Category Archives: Ice Hockey

Carlson excited to play for U.S. Olympic team

Like many American hockey fans, Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson watched the NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s Day. But, unlike most Americans, Carlson heard his name called as one of the 25 members of the 2014 United States Olympic Men’s Hockey Team following the contest on NBC. And when he heard it on his TV that afternoon, Carlson’s reaction was priceless.

“They didn’t tell us before the announcement, so I was watching like everybody else and I was really nervous,” Carlson said. “It was an awesome result, but man, was it nerve-racking for me, watching it at home.”

Carlson, who lived with his family in Colonia and played for one season at St. Joseph (Met.), scored 12 goals and 19 points for the Falcons. After the 2004-05 season, Carlson focused solely on junior hockey with the New Jersey Rockets, before heading to the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League in 2007-08. After a strong showing with the Ice – 12 goals, 31 assists – the Capitals selected Carlson with the 27th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He made his debut on Nov. 21, 2009 and has been a constant force on the Washington blue line since.

“He’s a winner everywhere he went. He stayed one year with us; I wish he could have stayed for four, but you can understand why he moved on,” former St. Joseph head coach Pete Kolodney said. “He had the talent and he was above the norm. He’s clearly made the most of his opportunity since getting to Washington. Sometimes I can’t believe it when I see him in interviews. So to this day, it’s hard to believe and personally, I was only a small part of his development and he was blessed with skills and size. He’s made the most of it.”

Kolodney, who coached at St. Joseph from 1986-87 through the 2006-07 season, said that he knew that Carlson was something special in the 2004-05 campaign, when the Falcons went 10-9-2 and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA Tournament.

“Him being named to the Olympic team is just consistent with what John’s experiences have been,” Kolodney said. “He’s a winner; he scored the game-winner at the 2010 World Championships, and when he went to Hershey (in the American Hockey League) with the Capitals’ farm team and they won the Calder Cup. He’ll be a contributor in Sochi for the USA, for sure.”

For Team USA, Carlson, who shoots from the right side, could be paired with Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers or Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik, although he hasn’t been told with whom he’ll skate on the American blue line.

Friday night, Washington made its first of two trips to New Jersey of the season, allowing Carlson to play in front of friends and family in the Garden State. He was on the ice for more than 23 minutes and had five shots on goal in the Capitals’ 2-1 loss to the Devils. For the season, Carlson is on pace to set new career-highs in goals, assists and points, all while playing more minutes than he has at any point in his NHL career.

Making the Olympic team from of New Jersey is something that Carlson is especially proud of, knowing he’s inspired kids from all over the state to keep pushing and to never give up.

“I think it’s great for the state of New Jersey and there are so many players coming out of here now and it’s great to see. I’m happy to be on the Olympic team,” he said. “It’s good to see guys like me and James van Riemsdyk (Christian Brothers Academy) have made the team and we’re supplying a blueprint and everyone wants to be the next kid and it’s inspiring for me to be someone kids look up to like that.”


Jagr sets up Devils for win over Caps

NEWARK — After not scoring in more than a month, Stephen Gionta gave the New Jersey Devils a big lift at 4:57 of the opening period Friday night.

The ageless Jaromir Jagr sent Gionta in on a mini-breakaway and the winger did the rest, burying a big goal to boost the Devils (22-19-11) to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals in a key Metropolitan Division clash.

“It’s nice to be able to chip in offensively,” Gionta said. “Ryan Carter did a nice job of driving the net and drawing the defenders to him and giving me a shooting lane.”

Adam Henrique scored what proved to be the game-winning goal, taking a Jagr pass on the doorstep to beat Michal Neuvirth 1:45 into the second period and Cory Schneider made 30 saves for his second straight victory.

“Cory has been unbelievable for us all season long, and he keeps giving us a chance to win every night and that’s all we can ask for,” Gionta said.

With Dmitry Orlov in the box for holding just 41 seconds into the second period, the Devils went to work on the power play. Jagr dangled through the Washington defense, eventually feeding a pass to Henrique, who was all by himself in front of the net and Henrique buried it for his 14th goal of the season to double the Devils lead. It marked the second straight game Henrique found the back of the net, after scoring in the Devils’ 7-1 victory over St. Louis Tuesday.

New Jersey managed just seven shots in the third period and Washington was able to get on the board when Jason Chimera re-directed a shot from the point home 10:10 into the final stanza. But as captain Bryce Salvador said, two points is two points, especially when the Devils need as many as possible.

“At the end of the day, we got the two points and it wasn’t pretty,” Salvador said. “The effort wasn’t what we wanted tonight, but it shows the character of this team to get these two points on a night where it wasn’t our best outing.”

New Jersey is now in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division, three points ahead of Washington.

Gionta’s goal came just 26 seconds after the Devils failed to convert a power play chance, but Jagr found the puck on his stick in the neutral zone and led Gionta in. Neuvirth, who made 28 saves on the night, appeared to have it in between his left arm and his pads, but the puck squirted through and gave New Jersey the lead.

The result was all too familiar for the Capitals, who have now lost seven games in a row.

Randolph tops Ridge in OT in Public A semis

WEST ORANGE — Heading into the third period of Tuesday’s NJSIAA Public A semifinal, the Ridge High School ice hockey team had just three shots on goal.

Ben Raff’s tally in the opening period, though, had the third-seeded Red Devils up 1-0 and just 15 minutes from playing for a state title.

Like they had done for more than a period after taking the lead, Ridge kept the puck away from Randolph’s forwards and limited scoring chances.

But with 6:49 to play, Noah Leinwand connected for the second-seeded Rams to tie the game, and Mitch Gaudioso scored 1:34 into overtime to give Randolph a 2-1 victory over Ridge at Codey Arena.

“Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose, it’s just unfortunate that the loser had to be us today,” Ridge coach Tim Mullin said. “We played well the whole game and we knew it was going to be a tough game and a one-goal contest. We expected it to play out like this.”

The Red Devils were only able to get one shot on goal in the first period, but they made it count.

After working the puck around in the offensive zone, Raff, a sophomore defenseman, ended up with the puck at the left point.

Raff let go a heavy slapshot and it beat Randolph goalie Andrew Holowko short side for the goal.

Joe Mandala and Cole Sanderson picked up the assists on the tally at the 8:15 mark of the first period.

“It was pretty exciting for us and for Ben to get that goal so quick,” Mullin said. “I just wish we could have gotten another chance like that the rest of the game.”

But with just under seven minutes to play in regulation, Leinwand rescued Randolph, blasting home a slapshot from the top of the faceoff circles to beat Ridge goalie Robbie Fenton, who made 23 saves in the game.

Ridge won more than half of the faceoffs in the contest, including the initial drop of the puck to begin the overtime period. But after making a rush up ice in the opening seconds of the extra session, Ridge lost control of the puck and Gaudioso carried up ice and let go of a bomb from the slot, beating Fenton and ending the Red Devils’ season.

“It was a back-and-forth game throughout and when the puck dropped in overtime, we had a great chance, but couldn’t put it in,” Mullin said. “And they took full advantage of their first chance in overtime and that was that.”

Randolph outshot Ridge 25-12.

Ridge, which outlasted Brick 6-5 on Monday night, played their second game in less than 24 hours, but Mullin didn’t think that had any effect on his group.

“We would have practiced today anyway, so playing back-to-back like this at the end of the season didn’t hurt us at all,” he said.

Leddy refuses to let Ridge’s season end

BRIDGEWATER — Kyle Leddy wasn’t going to let Monday’s Public A quarterfinal matchup against Brick be the last time he suited up for the Ridge High School ice hockey team. Behind Leddy’s four goals, including the game-winner with 2:35 remaining, third-seeded Ridge knocked off sixth-seeded Brick 6-5 at Bridgewater Sports Arena.

“This win means everything. I’m a senior and I didn’t want this to be my last game,” Leddy said. “I didn’t want this to be the last time I put on this uniform so I did everything I could to will us to victory. I felt great coming into this game and it paid off.”

With Brick’s Brian Lang in the penalty box for slashing and 4:21 remaining, Leddy and his power play unit mates went to work, keeping possession in the offensive zone for the first 1:10 of the advantage. But with 12 seconds remaining on the minor penalty, the puck ended up in front of the Brick net and Leddy pounced, banging home his fourth goal of the contest to put the Red Devils ahead for good.

“I couldn’t care less who scored that last goal,” Leddy said. “We’re ecstatic to win this game.”

After the first period, it didn’t look like the game would come down to the final minutes. Leddy scored twice in the period, including a beautiful one-time goal at the 5:42 mark to put Ridge up 2-1.

Then, the Red Devils got two goals in the final 94 seconds of the period, including a wrap-around goal from Tim Knightly with just 5.3 seconds before the buzzer to go up 4-1.

But Brick wouldn’t go down quietly, scoring four of the next five goals to tie the game at 5 with 6:04 remaining. Andrew Reiss struck for three second-period goals and Tyler Iannarone deflected home the tying goal with a gorgeous redirection in front of Ridge goalie Robbie Fenton.

“The boys left it all out on the ice tonight. They worked really hard and it was a tough way for our season to end,” Brick head coach Bob Auriemma said. “They poured their hearts and souls into this team. They worked hard and it was really difficult to not come out of here victorious.”

Ridge prevailed in faceoffs, earning 28 of 48 draws, but the teams each fired 25 shots on goal. Fenton finished with 21 saves and Brick’s Jake Lampiasi stopped 19 shots.

Reiss, who tallied six points in Brick’s second-round win over Hillsborough, was a force in the second period, constantly using his strong body to move smaller Ridge defenders out of the way to get to the net.

“We knew we could come back in this game,” Reiss said. “I was just trying to get to the net and take advantage of the rebounds that Fenton was giving up. I did all I could to just be physical and lead this team.”

The Red Devils will play second-seeded Randolph in today’s semifinals at Codey Arena in West Orange. Leddy knows that if Ridge plays its game, it will have a great shot to emerge victorious and move on to the state final at Prudential Center this weekend.

“We need to just keep playing the way that we’re playing,” Leddy said. “We need to show off our offense a little bit and get our defense playing well and keep playing Ridge hockey. The goals will come.”

St. Joseph skates past Old Bridge in GMCT final

WOODBRIDGE — With the rain pouring down outside, the St. Joseph High School ice hockey team supplied the thunder inside, scoring two short-handed goals in a span of 26 seconds at the end of the first period en route to a 4-1 victory over Old Bridge in the Greater Middlesex Conference Championship.

Sean Rappleyea netted both short-handed goals for St. Joseph (17-2-3) and John Reid and Michael Nisky each found the back of the net as the top-seeded Falcons defended their GMC title.

Right from the start, St. Joseph delivered crushing body blows in the open ice to set the tone against the second-seeded Knights.

“The difference for us tonight was just that we had this mentality that we weren’t going to lose,” St. Joseph coach Ryan Carter said. “It took St. Joseph 21 years to win a championship and we just didn’t want to give up the trophy.”

Less than three minutes into the contest, Reid got the Falcons on the board when he stole the puck behind the Old Bridge net and wrapped a shot inside the near post to beat Knights goalie Justin Amayo.

From there, the teams traded scoring opportunities for the next 10 minutes, but inside of three minutes to play, St. Joseph was whistled for a double-minor penalty.

Not fazed by the four-minute penalty, Rappleyea and his penalty-killing mates took over, putting the game out of reach with his pair of goals. The first of the two goals at the 13:21 mark of the first period stunned Old Bridge, but the second, just 26 seconds later, left the Knights (13-6-2) shell-shocked.

“My first goal, their defenseman made a bad pass and I read it from the blue line and just stepped up and walked in on net,” Rappleyea said. “But on my second, I just made a couple moves and dangled their goalie and scored.”

Amayo made 35 saves in the contest for Old Bridge, which was outshot 39-20.

With St. Joseph on the power play, Nisky found the back of the net at 1:15 of the second period to put the Falcons up 4-0. They wouldn’t add to their lead for the remainder of the game, but the damage had been done.

Dan Rubin scored at the 4:32 mark of the second period to get Old Bridge on the board, but the Knights, who dropped a 6-1 decision against St. Joseph in the regular season, couldn’t get any closer.

The Knights managed to get 20 shots on net against Daniel Garb, but most of them came from the outside and weren’t serious threats to find the back of the net.

Defending their GMC Cup was a big goal for St. Joseph coming into the contest, but Carter knows that there is more to the season.

The Falcons are the sixth seed in the NJSIAA Non-Public Tournament, with a matchup against 11th-seeded Montclair Kimberly looming Thursday.

“We’ve had some pretty big games this year, beating Don Bosco was a huge step for our program, and that game gave us the belief that we’re capable of playing with and beating anyone in the state,” Carter said. “We’re a huge contender. If people want to overlook us, that’s fine, we’re just going to keep churning.”

Cougars, Mountaineers fit to be tied

SOMERSET — It hasn’t been a dream season by any means for the Bernards and Montgomery High School ice hockey teams, but the two teams played to a spirited 4-4 tie Monday afternoon at Protec Arena.

The Cougars (5-11-1) held a two-goal lead entering the third period, but Dan Osika and Matt Dean found the back of the net less than two minutes apart to even the score at 4-4. Dean recorded a hat trick in the game and all three goals were scored in the dirty area just in front of the net.

“The front of the net is the place you need to go if you want to score,” Dean said. “So I just park myself there and drive the net hard for rebounds and that’s how I was able to be successful today.”

Dean’s third goal of the contest, at the 11:18 mark of the third period, was a result of great work along the blue line by the Bernards (8-5-2) defense. The Mountaineers defensemen kept the puck away from the Montgomery forwards and eventually Jake Kerr fired a shot on net. Michael Yanovitch made the stop, but the rebound squirted right to Dean’s stick and the senior forward tapped it in.

Montgomery jumped on top early, when Jese Negron ripped home a slap shot from just inside the blue line at the 10:22 mark of the first period. Negron, one of the Cougars’ captains this season, said he’s been given the green light to shoot the puck more often this winter.

“Coach (Rob) Scarpa has been giving the defensemen the option to carry the puck a little further and shoot it when we have the chance,” he said. “So I just let it go and it went in.”

Dean tied the game less than five minutes after Negron’s goal, but Montgomery found the back of the net three times in the second period to seize control of the contest.

Cam Garinger and Bryan Mayewski worked a beautiful two-on-one down the middle of the ice, with Mayewski dishing to Garinger for the goal at 12:07. Six minutes later, with two Mountaineers in the penalty box, Montgomery capitalized again, working the puck around the offensive zone before Steve Krafcik let a shot fly from the point. With two Cougars standing in front of the net, Bernards goalie Coleman Merchant never saw the puck, and it found the back of the net to put Montgomery up 3-1.

Maxx Berteletti capped the Montgomery scoring with a tap-in goal with 5:26 remaining in the second period.

But from there, it was all Bernards. With less than a minute to play in the middle frame, Dean scored on a tip-in right in front of the Montgomery net, once again because of poor rebound control by the Cougars defense. That goal buoyed the Mountaineers to a comeback that Dean said wouldn’t have happened earlier in the season.

“We certainly battled back, which is something we wouldn’t have done in the past; we usually crumble when we fall behind, but we were down 3-1 and we came back,” Dean said.