Ramsey's offense puts away Glen Rock
The Rams have been waiting all year for a game like this.
Facing a quality Big North Green opponent with plenty of conference and state playoff implications on the line, Ramsey put together perhaps its finest all-around effort of the season with a 4-2 victory over Glen Rock.
“It’s certainly one of our best games,” said Ramsey head coach Bob Toy. “We have five losses and they were all by one goal. We have played hard, but we just haven’t been on the positive side of the score sheet. Tonight we got on the positive side in a hard-fought game.”
The Ramsey offense has had a hard time replicating the production of graduated forwards Vincent Pedulla and Ryan DiTomaso, and junior sniper Joey Caffrey, who has committed to travel hockey, but you would not know it by watching their outstanding effort on Friday night.
Connor DiTomaso, Ryan’s younger brother, got the Rams on the board early in the game. The sophomore wing scooped up a loose puck in his own zone and turned on the burners, racing up the ice and ripping a wrist shot into the upper right corner of the net.
“He had the jets going today,” said Coach Toy of his young forward. “He was moving well, and his supporting linemates Libretti, Federici and D’Amato stepped up huge today. Those are third line guys playing meaningful shifts in meaningful parts of the game.”
Nick Bressi tallied his ninth of the year on the power play by knocking home a loose puck at the side of the net and Alec Mast followed in similar fashion late in the first, pouncing on another rebound left in the slot. The Rams had a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Panthers got a reprieve with 19 seconds left in the opening frame. Driving hard to the cage, sophomore Kevin Doyle re-directed a pass from Kurt Rypkema into the net to get Glen Rock back to 3-1.
Doyle’s late goal seemed to lift the Panthers’ spirit. The second period opened with the Glen Rock skating hard and matching the Rams stride-for-stride.
The Panthers generated a few chances, the closest call coming when Brandon Rosario rang a shot off the post early in the second, but midway through the frame Mast would strike again.
Vinny Libretti made the play by breaking into the zone and firing a shot off of goaltender Chris Birdsall’s left pad. The rebound came right to the senior captain who potted his 11th goal of the season to put Ramsey ahead, 4-1.
“I got a lot of help from my linemates tonight,” said Mast after his two-goal performance. “Especially on that second goal, Vinny made a great play and the rebound came right out to me.”
Glen Rock went on to out-shoot Ramsey 9-7 in the second period, and led 17-16 overall after two periods, but the always-stellar play of Justin Larkin kept the Rams ahead.
“Larkin came up huge as always,” said Toy. “We always get good goaltending, and we know how important that is. Our defensemen, for the most part, kept guys out of the front of our net, so the second chances weren’t there for them.”
Matt Gilroy scored on a rare third-chance rebound with six minutes left in the final stanza, but Glen Rock would draw no closer than that. Larkin continued to hold the fort in the third and finished with 24 saves overall.
“We’ve been playing well the last three games,” said Toy of his team’s performance. “We’re starting to do what we’ve been trying to do, and that’s putting pucks on net, crashing hard and getting second chances. Tonight we played a really solid game where we stayed out of the box in a highly physical game. The guys really put it out there and gave it everything they had.”
The night they have been waiting for all year will soon be left in the rearview mirror. Looming large less than 24 hours away is the Big North Green’s first place team – the Passaic County champion Lakeland Lancers.
“We’re going to need to rest up tonight,” Toy said of Ramsey’s next game. “The guys are a little gassed, but we have a big game against Lakeland tomorrow night and we have to take care of business. This one is out of the way, so now we have to go and compete with Lakeland.”
It will be another tough contest for the Rams. These late league games mean everything for seeding in both the Big North Green tournament and the state playoffs.
From the Rams’ perspective, it will hopefully be another night to remember.
Mark Krulish covers ice hockey for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_Krulish