Hillsborough Rains Teddy Bears, Then Goals Down on Bernards in 11-1 Win

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FLEMINGTON, NJ — The moment Lleyton Soares hit the back of the net, a steady stream of stuffed animals rained down on the ice.

On a night Hillsborough hosted its inaugural teddy bear toss to benefit the United States’ Marines Toys for Tots Holiday Campaign, the Raiders collected stuffed animals then stuffed the net en route to an 11-1 victory over Bernards/Somerville/Middlesex at Flemington Ice Arena Saturday night.

Soares and Jason Wolff each turned in hat tricks, Mike LoRicco scored twice and Mike Panchery, Paul Fedora and Brock Forrest also found the back of the net securing Hillsborough’s first win of the season in fine fashion.

Eight different players in all found the scoresheet for the Raiders, which received 13 saves from Jason LoRicco in between the pipes.

“Tonight was our night,” Soares, who struck for three goals and four assists, said. “We just got our confidence going. We didn’t get a win our first three games (but) coming into the fourth, playing a team we know we’ve beaten in the past — we knew we had the ability — and tonight was our night to get it going.”

“We really came alive in the offensive zone tonight and worked some magic,” Wolff, who tallied two assists to go along with his hat trick, said. “We were really clicking, getting good shots on net, rebounds in our defensive zone, really strong getting pucks out — just have to stay positive.”

Right on cue, the Hillsborough faithful littered the ice with teddy bears just 4:05 into the action after Soares lit the lamp — and the Raiders didn’t stop scoring three more times in the opening period on goals from LoRicco (2) and Wolff to take a 4-0 lead into the first intermission.

Bernards got on the board 4:13 into the second period when Aidan Gallagher finished the play started by Chris DeRogatis, but it would be the only time the tri-op would solve LoRicco.

“We moved the puck better today, played better down low and played more physical,” Gallagher said. “Against a faster team like this, we adapted and tried to stretch the ice. 

“I just think we need to get more pucks on net. We cannot turn it over at the blue line,” Gallagher said. “We definitely need to work on our breakouts.”

After Gallagher hit early in the second frame, it remained a 4-1 game until Wolff set up Soares for his second goal of the game with 4:58 left. Three more goals in a span of 1:28 off the sticks of Panchery, Fedora and Forrest all but sealed it for Hillsborough, which improves to 1-2-1. 

“It was a good game, overall, nice to get our first win under our belt,” Hillsborough coach Chris Tommins said. “After starting off our season against the defending state champs (Ridge) and two private schools (St. Rose, Pingry) I think it’s been a solid start. Nice to get some of the guys on the board.”

Lleyton Soares and Jason Wolff each had hat tricks as Hillsborough skated past Bernards, 11-1, at Flemington Ice Arena on Dec. 14, 2019. (HockeyClan)

The line of Soares, Wolff and Forrest accounted for seven goals and nine assists.

“They’re our horses,” Tommins said. — “Soares and Wolff — a lot of points, over 100 for their careers. They were big last year and will be big again this year for us. It’s also nice to see our secondary guys put pucks in the net. We needed this game.”

Related: Hillsborough Doubles up Wayne to Reach First-Ever State Final

Soares completed the hat trick 2:57 into the third period and Wolff scored twice in a span of 45 seconds to follow suit.

“We’ve been playing together the past three years,” Soares said. “We have a lot of talent. We know where we’re going to be. We’ve had that chemistry before, especially on the power play. It just really clicked today.”

“It was a pretty strong performance,” Wolff said. “It took us a couple games to get going, but we’re really finding each other, finding seams and getting pucks through. We’re going to roll into Ridge on Wednesday pretty happy and fight for another win.”

Tommins saw the success of the Hershey Bears’ annual teddy bear toss and wanted to bring that excitement and enthusiasm to Hillsborough.

“Eleven bags! We had a really good turnout with teddy bears and donations to the Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots and local police department which uses them to help children of domestic violence cases,” Tommins said. “It was a great turnout. Hopefully, we can continue it every year. It’s nice to give back during the holidays.”

(Photo by Brianna Borel)
(Photo by Brianna Borel)

Bernards (0-5), which was without Nick Thievon (injury), Alejo Woelper (transfer waiver) and Nicholas von Kaufmann (Omaha Lancers, USHL), is still in search of its first win of the season.

“We’re shorthanded, but after the holidays, we’ll get back two of our top forwards and our top goaltender,” Bernards head coach Paul Manore said. “When we get a full team we expect to be far more competitive. We’re optimistic things will start to turn our way.”

Bernards will look to secure its first win of the 2019-20 campaign against Watchung Hills on Dec. 17. Hillsborough will take on Ridge on Dec. 18 followed by Ridgewood on Dec. 21.


Written by John Christian Hageny  @JCCSPORTS 

Special to HockeyClan


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