FARMINGDALE, NJ — Playoff hockey is a different animal. All the hard work and countless hours of practice a team puts into their season can come to a screeching halt in mere seconds.
Through two periods on Wednesday night, both Jackson Liberty and Toms River North felt the pressure of not being guaranteed tomorrow. One team was going to have a short-lived stay in the Dowd Cup.
When the dust finally settled Jackson Liberty-Point Pleasant Boro ensured it wasn’t going to be them — scoring five unanswered goals in the final period — as the sixth-seeded Lions sunk the 11th-seeded Mariners, 9-2, in the first round of the Dowd Cup at Howell Ice Arena.
Will Herrington and Adam Uliano each found the back of the net twice while Zach D’Andrea recorded his 100th-career goal among nine different Lions who found their name penciled in on the scoresheet.
“It felt a little different coming into the rink today,” Jackson Liberty-Point Boro head coach Dale Weise said. “Everyone is going to be playing a little harder and you have to step your game up.”
It was far from pretty, but in the end all that matters is getting the chance to play another game.
“It felt like it could have been one of my last games, but I try not to think about that,” Herrington said. “We just have to keep playing the way we do.”
Quinn Daudelin opened the scoring just 4:31 into the opening period as the Lions came out firing on all cylinders. Uliano deposited both of his goals before the clock expired in the opening frame, upping the advantage to 3-0 after one.
“The energy was there, and you could see it on the bench,” Ulaino said. “Everything was electric out there and you could tell.”
“We just seemed to come out with a little more jump than they did. We came ready to play,” Weise said.
“We just started taking way too many penalties in the second period and allowed them to get back in the game.”
The second period saw the Mariners climb back into the contest when Cole Schneider netted his 37th and 38th goals of the year to draw Toms River North within a goal, but that is as far as they would get in their efforts.
The penalty kill went 6-for-8 in the tilt, with four of those penalties coming in just over nine minutes of game time. It was during this flurry that Schneider took advantage of the extra room on the ice.
“They have too many guys that have too much talent to be down a man that much,” Weise said. “It’s impossible to play your game when you have someone sitting in the box the whole period.”
Herring, Uliano, D’Andrea, Joe Virga and Matt Buccino anchor themselves on the penalty killing units. Collectively, their efforts Wednesday night set up a sequence of six unanswered goals to close the game.
“We don’t want to sit back and let them set up,” added Weise. “We want the PK to be aggressive and dictate as much as they can.”
The aggressiveness was rewarded when Virga slid home a pass across the slot from Uliano shortly after killing their final penalty of the period to stymie any momentum Toms River North would bring into the locker room.
“Getting a goal at the end of the second period was nice,” Weise said. “To also get a goal after we had to kill off the 5-on-3 in the third was rewarding for the effort the PK made.”
“We stayed determined,” Herrington said. “The penalties killed us, but we persevered and converted on our opportunities.”
The goal shortly after the 5-on-3 was killed off was a memorable one for D’Andrea, a senior.
The goal was the 100th of his career, bringing his four-year point total to 218, believed to be sixth, all-time, on the Shore Conference scoring list.
Shore Conference Hockey All-Time Scoring List*
1-Jim Dowd, Brick, 375. 2-Bobby Acropolis, Brick, 265. 3-Charlie Mule, Toms River East, 237. 4-Jay Malone, Toms River South, 235. 5-Michael Mania, Central Regional, 219. 6-Zach D’Andrea, Jackson Liberty, 218. 7-Nick LaBianca, Jackson Liberty, 209. 8-Kyle Hallbauer, Howell; Mike Dowd, Jr., St. John Vianney, 208. 9-Khristian Acosta, Middletown North, 203. 10-Joe Granza, Jackson Liberty, 203.
Herrington followed by lending two goals of his own to the score sheet before Jason Andreyev and Gerard Cerino capped the scoring. For Cerino, it was the first varsity goal of his career.
The first year co-op program between the Jackson and Point Pleasant schools have gelled nicely since their inception.
“Some of these kids knew each other from club hockey, so that made the transition easier for a lot,” Weise said. “Once they started playing together and seeing some wins under our belt they knew this was going to work.
“Wins always help ease the transition and both schools have really come together,” Weise added.
Third-seeded Manasquan-Point Pleasant Beach await the Lions in the semifinals of the Dowd Cup.
Besides cleaning up the penalty troubles, Jackson Liberty feels they can matchup with anyone if they play this brand of hockey night-in and night-out.
“I think this game was a solid blueprint of what we want here,” Weise said. “Of course, we have to stay out of the box, but other than that we think we can stack up to anyone if we play our way.”
“We moved the puck and played a simple game,” Uliano added. “We made some good passes and put some shots on.”
Jackson Liberty-Point Boro still awaits scheduling for that matchup with Manasquan.
“Manasquan is a tough team,” Uliano said. “We need to stay out of the box. That only makes the game tougher for everyone.”
Toms River North will await their placement in the NJSIAA Public B state playoff bracket, which will be unveiled on Feb. 17. Jackson Liberty has also qualified for the state tournament, and will await their seeding.
JL 1-0 Quinn Daudelin (Will Herrington, Zach D’Andrea) 10:29-1st
JL 2-0 Adam Uliano (Jason Andreyev) 8:31-1st
JL 3-0 Adam Uliano (Jason Andreyev) 4:27-1st PPG
TRN 3-1 Cole Schneider (Justin Ervelli, Anthony DeFalco) 14:34-2nd PPG
TRN 3-2 Cole Schneider (Cory van den Berg, Justin Ervelli) 4:40-2nd PPG
JL 4-2 Joe Virga (Adam Uliano, Matt Buccino) 1:11-2nd PPG
JL 5-2 Zach D’Andrea (unassisted) 10:04-3rd PPG
JL 6-2 Will Herrington (Zach D’Andrea) 8:11-3rd PPG
JL 7-2 Will Herrington (unassisted) 5:04-3rd
JL 8-2 Jason Andreyev (Adam Uliano) 2:23-3rd
JL 9-2 Gerard Cerino (Brendan MaCauley) :46-3rd
Shots: 36-22, Jackson Liberty; Kyle Jones, JL, 20 saves; Corey Finnegan, TRN, 27 saves
Written by Casey Krish @CaseyKrish
Special to HockeyClan
* denotes believed to be based on records on file
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