on the tourney trail

March 4, 2006 on 12:31 am | In game recap | Comments Off on on the tourney trail

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


FL    3 0 3 6
Rwood 0 0 0 0


FL    14  8 11 33
Rwood 8  4 9 21

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


WM 0 0 1 1
BR 1 2 3 6


WM 4 5 7 16
BR 14 11 20 45

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

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