FARMINGDALE, NJ — Shorthanded but no shortcomings for Paul VI/Camden Catholic.
Down four regulars, including team captain Cameron Chandler, heading into its matchup with Brick Township on Sunday night, Paul VI took on the role of underdog and relished the opportunity.
“We were missing five or six forwards,” sophomore Matt Carson said, “so we came in to the game with the mindset as underdogs. But our assistant captains, Angelo Taormiona and Dalton Foster, gave us a big pep talk, told us if we kept the puck in deep and worked hard we would put some pucks in the net.”
Heeding his captain’s words, Carson scored twice — including the game-tying goal — shorthanded — with 14:28 remaining in regulation — as Paul VI/Camden Catholic embraced their role and salvaged a 3-3 come-from-behind tie with Brick Township at Howell Ice Arena.
Despite the short bench, Paul VI (7-3-1) scored a pair of shorthanded goals while Robert Kane registered 25 saves in between the pipes as the co-op skated away with a point in the standings.
“We really banded together, worked hard together and pulled out the tie,” Carson said. “It felt really good because their fans were a little rowdy. To be able to pull out a tie when we were shorthanded feels really good.”
Spencer Rozell scored twice and assisted on a third for Brick Township (3-6-3), which received 26 stops from Joe Scamardella.
“Our last game we traveled all the way up to Lawrenceville and lost 8-1 to Hopewell Valley so today we came out flying,” Rozell said. “We knew what we needed to do. We were down one but came back and took the lead (twice). Going into the third period, we sat back, though and didn’t have that jump. Today I thought we played pretty well. We just need to be hungrier.”
With Johnny Lenox in the penalty box for roughing, Dalton Foster picked him back up and gave Paul VI a 1-0 lead when he scored, shorthanded, breaking the ice 4:30 into the second period.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Paul VI once again found itself shorthanded. But this time Brick Township capitalized with the man-advantage when Rozell tied it at 8:23 on the second frame. Brick continued to put the pedal to the metal and Rozell connected again 3:38 later with assists from Mike Pfeister and Justin Iannarone as the Green Dragons took their first lead of the game, 2-1.
Paul VI responded just 1:24 later when Carson scored his first of two goals with 3:21 left in the middle frame to tie back up at two goals apiece, but Brick still had something left in the tank when Pfeister hit to send the Green Dragons into the second intermission with a 3-2 lead.
The goal, assisted by Rozell and Damian Bonafide, capped off a three-goal flurry in 2:24.
A Taormiona penalty for cross-checking with 35.8 seconds left would also give Brick a power play to begin the third looking to extend its lead.
Paul VI/Camden Catholic, however, had other ideas.
“After the pep talk in between periods, we realized we could outwork them,” Carson said, describing his game-tying goal. “Even though we were missing a bunch of guys and we were shorthanded, I was able to get the puck and skate up the left side. I made a move, beat their defender and had a breakaway from the top of the circle in. I went backhand toe-drag top-corner.”
Carson’s second goal of the game, 32 seconds into the third period, tied the game back up at 3-3.
“Thought our penalty kill was great all game even though we did let up one power play goal,” Paul VI assistant coach Brandon Iacometta said. “It was a good game between both teams. We were missing a good handful of our team due to club commitments, but a lot of younger guys stepped up big time. Matt Carson really took advantage of the space he was given and rushed the puck up for two shorthanded goals. His second one was a great toe-drag around their D.
Iacometta also credited the play of Kane, who made 11 saves in a wild second frame.
“Kane had his best game of the year without a doubt,” Iacometta said. “He absolutely stood on his head the entire game. A couple of huge saves on the power play and in the third allowed us to come back and tie it up. Almost put one in the last minute of the game but just missed. Great effort from our guys all-around.”
Brick coach James Murphy was also pleased with the way his team performed.
“A huge bounce-back game for us after not playing very good our last game,” Murphy said. “Their team is very skilled but we did a great job checking and taking away their time and space. We got all the scoring from our first line but we definitely wore them down as a team.”
Brick’s top line of Spencer Rozell, Mike Pfeister and Damian Bonafide accounted for three goals and four assists.
“A great effort from our line, a lot of tape-to-tape passes,” Rozell said. “The chemistry is great. Every day in practice we’re buzzing around. I’ve been playing with Damian for the past three years now. Mike is a freshman but he shows skill and power. We’re always moving and keeping the triangle tight. It’s great to be playing with them.”
“We’ve had a couple games where we showed our potential as a team but consistency has been our problem this year,” Murphy added. “But tonight’s effort is definitely what we want to have moving forward in some crucial games the next couple of weeks. We only have a few divisional games left and it’s really important to get wins in those games if we want to have a chance of making the playoffs — it’s definitely something to build on.”
Paul VI was without Chandler, Cameron Briere, Alex Cudeyro and Bailey Guetens, among others. The Colonial Valley Conference team has Notre Dame, Robbinsville and Steinert coming up and it will need to be at full strength to achieve its full potential.
“Our next game is against Notre Dame on Wednesday,” Carson said. “It will be very important for our seeding.”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
Special to HockeyClan
Photos: Tom Smith/TSPsportsimages.com
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