WOODBRIDGE, NJ — Like a fresh sheet of ice, the start of a new season is a blank canvas just waiting for a splash of color.
Pat Olenski provided the spark just 1:24 into the 2019-20 season and the super sophomore added two more goals and an assist, powering Ocean Township to a 9-5 victory over Woodbridge-Colonia-Iselin Kennedy in a shootout at The Community Center in Woodbridge.
Vlad Gorelov tallied two goals and two assists, Luke Hagerman scored twice, Alex Haar added a goal and two assists and Aiden Mumm had three assists for Ocean Township in an offensive showdown that saw a combined 14 goals on 57 shots.
“We came out strong, go to pucks first and finished rebounds,” Olenski said after posting his first-career hat trick at the varsity level. “We came out planning to improve (but) started to let up and got overconfident as the game went on. We redeemed ourselves once we figured out the correct mindset was and came out with the win.”
Landon Bennett and Laszlo Simon also scored for Ocean Township, which received 20 saves from Tony Macaluso in between the pipes.
Dante Amato had a hat trick for Woodbridge, which also got goals from Richie DeLaMarter and Nate Manente.
“Tonight was a great road opener,” Ocean team captain Scott Sirianni said. “We knew we had to have a defensive mindset if we wanted to win (but) whenever they did happen to score we answered right away. Scoring nine goals on opening night felt great!”
After Olenski opened the scoring 84 seconds into the game, Bennett connected 58 ticks later to give Ocean Township a 2-0 lead. Amato cut the deficit in half, but Simon returned the two-goal lead back to Ocean with assists from Mumm and Gorlov.
Amato scored his second of the game to bring Woodbridge back to within one at 3-2, but Haar’s power-play goal with 50 seconds left in the opening frame, assisted by Olenski and Patrick Brannen, put Ocean back in front.
“After the first period, we were all ready to give whatever it took to win,” Sirianni said. “Going into the locker room with a 4-2 lead we really wanted to protect our build. This was done with hard work, locking it down.”
The second frame belonged to Ocean which struck for two more goals off the sticks of Olenski and Hagerman to take a commanding 6-2 advantage after two.
“It was a spirited effort — perhaps too spirited,” Ocean Township coach Dave Smith said. “Offensively, we showed some great puck movement and offensive zone possession. I was particularly pleased with some of the chemistry we have already developed, all three lines, a balanced attack and contributions up and down the lineup.”
Gorelov made it 7-2 just over four minutes into the third, but Woodbridge scored twice in a span of seven seconds on goals from DeLaMarter and Amato to come roaring back, 7-4. Fortunately for Ocean Township, Gorelov came through again with his second goal of the third period with 7:41 remaining in regulation.
Manente snuck one more past Macaluso to make it an 8-5 game with 4:38 left, but Olenski put the finishing touches on his hat trick just 12 seconds off the ensuing faceoff.
“My first goal was a lucky bounce, although I crashed the net,” Olenski said. “My second goal, I skated down as the second forward and got a beautiful pass from Alex Haar and fired it home.
“On my third goal, we had a perfect breakout, got down the ice and shot it short-side,” Olenski said. “It brought the team back alive.”
Woodbridge-Colonia-Iselin Kennedy coach Joe Rotella said untimely penalties were their undoing.
“We would have liked a better start for Woodbridge,” Rotella said. “Ocean came to play and the first period was the difference. Woodbrige could not stay out of the box, which did not cost them directly due to an outstanding effort on the penalty kill, but we never was able to maintain a steady rhythm.
“Dante Amato netted a hat trick trying to cut the lead and Lucas Teeple (23 saves) was hit hard with a lot of shots but was still able to keep Woodbridge in the hunt,” Rotella said.
Smith said the team’s attention to detail in their own zone will be a point of focus moving forward.
“Olenski, Haar, Brannen lit it up, as did Gorelov, Mumm, Simon, Hagerman and Bennett,” Smith said. “The defense played a good, physical game but our forwards will need to focus more on the defensive side of the game in order for us to succeed consistently. I’m pleased with the win, but not at all happy with a third periods in which we surrendered three goals. We will have to learn quickly how to shut down our opponent when the opportunity arises.”
“Very proud of this young team,” Sirianni added. “The hard work we gave to win. Really looking forward to what this team brings to the table this year!”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
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