NJS.com Staff Writer
MONSEY, NY - Two teams struggling for goals stepped on the ice for the second time in a week on Sunday night, both desperately trying to find the formula for offensive success. One team was able, at least for one game, to solve some of those problems.
Ramsey got a hat trick from Larry Warner and a pair of goals from Ryan Foy as the Rams snapped out of their funk and ended a four-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over northern Highlands. The victory avenged a 2-0 loss to the Highlanders during the Christmas break, and it couldn't have come at a better time for the Rams, who are now 3-6 after the independent game win.
"We had it coming," said Ramsey head coach Gerry Iannuzzi of the goal scoring output. "We've been struggling (scoring only three times during the four-game skid), and we had a pair of goals disallowed in the first game with Northern Highlands."
This time, they fell behind again as Adam Friedman scored an unassisted tally 9:55 into the game on a 5 on 3 power play, but the Rams equalized the game before the first period ended. Foy took a feed from John Clifford and beat NH goalie Tim Erstling with 2:56 remaining in period one.
Erstling was making his first start for Highlands in place of Rob Wilechansky, who was unavailable while attending to an illness in his family. Ramsey grabbed the lead for good 4:19 into the second period, as Warner scored an unassisted power play goal on one of the nine penalties that the Highlanders took in the game, a stat not lost on NH head coach Noel Rubin.
"We've struggled on offense the entire season, and then we play undisciplined and take some dumb penalties," he said. "When you aren't scoring, the last thing you need to be doing is giving the opponent an advantage. We had to kill off 18 penalty minutes. That's 40 percent of the game."
Ramsey would not score again on the power play, but the Rams took advantage of the Highlanders' choppy play to score again with 5:56 left in the middle period. Foy got his seventh of the season on an assist from Chris D'Amato to make it 3-1 heading into the final 15 minutes.
The Rams, who lost to Indian Hills by a 4-2 score on Saturday, continued to apply the pressure and Warner made it 4-1 with 7:14 left off assists from Dave Zaentz and Casey Mignone.
Northern Highlands (4-7-1) got one back with 3:41 to go on an unassisted tally by Jarret Bauer off of a faceoff, but Warner got his third of the game and 10th of the season with 2:08 to play, taking a pass from Jeff Mills and rushing the left side. His shot from the left circle beat Erstling to the glove side.
Matt Clifford stopped 26 shots for the win, while Erstling made 16 saves as Highlands did what it has done for most of the season, outshoot the opponent yet come up empty. Since an eight-goal outburst in the opening game, the Highlanders have scored just 17 goals in their next 11 games.
Iannuzzi is hoping that his team continues to find the net as they did against NH.
"This was an important win, because a loss here and we could have kept sinking," he said. "Now, we have to build off of this.
"We have the opportunity over the next few games to try and get some momentum going (The Rams face Demarest and West Orange, two teams they have already beaten, as well as Dayton and Glen Rock, both of whom are under .500). This is where we have to make a move."
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