BAYONNE — With an eye on the skyline, New York and New Jersey Catholic Schools met on the waterfront to see who holds sway over the five points.
The Battle for the Hudson is a healthy one, a game both players and coaches alike look forward to with a certain amount of bragging rights at stake across the river.
Senior Eric Vanderhoff led off the proceedings with a natural hat trick in the first period and freshman Johnny Cielo tacked on two more goals as Pope John from New Jersey defeated Monsignor Farrell of New York, 9-0, yards from the shoreline at historic Korpi Arena in Bayonne.
“They’re like the Rangers and we’re all Devils up at our rink so it’s pretty awesome — that New York-New Jersey rivalry,” said Vanderhoff, who scored three goals in a span of 3:39 to give Pope John a 3-0 lead after one period of play. “Monsignor Farrell is a good team but we found ways to find the back of the net. With guys like Chris Walako and Alex Blaszak on our line it’s real easy to find it.”
Alex DuPuis scored 29 seconds into the second period to make it 4-0 but Msgr. Farrell settled in and kept it close in the second frame despite being without nine regulars including starting goaltender John Giammarino.
“We saw a fast team but we played alright and kept up with them,” Msgr. Farrell senior defensemen Joseph Lepore said. “We skated well, just couldn’t catch any breaks.”
Blessed with all the momentum, Pope John saw its opportunity and continued its siege in the third when Vanderhoff set up Blaszak for a nifty finish 4:13 into the final frame. Cielo made it 6-0 just 23 seconds off the ensuing face-off.
“Ryan Stevens chipped it up the boards and I just came up with speed and went to my backhand and put it five-hole,” Cielo, a freshman, said. “It’s tough playing with these seniors but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get it done. You just have to work hard.”
Vanderhoff picked up his fifth point of the game with an assist on Chris Walako’s goal with 7:14 remaining in regulation before Cielo scored his second of the game — and fourth of the season — 1:02 later. Vinny Maguire capped the scoring with 5:56 remaining. All nine of Pope John’s goals came at even-strength.
“It was a good opportunity for a lot of guys to get ice time, drive to the net, put some pucks in the net and work on our fore-checking,” Pope John coach Ryan Brown said. “We’ve had a very difficult schedule to this point so it’s always nice to score some goals, get a win and get ready for the next game.”
One of the players who took advantage of the extra ice time was backup goalie Luke Osifchin who stopped all 15 shots he faced to post the shutout.
“I came in confident looking to make the saves I needed to make,” Osifchin said. “I trusted myself, knew I was ready and prepared. Our defense did a great job in front of me, clearing out rebounds. They’re always there to start the breakout and get the play going the other way.”
Msgr. Farrell skated without Jason Ahearn, Gabriel Gorlenko, Domenick Mogliorato, Tristan Oliva, Justin Prue, Paul Rivello, Nicholas Zocco and Anthony Califiore. The Oakwood School from Staten Island defeated Xavier and St. Joseph before falling to Fordham Prep Sunday night.
“It was a pretty good effort by my squad tonight. We were shorthanded. A lot of kids that don’t normally play that much got a little more ice time and got tired but the effort for the most part was there,” Msgr. Farrell coach Steven DeFranco said.
“It’s a good rivalry,” DeFranco added. “Most of my kids play travel hockey in New Jersey and know some of these players. It’s good competition and gets the blood pumping right away.”
Nicholas Montemarano and Dan Servidio combined to make 41 saves in between the pipes for Msgr. Farrell, which drops to 2-3.
Pope John improves to 2-3. The Sparta school defeated Germantown of Pennsylvania but has lost all three Gordon Conference games to Don Bosco Prep, Delbarton and St. Augustine. The team is hoping this victory is the spark that sends it on its way. It will take on Gloucester Catholic on December 6 at Skylands Ice World in Stockholm.
“Gloucester is a hard-hitting team, so we know the challenge they present,” Brown, in his second stint and 11th season overall coaching Pope John, added. “We’ll get ready for our next game.”
“We have a real strong group, a lot of good players,” Vanderhoff, who leads the team with seven goals and 13 points, said. “It was a cool drive down to Bayonne to see the city. We definitely like coming here. It was an awesome game.”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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