Gordon Cup semifinals

February 22, 2006 on 11:27 pm | In game recap | Comments Off on Gordon Cup semifinals

The Gordon Conference was created to produce classic games like Wednesday’s semifinals.

The first semifinal, between Seton Hall Prep and Don Bosco Prep, had the laid-back crispness of most games at South Mountain, and it took the unbeaten Pirates a while to get going. The fourth-seeded Ironmen, playing without first-line forward Greg Blinn, took the lead with 58.5 seconds remaining in the first period. Skating out of his own zone, Billy Sanborn banked a soft pass off the right boards to Chris Buquicchio crossing the blue line. Buquicchio wristed a shot on net from the right circle that snuck through Zach Truesdell to give Bosco a 1-0 lead.

The Ironmen went up 2-0 early in the second period on the game’s only power play, although the play came in transition, rather than in an offensive-zone set. With a three-on-two on the left side, Sanborn made a slick backdoor pass that, although it was slowed down by a Pirate defenseman’s stick, found Kevin Reich arriving to finish just inside the right post to make it a 2-0 game. As so often happens, the goal seemed to wake Seton Hall Prep up, and the Pirates got back into things less than two minutes later when Matt Markovich slid a pass out of the right corner to a cutting Jan Trampota, who one-timed the puck just inside the left post. Seton Hall Prep tied the game four minutes later, when, from behind the net, John Passantino fed Chris Preziosi in the slot, and Bosco goalie Erick Cinotti could not hold his wrist shot.

The third period was a stop-start affair at times, with Seton Hall Prep coach Peter Herms complaining about Don Bosco’s sloppy line changes on the numerous stoppages of play. Herms kept skating three lines most of the period, while Gene Katz mixed and matched but seemed to shorten his bench a bit. The Ironmen had the better of play in the third period, with Truesdell reacting well to stop a sneaky backhand from the outstanding Sanborn and Reich ringing the crossbar with 1:59 remaining.

Seton Hall Prep had a definite advantage in overtime, with Bosco’s first line visibly weary. The Pirates dominated much of the period and finally cashed in to preserve their unbeaten record at the 9:42 mark. John Passantino swept in from the right wing, dragging a defender, and forced Cinotti dive to save his backhand attempt. The rebound lay loose in the low slot, and Preziosi reached it first to pop the puck into the now vacant net for the winning goal.

The overtime threw a wrench into my plan to cruise up Route 10 and make it to Randolph for most of the Delbarton-CBA game. In the end, I missed both goals in that game by about one traffic light.

Delbarton dominated the first two periods, if shot counts are any indication, but CBA struck first midway through the second period. Just after a power play ended, Mark Rivera was able to redirect a point shot from Michael Zuppe to give the sixth-seeded Colts the advantage. Delbarton won both meetings between the teams this year, and the Green Wave were back on level terms within 40 seconds, as third-line forward Zach Williams netted the tying goal. Williams’ return from injury has solidified Delbarton’s third line.

Its top two units were unable to crack Gary Kondler, however, and CBA seemed intent on duplicating its 2-1 overtime triumph in last year’s private championship game. The Colts got a mid-period power play in the third, and although Delbarton’s Jeff Leone had to make three saves in the first half of the power play, the best chance fell to Delbarton. Dan Pressl earned a neutral-zone steal for a breakaway, but could not find the net after deking to his backhand. Kondler later stopped consecutive shots from Williams and made a big save on Alex Smigelski with a minute remaining to send the game to overtime.

Delbarton appeared to have a slight advantage in overtime, with CBA content to rely on counterattacks and shoot from the blue line to test Leone. The period was fraught with tension on both sides, even moreso than in the Seton Hall Prep game, and seemed to bring out the best in both teams. With three minutes left in the 15-minute period, the Colts were clearly confident they would have an advantage in a shootout, relying on Kondler to outplay Leone.

So, five years after their epic private semifinal shootout, CBA and Delbarton were at it again. CBA won the coin toss, so Delbarton shot first. Kondler denied Matt Schillings with a poke check after Schillings moved to his backhand, but Leone answered by stopping Trevor Van Riemsdyk’s attempt at the five-hole. In the second round, Kondler foiled Pressl with a glove save, but CBA’s Mike Chilton missed while trying to beat Leone stick-side.

In the third round, Smigelski deked to his forehand and skated back to the Delbarton bench with celebratory shouts, but Kondler, flat on his stomach, had made a glove save to keep the shootout scoreless. Alex DePalma then gave CBA the lead, beating Leone with a fake to his forehand. Kondler had already stopped arguably Delbarton’s three best breakaway threats, but Charles Nerbak followed Smigelski’s lead by deking to his forehand and flipping it over Kondler’s glove. Leone responded with his best save of the shootout, a pad save on a low shot by Brett DePalma.

With the shootout tied 1-1 heading into the fifth round, Chris Volonnino confidently deked to his forehand before sliding the puck under Kondler for a 2-1 lead. Rivera responded with maybe the best-taken penalty shot, given the pressure, roofing a wrist shot to force extra frames. Freshman Alex Velischek stepped up for Delbarton’s sixth shot, snapping a left-handed shot past Kondler’s stick for a 3-2 lead. Needing to score, Ken Jordan tried to duplicate Rivera’s shot but missed high, and Delbarton advanced to its second Gordon Cup championship appearance in as many tries. Imagine what a fourth meeting would be like … you could see it in the private quarterfinals.

Seton Hall Prep 3, Don Bosco Prep 2, OT


DBP 1 1 0 0 2
SHP 0 2 0 1 3


DBP  6  9  7  4 26
SHP  5 16  6  6 33

14:01 DBP #12 Chris Buquicchio (#21 Billy Sanborn)
2:10 DBP (pp) #7 Kevin Reich (#21 Billy Sanborn)
4:01 SHP #19 Jan Trampota (#10 Matt Markovich, #7 Matt Kufta)
8:00 SHP #12 Chris Preziosi (#26 John Passantino, #24 Nick Passantino)
9:42 SHP #12 Chris Preziosi (#26 John Passantino)

#1 Erick Cinotti (DBP) 33-30
#30 Zach Truesdell (SHP) 26-24

Power plays: DBP 1-1

Delbarton 2, CBA 2, OT (Delbarton advances 3-2 in shootout)


CBA 0 1 0 0 1
Del 0 1 0 0 1


CBA 0 0 1 0 1 0 2
Del 0 0 0 1 1 1 3


CBA 4 6  6  7 23
Del 14 11  8  3 36

7:03 CBA #21 Mark Rivera (#7 Michael Zuppe, #8 Ken Jordan)
7:42 Del #25 Zach Williams (#13 Erik Olson, #2 Brian Fuller)

#36 Gary Kondler (CBA) 36-35
#35 Jeff Leone (Del) 23-22

Power plays: CBA 0-2, Del 0-1

CBA – Alex DePalma, Mark Rivera
Del – Charles Nerbak, Chris Volonnino, Alex Velischek
CBA – Kondler 3-6
Del – Leone 2-4

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