NEWARK, NJ -- St. Anthony’s forward Chris Wallace wouldn’t let Long Island go without a win at the Prudential Center.
The Friars assistant captain scored two goals, including the game winner, and added an assist as St. Anthony’s topped New Jersey’s St. Peter’s Prep, 5-3.
“It was a pretty good feeling (to come and win here),” Wallace said. “We knew our opponent would be pretty good. We just came out here and gave it our all and came out on top.”
With St. Anthony’s already up 3-2 midway in the second period, Wallace got a fortuitous break. The senior forward corralled a loose puck behind the net and looked to just throw the puck in front. What he ended up getting was his sixth goal of the year and the eventual game winning goal.
“I knew the goalie was out of the net and we were pressuring down low. I was kind of looking for someone in front but the goalie got out of position,” Wallace said of his game winner. “It banked off his skate and into the net. It was a pretty lucky bounce.”
St. Anthony’s coach Jeff Stemlok couldn’t say enough about his assistant captain.
“He’s great every day. He’s definitely one of the more dominant players in our league and whenever we have a situation where we need a goal, it’s him.”
Wallace’s contributions would be necessary to his team against a hungry St. Peter’s Prep team - a squad that St. Anthony’s had never seen until hitting the ice in the Garden State.
The Marauders looked to get a spark following the opening face off and managed to catch the Friars off-guard, outshooting St. Anthony’s 6-0 early on.
“The kids were looking forward to a good contest and they have a tendency to put a little pressure on themselves, which is a good thing,” Coach Stemlok said. “Once we settled in and got a read on what type of game St. Peter’s was throwing at us, we made a few adjustments to make things easier for us as the game progressed.”
It sure showed as the Friars exploded twice within a minute to make the first dents on the scoreboard.
Joseph Loiacano potted his sixth goal of the season 5:51 into the opening period to get St. Anthony’s on the board first. The junior forward took a centering pass from lineman Joseph Groneman, spun and fired a low sliding shot to strike on the scoreboard first. Just 51 seconds later, St. Anthony’s doubled its lead on Nick Nici’s fourth goal of the season.
“It was great with the amount of poise and the maturity they showed,” Coach Stemlok said of his team. “We were running around and I think we were a little anxious, but I give them credit, they didn’t crack and we could’ve folded, but they didn’t.”
St. Peter’s however wouldn’t be rattled as Dan Perez would even things up with two quick goals that came 46 seconds apart.
The first of Perez’s two came following a St. Peter’s face off win. Sean Crowley fired a shot from the top of the face off circle that was turned aside by goaltender Dan Peterson. However the rebound landed right on Perez’s stick, who fired the comebacker past the unsuspecting netminder to cut the Friars lead in half at the 7:28 mark.
Just 46 ticks later Perez managed to weave his way through the Friars defense, made his way into the slot and fired a quick wrist shot glove side past Peterson for the equalizer.
Both teams headed into the second period deadlocked at two goals apiece, but St. Anthony’s Mike Marnell found the back of the net 4:29 into the middle frame to give the Friars the 3-2 lead. The goal put him in a share of the team-lead with Tyler Hall with seven each.
After Wallace gave the Friars a two-goal lead that sent the teams into the locker room following the second intermission, he would add an important insurance goal late in the third period that put the game out of reach.
After St. Peter’s cut the deficit back to a goal and with the clock winding down in the final period, Wallace played the role of the sniper and fired a shot top corner past goaltender Marauders goaltender Tyler Kovach to give the Friars a 5-3 lead which they took to the final buzzer.
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