on the road for the preliminary round

February 28, 2006 on 11:48 pm | In game recap | Comments Off on on the road for the preliminary round

I hit the back roads of Bergen County for three preliminary round games tonight. Went to Mackay Park for the first time, saw way more of Paterson than I ever intended, and found part of the Hamburg Turnpike I never knew existed. On the way, I fit in a pair of overtime games and a lot of quality goaltending.

In the first game I saw, at the Ice House, Fair Lawn breezed past Point Pleasant 5-0, outshooting the tournament debutants 43-12. The Cutters advance to a round-of-16 game against Ridgewood Thursday at the Ice House. Fair Lawn, by the way, has qualified for seven consecutive NJSIAA tournaments and now has a 9-6 all-time record in tournament play, including three upsets. That’s impressive.

I then headed to Mackay Park for the first time (forgetting to wear two pairs of socks, a fatal mistake) for the Old TappanPark Regional game. My thought after about five minutes was “these teams are really even matched, and overtime is a real possibility,” and all the “OT” chants eventually paid off with an extra session. One night after compatriot Kinnelon was destroyed by another NBIAL team, Northern Highlands, Haas Cup champion Park Regional took a 2-0 lead on a pair of rebound goals. The Golden Knights fought back with two goals in the final 5:23, including a tip-in with 1:38 left to tie the game. Eric Phenix for Old Tappan and Anthony White for Regional were both outstanding in goal, with White making four saves in one sequence in the final minute to preserve the overtime.

If you think about it, overtime had to be in the cards. It was Regional’s third overtime game in its last four, and Old Tappan’s second in its past three games. And it was really cold. And for the second time in four days, Regional won with an overtime power play. The referees had made a visible effort to let the teams play in the extra period, but Old Tappan was whistled for an obvious holding penalty just after the halfway mark. Regional, which I thought had the deeper team, capitalized when Jon Strelec controlled a rebound and smoothly deked around Phenix for the winning goal. The Park advances to face Randolph Monday in the first round.

After a little Route 4 action and a scenic drive through Paterson, I hit the Ice Vault in time for the second period. As expected, Michael Costa kept Toms River South in the game most of the way, stopping 39 of 40 shots in regulation. West Milford took a 1-0 lead early in the second period when Keegan Saum scored on a rebound at the pack post. But the Highlanders took too many penalties, and TRS hung around. The Indians finally cashed in on a power play with 5:11 remaining in the third period when Kyle Slickers’ wrist shot found its way past Sean Ryan in the West Milford goal. But West Milford’s territorial advantage proved too much to handle, as Andrew Atieh took advantage of the carom of a missed shot to score just 1:50 into overtime. West Milford advances to face Bridgewater-Raritan Friday night.

In other action Tuesday, Clifton (11-1 over Sparta), Old Bridge (10-0 over Passaic Valley), and Tenafly (10-3 over Southern) cruised to preliminary-round victories. TRN tied St. John Vianney 3-3 and Delbarton beat St. Joseph Montvale 10-0 in non-tournament action.

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