NEWARK — The ice at Prudential Center is a little swifter, the bounce-back off the boards a little harder, and the glass definitely rattles a lot more with every crunching body check.
Playing in front of family and friends at the 18,771-seat arena, Don Bosco and Seton Hall Prep combined to fire 48 shots on net but neither were able to find twine in a 0-0 tie at “The Rock” in Newark.
John Profaci stood tallest, as the Seton Hall Prep goaltender denied wave after wave of Ironmen attack en route to 35 saves — including 15 in the second period — while his counterpart at the other end of the rink, Max Schwarz, was equally up to task with 13 saves and a shutout of his own in a game that awarded each team one point in the standings.
“Don Bosco Prep is a really fast, offensive team. They have a lot of skill with the puck, but in a defensive-minded game we keep it simple, try to contain them and keep play to the outside,” Seton Hall Prep senior defenseman Jake Sandomeno said. “I think we did a great job of that today and John bailed us out a couple of times.”
Profaci was nothing short of spectacular. The junior netminder was tested several times in the second frame, denying Tyler Sedlak with a spectacular glove save at 10:22 before stifling the entire second line of Liam McLinskey, Graham Garlasco and Connor Sedlak on another flurry at the 8:13 mark of the period.
After the game, Profaci was quick to point to the play of his defense in front of him.
“Tremendous — we would have been down 10 goals if it wasn’t for the D blocking shots,” Profaci said. “And when they tried to swing it back door, they always had it covered. I think that’s why we were able to squeeze out a tie here.”
After dealing Pope John and Gloucester Catholic consecutive 6-1 setbacks in each of its first two games, Don Bosco Prep (2-0-1) was unable to beat Profaci on the scoresheet.
The Ramsey school was successful putting the puck the puck past him on one occasion in the first period, however, but the goal was waved off due to an illegal hand pass.
“Seton Hall is a much-improved hockey team,” Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toskos said. “I thought it was a pretty good hockey game out there but I thought we controlled most of the play. Penalties — I’d like to lighten up those on our side for sure but their goalie played outstanding. He made a lot of great saves. We had some real high-quality scoring chances. Some just hit the knob of his stick, but credit to him he played really well.”
“I think we underestimated them a little,” Don Bosco Prep sophomore goaltender Max Schwarz said. “I saw a strong team in front of us but today we didn’t play to our full potential. I’m a little disappointed but I thought our D — George Weiner and John Campomenosi — still looked really good.”
Campomenosi, the team’s senior defensive captain, took measure of the point won against a heated Gordon Conference rival.
“We kept them to only 13 shots, clearly we played pretty well, defensively,” Campomenosi said. “I think we can tighten up even more and we need to generate more offense but that’s a good team, you have to give them credit, they battled. A fun game, a fun experience, for sure.”
By far, the largest and loudest contingent was that of the loyal Seton Hall Prep fan base which kept the team and the fans entertained throughout.
“It’s all the team-building and brotherhood at this school this season,” Profaci, who has yielded just four goals through three games for Seton Hall Prep (2-0-1).
“We’re gelling. We’re playing really well this year, moving the puck a lot better than previous years and we’re making less mistakes,” Profaci said. “That’s been the key.”
“Our school is really special,” Sandomeno added. “We’re a brotherhood here. Everywhere we go we show love. It’s just a special part of our school.”
Third-year coach Mike Atkinson was pleased with the way his West Orange team never backed down.
“I saw two teams that went toe-to-toe, back-and-forth and our goalie stood on his head,” Atkinson said. “We got a couple of lucky breaks, we blocked some shots, our goalie made some big saves and we hung on for the 0-0 tie. I would have liked to see a little but more offense but you take what you can get. Profaci gives us a chance to win every night.”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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