RED BANK — The last time Christian Brothers and Don Bosco Prep met in the great outdoors, it was underneath the bright lights of Yankee Stadium in The Bronx.
Liam McLinskey broke the ice for his Ramsey school 13:23 into the second period but Christian Brothers, No. 5 in The New Jersey Hockey Private Top 10, erased the deficit with three goals in the third period to pull out a 3-1 upset over No. 2 Don Bosco Prep underneath the stars at Navesink Country Club in Red Bank.
“It was important to get that first one. Even though we were behind, we felt like we outplayed them for three periods,” CBA coach Ryan Bogan said. “Their goaltender played great. Sometimes you can outplay teams and still lose. But as soon as you got one, confidence builds and we were able to get momentum. That was the key — just to get the first goal.”
Corey Clifton, the youngest of three Clifton brothers to make his way up the CBA pipeline, put his Lincroft school on the board after a fortuitous bounce caromed off the back boards right to him and he made no mistake in tying the game at 1-1 with 8:40 remaining in regulation. Will Egbert converted the game-winner with 2:32 left and Derek Contessa added an insurance goal just 1:13 later to ice it for the 2015 State Champions.
“When we play Don Bosco, it’s always a great game — they’re a great team,” Clifton said. “It was a great shot by Ryan Tierney. It ricocheted off the boards and came to me and I just tapped it home. It was big for our team. I thought we needed it. We were playing good all game, we had lots of chances but that one felt good to get it in for my boys.”
“The first goal we knew the end boards down there had a little kick because we saw it on their goal in the second period,” Bogan said. “We got a fortunate bounce and there you have it.”
Jake Brown stood tall with 14 saves on 15 shots for CBA, while Dante Durante, starting in place of Alexei Masanko, shutout the opposition for two periods and finished with 22 saves in between the pipes for Don Bosco Prep.
“It was definitely a change. You couldn’t really see the puck too well on one side so you had to adjust quickly,” Durante said. “When you play CBA, it’s always tight. We got that first goal and it was huge for us. It was definitely a big goal but they came back. On their last goal they had a couple guys in front. We tried clearing them but they overpowered us. There really wasn’t much we could have done but it was definitely a cool experience. One I’ll remember when I’m older.”
Clifton and Contessa each picked up a goal and an assist in the triumph for CBA, which also got a pair of assists from John D’Aniello. Toby DiPaolo and Ryan McLinskey picked up assists on Don Bosco’s second-period marker.
“Pretty even game… another one-goal game right up to the end there and we’ve played them in a lot of one-goal games over the years,” Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toskos said. “They got a good bounce to tie it up and after that it deflated us a bit. We’ve got the better of them in some games but they got the better of us today which is okay. We’ve got to clean up our D-zone. We gave up too many shots and clearly we didn’t put enough pucks on net. We need to figure out a few things offensively and get it going.
“It’s definitely a pretty cool element for these guys to play in. A little cold, a little windy but the kids like putting the eye black on,” Toskos said with a smile. “It would have been nice to walk out of here with a win but we have a tremendous amount of respect for CBA.”
The Christian Brothers-Don Bosco Prep Gordon Conference rivalry is a healthy one. Two of the most storied educational institutions in the Garden State, the last time the two prep powerhouse met outdoors went to a shootout at Yankee Stadium in The Bronx in 2013. Griffin Welch gave Don Bosco a 1-0 lead but CBA battled back to tie off the stick of Anthony Cusanelli. In the shootout, Don Bosco goaltender Jarred Liscio denied all five shootout attempts he faced as the North defeated the South, 2-1. The two teams also met at West Point, N.Y. earlier this season.
“It’s a special relationship,” Bogan, NJ.com’s State Coach of the Year in 2015, said. “Greg and I played against each other when we were in high school (and now) a lot of our players have played or play with each other. To share special games like this with our teams together is special.”
Despite the upset secure in its back pocket, however, Christian Brothers (6-2-2) will not dwell on the victory as it sets to take on third-ranked St. Augustine up next. Don Bosco Prep drops to 6-3-1 after the setback and will meet No. 8 Gloucester Catholic on Jan. 9.
“I feel like we played a full game — first, second and third,” Corey Clifton, whose older brothers Tim and Connor star for Quinnipiac where he is also committed, said. “I think it goes back to our coach and leadership. Once we got that first bounce it was all us. We were just waiting for one. From there Egbert and Contessa put one home and we just kept piling ‘em on. It’s a beautiful rink and it was great to get the win.”
“What you saw was potential,” Bogan added. “We knew we had the potential. The key is to keep it going and stay focused. We can ratchet it up there’s no doubt but we still have a lot of work to do.”
John Christian Hageny
Special to HockeyClan
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New Jersey State Ice Hockey
All other photos including Featured Image are by Dave Rubel/NJ Sports Media