Sup, y’all. Before I write a bit about the state tournaments and the season, I want to take a second to thank all the people who took the time to drop me a line, either by commenting on this site or by sending me an email, wishing me luck. There are ups and downs associated with every and any move, and I’ve had plenty of both already, but those emails made dealing with the downs a bit easier. I really missed being around for the culmination of the hockey season, and although I kept informed – writers and coaches called me and I listened to some of the Continental games online – it could not top the excitement of actually being there. It’s safe to say I already miss New Jersey high school hockey and all the people that are a part of it.
That said, a big shout-out to newspapers around the state for their coverage of the end of the state tournament. Everybody in the hockey community laments the lack of space given to hockey during the season in favor of basketball and wrestling and the other winter sports (bowling, really?), but I thought coverage of the state tournament was very good. In particular, props to Mike Morreale and Paul Bruno, colleagues and friends, for their hard work. Trying to cover four games in one day and two late games in another – while dealing with deadlines and editors – is pretty out of control and deserves some respect. And one more shout-out to the Ledger for getting the job done by sending two additional writers and by posting video highlights (that just happened to be lifesaving for those of us who have to write about games we haven’t seen).
My final Top 20s are posted, and while I’m sure they will not be without controversy, I hope they are consistent with the style and system I used all season. I’m not going to recap the final few games here – they’ve been well covered already and I didn’t even see them. A few notes, however: You have to love the irony of Morris County sweeping the titles in the name of Aspen Ice, not Mennen Arena; Pope John became only the second coed private school to reach the semifinals; Randolph has reached the public final in four of the last five years and gone 2-2 in those games; never bet against Tenafly or Fair Lawn in the state tournament; Chris Volonnino is a beast around the net; and both championship goalies appeared to sport playoff beards, if I saw things correctly.
Embarrassing Note of the Week: When submitting my Top 20 to HNIB this morning, I noted that I totally overlooked Ridge’s state tournament performance when doing the rankings, so the Red Devils are in there where they belong, and adjustments made accordingly. Careless mistake on my part, so my apologies to all.
through a bit of sleuthing this afternoon while watching the Dominican Republic hammer Italy in baseball, I believe I have figured out the schedule for this weekend’s quarterfinals:
Saturday – South Mountain
4:15 pm (11) Notre Dame vs. (3) Pope John
6:15 pm (10) St. Augustine Prep vs. (2) Delbarton
Sunday – South Mountain
5:30 pm (5) Morristown-Beard vs. (4) Don Bosco Prep
7:30 pm (8) Bishop Eustace vs. (1) Seton Hall Prep
Sunday – Mennen Arena
6:00 pm (13) Clifton vs. (5) Montgomery
8:00 pm (9) Ridge vs. (1) Morris Knolls
Monday – Mennen Arena
6:00 pm (6) Bridgewater-Raritan vs. (3) Toms River North
8:00 pm (10) Indian Hills vs. (2) Randolph
Additionally, I am leaving the state tomorrow and moving to take a broadcasting job with the Alexandria Aces, an independent minor-league team in Alexandria, Louisiana. The timing is not great, since I will not be able to cover any of the 14 remaining hockey games, but I will try to keep results as up-to-date as possible and, internet connection permitting, will put together final rankings after the state title games.
I want to thank all the people who have asked about my job situation and wished me well or offered advice and suggestions, and maybe some of you will listen in this summer when our season gets underway May 16. As for next year, I cannot promise anything. I hope to continue hosting scores and standings at www.njhockey.org, as I did in college, but I imagine rankings and more detailed coverage will be beyond me.
MCSSIHL representation in the state tournaments was reduced to three Wednesday night, as 13th-seeded Clifton knocked off Chatham in the opening game at Mennen before Randolph rallied to crush Mountain Lakes 8-3.
NJSIAA Public round of 16: Clifton 3, Chatham 2
Although the game was held on Chatham’s home ice at Mennen Arena, Clifton seemed right at home. After all, the Mustangs pulled off one of the biggest upsets in state tournament history at Mennen Arena in 2001, and Clifton had a sizable advantage in terms of fans.
Chatham had a major advantage in terms of possession and chances in the opening stanza, but Chris Donini in the Clifton goal was up to the task. More importantly in terms of positioning itself for an upset, Clifton got the first goal. Against the run of play, Craig Junda won an offensive zone face-off and headed for the net, where he redirected a slap shot from standout forward Anthony Yelovich (how was he not Northern Red MVP, by the way?) through the legs of Chatham goalie James Stolfi. The Cougars drew level four minutes later on a nifty play by forward Jeff Chatterton. With a loose puck in the slot, Chatterton beat Donini’s pokecheck to the puck, flipped it into the air, and backhanded the puck out of mid-air behind the sprawling goalie.
Although Chatham started the second period on the power play, Clifton struck first nearly four minutes into the period. To nobody’s surprise, Yelovich was the architect, deking around two defensemen high in the right circle before backhanding a pass that left both defenseman and goalie stranded, setting up Junda for a high finish past Stolfi.
Stolfi, starting in place of the injured Michael Infante, made two saves to deny Clifton shorthanded chances in the middle of the period, diving to cut off Junda and stopping a sharp Yelovich shot. And after Chatham killed off Clifton’s first power play, the Cougars tied the game. The puck came off the end-boards to Chatterton parked to the left of the net, and he wristed a shot from a tight angle to beat Donini up high at the near post. Before anyone had caught their breath, however, Clifton responded with a goal from its second line, as Sean Yip’s shot from the left circle beat Stolfi up high for a 3-2 Clifton advantage. Just as in Chatham’s Mennen Cup semifinal win over Morris Knolls, a goal from either team’s second line was going to be a difference-maker, and you could tell from the Mustang celebrations they knew this one was key.
Chatham continued to try to wear down Clifton, skating its third line for regular shifts halfway into the third period, but Clifton seemed unaffected. Donini displayed great lateral movement to stop Mario Bronzino at the left post early in the period, but Chatham did not show true offensive initiative until the final minutes. Given a power play with 1:21 remaining, Chatham struggled to set up in the offensive zone and only pulled Stolfi with 22 seconds remaining, getting two shots before time expired.
Clifton advances to play Montgomery in the quarterfinals this weekend, again at Mennen Arena, and you have to give the Mustangs a decent chance at making some more Mennen magic.
Randolph 8, Mountain Lakes 3
The second game was the much anticipated rematch between Randolph and Mountain Lakes after a pair of tense one-goal battles earlier in the season. And it lived up to its billing for two periods before Randolph pulled away in the third.
Mountain Lakes came out feeding on adrenalin and emotion and had the lead within a minute, as Dan Lio stole the puck behind the net and fed a wide-open Nick Simone in the low slot, who one-timed it past a motionless Dan Diamond. Predictably, Randolph controlled much of the period and Lakes goalie Matt Lowell responded well to the pressure, holding onto the 1-0 lead.
With first-line forward Jacob Sutker’s shifts limited, Mountain Lakes was essentially rotating five forwards to Randolph’s ten. Yet the Lakers went on top 2-0 at the 9:13 mark when James Putney’s blue-line wrist shot hit Diamond’s pads and slowly trickled just over the goal line. Dan Swenson came off the Randolph bench to replace Diamond, but even he could not prevent the pumped-up Lakers from going ahead 3-0 late in the period. Putney stole the puck from a Randolph defenseman at the blue line and, with a 2-on-1 break, fed Lio for a breakaway. Swenson forced Lio wide, but the Lakers’ most dangerous offensive player kept his composure to get around Swenson and finish just inside the far post.
The ice cut could not have come at a better time for Randolph, and the Rams found their scoring touch in the second period, doing so (as usual) in front of their student fans. The first goal had an element of luck about it, as Rob Kral popped up in the slot to bang a shot that immediately deflected off a skate and shot through the legs of Lowell to make it 3-1. Probably the most important goal came at the 4:06 mark, as Ed Keenan fed Ryan Bannon in the right circle, and his wrist shot slipped through the legs of Lowell.
Lakes clung to its 3-2 lead through the middle of the period and was frustrated by penalty calls, with Randolph finally taking advantage on its fourth power play of the night. After a point shot by defenseman Kyle Krannich, the Rams converged on the net, and Ed Keenan finally slotted the third rebound past Lowell to tie the game. The Rams struck again less than a minute later, as captain Jason Kleinwaks found a streaking Greg DaSilva at the back post for an emotional tiebreaking goal.
Mountain Lakes trailed only 4-3 into the third period, but you had to be skeptical about its chances, given the lack of depth. And Randolph did not disappoint, as Kral sored with a perfect wrist shot less than three minutes into the period. Kral completed his hat trick late in the game, sandwiched between goals from Kleinwaks and Derek Ranger, as the Rams eliminated Mountain Lakes from the state tournament for the second consecutive season, once again by a five-goal margin. The Rams advance to a quarterfinal matchup with Indian Hills, whom they beat 6-1 during the regular season.
Clifton 3, Chatham 2
6:23 Cli #18 Craig Junda (#27 Anthony Yelovich)
10:33 Cha #12 Jeff Chatterton (#23 Pat Coyne)
3:40 Cli #18 Craig Junda (#27 Anthony Yelovich, #17 Maran Roszowski)
10:37 Cha #12 Jeff Chatterton (unassisted)
10:59 Cli #21 Sean Yip (#9 Oscar Jaramillo)
#30 Chris Donini (Cli) 36-34
#37 James Stolfi (Cha) 18-15
Power plays: Cli 0-1, Cha 0-3
Randolph 8, Mountain Lakes 3
0:46 ML #77 Nick Simone (#23 Dan Lio)
9:13 ML #9 James Putney (#44 Clint McDonough)
11:56 ML #23 Dan Lio (#9 James Putney)
1:44 Ran #9 Rob Kral (#29 Ryan Bannon)
4:06 Ran #29 Ryan Bannon (#16 Ed Keenan, #9 Rob Kral)
9:12 Ran (pp) #16 Ed Keenan (#29 Ryan Bannon, #21 Kyle Krannich)
10:03 Ran #26 Greg DaSilva (#25 Jason Kleinwaks)
2:53 Ran #9 Rob Kral (#29 Ryan Bannon)
6:52 Ran #25 Jason Kleinwaks (#11 Mike Turner)
10:59 Ran #9 Rob Kral (#29 Ryan Bannon, #16 Ed Keenan)
13:54 Ran (pp) #10 Derek Ranger (#25 Jason Kleinwaks)
#30 Matt Lowell (ML) 41-34
#15 Ray Reynolds (ML) 2-1
#1 Dan Diamond (Ran) 5-3
#31 Dan Swenson (Ran) 12-11
Power plays: ML 0-2, Ran 2-7
The biggest stories tonight came from the private tournament, where two more Gordon Conference teams were eliminated, leaving only half of the state’s top conference – the tournament’s top four seeds – still alive. Bishop Eustace beat St. Peter’s Prep for the second time this season, this time by a 6-3 margin thanks in part to 45 saves from Colin Saltiel. … CVC stalwart Notre Dame knocked off St. John Vianney for the second straight year, this time by a 5-1 score, as the Irish added two empty-net goals late. SJV has not won a state tournament game since 2003. Notre Dame is 0-6 all-time in private quarterfinals. … In the other private game of the day, Delbarton crushed Pingry 10-0 and will face St. Augustine Prep in the quarterfinals.
On the public side, NBIAL Division II champion Indian Hills beat Central Blue champion Hillsborough 4-1 at Aspen Ice in Flemington. The Braves are the second NBIAL team ever to reach the public quarterfinals, equaling Fair Lawn‘s feat of 2003 (before the NBIAL crowned a hockey champion). … The Cutters saw their own quarterfinal hopes fade against Central White champion Montgomery, as the Cougars pulled away for a 3-1 win.
NJSIAA Public Round of 16: Morris Knolls 9, Princeton 3
Defending public state champion Morris Knolls advanced to the quarterfinals with a 9-3 win over Princeton Tuesday. Although the Golden Eagles once again needed more than 20 saves from Josh Ofner, the issue was rarely in doubt, as Knolls outclassed the Little Tigers in finishing ability and goaltending.
Dan Duda set up Steven Jones for an early goal, and Tommy Tomensky added a power-play marker at the 8:20 mark. The game then turned late in the first period, as Tomensky fed Jones for a breakaway, and he was hauled down for a penalty shot. Jones easily converted with a backhand move around Princeton goalie Shane Leuck for a 3-0 lead. On Knolls’ next attack, Leuck covered for a face-off and gave Jones a quick, defensive jab as he came to the net, earning a stern word from one official. Within a minute, Duda sped past the Princeton defense and roofed a breakaway shot over Leuck for a 4-0 lead. Leuck, so instrumental to Princeton’s success, lost his cool and broke his stick on the goalpost, earning himself a ten-minute misconduct.
Knolls only got three shots in more than 10 minutes against backup Kristofer Bleach, but all found the net, and the Golden Eagles led 7-2 after two periods before cruising to a 9-3 win.
Duda, though he started on the blue line tonight, was the offensive architect, as he scored three goals and set up two others. His breakaway goal in the first minute of the second period was the most impressive, as he stepped up at the red line to steal the puck from John Ryan, beat three Little Tigers with a combination of speed and guile, and finished into the roof of the net over the diving pokecheck of Bleach. Jones scored four goals, three on his backhand, and Tomensky added two more for the final margin.
Morris Knolls 9, Princeton 3
3:27 MK #44 Steven Jones (#14 Dan Duda)
8:20 MK (pp) #41 Tommy Tomensky (#14 Dan Duda)
12:30 MK (ps) #44 Steven Jones
13:13 MK #14 Dan Duda (#44 Steven Jones, #10 Jimmy Timmins)
0:36 MK #14 Dan Duda (unassisted)
4:12 Pri #12 Peter Teifer (#6 Christian McCracken)
5:23 MK #14 Dan Duda (#40 Alex Clelland, #41 Tommy Tomensky)
5:39 MK #44 Steven Jones (#41 Tommy Tomensky, #7 Justin Lewandowski)
14:09 Pri #20 Sam Finnell (#12 Peter Teifer)
0:26 MK #44 Steven Jones (#17 Justin Lewandowski)
6:17 MK (pp) #41 Tommy Tomensky (unassisted)
14:05 Pri #18 John Ryan (#20 Sam Finnell)
#33 Shane Leuck (Pri) 29-23
#1 Kristofer Bleach (Pri) 3-0
#33 Josh Ofner (MK) 27-24
Power plays: Pri 0-3, MK 2-5
NJSIAA Private First Round: Morristown-Beard 2, Bergen Catholic 1 (OT)
Morristown-Beard snuck into the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA private state tournament after a dramatic 2-1 overtime win over Gordon Conference representative Bergen Catholic Monday, the Crimson’s second win of the year over the Crusaders. Freshman defenseman Bobby Yannotta set up Greg Alberti’s tying goal with 2:19 remaining and scored the winning goal 2:38 into overtime. It is Morristown-Beard’s second all-time state-tournament victory, the other a 6-3 win over Hudson Catholic in 2002.
Beard beat BC 5-2 in December, but the Crusaders made great strides throughout the season and went 3-2 down the stretch, including wins over Don Bosco Prep and St. John Vianney. Even though BC had just two wins at the state cutoff date, its pedigree, schedule, and comparative scores probably should have dictated being seeded ahead of No. 11 Notre Dame. The game was a fast, physical contest that seemed miles away from public games like Sunday’s Mountain Lakes-Montclair contest.
The game remained scoreless and virtually without chances – each team had less than 10 shots – for the first 23 minutes or so. Then the action began to heat up. Bergen Catholic goalie Angelo Tsaganeas had to make three saves in 10 seconds to keep Morristown-Beard off the scoreboard, and BC went on the power play immediately after. The Crusaders ran an efficient power play and forced five saves from Crimson goalie John Yanchek, in addition to Nick Ianora’s backhander that rang the post after a Yanchek pokecheck. BC continued its pressure and capitalized on a mistake in the period’s final minute when freshman forward Michael Kim picked up a turnover deep in the offensive zone and fed forward Geoff Hauck, entering the zone on a line change, high in the slot. Hauck whistled a wrist shot past Yanchek stick-side for a 1-0 lead. Bergen Catholic almost took advantage of another defensive mishap just 23 seconds later, but Ianora was again denied by the post.
The third period began in slightly bizarre fashion, as Bergen Catholic was whistled for a delay-of-game penalty after huddling at its bench for a cheer before the period began. Technically a penalty, but perhaps a warning would have sufficed in a state tournament game. It did not matter much, however, since Morristown-Beard ran one of the worst power plays you will ever see. The Crimson did not even set up their power play for more than a minute, got only one shot, and lost the power play when senior defenseman Pat Yannotta had to take a penalty to deny a breakaway. Bergen Catholic controlled play for much of the third period, and Morristown-Beard seemed to panic offensively, settling for slap shots from 10 feet inside the blue line.
But a power play at the 9:20 mark, combined with the urgency of the situation, seemed to inspire Beard. Tsaganeas made two stops on the power play, but the Crimson continued to apply pressure. Second-line forward Jake Lewis pressured the puck deep in the offensive zone on a line change, and Bobby Yannotta gloved a clearance attempt for a crucial blue-line keep. As I saw it, Matt Kruvant then tried to switch the puck from right to left for Greg Alberti, but his pass was out of reach and caromed off the boards. Alberti caught up with it in the left face-off circle and teed up a snap shot that beat Tsaganeas upstairs to level the game with just 2:19 remaining. Morristown-Beard had one last chance with an offensive zone face-off and three seconds remaining, but Alberti whistled a wrist shot high.
The stage was set for a dramatic overtime goal, but it came not from heralded defenseman Pat Yannotta, the Crimson’s best player all season, but his younger brother and defense partner Bobby. After holding the puck in at the left point, the younger Yannotta wristed a shot that squeezed between Tsaganeas’ shoulder and the top left corner for the winning goal. The win also gave Beard its first 20-win season at least since the early 1990s. The Crimson will face either Don Bosco Prep or Paramus Catholic in the private quarterfinals.
Morristown-Beard 2, Bergen Catholic 1 (OT)
14:15 BC #27 Geoff Hauck (#12 Michael Kim)
12:41 MB #19 Greg Alberti (#5 Matt Kruvant, #24 Bobby Yannotta)
2:38 MB #24 Bobby Yannotta
#30 Angelo Tsaganeas (BC) 24-22
#30 John Yanchek (MB) 19-18
Power plays: BC 0-2, MB 0-3
In other state tournament action Monday … Tenafly did it again, stunning 11th-seeded Ramapo 4-3 in overtime on a goal from Gideon Pappas. Standout Mike Kronfeld assisted on all four Tenafly goals. The 22nd-seeded Tigers, who lost in overtime in the quarterfinals last year as a No. 22 seed after a pair of upsets, will face Bridgewater-Raritan Wednesday at the Rock Ice Pavilion. … Randolph breezed by Park Regional 10-0 at Mennen Arena behind a first-period hat trick from Rob Kral. The Rams will take on Mountain Lakes Wednesday night. … Steinert won a sloppy contest at Mercer County Park 9-6 over Wall thanks to 24 saves from Alex Toth, one goal and four assists from Mitch Wien, and a had trick from D.J. Ruppert. The Spartans host Ridge Wednesday afternoon at Mercer in the round of 16, the farthest Steinert has advanced in the modern two-tournament era. … Princeton also represented the CVC well, knocking out at-large qualifier Middletown South by a 6-2 margin at IceLand. It is the earliest exit for Middletown South since 2001. The Little Tigers play at top-seeded Morris Knolls Tuesday night. … Toms River North had little trouble with Northern Highlands in an 8-1 win, while Old Bridge squeaked past Hopewell Valley 4-3. The Mariners and Knights will meet for the second time this season; Old Bridge won the first game, 7-5.
NJSIAA Public First Round: Mountain Lakes 4, Montclair 0
Mountain Lakes eased past Montclair 4-0 Sunday at Mennen Arena to reach an NJSIAA public round of 16 game Wednesday against a Morris County opponent to be determined. Conlin Sheridan scored two first-period goals for the Lakers, and that was all they needed.
I had only seen Montclair for about a period this season, and while I knew the Mounties were not deep, I did not know just how drastic the situation was. Bruce Parker skated one defense pairing – Bob VonHoffman and Matt Simeoni – the entire game until the game was out of reach. VonHoffman totaled 43:58 on the night and Simeoni 42:38, lagging only due to a two-minute minor penalty. The first period saw just 18 total skaters see the ice – 10 from Mountain Lakes and 8 from Montclair. The Lakers dominated, with a 17-5 shot advantage, and Sheridan twice blasted point shots past Nick Germany-Wald for the 2-0 advantage.
Montclair seemed to pace itself with more maturity than Mountain Lakes, and the Mounties had the better of play in the second period, but Lakes goalie Matt Lowell rose to every challenge. Lakes’ best chances all went through Dan Lio in transition. Play evened up a bit in the third period, but the game screeched to a halt with 6:56 remaining when a jarring hit shattered a pane of glass. After rink staff replaced the glass and cut the ice in full, the game resumed after a 25-minute delay. Montclair never seriously threatened to get back in the game, and Clint McDonough sealed things with an empty-net tally with 1:02 remaining. Lio added a late breakaway to provide the final 4-0 margin.
Mountain Lakes will probably realize its anticipated third meeting of the season with second-seeded Randolph. The Rams came from behind to beat the Lakers 2-1 in the regular season and needed an overtime goal to win the teams’ Mennen Cup quarterfinal, 3-2. Randolph beat Mountain Lakes 7-2 in the round of 16 last year. Randolph faces a third Morris County school, Park Regional, Monday night, with the winner facing Mountain Lakes Wednesday.
Mountain Lakes 4, Montclair 0
8:34 ML #3 Conlin Sheridan (#12 Jacob Sutker)
14:10 ML #3 Conlin Sheridan (#23 Dan Lio)
13:58 ML (en) #44 Clint McDonough (unassisted)
14:55 ML #23 Dan Lio (#21 Kyle Fisher)
#30 Nick Germany-Wald (Mclr) 25-22
#30 Matt Lowell (ML) 18-18
Power plays: Mclr 0-2, ML 0-2
I spent a little more time driving tonight than I had hoped, but it was another full day of state tournament action. It’s starting to feel like baseball season for me, watching Rice-Cal State Fullerton and the World Baseball Classic on my computer even as I write this, but it was plenty cold and icy for state tournament time today.
Friday saw all three Northern White teams lose in convincing fashion, as Princeton beat Lakeland 6-1 and I saw Ridgewood and West Milford both go out as well. In other action, Red Bank Catholic beat St. Joseph Montvale 4-2 in the private bracket, while Somerset County Tournament finalists Montgomery and Hillsborough each put up a seven-spot in routine wins.
Public First Round: (21) Fair Lawn 6, (12) Ridgewood 0
Perennial Cinderella Fair Lawn advanced to the round of 16 for the third time in four years, all as a 20-something seed, with a comprehensive, though not unexpected, 6-0 victory over Northern White champion Ridgewood at the Ice House.
The Maroons, as has been well documented, were without three players due to suspension, including a first-line forward and regular defenseman. Ridgewood almost took the lead in the first two minutes when standout forward Sam Graham rang the crossbar with a backhanded shot, but Fair Lawn took control for the remaining 43 minutes. The Cutters opened the scoring on the power play at the 2:18 mark, as Dan Roccanova’s point wrist shot found its way through traffic to beat Ridgewood goalie Justin Zegel. Fair Lawn used an aggressive 1-1-3 forecheck to limit Ridgewood’s possession, and the Cutters’ dominance paid off at 6:55, when Justin Scales was able to tip in the rebound of a point shot by Dave Roccanova.
Ridgewood head coach Jeff Nyhuis responded by pulling Zegel in favor of Bill Thoman, but Fair Lawn always had the advantage. Amazingly, the Cutters all but sealed the game with 2:33 left in the first period, again on the power play. Jason Eccles feathered a D-to-D pass to set up standout Gabe Capozzi, who had all day to pick out the top left corner with a wrist shot for a 3-0 advantage. Fair Lawn head coach Cory Robinson took advantage of the lead by skating three lines the rest of the game, and the Cutters’ unusually physical neutral-zone play seemed to surprise and anger the Maroons, who were a step slow between the blue lines all night.
In the third period, Fair Lawn needed strong goaltending from Dan Ivanir to withstand an early Ridgewood power play. The Cutters then settled into a more passive version of their 1-1-3 forecheck. Fair Lawn put the game away with three goals in a span of 3:16, with Eccles, Steven Drummond, and Mike Rispoli all notching goals. The Cutters advance to face fifth-seeded Montgomery Tuesday, but don’t expect a blowout. Fair Lawn beat (24th-seeded) Rumson/Fair Haven in 2003 to reach the quarterfinals before losing to Randolph, and the Cutters lost 1-0 in overtime to sixth-seeded Toms River South in 2004.
Public First Round: (6) Bridgewater-Raritan 6, (27) West Milford 1
Central Red champion Bridgewater-Raritan continued to not miss a beat without injured forwards Kevin Tino and Nick Loughlin, eventually rolling to a 6-1 win over West Milford at the Rock Ice Pavilion in Dunellen. The Panthers advance to face either Ramapo or Tenafly on Wednesday.
With serious congestion on 287-South and many a north-Jersey highway, which I also experienced, West Milford’s bus did not arrive until 8:07 for a scheduled 8:00 start. The teams came out for warmups at 8:25, and the delay had no obvious effects on the game. West Milford used an early power play and early adrenalin to slow Bridgewater down, but the Panthers eventually beat goalie Sean Ryan from close range, with Chris Caravanos tapping in from the edge of the crease with 4:58 remaining in the first period. Bridgewater dodged a bullet late in the period, when goalie Gary Biggs pokechecked the puck away from Highlander forward Steve Williamson on a breakaway after Williamson exited the penalty box.
The penalties came fast and furious in the second period, and tempers got a little hot late in the period. Bridgewater took advantage of the physical play and its overwhelming depth to wear down West Milford and take over the game. On the power play with less than five minutes to play, defenseman John Krossen slipped and almost fell at center ice, then skated into the zone, weaved around one defender, and surprised Ryan with a wrist shot stick side to doube the Panthers’ advantage. Bridgewater scored again in just six seconds, as Chris Tommins took the face-off and skated in on Ryan with a breakaway, deking to his forehand to make it 3-0. West Milford called time-out, and the Bridgewater bench was all smiles.
Krossen duplicated his feat 43 seconds into the third period, and Tim McLane later made it 5-0 with a rebound goal. Matt McCann deflected in a point shot to get West Milford on the board, but Tommins responded with a power play goal to make it 6-1. The Highlanders began to lose their cool as the game wound down, and Ryan was whistled as the third man into a skirmish and sent to the locker room. Bridgewater definitely had too much speed and skill for West Milford tonight, but Wednesday’s game ought to be a different story if Ramapo can get by Tenafly.
Fair Lawn 6, Ridgewood 0
2:18 FL (pp) #32 Dan Roccanova (#91 Justin Scales, #21 Steven Drummond)
6:55 FL #91 Justin Scales (#21 Steven Drummond, #4 Dave Roccanova)
12:27 FL (pp) #18 Gabe Capozzi (#22 Jason Eccles, #32 Dan Roccanova)
9:27 FL #22 Jason Eccles (unassisted)
11:09 FL (pp) #21 Steven Drummond (#32 Dan Roccanova, #91 Justin Scales)
12:43 FL #8 Mike Rispoli (#7 Matt DePompeo)
#30 Dan Ivanir (FL) 21-21
#37 Justin Zegel (Rwood) 9-7
#38 Bill Thoman (Rwood) 24-20
Power plays: FL 3-4, Rwood 0-3
Bridgewater-Raritan 6, West Milford 1
10:02 BR #13 Chris Caravanos (#17 Tim McLane, #12 Steve Minichini)
10:18 BR (pp) #10 John Krossen (unassisted)
10:24 BR #18 Chris Tommins (#21 Mike McCullough)
0:43 BR (pp) #10 John Krossen (#22 Nick Powers)
6:14 BR #17 Tim McLane (#12 Steve Minichini, #8 Donny Pellegrino)
8:28 WM #7 Matt McCann (#3 Alex Barr)
10:39 BR (pp) #18 Chris Tommins (#22 Nick Powers, #8 Donny Pellegrino)
#30 Sean Ryan (WM) 38-32
#35 Tim Webb (WM) 7-7
#23 Gary Biggs (BR) 16-15
Power plays: WM 0-4, BR 3-9