WAYNE — The bitter taste of losing to Pope John in the semifinals of the Gordon Cup Tournament last week did not sit well with the Don Bosco players and coaching staff. The Bergen County school fell for the second time this season to its rivals from Sussex County, but made it their mission to turn that setback into a new-found sense of determination in the state tournament.
Don Bosco Prep had a few extra days to prepare for the NJSIAA Non-Public State Tournament, and after a first round bye, came out with guns blazing.
Ryan McLinskey opened the floodgates when he took a Mickey Burns pass and buried a shot into the back of the net three minutes into the first period and the third-seeded Ironmen never looked back en route to a 6-0 victory over 14th-seeded St. John Vianney at the Ice Vault in Wayne.
“We used the couple extra days we had with the first-round bye to fix a few things we wanted to work on. We wanted to get off to a fast start tonight and that’s exactly what we did,” senior Ryan McLinskey said. “We have great chemistry on this team and our line was clicking all night. Playing with Mickey Burns and (my brother) Liam, we feed off of one another and always know where to put the puck.”
Ryan and Liam, a sophomore, formed a three-headed monster with Burns that could not be stopped from the get-go as the trio finished with a combined five goals and 11 points.
Ryan McLinskey orchestrated the offensive brigade with a hat trick and four points, Liam had a goal and an assist while Burns, a junior, collected a goal and four assists in the triumph.
Liam and Mickey scored in a 30-second span to put the Ironmen up 3-0 just five minutes into the game. Ryan, the team’s senior captain, had a hat trick even before the opening frame came to a close as the Ramsey school quickly established a four-goal lead after 15 minutes of play.
“Things did not how we wanted in the Gordon Cup this year and we made it our goal to put that loss behind us and come out to a fast start here in the state tournament,” Liam McLinskey said. “St. John Vianney has a great offense and I think our defense played great tonight and we did a great job on the penalty kill.”
Ryan put the eventual dagger in the Lancers’ heart when he took advantage of a turnover at center ice and deked his way past Vianney netminder Jeremy Connor for a short-handed goal four minutes into the second.
Don Bosco limited St. John Vianney to just 14 shots in the game and killed off three Lancer power plays. Senior goaltender Alexei Masanko stopped all eight shots that came his way and fellow senior Dante Durante finished off the shutout with six saves in the final period.
“Our defense played a great game from start to finish and never let them get anything set up on the power play,” Burns said. “When the offense was clicking like the way it did tonight, the defense feeds off of that energy. It was a complete team effort. We did what we needed to accomplish tonight and now it’s time to prepare for the next game.”
Don Bosco (18-6-1) will take on 11th-seeded Bishop Eustace of Pennsauken in the Sweet-16 of the 2017 Non-Public State Tournament set for Monday, Feb. 27th on the same ice surface. The puck drops at 7:15 p.m. in Wayne.
Bishop Eustace pulled the upset and knocked off sixth-seeded Seton Hall Prep in the first round on Tuesday.
“Bishop Eustace is a strong team and we know that we are going to have to be at our best again in the next round,” Ryan McLinskey said. “They beat a very good Seton Hall team and we have to have that same kind of energy we had here tonight.”
For St. John Vianney, their season comes to an end with an 11-8-4 record. The Lancers knocked off 19th-seeded Frisch, 11-1, in the first round of the Non-Public Tournament on Feb. 21.
Connor made big save after big save early in the game to keep the Lancers alive early in the game and finished with 36 stops in the loss. The junior finishes the season with .901 save percentage and two shutouts.