TOMS RIVER, NJ — They say that hockey is more than winning or losing. It’s about the camaraderie, the friendships you make at the rink. It’s about coming together as a school and a community and leaving your pride out there on the ice.
Lacey Township is in the midst of their third varsity season, a program that began in 2016-17. Successful thanks to the efforts of so many bringing ice hockey to Lanoka Harbor, the Lions just couldn’t notch one in the win column, entering Friday night’s game against Pennsauken 0-50 in program history.
But all it takes is one match to light the fire.
Frank Hubscher turned in a hat trick and set up two more goals and Donald Kirk added two goals and three assists as Lacey Township defeated Pennsauken, 10-4, for it’s first win in team history at Winding River Rink in Toms River.
“For the seniors, both on this team and the players we had graduate the first two seasons — this means the world,” Lacey head coach Chris DiMicco said, honoring every single Lion that laced ’em up for the Ocean County school. “The past two years we had players who were the building blocks for this program.”
Ray Agosto, Ryan Giles, Brandon Piserchia, Santo Trapani and Quinn Waters also scored while Ryan Thompson made 11 saves for Lacey, which will remember this one forever.
“After the first period we had a talk,” DiMicco said. “They really bought into the rhythm of the game and figured it out.”
It was a historic win for Lacey, which went 0-20 in its inaugural season, 0-22 in 2017-18 and 0-for-8 to begin this season. But both teams came in fired up upon arrival to the rink and the atmosphere made it appear as if the Lacey faithful was still partying after the holidays.
Lacey broke the ice when Dom Palino put the puck on net on with a seemingly harmless wrist shot, but the result was a rebound that Ray Agosto was able to backhand into the goal to put the Lions up 1-0.
The lead was short-lived, however. 10 seconds to be exact as Pennsauken’s Zach Martin took the puck off the draw and immediately skated in and deposited it into the net to tie the score.
Hubscher gave the lead back to Lacey and ended a stretch of three goals in the span of 1:24 with a crashing effort in front of the net to make it 2-1, but once again Pennsauken tied up the score on the game’s lone power-play goal late in the first period on a goal from Victor Foley.
The short intermission proved to be the turning point of the contest.
While Pennsauken searched for their game, Lacey stuck around and came out in the second period and played their game to perfection.
Lacey applied the first eight shots of the period, but Pennsauken goalie Conor Casey, who finished with 45 saves on the day, stood on his head and kept the score knotted at 2-2.
The Lions continued to apply the pressure and on its ninth shot in the span of five minutes Lacey took their third lead of the contest. Santino Trapani beat Casey bar-down above the blocker and Brandon Piserchia followed suit to give the Lions a 4-2 advantage with just over five minutes remaining in the middle stanza.
Quinn Waters added fuel to the fire scoring shortly after to extend the lead to 5-2 and Hubscher scored in the final minute of the four-goal second-period to push the lead to 6-2 heading into the second intermission.
The lead at the intermission was uncharted territory for this Lacey team and coach DiMicco made sure that they would not rest on their laurels and get too comfortable in the situation.
“This is something this group hasn’t had the chance to experience yet,” DiMicco said. “In the intermission we preached about having good character and to leave it all out on the ice.”
And leave it all out on the ice the Lions did.
Kirk scored the first of his two third-period goals 3:35 into the final frame, but Pennsauken never stopped battling. The Indians struck back when Foley notched his second of the night to make it 7-3, but Giles deflated those hopes by coming right back and regaining the five-goal lead for Lacey just 15 ticks later.
Kirk and Hubscher added two more goals for good measure as the Lions players, friends and family waited for the clock to count down their first triumph.
“They bought into the crowd and the aspect that they could come away with their first win tonight,” DiMicco said. “I am beyond proud of these kids, both tonight and up this point this season.”
With the win in the books, Lacey improves to 1-8. But more importantly, carries away the memory of what it feels like to win – a feeling that won’t soon be forgotten. To endure such a losing streak can deter the psyche of many clubs, but Lacey never showed they were out of place. With it only being the third season in program history, some of the juniors and seniors on the roster have been there since the inaugural game against Toms River South all the way back on November 28, 2016.
“We finally settled down a little bit,” DiMicco added. “The seniors are really taking over this program now, and the younger guys are loving this feeling. Hopefully they can get to experience it much more often moving forward.”
Written by Casey J. Krish / @CaseyKrish
Special to HockeyClan
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