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Old Tappan makes a statement against Wayne Hills

Friday, January 24, 2003

By Rich Barton
NJS.com Staff Writer

LITTLE FALLS - A close loss to Tenafly two nights ago was extremely disheartening for the surging Northern Valley/Old Tappan ice hockey team. Matt Foran felt he needed to step and stop the bleeding, and a struggling Wayne Hills team from a lower division seemed to be the perfect time to for the Golden Knights to make a statement.

Old Tappan did just that by dominating from the first drop of the puck. Foran led the way by netting a hat trick and Dave Musciotto had a goal and two assists to back Joe Lepore's 10-save effort in a 7-0 triumph.

Paul Fromerman started the onslaught by beating Wayne Hills' netminder Charles Kemmlein off a feed from Musciotto just over four minutes into the game.

Under first-year head coach Rob Hamner, Wayne Hills has shown improvement and stretches of solid play. But young, inexperienced teams tend to make fundamental mistakes and the Patriots made one major mistake in each of the first two periods. Both of which led to backbreaking goals.

The first came with just 3:11 remaining in the first period when the Patriots failed to clear the puck down the ice while making a line change. Musciotto alertly pushed it up the ice and passed to a wide-open Foran, who was standing by himself at the blue line.

Foran skated in with no opposing player anywhere near him, sized up exactly what he wanted to do, then tucked a wrister just inside the right post to make it 2-0. Less than two minutes later, Foran knocked home a rebound of a shot from the point to give the Golden Knights a commanding 3-0 lead after one period of play.

"They are a well-disciplined team and they don't make silly mistakes," said Wayne Hills head coach Rob Hamner, speaking of Old Tappan. "We had a couple of bad breaks handling the puck. But as a young team, these are all mistakes that we can correct. I think we have to get better in the defensive zone, Charles (Kemmlein) had too many point-blank shots thrown at him and we have to try and minimize those in future games."

Wayne Hills (2-8-1) played even up with the Golden Knights for most of the second period and had its best chance to score with just under six minutes remaining in the period. Three Patriot players had shots during a scramble in front of the net, but Lepore was in position each time to keep the shutout intact. Wayne Hills kept the pressure on and was able to draw a penalty in the process.

What seemed like the Patriots' best opportunity to get back in the game quickly blurred into a recurring nightmare.

The Patriots' second major error of the afternoon came just seconds after a Golden Knight was put in the penalty box. A Wayne Hills defender skated around the net to start the play and lost control of the puck right in front of the net. A forechecking Glenn Slezak was right there to poke it in past a bewildered Kemmlein to give Old Tappan a four-goal advantage.

Foran would complete the hat trick with a carbon copy of his second goal. Old Tappan captain Steve DeBartolo, who had two assists on the afternoon, blasted a shot from the point that was saved by Kemmlein, but Foran crashed the net and planted the rebound to give the Knights a 5-0 lead after two periods.

"The loss to Tenafly was tough to take," said Foran. "But we couldn't rest or feel sorry for ourselves. We had to come out and play with the same high level of intensity every time we're on the ice. Any team can beat you on any day and that is what has to drive you to get better as a team and I think we are getting better as the season goes on."

Mike Fedkenheuer and Dave Musciotto each netted a goal in the third period for the Golden Knights as they improved to 9-6-1 on the season, good for second place in the Northern Conference-White Division.

"We needed to get back on track after losing to a very good Tenafly team," said Old Tappan head coach Andy O'Connor, whose team has made a near seamless transition in the White Division after playing in the lower caliber Blue Division last season. "This is a positive effort all the way around. I think we could use moving the puck around a bit quicker. But for playing five freshmen that get big minutes on the ice, I'm happy with where we are right now."

Despite letting up seven goals, Charles Kemmlein was Wayne Hills' lone bright spot on the afternoon. He finished with 25 saves between the pipes.

"This was a good test for us against a stronger team," said Hamner. "This is the kind of game that you take your lumps in because it will be beneficial down the road."


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