Pingry (1-1-1) took advantage of an uninspired Morris Hills (2-2) team to take a 2-0 lead. Leading forward Dan Ambrosia opened the scoring at the 2:43 mark for John Magadini’s team, creeping out from behind the net and backhanding a shot through the legs of Ilya Schuf. Big Blue forward Dan Weiniger scored a similar goal midway through the period, skating out from the opposite corner and roofing a wrist shot past Schuf’s glove. Morris Hills outshot Pingry but, setting the tone for the game, took three penalties in the first period.

    The Scarlet Knights got two power plays early in the second period, however, and although they did not score, Gaffney and Shapiro seemed to come to life. Late in the period, Gaffney hit Shapiro with a pass at center ice, and the latter stickhandled through the slot before backhanding a shot over Pingry goalie Bard Riccardi. (On a side note, Bard? Are you serious? Only at Pingry. All name jokes aside, and with no offense to his parents, he played well.) Pingry went on the power play with 1:41 left in the period, and Hills’ frustration showed a bit when Gaffney was called for closing his glove on the puck in the offensive zone. But Shapiro won the resulting neutral-zone face-off and wristed a shot from the high slot that caught Riccardi by surprise, tying the game.

    The tying goal seemed to give Morris Hills confidence in the third period, and Gaffney scored probably the best goal I’ve seen this season to get things started. He intercepted a pass in his own right face-off circle and took off, skating past three defenders and deking past a fourth before beating Riccardi with an elaborate move and tucking the puck in on the left side. Soon after, he skated in alone on Riccardi with a semi-breakaway and deked to his backhand, this time, turning away in celebration. But Riccardi made a diving lunge at the puck to save a goal, despite Gaffney’s protests that it had crossed the line. Nevertheless, he sewed up the game with 7:08 remaining on another shorthanded strike, this one a lightning-quick wrist shot from the left wing.

    Like most games this season, the game was marred by penalties, but Morris Hills pulled out the win to stay on pace for a state tournament berth. Pingry has now squandered multiple-goal leads in both league games it has played, but the Big Blue are much improved over past seasons.

    Morristown-Beard 3, Randolph 2


    MB 2 1 0 3
    Ran 0 0 2 2


    MB 8 7  2 17
    Ran 14 12  9 35

    14:22 MB #21 Dan Shurts (#19 Greg Alberti)
    15:00 MB (pp) #10 Pat Yannotta (#19 Greg Alberti)
    3:52 MB (pp) #9 Sam Altiero (#10 Pat Yannotta)
    4:04 Ran #26 Greg Da Silva (#16 Ed Keenan, #10 Derek Ranger)
    5:40 Ran #9 Rob Kral (#15 Ed Keenan)

    #30 John Yanchek (MB) 35-32
    #31 Dan Swenson (Ran) 17-14

    Power plays: MB 2-4, Ran 0-4

    Morris Hills 4, Pingry 2


    Pin 2 0 0 2
    MH 0 2 2 4


    Pin 8 5 6 19
    MH 10 7 12 29

    2:43 Pin #26 Dan Ambrosia (unassisted)
    8:41 Pin #17 Dan Weiniger (#14 Andrew Krill)
    12:09 MH #10 Scott Shapiro (#9 Jon Gaffney)
    14:01 MH (sh) #10 Scott Shapiro (unassisted)
    1:34 MH #9 Jon Gaffney (unassisted)
    7:52 MH (sh) #9 Jon Gaffney (unassisted)

    #33 Bard Riccardi (Pin) 29-25
    #1 Ilya Schuf (MH) 19-17

    Power plays: Pin 0-6, MH 0-4

    a busy Saturday

    December 10, 2005 on 11:24 pm | In game recap | Comments Off on a busy Saturday

    I had my first driving Saturday of the season, seeing most of three games at three different rinks. I started out at South Mountain for CBA-Seton Hall Prep, moved to Randolph for the last two periods of Pope John-Delbarton, and finished up at Mennen for Mendham-Jefferson.

    Seton Hall Prep 1, CBA 0
    It took me a bit to adjust to the new-look South Mountain Arena, which is under renovation. From what I could tell, it’s going to be awesome when finished. I’ve always been a fan of the airplane-hangar look, and if they can just get lighting to match the new seats and boards, it’ll be a gem.
    Seton Hall Prep controlled the game throughout, playing with much more speed and confidence in the offensive zone. The Colts tired themselves out backchecking, but limited Seton Hall Prep’s odd-man rushes. Despite a 21-6 SHP shot advantage, the game was scoreless into the third period. CBA survived two lengthy 5-on-3 power plays for Seton Hall, while the Colts failed to take advantage of two breakaways.
    Ryan Cuming was outstanding in net for CBA, including a brilliant three-save sequence three minutes into the game. After a 1-1 tie a week ago against St. Peter’s Prep with a big shot advantage, the difference for Seton Hall on this Saturday were senior stars Mike Cacciotti and Rem Vanderbeek, who both missed last week’s game. Early in the third period, Cacciotti’s deft pass from the left corner found Vanderbeek’s tape in the low slot for a one-timer through the legs of Cuming. The Pirates were never able to put the game away, but CBA, playing without transfer Mike Chilton as he sits out the required 30 days, had no offensive touch around the net.

    Pope John 1, Delbarton 1
    South Mountain to Aspen is not exactly a short trip, so we missed the first period of the Delbarton-Pope John game. We arrived with Delbarton leading 1-0 on a first-period goal from Dan Pressl. Pope John goalie Kevin Kobilinski (19 saves) kept the Lions in the game on three Green Wave power plays in the second and third periods. Although Pope John failed to generate many good chances, the Lions tied the game with 6:47 remaining in the third period on a point shot that Delbarton goalie John Leone (17 saves) never saw. Delbarton had pulled out a last-second victory over Don Bosco Prep earlier in the week, but Pope John was the more aggressive team down the stretch, finishing with an 8-4 shot advantage in the third period.

    Mendham 5, Jefferson 2
    I returned to Morristown in time to catch this game. The first two periods were a bit dull, with the only goal a fluke from the far blue line that gave Jefferson a 1-0 lead. But Mendham woke up in the third period on two early goals from the delightfully named Giovanni Marinelli. David Neves added two goals before Marinelli completed his hat trick into an empty net.



    CBA 0 0 0 0
    SHP 0 0 1 1


    CBA 3 3 6 12
    SHP 10 11 11 32

    1:04 SHP #17 Rem Vanderbeek (#11 Mike Cacciotti)

    #1 Ryan Cuming (CBA) 32-31
    #30 Zach Truesdell (SHP) 12-12

    Power plays: CBA 0-3, SHP 0-6

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