BRICK — Tyler Sanborn scored twice and Freehold Township never looked back as the 10th-seeded Patriots delivered a 4-1 upset over seventh-seeded Point Pleasant Boro-Manchester in the first round of the Shore Conference Dowd Cup at the Ocean Ice Palace.
Sanborn struck twice in just over three minutes to begin the second period and Tyler DesRochers and Tom Gubitosa each added a goal and an assist en route to victory. The Patriots advance to the second round and await the winner of Wall Township/Brick Memorial.
Halfway through the second period and blessed with a man-advantage, DesRochers fired a puck on target from the right circle that bounced around in front of the net. Niko Neron tried to poke it home but it was Sanborn that pushed it over the goal line to open the scoring 7:01 into the second frame.
Just over three minutes later, Sanborn scored his team-leading 16th tally of the season when he spun and one-timed a puck over the right shoulder of Panthers’ goalie John Meyer. Gubitosa set up the shot while Neron picked up his second assist of the night.
“We moved the puck very well tonight,” Sanborn said. “I’m buddies with John Meyer – I know he likes to go down. I got both goals up top tonight.”
Freehold Township peppered Meyer with multiple shots from all angles in the middle frame – firing 15 of their 27 total shots during the period. With a 21-9 edge in shots, the Patriots held a 2-0 lead heading to the locker room for the second intermission.
Freehold wasted little time increasing their lead to three when Gubitosa found the net 4:25 into the third period with assists from Kyle Nestepny and Jacob Liebross.
Point Pleasant Boro responded when Ryan McCabe finally solved Patiots’ netminder Michael Ottone with 8:51 remaining to cut the deficit to 3-1. Eric Dahl and John Callander were given helpers on the play.
The Panthers were given another opportunity with the man-advantage with just under four minutes remaining in regulation but they would not get any closer.
DesRochers would seal the victory by burying an empty-netter with six seconds remaining to account for the 4-1 tally. Nestepny received his second assist of the game on the freshman’s 9th goal of the season.
Meyer stood tall, turning aside 23 of the 26 shots that he faced in the losing effort, while Ottone made 13 saves to ensure victory for the Patriots.
“The defense did a great job at blocking shots,” Ottone said. “The guys up front did a great job pressuring them where they could not do much with the puck.”
The playoff atmosphere is definitely something that could be felt in the Patriots’ locker room after the game.
“The intensity is so much greater now in the playoffs,” Ottone said. “Everyone is out there pushing harder every second of every shift.”
“It is 10 times more physical,” Sanborn added. “There are more tough teams and we need to work even harder.”
The Patriots will play Wall next round — barring an upset by a young Brick Memorial squad.
“We will prepare with hard practices,” Sunburn said. “They are a great team. We need to push harder than when we played them the first time (a 3-1 victory for Wall on Dec. 19). I think if we do that we can win.”
“We need to play them just like we played this one – tight defensively and don’t let them score,” added Ottone.
No matter who their opponent will be, Freehold Township (12-5-2) will take the ice in the Dowd Cup semifinals set for next Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Jersey Shore Arena.
Unless Point Pleasant Boro-Manchester (11-8-1) schedules another game, they will be off until the NJSIAA Public B playoffs which open up in a little under two weeks.
Written by Casey J. Krish / @CaseyKrish
Special to HockeyClan
Photos by Jessica Rabstein / @JRabstein
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