NJS.com Staff Writer
MONSEY, NY - The high school hockey season got its annual early jump on the rest of the winter schedule on Sunday, and the first game to usher in the season was played at Sport-O-Rama in Monsey, New York between a pair of old rivals.
Don Bosco and St. Joseph, two teams with strong aspirations, went at it in a Northern Conference Red Division game, and the two played to a 1-1 tie in a contest that saw numerous penalties and a lack of tempo. There were 15 penalties assessed in the game, with eight of them coming in the first period, and the constant stoppage of play actually worked to the Green Knights' advantage.
"This particular referee likes to call early penalties to try and take control of the game," SJR head coach Bob McMorrow said, "and that was okay, because it worked in our favor. They never got into a rhythm."
Don Bosco head coach Gene Katz agreed, saying that, "the game was almost boring with all the penalties and the slow pace. We never got any good chances to counterattack with our speed. We ended up playing a sluggish game."
St. Joseph actually got the first score of the game, as defenseman Dan Coletta made a move up the middle and shot from just inside the blue line through traffic. Ironmen goalie John Molnar never got a clear view of the puck as it went in high to the glove side 8:42 into the game.
"You can't blame the goalie on that one," Katz said of the sophomore. "It might have even deflected off of one of our guys in front."
After that, SJR was playing a very defensive-minded game, trying to protect that one-goal lead while continue to frustrate DB's speed skaters.
"They played a good defensive scheme," Katz added. "They were diving in front of the puck and their goalie is a real solid player."
Bosco got the equalizer on the power play, and it was a tremendous effort by Ryan Mathews. The puck came from the point off passes by Jon Conte and Tom Fredeman to Mathews just off to the left of the goal. He was tangled with a Knight player, and as he was going down to the ice, he managed to get a stick on the puck and flip it over the shoulder of St. Joe's goalie Vincent Januska.
Each team had one breakaway opportunity to grab the lead in the second period, with Januska stopping Mike Lynch coming down the middle off a turnover with 10:49 left and Molnar returning the favor with a save on Conor Smith as he took an errant pass and came in down the middle.
"We are dressing a lot of freshman (six who play regularly), and two of our other top players were playing soccer up until two weeks ago, so they haven't gotten a lot of ice time in yet," McMorrow explained. "Getting this result was absolutely fine. We're happy. Everyone kept saying Don Bosco was going to beat everybody in the Red by 6-0 or 5-2 and go undefeated on their way to the Gordon Division."
Don Bosco outshot St. Joseph by a 24-21 margin and took eight penalties to seven for the Green Knights. Each team killed off five penalties, and the Ironmen also escaped a first-period, 90-second five-on-three situation without allowing a clean shot on goal.
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