2017 Asbury Park Press Classic

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MIDDLETOWN – Freehold Township winger Max Halvorsen made a shootout winner out of the APP White Team as it skated past the Blue squad in fine fashion at Sunday’s Asbury Park Press All-Star Hockey Classic at Middletown Ice World.

Halvorsen, who concluded his high school career as the Patriots’ all-time leading scorer, delivered one final highlight reel goal before officially closing the book on an incredible high school career.

After four rounds of the shootout saw both goaltending units stand tall in the crease, Brick Memorial netminder Andrew Slobiksi made a key blocker stop, his second save of extra session, to place Halvorsen in a position to win it — and the senior did just that.

The left-handed shooting Halvorsen moved in on net, stickhandled across the slot, pulled the puck to his backhand and placed it between the pads of the opposing keeper to push his club to victory. When Halvorsen beat the keeper his White Team teammates wasted no time hopping the boards to mob him in a moment the senior says he won’t soon forget.

“To score the game-winning goal in a shootout and to celebrate a win with these guys, all in my final high school game, you can’t ask for a better ending,” Halvorsen, who was named the White Team’s Most Valuable Player, said. “This was awesome. I’ll never forget this — ever.”

“I had nothing but confidence in Max in that situation,” Freehold Township coach Mike Celano, who was behind the bench for the APP White Team, said.

“Over the last four years he’s been such a clutch player and he has such great hands that he’s really the guy you want to have up in that sort of situation even with a roster full of the best players around.”

The shootout session and Halvorsen’s game-winner were set up by another dramatic goal from Middletown North sophomore John Hallard. With the White Team trailing by a goal and the net empty late in the third period, Hallard departed from his post at the blue line and crashed the crease to clean up a rebound and tie the game at 4-4 with just a single second remaining regulation.

Hallard’s goal followed another tally by Toms River South’s Mike Caufield, who cut the deficit to one goal with just over three minutes left in the third. Caufield’s marker proved instrumental for the White Team, as it halted an offensive outburst from the APP Blue club, which opened the third period with three unanswered goals.

The Blue Team tied the game up at 2-2 early in the final frame, when Christian Brothers Academy forward Corey Clifton broke up a clearing attempt with a heavy poke-check that popped the puck on to the stick of teammate Derek Contessa who beat the goaltender with a rocket over the blocker.

Moments later Point Pleasant Boro’s Ryan Carr put the Blue Team on top for the first time, when he took an offensive zone pass from CBA’s Sam Weber, maneuvered across the slot and put it past the outstretched pad of the opposing netminder.

Wall Township’s Ryan Burns staked the Blue Team to a two-goal advantage midway through the third when he took a pass from teammate Zach Tarantino and slid a shot just over the goal line for a 4-2 lead.

In the first period, Middletown North’s John Dinnocenzo opened the scoring before Middletown South’s Gavin Gulash made it a 2-0 advantage for the White Team.

A first period goal by Clifton cut the lead to 2-1 and helped the CBA’s captain earn the Blue Team MVP.

“It’s an honor to be named the MVP in a game with so many talented players,” Clifton said. “With a competitive game like that, one that gets decided in a shootout, I don’t think anyone could walk away feeling like they lost. It was a great game for a great cause, and we just had a lot of fun today.”

Before the game, the Shore Conference honored legendary Brick Township coach Bob Auriemma.

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