State semifinal key moments

March 7, 2012 on 12:54 am | In analysis, game recap | No Comments

I was able to trek up to Mennen Arena for Tuesday’s state semifinal tripleheader (unfortunately I won’t be able to make Wednesday’s games, but I will see the finals on Friday for the first time since I was in high school), and while the final scores weren’t all that close, each game was intriguing in its own way. The biggest storyline across all three games, however, was the favored teams producing an immediate response to the underdogs’ big chance at a comeback. Remarkably, each of the three winning teams scored within 35 seconds of the opponent scoring what could have been a momentum-gaining goal. Read on for the details.In the opener, St. Peter’s Prep scored a well-worked power-play goal with 3:22 remaining in the second period to cut CBA’s lead to 2-1. The Marauders quickly swarmed the CBA zone looking for the tying goal, but the Colts sprung Matt Langlois on a breakaway at the other end, and he beat Nate Leo five-hole to all but seal the game. CBA’s response came in only 34 seconds of game action, which was the longest of any favorite’s response on the night. Prep did hit the post and have a shot deflect behind goalie Chris D’Alessio in the third period, but CBA killed off a late power play and added an empty netter for a 4-1 win.

In the second game, Morristown-Beard – despite being outshot by an 11-1 ratio at times – scored just three minutes into the third period, with Luke Moser finishing off a nice play by Andrew Callahan, to make it a 3-1 game. Delbarton responded in 27 seconds, when Trevor Agostino redirected a Tommy Davis point shot. The Green Wave resumed their domination and breezed to a 6-1 win.

In the nightcap, while the game turned in the second period (more on that later), Middletown South netted a power-play goal just 57 seconds into the third period, making it a 6-2 game. True to form, Randolph responded 18 seconds later when Andrew Tucker reached the puck first following a face-off and whipped a wrist shot past replacement goalie Shubhro Bose to provide the final goal in a 7-2 Rams win.

Despite the scoreline, the last game was probably the most intriguing of the day. High-scoring Middletown South (was not shut out this season, had scored at least four goals in 14 of its last 17 games) entered with a 17-game unbeaten streak, while stingy Randolph (only allowed more than two goals once all season, and won that game) remained the Public A favorite despite its Mennen Cup final loss to Morris Knolls.

Since Middletown South is virtually a one-line offense, geared around the scoring of Chris Connor, Zach England, and Tyler Ralph, Randolph head coach Rich McLaughlin matched his second line (Andrew Tucker, Matt Gaudioso, James Loveys) with Middletown South’s top unit. Thanks to their effort and solid play from goalie Mike Pollio, Middletown South did not score an even-strength goal all night. That left Randolph’s top unit matched up with Middletown South’s other line(s), where Randolph had a clear advantage.

For me, Randolph was pretty much always going to win the game, but Middletown South’s lack of discipline kept it from being a contest. Forward Tyler Ralph, such a big part of the Eagles’ January/February surge, took two early boarding penalties before felling a Randolph player in the corner five minutes into the second period. The call appeared to be a minor penalty initially, although we do not know for sure if the referees had decided minor or major at that point (scoreboard officials often put 2:00 on the clock as a default). After the Randolph player was looked at on the ice, the call was announced as a five-minute major, and Middletown South head coach Stan Gutt went ballistic. Randolph went on to score three times during the power play, driving starting goalie Trever Ralph from the game, and breezed to the win. Four of Randolph’s seven goals came with Tyler Ralph in the penalty box, and he finished with 11 PIM on the night.

I leave you with some numbers to digest from tonight’s winners:

CBA is now 11-1-2 in its last 14 games, with the one loss coming to Don Bosco Prep in the Gordon Cup playoffs.

CBA was 0-2 against Delbarton this year, losing by a combined margin of 14-0.

Delbarton has now eliminated Morristown-Beard from four of the last five private state tournaments, and the Green Wave are 38-0-4 against the Crimson since last losing to Beard in 1994.

Delbarton is 46-0-1 against New Jersey teams since the 2010 Gordon Cup semifinals, and the Green Wave has not allowed more than one goal in any game against New Jersey teams this year.

Randolph advanced to its ninth state championship game in 11 years, its seventh in eight years, and is seeking its seventh state title (Public or Public A) in a 10-year span from 2003-2012.

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