RANDOLPH — Delbarton dialed up its hockey game to another level, and Gordon Conference rivals will take notice.
Hunter Macy finished with two goals and an assist, Nick Siffringer collected a goal and an assist and James Falivene also scored to send second-seeded Delbarton, No. 2 in the Hockey Night In Boston New Jersey Top 10, to a 4-1 victory over sixth-seeded Pope John in the quarterfinal round of the 60th Gordon Cup at Aspen Ice
Delbarton (17-6-1), which defeated Pope John, 5-0, in last year’s Gordon Cup final, advances into the semifinals where it will play host to third-seeded and sixth-ranked Christian Brothers Academy on Wednesday.
The triumph was also the 400th career victory for Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel, now in his 17th season at the Morris County power.
Now 400-52-36, Shatel becomes just the fifth coach in state history to reach the 400-win milestone joining Bob Auriemma of Brick (730), Harvey Cohen of Chatham (547), John Warchol of Seton Hall Prep (506) and Rich McLaughlin of Randolph (411) in that elite status.
Shatel, who starred at Morristown and finished his scholastic career with 225 points, has guided Delbarton to seven Gordon Cups, 10 NJSIAA Private championships and three Mennen Cup titles.
Sitting in his office with longtime assistants Jerry Brophy and Craig Wicker, Shatel was reflective about coaching lessons he learned from his father Harry, a baseball coaching legend at Morristown for 37 years – and the appreciation he’s always had for his valued assistants.
“You have to be a good listener and have patience,” Shatel said. “That’s one important thing I learned from him. He was able to adapt to the player, and I think if you’re able to constantly change with your players then you are ahead of the game. Once you think you know it all as a coach that’s when you’re in trouble. You’re only as good as your assistant coaches and that’s what I learned. The guys that I coach with are very valuable to me and very valuable to our team.
“I’m fortunate that I have two great assistants and have kids who work extremely hard,” Shatel said. “I’ve been here for 17 years and I’ve never complained about their work ethic.”
That component was evident from the drop of the puck.
“For coach Shatel to get to 400 wins was pretty exciting,” Macy, a senior defenseman who has 10 goals and seven assists this season, said. “We came out flying and set the tone from the beginning and we were able to get the win and advance. We’re really excited about the Gordon Cup tournament and our game plan is pretty simple now. It’s just get pucks deep and get on the defensemen.”
Delbarton displayed plenty of that from the opening draw and launched a 17-shot barrage at Pope John (13-10-1) goalie Luke Osifchin, who was spectacular in goal for the Lions and finished with 29 saves.
But on Delbarton’s 15th shot of the first period, Macy broke through with a scoring blast from between the dots on assists from Brendan Clarke and Siffringer at 12:11.
Perhaps Pope John was on the short end of the possession metrics, but the Lions played a physical game and skate hard for 45 minutes and received a stout effort in goal from Osifchin.
“He held us in there,” Pope John coach Ryan Brown said of the senior goalie. “He gave us an opportunity to win. We played hard, but Delbarton is a very good team. Our kids didn’t back down and they gave us all they had. You can’t ask for more.”
Delbarton extended its lead to 2-0 just 1:03 into the second period – and three seconds after its second power play expired – when Siffringer finished a feed from Macy.
Delbarton pushed it to 3-0 with 1:18 left in the middle frame after Falivene swept in a loose puck off a goal-mouth scramble.
Eric Vanderhoff spoiled the shutout bid by Brett Cleaves (11 saves) when he connected with 1:10 remaining in the game to cut it to 3-1 as Mike Quatrella and Chris Walako picked up the assists.
Macy capped the scoring with an empty net goal with 17 seconds left on the clock.
In the end, it was the dynamic beginning that proved substantial.
“I think our start was fantastic,” Shatel said of his team’s first period. “We’ve been able to come out like that more frequently of late than we had earlier in the season and we put Pope John on their heels a bit. We would have liked to have scored more than one goal that period, but I think we set the tempo and established that we were here to play hard and fast.”
As for as attaining the 400-victory milestone, Shatel was more concerned with his team than a number.
“I don’t know if this type of stuff really matters. It’s always nice that our players get accolades but for our program it’s always been about ‘we,’ not ‘me.’ One day when I’m done coaching it’s probably something I’ll look back on and have a smile – and it will make me think about all the great players and teams that I’ve had.”
One of those many premier skaters was Kenny Agostino, Delbarton’s all-time leading scorer (261 points) and the only two-time Star-Ledger Player of the Year (2009-2010). Agostino also won an NCAA National Championship at Yale before going on to the NHL.
“The Delbarton hockey program wouldn’t be where it is today without Bruce Shatel,” said Agostino, currently skating for the Boston Bruins’ AHL team in Providence, Rhode Island. “I think the success of the program, as well as the personal success of Delbarton hockey alumni, is a tribute to coach Shatel and is a result of the culture and development that he has established at Delbarton.”
Written by Paul Bruno / @PaulBrunoHS
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