Christian Brothers Slip Past Gloucester Catholic, 2-0, in State Semifinals

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MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ — At some point, Kyle Contessa ran out of sticks. He broke his Bauer ADV last week and his new shipment hadn’t arrived yet.

Fortunately, his brother was there to lend him a new twig.

With new stick in hand, Contessa stepped out of the penalty box and into a cross-ice pass from Colin Grable in the neutral zone before breaking in on his strongside and finding twine with 18.2 seconds left in the second period.

The goal proved decisive sending top-seeded Christian Brothers Academy, No. 1 in The Hockey Night in Boston Top 10, on its way to a 2-0 victory over fifth-seeded and No. 4 Gloucester Catholic in the NJSIAA semifinals at Mennen Arena in Morris Township.

The hits were flying as both teams used the body to help control the game during the Christian Brothers Academy vs Gloucester Catholic NJSIAA State Tournament Semfinals at Mennen Arena in Morristown, NJ. 3/4/20  (Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

“I honestly didn’t think I was going to use it. I really didn’t think I could do anything with it,” said Contessa. “It was a Bauer Nexus two inches bigger than mine that he got from the NAHL. But after a few shots I was like, ‘Wow, I can actually rip it with this.'”

Christian Brothers, which awaits the winner of Don Bosco Prep/Seton Hall Prep, returns to the state final for the first time since 2016, looking for its eighth NJSIAA crown and first since defeating Delbarton, 4-3, in overtime in 2015.

Deadlocked in a scoreless tie deep into the second period, Contessa was whistled for roughing with 2:27 left. The penalty put his team in a hole and he knew it, so he promised himself he would make up for it the next chance he got.

“After I got out of the box, I knew I had to prove something after getting that penalty,” Contessa said. “So I put on the jets. I saw C.J. (Cummings) on my left. I also saw the entire left side of the net open. In my mind, I thought of what my dad says to me all the time, ‘Just drive the net — you’ve got great speed and a great shot — use it.‘”

Contessa beat Gloucester Catholic goalie Chris Liscio blocker-side. The goal, in the waning moments of the second frame, not only broke the scoreless tie, it sent CBA into the break on a high.

Evan Brown who scored CBA’s  insurance goal in the third period, looks to move the puck up ice during the Christian Brothers Academy vs. Gloucester Catholic NJSIAA State Tournament Semifinals at Mennen Arena in Morristown, NJ. 3/4/20  (Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

“It was huge to get that lead going into the third,” said Evan Brown, who quickly made it 2-0 on the power play 1:57 into the final frame. “Momentum carrying over for us? It was huge. To finish it off like we did in the third? It was amazing.

“Some people never get to go to a state final. To be able to go as a sophomore… it’s been everyone’s dream on the team,” Brown said. “It means a lot for all of us.”

It a battle between two of the top teams in the state, shots and scoring chances came at a premium. Both teams ran into roadblocks at the blue line. Stretch passes were not successful and offensive-zone puck possession was minimal at best. Christian Brothers only mustered 19 shots to Gloucester Catholic’s 18 while icings were all too common.

CBA goaltender John Donohoe was there on all 18 shots he faced to record his fourth shutout in the last five games and seventh overall.

“What else is new?” Donohoe asked, making light of what has otherwise been a dominating post-season performance. “Our defense just keeps blocking shots. It’s all them. I don’t think I stopped 20 pucks and it’s all because of them. Brownie, Contessa, Schneider — all of them getting down blocking shots. I love it.”

Christian Brothers goalie John Donohoe hugs the post to keep this shot from getting past him during the CBA-Gloucester Catholic NJSIAA State Tournament Semifinal game at Mennen Arena in Morristown, NJ. Donohoe made 18 saves to record his fourth shutout in his last five games. 3/4/20 (Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

It was the first win in three tries against Gloucester Catholic this season. The Rams prevailed, 4-1, back on Dec. 9 and the teams tied, 2-2, on Jan. 29.

“The first goal was great. It got the energy going and we just kept it going after that. It was a relief, but also put a lot of pressure back on our defense. (Gloucester Catholic) is a tough team to play. We lost to them earlier in the season and tied them in their barn. They were on a roll, we were on a roll, we knew it was going to be a battle to the very end of the game. Props to them and their coaches, they brought it, but Colts out with the victory.”

Gloucester Catholic (11-7-4) was never able to string together anything more than a rush. Shots from the outside were blocked and rebounds were quickly gobbled up. Still, it was a tremendous season for the Rams, which handed Delbarton its first loss in program history on Feb. 17.

“We had a lot of opportunities, there were rebounds, we just never put them away,” Rams’ defenseman Brogan Shea said. “We just couldn’t put the puck in the net. I think we a little nervous. We were down one, then we’re down by two. We started overhandling the puck and not shooting it when we should’ve.

“We made history,” Shea said. “I’m going to miss playing with these guys. They had a big impact on my life. I can’t wait until next year.”

Related: Christian Brothers Academy Captures 2020 Gordon Cup

Kyle Contessa lets go the shot that proved to be the game-winning goal for CBA during the Christian Brothers Academy vs. Gloucester Catholic NJSIAA State Tournament Semifinal hockey game at Mennen Arena in Morristown, NJ. 3/4/20  (Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

Christian Brothers improves to 19-4-3. For first-year coach and CBA alum Andy Gojdycz, the prophecy has almost come true. Only one final step remains.

“In two games with Gloucester we saw what they’re all about with their neutral zone and cross-ice shifts. We knew what we had to do,” Gojdycz said. “We had to modify, which says a lot about our team. We had to adapt, we had to adjust. I didn’t like our start, but I liked the way we finished. It was a good win.”

Kyle Contessa’s older brother, Derek, was a part of CBA’s back-to-back state titles in 2014 and ’15. Currently skating for Sacred Heart University after stints in the NAHL and USHL, Derek Contessa was on hand last night to witness his brother’s success. He might be light a few sticks, however, next time he takes the ice.

The younger Contessa is determined to follow in his older brother’s footsteps.

“Everyone just has to play as a team,” Contessa said. “We just have to come out play hard in the first, get shots and backcheck as hard as we can back to the house.”

Related: Gloucester Catholic Pulls 6-3 Upset over Delbarton in Gordon Cup

Gloucester Catholic’s Tyler Carter avoids the stick check to get off this shot from the top of the circle during the Christian Brothers Academy vs Gloucester Catholic NJSIAA State Tournament Semifinals at Mennen Arena in Morristown, NJ. 3/4/20  (Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

“We just have to play our game. It’s a cliché but we don’t care who we play,” Gojdycz said. “We need to stick to what we do best. If we can do that we’ll be victorious.”

“We’re excited right now, but tomorrow we’re going to get back to practice and hit the ice,” Donohoe said. “We’re not satisfied. We’re not married yet. We don’t have a wedding ring. We’re looking for one that says state champs right now.”

Related: Christian Brothers Academy Stymie Bergen Catholic in Gordon SF

CBA goalie keeps the rebound close as he earned a shutout during the Christian Brothers Academy vs Gloucester Catholic NJSIAA State Tournament Semi-Final Hockey Game at Mennen Arena in Morristown, NJ. 3/4/20 Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com

Scoring
1-0 CBA Kyle Contessa (Colin Grable) :18.2-2nd
2-0 CBA Evan Brown (Zachary Wagnon, Kyle Contessa) 13:03-3rd PPG
Shots: 19-18 CBA; John Donohoe, CBA, 18 saves; Christopher Liscio, GC, 17 saves

 

 

Written by John Christian Hageny  @JCCSPORTS 

Special to HockeyClan

 

Photos by Tom Smith  @TSPImages / TSPSportsimages

 

 

Main Image: Gloucester Catholic goalie Christopher Liscio makes the stick save early during the Christian Brothers Academy vs Gloucester Catholic NJSIAA State Tournament Semifinal hockey game at Mennen Arena in Morristown, NJ. 3/4/20  (Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)

 

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