Ramsey Rumbles Past Lakeland, 4-1, in Big North Conference Bout

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WAYNE, NJ — It took two months, but the top two public teams in North Jersey finally locked horns Friday night — and with a combined 25-3-4 record between them and the division title still up for grabs — something had to give.

Brendan Davison gave Lakeland the lead just 2:24 into the game, but Tyler Botta tied it on a breakway the final minute of the first before Ramsey took control in the second and third behind a Justin Bello natural hat trick in a 4-1 decision at The Ice Vault in Wayne.

“One game at a time, one period at a time. First five minutes, every five minutes — we’ve got to work harder than the last,” said Botta. “We’ve been parallel with (Lakeland) all season and tonight we finally got to face them and got the job done — Big win!”

“Two tough county teams went to battle tonight,” Ramsey coach Jeff Mills said. “We got punched in the mouth but I really enjoyed the way they responded. We gave up that goal early but it really woke our guys up, got them going and focused on the game.”

Weathering the early onslaught, Botta delivered in that all-too important final-minute before the end of a period. The breakaway goal, with 51.6 seconds left in the opening frame, not only tied the score at 1-1, it sent Ramsey into the locker room on a high note.

“Their defenseman was right on me,” Botta said. “I brought it to my backhand, quickly to my forehand and ripped it five-hole. It caught them off-guard. It was huge.”

Bello snapped the tie on the power play with 5:08 to go in the second period. The marker, assisted by Nick Pedulla and Joseph Koons, proved to be the game-winner.

“I walked out of the corner. They were covering our D and Pedulla was standing in front of the goalie so I just put it on net,” Bello said. “It was a really big goal. Two really good defensive teams so I knew every goal counted.”

Brendan Davison gives Lakeland an early 1-0 lead.

Bello provided some breathing room with his second goal of the game with 3:42 remaining in regulation before completing the hat trick — his second of the season — with .02 of a second on the clock to ice it.

“We were ready for this game, but when we went own 1-0 we took it to a whole other level,” said Bello, who notched five goals against St. Peter’s Prep on Jan. 10. “(Lakeland) is a really good team so we had to take it to the next level. They stayed with us but we got pucks to the net and buried them.”

Davison gave Lakeland, the defending Passaic County Champions, a 1-0 lead 2:24 in.

“It was a pass up to the point, a really nice pass by Shane (Straubinger) to me and I just threw it on net and it slid right in,” Davison said. “We got complacent and allowed them to crawl back into the game.”

Justin Bello scored three goals, Tyler Botta had a goal and two assists and Dane Beltramini registered 22 saves as Ramsey defeated Lakeland, 4-1, on Jan. 30 at The Ice Vault in Wayne.

It would be the one and only time Lakeland would solve Dane Beltramini, however, who finished with 22 saves for Ramsey (14-2-2).

“Dane is a brick wall back there in net for us,” said Botta, who finished with a goal and two assists. “He gave up one early, the first shot I think but didn’t give up another one the rest of the game. He saved our butts a few times.”

Related: Two Goals in 28 Seconds Lift Ramsey Past Glen Rock 

The loss was just the second all season for Lakeland (12-2-2) and first since a 5-1 loss to Summit in the Holiday Tournament back on Dec. 30. Goaltender Ben Kopacki, the New Jersey Devils’ Conference Player of the Month for December, finished with 38 saves.

“I think they just wanted it more than us,” Davison said. “They beat us to every 50/50 puck. We just need to get ourselves ready for next week because we’ll see ’em again.”

Ramsey and Lakeland will indeed meet again, for the second time this season and in just nine days back at the Ice Vault on Feb. 9.

Ramsey celebrates Tyler Botta’s game-tying goal with 51.6 seconds left in the first period.

With a handful of points separating them and a handful of other games sandwiched in between now and then, not only is the Big North Conference Liberty Stripes Division title on the line, but the top seed in the NJSIAA Tournament Public C playoff bracket could be as well.

“It’s kind of hard to take because we came out really good tonight,” Lakeland coach Nick Crouch said. “We could have clinched the division tonight. We had the advantage. We outshot them 6-2 to open the game, got a goal, but then we got beat to all the loose pucks the rest of the game and I don’t know whether that’s a testament to them for wanting it more or us not handling adversity well after they tied it 1-1.

“We’ve proved we can play these teams like Summit and Indian Hills but we need to put together a more consistent game against them for 45 minutes,” Crouch said. “Our play early on in the season has put us in this position. We need to cash in now.”

Ramsey, in search of its third state title after winning NJSIAA championships in 2009 and 2016, is up for the challenge.

“It helps us in our division and it helps us in the seedings,” Mills said of the win. “But we’ll see them again real quick. A real tough way to end the season with Lakeland, Indian Hills and Lakeland again. They’re a good hockey team over there.”

“We got the experience last year. We’re ready to take the next step this year,” said Bello.


0-1 LAK Brendan Davison (Charlie Wogisch, Shane Straubinger) 12:36-1st

1-1 RAM Tyler Botta (Joseph Koons) :51.6-1st

2-1 RAM Justin Bello (Nick Pedulla, Joseph Koons) 5:08-2nd PPG

3-1 RAM Justin Bello (Tyler Botta, Joseph Koons) 3:42-3rd

4-1 RAM Justin Bello (Tyler Botta) :0.2-3rd

Shots: 42-23 Ramsey; Beltramini, 22 saves; Kopacki, 38 saves



Written by John Christian Hageny  @JCCSPORTS 

Special to HockeyClan



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