LITTLE FALLS — In a little less than 24 hours, Passaic Valley twins Alex and Nick LoPresti will celebrate their birthdays Christmas Morning.
For the senior twins, born a minute apart on December 25, 1999 and due to graduate this spring, Christmas came early.
The duo combined on a goal 4:04 into the second period before Alex scored again 4:43 later during a four-goal outburst in the second stanza, sparking Passaic Valley-Cedar Grove to a 5-1 triumph over Clifton at frigid Floyd Hall Arena in Little Falls Saturday night.
“I’m older by a minute,” Alex said with a laugh. “Coming out, we weren’t playing the way we were supposed to be playing but young guys like Owen Pisarczyk and Buddy O’Donnell, guys are stepping up which is always good to see. I’ve been sick the past week so it definitely feels good coming back and touching the ice.”
Dan Lapinski broke the ice putting Passaic Valley on the board 1:04 into the second period. Exactly three minutes later, Alex LoPresti took a shot from the far-side boards that was tipped by his brother Nick in front as Passaic Valley quickly went up by two. The Passaic Valley-Cedar Grove co-op kept its foot on the gas and just 54 seconds later Shane McGuire scored unassisted to make it 3-0.
“It took us a little while to get going after an emotional game last night,” Passaic Valley coach Mike Sheehan said. “We’ve had trouble early in periods this year so it was nice to flip the script and take advantage of it and get a couple on them early.”
In his first game back after missing a week of action with an illness, Alex found the back of the net off a set up from Lapinski and Vincent DiNardo to register the team’s fourth goal in a span of 7:43 in the second period and make it 4-0.
“They’re twins and their birthday is actually Christmas day,” Sheehan said. “Dan Lapinski has been playing a very important part, he’s been on a line with Alex most of the year and they really feed off each other. Danny’s been a real big part. He works hard out there. His goal just getting to the front of the net, the last couple of games, he’s picked us up and got us a goal when we needed it.”
Jason Finan took a deft pass from teammate James Fusaro between the legs of a defender and deked the goalie before going five-hole to put Clifton the board with 1:01 remaining in the second period.
“We knew going into the game they were coming in to win and put up a fight,” Fusaro said. “They weren’t going to let us easily walk away with it and they did that.
“On the goal, I heard Jason calling for the puck and I just slid it between the defense legs and knew he was going to finish,” Fusaro said. “It’s a tough loss. The rivalry between both schools in hockey the past few years… we’re going to see them again this season and we’re just going to have to work harder, turn things around and start off on a good note in the new year.”
Sam Guifrida capped the scoring with 3:59 remaining in regulation, assisted by Lapinski and O’Donnell. Lapinski, who is tied with Nick LoPresti for the team lead in goals with eight, finished with a goal and two assists. Guifrida and Alex LoPresti each tallied a goal and an assist for Passaic Valley, which received nine saves from goalie Noah Vazquez to improve to 4-3-2.
Jaden Fortuna stood tall with 30 saves for Clifton, which drops to 3-5-2.
“We are seniors this year dropping dimes. It’s awesome,” Alex, Passaic Valley’s leading scorer with six goals and 14 points, added. “I always look forward. I’m excited to see what we have in store in the new year.”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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