NEWARK — Delbarton Green brandished Delbarton Gold.
Pat Harrington, Jalen Kaplan, Hunter Macy and Bayard Hall each found the back of the net while Kenny Burgess steered aside 33 shots as the Green Wave, No. 2 in The Hockey Night in Boston Top 10, flew past No. 1 Don Bosco Prep, 4-2, in the final of the NJSIAA Non-Public Tournament at Prudential Center in Newark.
Down by one late in the second period, Kaplan scored a power-play goal with 54.8 seconds left to tie it at 2-2 before Macy — the key to success — gave Delbarton a lead it would not relinquish 2:31 into the third as the Green Wave pulled out a comeback season for the ages en route to its third straight and unprecedented 13th state title in New Jersey.
“All year long people were saying, ‘Bosco, Bosco, Bosco,’ but we kept working all season long, believed in ourselves, our coaches believed in us, and at the end of the day we just weren’t going to get outworked by anyone,” Kaplan said. “I couldn’t be more proud to be a captain on this team.”
After defeating Don Bosco Prep, 2-1, in the 2017 state final and then again, 2-1, in the 2018 Gordon Cup, this year’s finale had all the makings of an instant classic setting the stage for the highly-anticipated finals rematch.
“We executed the game plan and came out state champions,” Macy, who made a pivotal shift from defense to forward to add some much-needed scoring punch, said. “It means a lot to us, just an unbelievable experience to be a part of this program.”
In a switch, it was Delbarton which struck first as Harrington put the Green Wave on the board with 4:46 to go in the first period. Don Bosco Prep struck back within one second of the first-period goal when Robbie Greenleaf tied it at 1-1 with 4:47 left in the second frame.
The momentum seemed to tilt Don Bosco’s way when the Bergen County school took its first lead of the game 1:29 later when Tyler Sedlak sniped top corner with 3:18 to go in the second period. The advantage was short-lived, however, as an inopportune interference call with 2:08 left gave Delbarton a power play and a chance to tie it back up heading into the second intermission.
Kaplan delivered his seventh goal of the season — and perhaps the biggest goal of his career — in the final minute of the three-goal second-period to save Delbarton’s season.
“It was huge to get that goal and head into the third period tied 2-2,” Kaplan said. “Coach Shatel said if we were down by one or tied going into the third period we were going to win the game. This team, throughout the year has been through pretty much every situation possible. We all bought into that game plan and got the W.”
Macy, who missed a chunk of the season after breaking his fibula in a freak, non-contact accident the day after Christmas, was lost for six weeks. Coming up short in the goal-scoring department in two previous losses to Don Bosco Prep, Shatel moved the All-Conference defenseman up to forward looking for a spark.
“I’m sure everybody goes through it but this team was faced with a lot of adversity when it came to injuries and illness,” Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel said. “We had young men that couldn’t answer the bell for school and without a doubt answer the bell for the game and that happened 10 times this season.
“Then Macy breaks his fibula and we lose him for six weeks,” Shatel continued. “He’s a big part of this team. When we made the jump was when we decided to move him up to play with (Nick) Siffringer. It was the solution for not being able to put the puck away. Our offense was anemic but Macy gave us a big lift.”
Shatel also credited the play of Kenny Burgess in between the pipes.
“Within the first five minutes they came out firing,” Burgess said. “We just beat them (in the Gordon Cup) so we knew they were going to come out a little angry. I made a couple of key saves at the beginning to keep it 0-0 which allowed us to get the 1-0 lead. All in all, it was my defense. They kept shots to the outside and let me see them.
“It was our time,” Burgess added. “We were the better team. After all the hard work, all the bounces, we finally got one going our way — it was meant to be.”
The Green Wave added a shorthanded, empty-net goal from Hall with 38 seconds remaining in regulation to cap the scoring and secure Delbarton’s 13th title in state history and 11th in 19 tries this millennium.
After dropping two if its first six games of the season, the Green Wave finish the year 23-6-1.
Don Bosco Prep (27-2-1) felt Delbarton’s first goal was off-sides and the interference call which led to their power-play with less than a minute remaining in the second should never have been called a penalty. But at the end of the day, the Ramsey school falls to 0-4 in state championship games.
“We had plenty of chances to score in this game,” Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toskos said. “I just feel terrible for the seniors this is the way they went out. They were masterful in their year this year and across their careers. I’ve known some of these kids since they were 8-years old. Max (Schwarz 12 saves) made some incredible saves… it’s hard to watch this happen to them. Sometimes it’s not your time and I guess it wasn’t ours.”
After going undefeated in its first 25 games, including two wins over Delbarton in December and January, both of the Ironmen’s losses came to its Gordon Conference nemesis over the final five games of the season.
“Our intentions coming in to the game was to make history,” Don Bosco senior Graham Garlasco said. “So many incredible players to come through this program… It was a hell of a season. Delbarton has an incredible team. Can’t take anything away from them but we really felt like we could have got them this year. We were confident. We had all the energy and positivity we could have had.
“To my best friends, to our captains, to everyone in our room, thank you for making it an incredible season and best of luck in the future.”
After his team celebrated, setting the bar even higher with an unmatched 13th state title, Shatel quietly sat back and took it all in as Delbarton skated around the ice with trophy held high.
“If I was wired in a way to romanticize about the success of our team…,” Shatel stopped, then continued. “It is a big deal but I don’t think about those things. I just know it’s very difficult to get to this game and it’s more difficult to win it. Our guys understand that, and they understand tradition, and how hard they have to work each shift and that’s what makes me so proud.”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Delbarton celebrates its unprecedented 13th state title on the ice of Prudential Center in Newark on March 5, 2018. The Green Wave defeated Don Bosco Prep, 4-2. (Tom Smith/TSPImages)
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