WAYNE, NJ — Winning never gets old. Not for Don Bosco Prep. Not when there’s still one more big one to win for these Ironmen.
Five different players found the back of the net, including Connor Sedlak and Hunter McGee who scored 16 seconds apart in the second period as top-seeded Don Bosco Prep, No. 1 in The Hockey Night in Boston Top 10, skated to its eighth straight Bergen County title with a 5-1 victory over second-seeded St. Joseph of Montvale at The Ice Vault in Wayne.
“There’s no better feeling than winning the county championship,” McGee said. “It’s a great feeling every time — it’s awesome.”
“A great start, extremely strong — two goals 16 seconds apart — that was the key to the game,” Connor Sedlak said. “They really backed off after that. County champs — it’s great, it’s awesome, feels great. Excited for what the next few weeks hold. As long as we keep doing what we’re doing and don’t stop, I think we can do it but we can’t back off.”
Will Fortescue opened the scoring 2:43 into the action for Don Bosco Prep, as the junior defenseman stepped up into the play, intercepting an errant breakout pass and put it home before Sedlak and McGee delivered decisive back-to-back goals seven minutes later as the Ironmen struck swift and sure en route to victory. The latest triumph not only affirms who holds sway over the county, but further reinforces the Ironmen’s sensational start to the 2018-19 season, improving to 16-1 overall.
Don Bosco Prep, which also got goals from Dmitriy Ignatov and Zach Hammond, as well as 16 saves from goaltender Max Schwarz, defeated Ramsey, 10-0, in the quarterfinals, then Bergen Catholic, 5-1, in the semifinals before putting a stamp on the tournament Wednesday night.
“We went through both non-public rivals to win this,” Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toskos said. “St. Joe’s is having a heck of a year so for us to come out with a convincing win is nice.”
“We always try to work from the goal line out. It works well because Liam McLinskey and Tyler Sedlak both have speed,” McGee said. “I get them the puck, they do most of the work, but on the next play they got me the puck, Tyler fed me a nice little rebound there and once I saw the goalie couldn’t slide across I put it in.”
St. Joseph (10-2-2) battled back and cut it to 3-1 when Aiden Grieco buried one from in close with an assist from Ryan Hilliard wtih 3:34 left in the first period, but the back-to-back goals put the Green Knights in a hole they never recovered from.
“I saw Hilliard with the puck through the zone, I called for it, he just chipped it up to me, saw the short-side was wide open and just put it over his shoulder,” Grieco said, describing his goal. “We competed hard the first two periods, it just came down to getting pucks out of our zone. We had a couple chances to get it out and we just didn’t. We were in this game. After the first period, we were only down two shots (14-12). We were right there. We just didn’t bury our opportunities and they executed. That’s what killed us.”
“I thought we played a great first period,” St. Joseph coach Larry Mahurter said. “Two goals in 30 seconds, we just lost our defensive-zone coverage twice, which was something we talked about not doing before the game. Halfway through the second period our legs died and we stood around watching too much. We stopped being physical and you could see the game change, the momentum change.”
Don Bosco’s quick-strike offense is nothing new for the Ironmen.
“It was huge — Connor then Hunter — that third goal was the dagger. You saw the deflation,” Toskos said of the two-goal flurry at 5:17 and 5:01 of the first. “Hunter shot that puck so hard, beared down and buried it. It really took their goaltender out of it and he had a great tournament.”
Ignatov’s power play goal with 5:26 left in the second period extended the Don Bosco Prep lead to 4-1 after 30 minutes.
“We came in determined,” Ignatov said. “We played hard, played as a team, got pucks deep, chased ’em down and played physical. Once we got dirty and got pucks to the net we scored them.”
Hammond capped the scoring in the third period for the Ironmen, which outshot the Green Knights 44-17.
With six goals in the tournament, Tyler Sedlak was named Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Goaltender Jacob Serey stood tall with 39 saves for St. Joseph, whose only two losses this season have come to top-ranked Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey and top-ranked Bishop Hendricken of Rhode Island.
“We’re still relatively young,” Mahurter said. “Both of our losses are to the top-ranked teams in two states so there are a lot of positives. Right now, we feel like we can play with anybody in our state right now. We’ve got three big games coming up: the Egan Cup, the Big North Cup and our league finals. Heading into the state championships we feel pretty good.”
With the county title retained in Ramsey, the ultimate goal remains the same for Don Bosco Prep — standing with NJSIAA trophy in hand at “The Rock” on March 4 at Prudential Center in Newark.
“This is where we’ve been for the past eight years,” Toskos, with an eye on the Ironmen’s first state title, said. ” But the goal remains the same. Now, we’ve got four (regular season) games to go. We just need to find the right balancing act between coming out fired up ready to play and also give them enough rest for the stretch run.”
“This win feels good but the job’s not done,” Ignatov added. “We’ve got the Gordon Cup coming up then states — that’s our ultimate goal.”
Bergen County Tournament Champions
2019-Don Bosco Prep
2018-Don Bosco Prep
2017-Don Bosco Prep
2016-Don Bosco Prep
2015-Don Bosco Prep
2014-Don Bosco Prep
2013-Don Bosco Prep
2012-Don Bosco Prep
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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