WEST ORANGE – For the last decade, Delbarton has been the gold standard by which all other Garden State programs are measured and on Thursday the Morristown outfit drove that point home once more with a 6-3 victory over Christian Brothers Academy in the semifinals of the NJSIAA/New Jersey Devils Non-Public Tournament at Codey Arena in West Orange.
The triumph secured the top-seeded Green Wave a berth in the state finals for the ninth time in the last 10 years.
“I think we were resilient tonight,” Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel said following his club’s dominant showing against the fourth-seeded Colts. “Every time we lost the momentum we were able to find a way to make a play and respond. And we had to do that quite a bit tonight.”
In a rematch of the 2016 state final, Delbarton opened the scoring in this semifinals bout when sophomore winger Jack Malone delivered his 19th of the season with 4:50 to play in the first period.
Christian Brothers answered with just under two minutes to play in the opening frame, however, when junior winger Nicholas Lidondici gained the offensive zone, carried the puck deep and ladled a pass into the slot for Nic Dietrich, who snapped his stick in two on the one-timer attempt, but got enough on the shot to put it past Green Wave keeper Troy Kobryn (21 saves) for his seventh of the season.
With 6:14 gone by in the second period, Patrick Harrington once again staked the Green Wave to a one-goal lead on his sixth, but once again the Colts would answer almost immediately as Corey Clifton got his stick on Sam Weber shot from the right point to redirect his 13th of the year to the back of the twine 1:44 later.
But special teams proved to CBA’s undoing, as Delbarton built itself a 5-2 lead over the next 15 minutes of play with a pair of power-play tallies.
Hunter Macy fired from the point through a screen and past Colts sophomore netminder Jake Brown (18 saves) for a power-play goal at 10:11 of the second period before Mark Benemerito notched his team-leading 22nd of the season at 6:46 of the third period.
Jalen Kaplan made it a three-goal game when he drove the net and tucked his seventh of the year for Delbarton’s second power-play goal of the game with just under four minutes remaining in regulation.
“Those power-play goals were really big for our momentum at a point in the game when it was still up in the air,”
Macy said. “They really got the boys going and gave us the energy we needed to finish off this big win.”
“When you take penalties and they convert on them, that’s sort of Delbarton’s M.O. They get you down and they pound and pound. And you can dig, but there’s only so many times you can dig,” CBA coach Ryan Bogan said. “And they just kept coming, to a point where you have to play with desperation, and when you play desperate you get scored on… I thought the effort was there tonight, but I don’t think the energy was. Delbarton outplayed us — and they deserved to win.”
Garett Silverman poked home his third of the season on a CBA power play with under two minutes remaining in regulation but Andrew Bosland slid his 17th into an empty net to make it a 6-3 final in favor of the Green Wave, and punch Delbarton’s ticket to a third consecutive state final.
The Morris Township school is looking to add an unprecedented 12th NJSIAA title to its trophy case.
“The biggest thing I’m talking about to the guys before heading into this final is just to embrace the moment,” said Delbarton team captain Mark Benemerito. “You only get so many of these opportunities in a career and you can’t take them for granted. You have to give a full effort every time you step on the ice and that’s what will win you games. It’s winning your battles every period and winning each period. That’s the way we approach it and that’s how we’ll approach the final.”
Delbarton (21-6-2) is set to meet third-seeded Don Bosco at the 2017 NJSIAA Non-Public State Finals on Monday at 4:30 p.m. at Mennen Arena in Morris Township.