Gregg T. Carbone
NJS.com Executive Editor
|Paramus' Chris Androulakis mixing it up along the boards.|
HACKENSACK - The last time Paramus and Hackensack laced up the skates against each other it was over a month ago in a Christmas tournament game. But there was very little suspense after the opening face off of that game, as the Spartans cruised to an easy 11-1 victory.
Last night, however, was a different story. Still a bit rusty after playing just two games over the course of the past two weeks, Paramus jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period before taking home a 6-0 win over a much-improved Comets team at the Ice House in Hackensack.
"Last time we played Hackensack we beat them 11-1 and we had a lot more shots on goal," said Paramus coach Vince Nardo, whose team went 1-0-1 in the past two weeks. "But (Hackensack) had a couple of kids that really played hard the whole game. The goaltender (sophomore Paul Walsh) did a nice job and made some nice saves, whereas last time that wasn't really the case."
|Hackensack goalie Paul Walsh stopped 21 shots for the Comets including this one by Joel Miller.|
Walsh, in his first year playing hockey, stopped a total of 21 shots, including 11 in the first period. The Comets were badly out shot through the first two periods, managing a paltry 10 shots against 23 for the Spartans.
Hackensack (1-12), which collected its first win on Saturday night, came back to make Paramus goalie Denny Wirth work for the shut out. Wirth made 24 saves, 14 of which came in the final period.
"It's a big improvement over the first game," said Hackensack coach Ernie Verrico. "We have a young team; we have basically only two guys that are select players and the team has been improving."
"The last four games (prior last night's game against Paramus) we could have won all of them. We're showing improvement."
|Paramus captain Rich Galgano scored the Spartans first goal.|
Paramus (9-2-2) got things going 4:13 into the game when senior Rich Galgano scored a power play goal.
The Spartans scored again 3:34 later on another power play after Tommy Verrico was whistled for roughing and the Hackensack bench received a bench minor. Less than a minute into the two-man advantage, junior Joe Gentile took a pass from Anthony Massari and wristed it in from the point to give Paramus a 2-0 advantage.
The third goal was scored from almost exactly the same spot as Gentile's. Justin Sicari picked up a pass from sophomore Chris Kim and sent a bullet past Walsh with 3:52 left in the first period.
In the second period it was Paramus' turn to spend some time in the penalty box. The Spartans were called for five penalties in the period, including three over the span of 1:47. But despite the opportunities Hackensack could not breakthrough.
"That Paramus goaltender (Wirth) is a good goaltender," said Verrico. "He's a good goaltender and we weren't getting a lot of rebounds. Paramus is very strong defensively. They've got a good basic, solid team."
|Junior Scott McNerney (19) had a two goals and an assist for the Spartans.|
Despite the penalties, which included a 10 minute major, Paramus scored twice in the period including a shorthanded goal by junior Joel Miller to make it 5-0 going into the final period.
"Some officials call more, some call less," said Nardo of his team's nine penalties in the game. "We had almost our whole defensive unit off the ice at one point. But you have to just hang in there and go with the flow."
Paramus' schedule begins to pick up this week when it faces off against rival Ridgewood on Wednesday night. The Maroons, whose only win last year came against Paramus, is a much improved team this year and should be a player when the state playoffs roll around.
"Last year we were the only win that Ridgewood got," said Nardo, who was celebrating his 80th victory at the helm on Sunday. "They get up for our games and they're doing well this year."
For Hackensack, while the states are out of the question, making the league playoffs is something Verrico feels his team can accomplish, if they continue to improve. "Some of the guys that don't skate all year long, it usually takes them a month-and-a-half or two months to get back to where they were last year," he said. "Those guys have reached that level again, and now all of a sudden we are starting to play guys together in better combinations.
"We're 1-4 in our division, West Milford is ahead of us, they're 1-4-1, but we can beat them. We lost to them only because we took some penalties. I think we can compete with most teams in our division for the second half."
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