WAYNE — River Dell-Westwood, St. Joseph-Montvale and the newly christened Wayne Knights were each crowned champions at the Big North Conference Cup Championships on Feb. 16 at the Ice Vault in Wayne.
Big North Bronze Cup
Jed Morone opened the scoring on the power play 9:13 into the second period and Nick Dahdah added an insurance goal with 1:08 remaining in regulation as third-seeded River Dell-Westwood skated past top-seeded Ridgewood, 2-0, in the final of the Big North Conference Bronze Cup.
The triumph marked River Dell’s first cup in school history.
Entering the conference tournament on a seven-game losing streak, River Dell found smoother skating in the Bronze Cup in defeating West Milford and Pascack before taking down Ridgewood in the finale.
Michael Bussanich steered aside 34 shots to post the shutout in between the pipes. It was his second shutout of the tournament after blanking West Milford in the first round.
Vinny Ruff and Christian Proot assisted on Morone’s second period tally, while Luke Farrell drew an assist on Dahdah’s marker.
With the win, River Dell improves to 7-14-4. Nate Loughlin made 13 saves for Ridgewood, which drops to 9-12.
Big North Gold Cup
Aiden Grieco broke the ice with 3:19 left in the third period and goaltender Jacob Serey made it stand with 30 saves as second-seeded St. Joseph of Montvale upset top-seeded Northern Highlands in the finale of the Big North Conference Gold Cup at the Ice Vault in Wayne.
After Grieco gave St. Joseph a 1-0 lead, Andrew Javier added an empty-net goal with 51 seconds remaining in regulation as the Green Knights skated to victory.
The triumph marked the first Gold Cup for St. Joseph, which has four NJSIAA state titles and three Gordon Cups to its credit.
St. Joseph (20-6-1) has won seven of its last eight to enter the state tournament on a high note. Awarded the 11th-seed in the Non-Public tournament, it will take on Seton Hall Prep in the Sweet-16 set for Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. at Codey Arena.
John Werber stopped 21 of 22 shots for Northern Highlands, which falls in the Gold Cup final for the second straight year. The Highlanders drop to 18-5-1 and now set its sights on the NJSIAA Public tournament. The second seed, Northern Highlands receives a Bye in the first round and awaits the winner of Passaic Valley-Park Regional.
Big North Silver Cup
Four different players found the back of the net as the Passaic County champs added another trophy to its case as top-seeded Wayne doubled up second-seeded Lakeland, 4-2, in the final of the Big North Conference Gold Cup at the Ice Vault in Wayne.
Richie Sabbagh set up Matt Cappo 2:08 into the game and Jared Cohen doubled it 6:54 into the second period as Wayne established itself.
Lakeland cut the deficit in half when Bobby Wogisch finished the play started by Jason Paragallo with 1:23 left in the middle frame but Wayne carried a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
Dean Hulbert quickly returned the two-goal lead back to Wayne just 27 seconds into the third period, assisted by Tyler Mirman and Jimmy Peracchio, but Lakeland answered when Paragallo came right back with an unassisted goal 46 seconds later to make it 3-2.
It would be the last time Lakeland would solve Wayne goalie Luke Horbatuk, however.
Anthony Mazzerina capped the scoring assisted by Eric Kruglyak with 11:09 remaining in regulation.
Wayne improves to 16-6-3. The sixth-seeded Knights will take on 11th-seeded Northern Valley in the NJSIAA Public A Sweet-16 on Feb. 21 at the Ice Vault at 7:15 p.m.
Luke Joyce had 39 saves for Lakeland (14-8-1), which will meet West Morris in the Public C Sweet-16.
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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