Tenafly beats Glen Rock in shootout
If not for shootouts, Tenafly and Glen Rock might have played through spring and into the summer.
It took four periods and ten rounds of breakaways, but in the end the Tigers of Tenafly outlasted the Glen Rock Panthers and punched their ticket to the Public B state final.
“It’s a special moment for them,” Tenafly head coach Andy Escala said of his team, which reeled off its third-straight overtime wins to reach the championship. “That’s the kind of team we are, we work hard and we grind it out, all season long we have just tried to find a way and tonight was exactly that.”
Three minutes in it was clear the Tigers were going to have a real test on their hands. Glen Rock’s Kevin Doyle found space from a short angle and would throw a seemingly harmless shot on net that somehow found it’s way through Jon Winawer.
“He’s a senior and he showed a lot of maturity by shaking that off,” said Escala of the resolve of Winawer. "The rest of the team picked him up and he made big saves after that which kept us in it.”
That would be only one of a few good offensive flourishes for the Panthers, who struggled to sustain offense but had some great chances when they were able to get on the attack.
Tenafly would carry the action through most of the first two periods though and despite a 19-7 shot advantage would enter the final frame still trailing by a goal, in danger of seeing its season come to an end.
“We have worked so hard I just wasn’t ready to end it yet,” said Winawer. “I never lost faith that we would win, I knew we would get one by him if I could just keep them out. I knew I couldn’t let up another though, especially the way their guy was playing.”
Their guy was Glen Rock freshman Chris Birdsall, who could not have shown much more moxy in his first run through the Public B tournament. After allowing just three goals in Glen Rock’s first three wins to reach the semis Birdsall turned in another gem for the Panthers and gave Glen Rock plenty of chances to pull off the upset.
And it almost did, the Panthers were within 4:10 of a championship birth before Tenafly would finally get the breakthrough it needed.
Brandon Bernstein’s hustle to win the puck behind the cage started it and before Birdsall could react, Bernstein fed a streaking Eli Markowitz who lifted backhander into the top left corner.
“After scoring the overtime winner in our last game, I didn’t think that could be topped,” said Markowitz of scoring the huge goal. “It’s definitely a lot of fun but you can’t freak out though, we knew what we needed to do was still in front of us.”
After the overtime period produced some great chances but no finishes it was on to a nerve-shattering shootout to determine who would face Randolph at the Prudential Center on Friday.
Brian Doyle was up first for Glen Rock and he skillfully manipulated Winawer with a quick deke and snapped home a goal, 1-0 Panthers.
The game's only other goal scorer was up next and No. 4 stepped up to the puck and took off towards the waiting freshman keeper. With his spot pre-determined Markowitz placed a wrister over the right pad and knotted it up.
After Winawer stoned Brandon Rosario it was up to Jordan Lang and Lang would follow Markowitz’s path. “I knew what to do,” said Lang “I could see that the left side was open and I knew I was going low to the stick side, I just had to make a good shot and thankfully I did.”
Winawer would shut it down after that, denying the next three shooters to cement his team’s spot in the finals.
Postgame outside of the Tenafly locker room resembled the back stage at a rock concert as fans all swarmed to congratulate Winawer and the Tigers, who at that point might as well have been Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
In the midst of all the chaos, Winawer made it a point to embrace and enjoy the moment with one person in particular.
“When my mom came up to me I almost started crying, there was a lot of emotion going on there. I don’t think there’s a better feeling in the whole world to be honest. This is really really sweet.”
Tenafly faces Summit tomorrow at 5 p.m. at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Contact John Quirk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @QuirkMedia