Champs! Christian Brothers Skate Past Don Bosco Prep, 4-1, Capture 2020 NJSIAA Non-Public Crown

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Destiny (noun) the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future; the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible course of events; the hidden power believed to control what will happen in the future; fate.

NEWARK, NJ — To say Christian Brothers Academy entered the season among the heavy favorites to contend for a state title would be amiss. A tumultuous off-season, a new coach and a new regime were installed at the prestigious Lincroft school. Questions lingered and answers were few and far between.

With a clean slate, it can take years to generate the type of camaraderie necessary to win a state title, but for CBA and first-year head coach Andy Gojdycz it only took eight months.

C.J. Cummings erased a one-goal deficit 1:42 into the third period, Zachary Wagnon scored the go-ahead goal with nine minutes remaining and Kyle Contessa and Gio Crepaldi added the icing on the ice cake with a pair of empty-net goals as Christian Brothers, No. 1 in The Hockey Night in Boston Top 10, usurped defending state champion Don Bosco Prep, 4-1, in the final of the 2020 NJSIAA/New Jersey Devils Non-Public state championship at Prudential Center in Newark.

CBA’s Colin Grable avoids the stick and sets up to take the shot from the circle during the CBA vs Don Bosco NJSIAA State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

“It means the world,” Crepaldi, CBA’s senior said. “I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was 10-years old and to come to CBA and finish off my senior season with a Gordon Cup win and a State Championship win — it means the world to me.”

“It feels so good,” Contessa said. “I’ve been chasing this ever since I came to CBA and it feels amazing. It was the main reason I came to CBA. I saw my brother do it twice. It was literally my dream. I can’t believe I’m here right now.”

Down one after two periods of play, coming up empty on 11 shots on net, the outlook appeared bleak. Players hung their heads in the locker room. Morale was at an all-time low. That’s when Gojdycz came in and demanded they pick themselves up.

“Everybody had their heads down,” Contessa said. “But coach came in and said, ‘You guys have got to pick your heads up. The game’s not over!’

“Everybody wanted to win. Everybody knew this would be our last time on the ice. We believed it.”

“It looked like we just lost the game,” said CBA goaltender John Donohoe. “Everybody said, ‘What the heck? We haven’t lost anything yet. We know we can come back. We’ve done it before.’

Don Bosco’s Lukas Klemm controls the puck along the blue line during the CBA vs Don Bosco NJSIAA State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

The Colts responded with four third-period goals.

The triumph marked the first time since 1996, CBA was the top-ranked team during the regular season, won the Gordon Cup and won an NJSIAA title in the same campaign.

Gojdycz was a senior captain on the team that season.

“That’s our third checked box — that’s what we strive for,” said Gojdycz, who announced a return to his alma mater in July. “It’s a testament to these guys, all the guys in the locker room and I’m proud to call myself their coach.

“Coming in this year we knew we had talent,” Gojdycz said. “We always talk about team-first, program-first. They sacrificed everything to make this run. They came together and got the job done.”

Donohoe was nothing short of spectacular in between the pipes for the Colts. The goal the sophomore surrendered to Don Bosco’s Jake Geraci with 53.8 seconds left in the first was just the second goal he surrendered in the state tournament. His post-season scoreless streak through the Gordon Cup into its quarterfinal bout with Morristown-Beard lasted 193:46.

“To be honest, we we very down at the end of the first. We were all trying to get each other pumped up, but we knew we could do it,” Donohoe said. “We knew we could do and came back with the win.”

“(Donohoe) is an overall team player,” Gojdycz said. “He cares more about the team than himself and that’s what characterizes him as a player.”

CBA’s Zachary Wagnon celebrates scoring the game winner during the CBA vs Don Bosco NJSIAA State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

Cummings’ goal, off a deflection from Chad Schneider’s shot from the point, tied the game at 1-1 just 1:42 into the third period. The goal provided CBA the spark it was looking for as the Colts slowly steered the momentum its way. Wagnon scored what proved to be the game-winner 4:18 later and the Colts dug in for the remainder of the tilt.

Don Bosco Prep pulled its goalie in an effort to tie, but two empty-net goals, the first from Contessa with 1:01 left made it 3-1 before Crepaldi added another into the vacant cage with 42.9 remaining.

From there it was just a countdown to the Colts’ eighth NJSIAA title and first since defeating Delbarton, 4-3, in overtime in 2015.

Related: Christian Brothers Top Gloucester Catholic in State Semis

Don Bosco goalie Ethan Marich kicks out his right pad to make the save, he had 16 saves during the CBA vs Don Bosco NJSIAA State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

After capturing its first state title in team history last season, the Ironmen got the start they were looking for when Geraci cashed in with less than a minute left in the first. The timely goal right before the end of the period sent the Ironmen on their way. They peppered Donohoe with eight shots in the first and another seven in the second. If not for the play of the CBA netminder, the lead could have been greater.

“In the first two periods we wore them down. We carried play in the second,” Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toskos said. “With any little puck luck, Matt Imbriano hit that post, we go up 2-0 it’s probably a different result. But I give CBA credit, they bounced back with an early goal in the third. If it was a late one, maybe the outcome is different, but the early goal changed the momentum hard for them.”

Related: CBA Skates Past Don Bosco Prep in 2020 Gordon Cup

CBA’s Kyle Contessa beats the defender to score an empty net goal to ice the game at 3-1, Kyle also had an assist during the CBA vs Don Bosco NJSIAA State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

Senior Will Fortescue was proud of the way his team played.

“That one stings. We gave it our all this season,” Fortescue said. “Last year they were saying it was Tyler (Sedlak) and Liam (McLinskey) and this year we weren’t going to do anything, but I think we proved a lot of people wrong. The senior class, everyone came in to battle and I’m proud of what we did as a group. I know there’s a lot of talent in that room.”

Don Bosco Prep finishes the season 20-8-1.

“I can put a very positive stamp on this season,” Toskos said. “If you look at the team we had, the players we lost. We were a dominant force. This team had to battle, had to work hard to get here. It was a very different year. I couldn’t be more proud and happy we made it, but that doesn’t mean I’m happy with the outcome.”

Related: 2020 High School State Semifinalists Welcomed to The Rock

CBA’s Giovanni Crepaldi skates down the boards to score the last goal of the game during the CBA vs Don Bosco NJSIAA State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

Related: Christian Brothers Stymie Bergen Catholic to Advance

After a rough stretch at the beginning of February, Christian Brothers closed out on an eight-game winning streak to finish 20-4-3.

“We lost to Bergen in the round of 16 last year and we told ourselves we would never lose like that again,” Crepaldi added. “We were so fired up going into this season. Every game we just came out and worked harder and harder. We came closer and closer to our goal and we didn’t stop.

“To finish the last shift of my life as a CBA hockey player to make it 4-1 meant the world to me. I literally broke down in tears,” Crepaldi said. “The celebration on the bench was amazing.”

Related: Survive and Advance! DBP gets by Seton Hall Prep in State Semis

Giovanni Crepaldi carrying the prize after the CBA vs Don Bosco NJSIAA State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

“Coach really showed he just has so much confidence in us,” Wagnon said. “He just really trusts us. He picked us up for the third and we did what we usually do — we won the game. The seniors were crying in the locker room. It means the world to all of us.”

“We always say as coaches, ‘We take the losses — that’s on the coach — but all the wins are on the players,’ so quite honestly, I really don’t know what to say right now,” said Gojdycz. “Talk to our players because it’s their day, it’s their night, let ’em have it.”

CBA’s Kyle Contessa is all smiles after winning the CBA vs Don Bosco NJSIAA State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

Related: 2019-20 HockeyClan Video Catalog

Scoring

0-1 Don Bosco: Jake Geraci (Arthur Tsimerman, Drew Fortescue) :53.8-1st

1-1 Christian Brothers: C.J. Cummings (Chad Schneider) 13:18-3rd

2-1 Christian Brothers: Zachary Wagnon (Kyle Contessa) 9:00-3rd

3-1 Christian Brothers: Kyle Contessa (unassisted) 1:01-3rd ENG

4-1 Christian Brothers: Giovanni Crepaldi :42.9-3rd ENG

Shots: Don Bosco Prep 21-18. John Donohoe, CBA, 20 saves; Ethan Marich, DBP, 14 saves

 

 

Written by John Christian Hageny  @JCCSPORTS 

Special to HockeyClan

 

Photos by Tom Smith  @TSPImages  TSPSportsimages

 

The trophy presentation with NJSIAA officials Jack Dubois (l) and Cory Robinson and CBA’s (from l-r) Colin Grable, Kyle Contessa, Giovanni Crepaldi and Christopher Cummings after the CBA vs Don Bosco NJSIAA State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

 

Main Image: The Champs are Here! Christian Brothers Academy poses with the NJSIAA trophy after the CBA-Don Bosco Prep NJSIAA Non-Public State Tournament Hockey Final at Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. 3/9/20  (Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

 

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