MIDDLETOWN, NJ — Christian Brothers Academy is playing with a chip on its shoulder.
Despite shutting out top-ranked and defending state champion Don Bosco Prep earlier this season, the Shore Conference school feels it is not getting the respect it deserves.
Simon Fitzgerald got on the board 10:53 into the action, Chad Schneider doubled it the second frame and Kyle Contessa added a goal and an assist as CBA, No. 2 in the Hockey Night in Boston Top 10, grinded out a 3-1 victory over Middletown North Thursday night at Middletown Sports Complex.
“Gritty play in the corners, winning battles… at the end of the day it wasn’t pretty but a win is a win — we’ll take it,” Fitzgerald, who tapped in a loose puck off Jonathan Wuestneck’s initial shot from the point for a 1-0 lead, said.
“We got pucks in, got them deep and played our game. We would’ve liked a better showing but a win is a win,” the 6-3, 190 lb senior said. “We want to keep it rolling into Gordon Cup and state playoffs.”
Since shutting out Don Bosco Prep, 2-0, on Dec. 11, Christian Brothers Academy has won seven of its last eight games, including triumphs over Delbarton, St. John Vianney and Seton Hall Prep, to stand (9-2-1). The Lincroft school is in search of its eighth state title and first since back-to-back NJSIAA titles in 2014-’15.
Schneider converted the first of two CBA power-play goals four minutes into the second, but Middletown North’s Bob Fitzgerald slashed that deficit in half just 3:48 later when he beat goalie Nick Emilio, glove-side, with 7:18 to go. It would be the only time Middletown would solve Emilio, however, who finished with 15 saves.
“We should’ve scored more. We should have dominated,” said Contessa, who set up Schneider on the power play before scoring again with the man-advantage with 1:55 left in the second period. “Our shot selection wasn’t that great. We never got the puck to the middle to shoot and back door passes weren’t there.”
While the CBA power play unit led by Contessa, Evan Brown and Zachary Wagnon was clicking, head coach Andy Gojdycz was critical of the team’s 5-on-5 play, an aspect he says will be crucial down the line.
“We need to start to do the little things right,” Gojdycz said. “Those little things done right are going to win bigger hockey games as the season progresses.
“It’s a red flag when you outshoot your opponent 33-15 and can’t bury 5-on-5,” Gojdycz, who helped guide CBA to three straight state titles as player from 1994-’96, said. “That’s concerning to a degree. Back to the chalkboard and erase it. Back to basics. That’s what we need to do.”
“I completely agree. Our 5-on-5 play needs to improve for sure,” Fitzgerald said. “Our special teams has been great. Kyle, Evan and (Zachary) Wagnon on the power play are very special players. They move the puck really well. If we can incorporate that into our 5-on-5 play it will keep the pressure on the opposing D and help us down the road against teams like Delbarton, Don Bosco…. teams we’re going to see late-February, early-March.”
Justin Dickinson stood tall with 30 saves for Middletown North (5-7-2).
“Very close,” Middletown North coach Don Wood said. “It all starts and ends with our goaltending and we got another outstanding performance from Justin Dickinson. He’s been amazing all year. Sometimes, he’ll go a week between starts but he just picks up where he left off. It’s a real luxury ti have him and Matt Corella back there.
“Overall, the last two games our effort has been real solid,” Wood said. “We had a few mistakes and penalties that were the difference. A turnover here or a bad penalty there are the deciding factors when you’re playing top-tier teams like CBA. Mistakes and turnovers wind up in the back of your net. Good teams make you pay.”
Middletown North and Christian Brothers were each crowned state champions in 2015, with North taking home the NJSIAA Public B title that season.
“This time of year, where our record is, we need to put up some wins — the effort is there,” Wood added. “Going forward, these last six games of the regular season, we can continue to progress and play our best hockey of the season when we really need to. These guys are more than capable of getting it done. Getting back to .500 first and going from there.”
1-0 CBA Simon Fitzgerald (Jonathan Wuestneck, Ryan Howard) 4:07-1st
2-0 CBA Chad Schneider (Kyle Contessa, Patrick Reilly) 11:06-2nd PPG
2-1 MN Bob Fitzgerald (Mike Botti) 7:18-2nd PPG
3-1 CBA Kyle Contessa (Evan Brown) 1:55-2nd PPG
Shots: 33-15 CBA
Leading 3-1 late in the third period, senior goalie Nick Emilio made sure it stayed that way with this nice save on the breakaway attempt.
— CBA Digital Network (@CBADN) January 17, 2020
Written by John Christian Hageny @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Goalie Nicholas Emilio makes the save as Jonathan Wuestneck clears the side of the net during the Middletown North-Christian Brothers Academy Shore Conference Hockey Game at Middletown Sports Complex, Middletown, NJ. 1/16/20. (Tom Smith | tspimages.com)
HockeyClan continues to upgrade its apps to benefit their growing hockey community.
Want to write about hockey? Join the HockeyClan community! While you are here visiting Rate Rinks! You can rate every rink you have ever been to based on the most important criteria. Interested in doing your own Player’s Blog? Send your hockey story to us at email@example.com