In the first clash between Private A titans, the Delbarton Green Wave reminded everyone why they are four-time defending state champions with a 4-1 win over Don Bosco Prep on Sunday night.
The bigger, stronger team won the first meeting between these Gordon Division rivals but Don Bosco proved it could hang with the big team in front of a capacity crowd at the Ice Vault in Wayne.
“We have been looking forward to this game for a week, I thought it was a good measuring stick for us to see where we are,” Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel said. “Greg (Toskos) has done a tremendous job, they are a very good team. We were lucky to put a few away or it could have been a much closer game.”
After severly dominating the first period in hits, shots and possession, Delbarton found itself in a bit of a heavyweight brawl after surrendering just its seventh goal in 10 games this season. Lucas Lupino buried a rebound after an Ironmen power play had just expired and Bosco looked to be very much alive with the score at 2-1.
With just :03 left before a fresh sheet of ice, Delbarton’s Johnny Baiocco would make the play of the game, using some nifty moves to create space on the left hash and unleashing a snapper that just beat Jared Liscio’s glove. It was a goal that Don Bosco head coach Greg Toskos called “backbreaking.”
“It was huge,” Shatel said of the late goal. “That was a pressure point in the game that went our way. I he doesn’t bury that it’s just a one-goal lead instead of two going into the third. That was a huge goal for us.”
“I think it gave us a ton of momentum,” said Baiocco. “I was just trying to take it hard to the net and found a little room to beat the goalie. That was definitely a big goal.”
The Green Wave would continue to be just that in the third period, coming after Don Bosco shift after shift and pounding on Bosco’s defenders on every dump of the puck. Like green missiles every Delbarton player finished his check with vicious aggression from start to finish, relentless in pressuring the puck.
“I think when they went into the corners in the back of their head they knew we were there,” Baiocco said. “I thought it was big for us to play the body. Playing hard down low helped us turn the puck over and work it towards the front.”
“I would say it’s the strongest team we played,” Toskos said of the menacing Delbarton roster that includes at least five players over 6-foot-3. “They knocked us off the puck and clearly we need to do better. I’m not disappointed. They’re a very good team and we knew that coming in that we had to play our best. I just don’t know that we did that tonight.”
The petrifying thing for the rest of the opponents on Delbarton’s schedule: Shatel didn’t think his squad played particularly well, either.
“I don’t think that was our best performance by a long shot. We made poor decisions with the puck and I think we’re an undisciplined team right now. I think we need to get a lot better.”
With the win Delbarton has now outscored opponents 53-7 on the season and has scored four or more goals in seven of its 10 games. Goaltender Colton Phinney turned in another solid performance for Delbarton; the senior now has a ridiculous goals-against average of .70 through 10 games.
Trevor Agostino -- brother of departed star Kenny and twin brother of linemate Davis – notched the final goal for Delbarton. As seniors, Trevor and Davis are playing together on one of the top scoring lines, power play and penalty kill.
Delbarton has a couple good out of state games left on its schedule, but it’s tough to see this team losing in the state of New Jersey this season. If there was going to be a team to step up, Bosco hopes it may have at least planted a seed of doubt.
“There are a handful of teams that can beat anyone in the state of New Jersey on any given night,” said coach Shatel, “and if we play them in the finals, that will definitely be a good game.”
Contact John Quirk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @QuirkMedia