I haven’t been to a high school hockey game yet this season. Shame on me.
I’ve been following along avidly on Twitter, but the commute from the city to Jersey and back for a game has been too much for me to undertake, especially with my need to care for a very attached beagle.
But I keep an eye on hockey in New York as well, and today I noticed a game with a manageable commute. So I took my beagle and headed out for a very extended late-afternoon walk, winding our way to Lasker Rink on the north edge of Central Park. There I took in the second half of a game between Xavier High School, located on 16th Street, and the Birch Wathen Lenox School, located on 77th.
I’m very familiar with Xavier and its reputation, because the Knights play their home games in Bayonne and play the most extensive non-league schedule of any New York team. For league play, Xavier is in the B Division of the CHSHL (Catholic league), a division in which I think Hudson Catholic should be playing. Teams from the A Division include St. Anthony’s, Holy Cross, Iona Prep, and Monsignor Farrell, all of whom we have seen take on New Jersey teams. These teams rarely top 20 regular-season games, but last year Xavier played 25 varsity games, splitting with Hudson Catholic, and added two non-varsity contests against Oratory Prep. This year, Xavier will face Bayonne on Jan. 24. It seems like they’ll play just about anyone, anywhere.
Birch Wathen Lenox, on the other hand, seems to be a program still in its infancy, and scores for its games against other smaller programs like Poly Prep and Fieldston can be hard to come by. I was not expecting much from them.
I found my way to Lasker Rink kind of by accident. It’s located just south of the main duck pond on the park’s north edge, and there are two adjacent rinks inside a large amphitheater that is used as a swimming pool in the summer. It’s a very unique setup, to say the least. Unfortunately, rink regulations prohibit pets, so my dog and I were relegated to watching from a balcony of sorts and peering through bars.
It was a bit of a surreal sight. The teams had 12 players each and, by the time I arrived late in the second period, were pretty tired despite the rink’s lack of width. The scoreboard and clock were located across the other rink, where there was a practice going on, so players were occasionally confused by random whistles, and the referees would have to say, “keep playing, guys.”
There was not much of a turnout in the way of fans – a few parents and siblings limited by rule to one corner, and for every goal or penalty the referee would skate to that corner and call out the information to the scorekeeper, who sat back near the snack bar where the input for the scoreboard was. After the game, the players traipsed through the same matted area on their way to the locker rooms.
I was really curious to see how the zamboni got between the two rinks, and I wasn’t disappointed. After the game, the zamboni rolled around on one level of the amphitheater and backed its way onto a lift, which lowered to ice level and allowed the zamboni to back onto the ice. I knew there were zamboni elevators, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one quite like this.
On the ice, the action was about what you’d expect, which is to say earnest and dedicated but not particularly advanced. Xavier was up 5-0 when I arrived and breezed to an 8-1 win. But at least I’ve seen a game this year!
The Knights are 4-1 overall (for a competitive reference they lost 3-2 to Monsignor Farrell, who in turn lost 10-0 to St. Peter’s Prep) and 2-0 in league play – they face Fieldston in a non-league game on Monday and Mt. St. Michael / St. Raymond Boys in CHSHL B play next Wednesday, both at Bayonne.
Birch Wathen Lenox, if its online schedule is accurate, will host Columbia Prep – another program of limited means – on Dec. 17, also at Lasker Rink.
Given the view she gets, my dog does not plan to attend.
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. Continue reading State semifinal key moments…
As expected, No. 1 Delbarton stayed on top of the state rankings with a 4-1 win over No. 2 Don Bosco Prep Sunday night before a paid crowd of 566 at the Ice Vault in Wayne. The killer goal came with just three seconds remaining in the second period, as Delbarton’s John Baicco scored in a 4-on-4 situation to restore the Green Wave’s two-goal advantage, and the issue was never in doubt after that.
Delbarton (9-1) extended its in-state unbeaten streak to 33 games (32-0-1) and is 65-1-1 in its last 67 games against New Jersey competition, dating back to 2009. The Green Wave now face four consecutive Gordon Conference games against South Jersey opposition, beginning Tuesday against Bishop Eustace. Don Bosco Prep (13-1) suffered its first loss of the season and returns to action on Friday in the quarterfinals of the inaugural Bergen County Tournament.
The first period was one-way traffic, with Delbarton almost setting up camp in the Don Bosco half of the ice and running up a 12-2 shot advantage. The Green Wave did not break the deadlock, however, until the 13-minute mark, as defenseman Tommy Muratore made a right-wing rush and threw the puck in front of the net, where forward Tommy Fowler was able to sweep it under Don Bosco goalie Jarred Liscio. Delbarton then stunned the Ironmen just 14 seconds into the second period, with Alex Hagerty feeding sophomore Chad Otterman in the left circle, and he rifled an impressive snap shot past Liscio up high.
Don Bosco Prep did get back into the game late in the period, aided by Delbarton penalties. Less than 30 seconds after Delbarton’s Colton Phinney made four saves on the game’s first power play, the Ironmen pulled a goal back when a point shot from Rory Garlasco slipped through Phinney, and Lucas Lappino was on hand to poke it home. The goal, with 4:01 remaining in the period, brought the Don Bosco students to their feet and raised the atmosphere of the game.
But they key play came in the final minute of the second period, as a Don Bosco power play was quickly nullified by a penalty, leading to a four-on-four situation. After Drew Melanson put in a long shift to get the puck deep, Green Wave forward John Baicco walked out of the left corner and made a slick move to fake out Liscio before sliding in a shot with just three seconds remaining in the period, restoring Delbarton’s two-goal advantage. The goal effectively killed Don Bosco’s momentum and set the stage for a third period that was short on drama.
The four-time defending private state champions put the game out of reach at the 5:48 mark, as Trevor Agostino whipped a rebound past Liscio up high to provide the final margin of 4-1.
Delbarton 4, Don Bosco Prep 1
13:00 Del #8 Tommy Fowler (#6 Tommy Muratore, #26 Trevor Agostino)
0:14 Del #21 Chad Otterman (#18 Alex Hagerty, #11 Davis Agostino)
10:59 DBP #25 Lucas Luppino (#8 Rory Garlasco, #9 Justin McKenzie)
14:57 Del #12 John Baiocco (unassisted)
5:48 Del #26 Trevor Agostino (#10 Chad Heal, #11 Davis Agostino)
#1 Colton Phinney (Del) 14-13
#31 Jarred Lisco (DBP) 22-18
Power plays: Del 0-1, DBP 0-5
I hit up the Ice Vault tonight for a scheduled quadrupleheader that ended up having three games, including two headliners: Bergen Catholic-Don Bosco Prep and Ramsey-Northern Highlands. I was warmly received by all, and it was great to put faces with names in several different instances.
On to the games …
I have a long-running love affair with the Cron Tournament, always held in the first three weeks of December at Warinanco Rink in Roselle. (For more on our shared history, check out my post from 2006, the first year I missed an edition entirely). Anyway, after missing the last three tournaments, I saw my first Cron action in four years tonight.
The short version is that in the third-place game, Summit and Westfield played to a 0-0, overtime tie that was, to me, exactly what the score reflects: evenly matched teams with trouble scoring. In the final, Morris Knolls reclaimed its title (the Golden Eagles’ six-year winning streak was snapped last year) by pounding Johnson (the team that snapped it) by a 13-4 score. Dillon Garritty won the MVP award for Knolls. More after the jump …
I’ve stuck to my Morris County roots on this trip home, watching games at Mennen Arena both Saturday and Monday. Tonight’s second and third games were further examples of why we all love the sport (and high school sports in general). In less than four hours, I got plenty of entertainment from both games and got to see some great friends from the sport.
On the ice, I was first entertained by a game that saw Roxbury rally from a 4-1 deficit against Mountain Lakes to forge a 5-5 tie in the third period, only to see the Lakers respond with a goal of their own in the final four minutes for a 6-5 win. Roxbury is struggling a lot more than I had anticipated in the Halvorsen Division, although they carried play in the second and third periods. Mountain Lakes struggled in its own zone but seems to know how to finish a high percentage of its chances (see its 7-5 win over Morris Knolls as further evidence).
In the nightcap, we got one of those classic upsets. Mendham kept the game scoreless with Morris Knolls until late in the second period. After killing off a Knolls power play and dodging a bullet when a deflected shot trickled just wide, Mendham forward Chris DiMaio chipped the puck around a defenseman at the blue line and skated in on a bad-angle breakaway, scoring on his forehand with just six seconds left in the period. Knolls goalie Tyler Rideout left the game injured between periods, and Mendham greeted his replacement, Tim Kutnetsov, in the same fashion, as Anthony Santomo found space in the slot to whip in a wrist shot just 41 seconds into the third period. From there, Mendham held on for a 2-0 win.
Senior goalie Troy Herman was outstanding in posting the shutout, as he was credited with 24 saves (on a low night for shot totals at Mennen). I remember seeing Herman starting as an easily rattled freshman and allowing a fluke goal from the far blue line three years ago; tonight he shut out a perennial Public A power.
Hats off to Mendham for the win, but this game only reinforced what previous results had been saying … Morris Knolls just doesn’t have it at the moment. Rideout seemed back in relatively strong form tonight, and Albert Abaunza is an above-average forward, but the Golden Eagles don’t seem to have that jump or crisp offensive moment as they’ve had in the past. It is, however, still early.
That may be all the high school hockey I get to see on this trip home – I’m heading to the Prudential Center for the first time tomorrow night – but tonight certainly came through with some quality hockey.
Yes, it’s a scrimmage, but we all want to know who wins when Delbarton takes on Minnesota power Hill-Murray this afternoon in the Great White North. Thanks to an enterprising Delbarton parent, I am privy to a few updates this afternoon, so here’s what’s happening:
1st half: Delbarton 2, Hill-Murray 2. I’m told Hill-Murray has twice taken the lead, only for Delbarton to tie the score. The first Green Wave goal came on a point shot deflected off of a Hill-Murray stick. Delbarton’s second goal came from Mike Smigelski, assisted by Andy Bell. Delbarton is rolling four lines so far, I hear, and Infante has played well in goal. Hill-Murray with a 14-13 shot advantage.
2nd half: Hill-Murray 6, Delbarton 2 (cumulative). Sounds like it actually was a scrimmage. The teams tried some special-teams situations in the second “half” and rotated most of their players in. The play continued to be very physical, particularly toward the end. Sounds like Delbarton definitely held its own.