RANDOLPH — Michael Balzarotti of Delbarton had one objective on his mind when he lined up for the third period face-off.
“I was thinking momentum,” the junior forward said. “I didn’t really think about scoring a goal. I was concentrating on having a good first shift and getting us started.”
Balzarotti certainly put a jolt into the offense and swayed the outcome in his team’s favor when he struck for the decisive goal just 36 seconds into the final frame as Delbarton, No. 2 in the Hockey Night In Boston New Jersey Top 10, secured a 2-1 victory over seventh-ranked Christian Brothers Academy at Aspen Ice.
The Green Wave, just 1-3 in their last four games, improved to 13-5-2 while avenging a Jan. 17, 5-3, loss to Christian Brothers. That defeat had snapped an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) for Delbarton.
The triumph was also the 396th of Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel’s career. His log stands at 396-51-37.
Locked in a 1-1 game, Delbarton merely needed to continue the staples that had allowed it to outshoot its Gordon Conference rival by a 19-11 margin through the first 30 minutes.
“We needed to keep hitting and get the puck deep,” said Balzarotti, who also picked up an assist. “We pride ourselves on getting the puck deep and pressuring other teams into mistakes. On that first shift I wasn’t thinking about scoring, but it was sure great to get a goal so early in the third. We had a tough stretch the last few games, so we really wanted to get the two points. This win is a huge help for us in the Gordon standings.”
Balzarotti settled a saucer pass from Andrew Bosland between the dots and launched a shot that eluded Christian Brothers goalie Jake Brown (23 saves) to snap the 1-1 tie. It was his eighth goal of the season.
Delbarton goalie Kenny Bugess finished with 13 saves, but two key stops came in the last five minutes when he denied Ken Fogarty before kicking out an attempt by Liam Noonan. The Monmouth County school, outshot 25-14 overall, generated some opportunities in the third, but was unable to put enough shots on goal to get the equalizer.
Delbarton pinned the puck deep for a key stretch late, and Brown wasn’t able to be pulled until 35 seconds were left.
“We played hard,” said Christian Brothers coach Ryan Bogan. “It was a back-and-forth game and Delbarton controlled much of the tempo, but we created some chances. They dictated the play at times, and we countered, but we didn’t finish the chances we had. It’s 1-1 going into the third and we were in good shape, but that quick goal hurt. You don’t want to fall behind against Delbarton — and we did twice.”
Delbarton jumped on top, 1-0, after an intense board battle allowed Bosland to flip a rebound over a prone Brown 3:56 into the game. James Falivene and Balzarotti assisted.
“We needed to get two points,” said Bosland. “There was a scrum in front and I was able to take a forehand to the middle of the net. We felt like we were in control for most of the game and we had a good tempo. We played hard and in the third period we wanted to keep it CBA’s end as much as possible.”
Delbarton maintained the one-goal lead through an evenly-played first, holding a 9-7 shot advantage.
Christian Brothers cut its deficit and evened it up when freshman forward Anthony DeFalco outskated a Delbarton defender to the net and finished off a two-on-one by putting home a pass from Dean DeFazio with 12:52 left.
“They are a fast team and we knew what to expect,” said DeFalco. “We wanted to keep that momentum when we tied it. We lost some defensive coverage on Delbarton’s goal in the third, but we thought we had a good chance to come back.”
The setback stopped a six-game winning streak for Christian Brothers (12-7-1).
Written by Paul Bruno / @PaulBrunoHS
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