FARMINGDALE, NJ — Great chemistry up and down a lineup, and smart, methodical hockey helps any team win games. On Friday night at Howell Ice Arena, Howell-Matawan displayed such an effort in all phases of the game.
Dylan Kramer scored twice and Dan McEvoy stopped 29-of-32 shots he faced to help lead Howell-Matawan to a Shore Conference A-South win over Jackson Memorial.
“We played as a team. Simple as that,” Howell-Matawan head coach Bill Daley said. “The boys supported each other when they had the puck and they worked hard on defense.”
From the opening puck drop the Rebels put on an elegant display of speed and puck movement, swarming the Jaguars net and creating quality chances which led to Kramer depositing the first score of the night on a rebound just 1:47 into the contest.
Howell-Matawan (6-5-3), in their second year as a co-op program, have taken strides after a 10-11-3 finish in 2018-19. Having players from two separate towns can create difficulty in bonding and chemistry, and in some cases even with transportation.
“It can be a bit difficult sometimes with having kids from different schools trying to build something together,” Daley said. “Last season was a bit of a challenge coming from different places and even having each school have to take different buses, but they have worked through it very well and are playing great together.”
Bernard Vitale gave a pass to Anthony Vella, who wristed a shot off the goalie’s pads and right to the waiting stick of Kramer. The duo of Vitale and Vella etched their name of the score sheet yet again just seven minutes later, but this time it was senior Chris Faile who was the beneficiary crashing the net.
After switching ends, Howell-Matawan put their foot back on the gas pedal, increasing their lead to 4-0 after goals from Mike Langella and Ray Luberto just 46 seconds apart with 7:06 showing in the second period.
“I got the breakaway for the goal, but it all came down to giving up the body and blocking the shot,” Langella said of his tally.
The Jaguars seemed to show signs of life when George Hinds and Grantus Mozuraitis found the back of the net to trim the Rebels’ lead in half to 4-2. Jackson senior Luke Satkowski collected assists on both goals, the first of which was the 100th point of his career.
Kramer netted his second of the game before both teams hit the locker room to make the score 5-2.
“We have been struggling to play together as a team lately,” Kramer said. “We needed to come together today and we did. We finally scrapped out a win.”
Vitale found the back of the net early in the third to regain a four-goal advantage for Howell-Matawan. He finished with four points with the goal complimenting three helpers.
Kramer finished with three points, while Vella and James Bianco had two assists each. Brandon McKane chipped in an assist as well. The team effort that many Rebels praised after the game was evident in the eight different names penciled into the stat sheet.
“We played well together as a team tonight,” Langella added. “We need to keep playing smart.”
Mozuraitis scored his second of the game in the final minute to cap the scoring. Hinds had a goal and an assist while Satkowski had a pair of assists. Kevin Lalley added an assist on the final goal, while Billy Torres finished with 29 saves in net.
Jackson Memorial (3-10-1), coupled with a Southern Regional win over previously unbeaten Marlboro-Holmdel, had the door open for the Shore Conference A-South division title. But with the loss, Howell-Matawan played spoiler, dashing any chance at a late season push at a championship.
“We knew we couldn’t win the division, but getting the two points is always huge,” Daley said of playing spoiler. “Having the chance to knock someone else out of their race certainly added a little fire to the boys for this game.”
At a game over .500, Howell-Matawan sits at 6-5-3 and are starting to write a resume for the seeding committee’s seeding placement in the upcoming Dowd and Handchen Cups. They will continue to battle throughout the final weeks of the regular season, as nine of their first 14 games have been decided by three or fewer goals.
“This was a huge win for us, and we need to keep playing for each other,” Kramer said.
“This close games are great. When we are down a goal late in the game, we won’t panic and get away from ourselves,” Daley added. “The boys never give up on each other and never fall for each other. These close games are giving us a great feel of what you should expect to see come post-season time.”
1-0 Howell-Matawan – Dylan Kramer (Anthony Vella, Bernard Vitale) 13:13-1st
2-0 Howell-Matawa – Chris Faile (Anthony Vella, Bernard Vitale) 5:36-1st
3-0 Howell-Matawan – Mike Langella 7:52-2nd
4-0 Howell-Matawan – Ray Luberto (Brandon McKane) 7:06-2nd
4-1 Jackson Memorial – George Hinds (Luke Satkowski) 6:43-2nd
4-2 Jackson Memorial – PP Grantus Mozuraitis (Luke Satkowski) 3:39-2nd
5-2 Howell-Matawan – Dylan Kramer (Bernard Vitale, James Bianco) 44.2-2nd
6-2 Howell-Matawan – Bernard Vitale (James Bianco, Dylan Kramer) 11:36-3rd
6-3 Jackson Memorial – Grantus Mozuraitis (George Hinds, Kevin Lalley) 42.5-3rd
Written by Casey Krish / @CaseyKrish
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