HACKENSACK — Glen Rock fired 19 shots on Montville freshman Adrian Prelich but only came away with one goal the first period. At no point, however, did the defending state champions get discouraged.
“Puck luck — it goes both ways,” senior defenseman John LaMacchia said. “You get some bounces, you miss some — but sometimes you make ’em.”
Blessed with a 5-on-3 power play early in the first period, LaMacchia made his own luck with the Panthers’ first goal of the game before fourth-seeded Glen Rock exploded for six goals in the second period en route to a 7-0 victory over the 13th-seeded Montville Mustangs in the NJSIAA Round of 16 at the Ice House in Hackensack.
After capturing its first state title in school history in 2017 with an 8-1 win over Wall behind 22 saves from Ryan McAuley, Glen Rock (13-8-2) took a big step towards booking a return engagement while delivering a statement to the rest of Public C the Bergen County school is back and hungry for more.
“Definitely — we came in here ready to work and this was only the first step,” McAuley, who recorded 13 saves for his third shutout of the season, said. “It’s big. Lately, we’ve been priding ourselves on defense so the shutout definitely helps a lot. The team is playing great in front of me.”
After firing 19 shots on goal in the first period, Glen Rock did one better peppering Montville with 20 shots in the second frame resulting in six goals, including two from Spencer Jeffries. Jared Brassil and David Hymovitch scored 2:33 apart to give Glen Rock a 3-0 lead before Jeffries notched his first at 5:31.
With 1:37 remaining in the second period, Eddie Corvelli was in perfect position to deflect Patrick Smith’s shot from the point that was sailing wide past Prelich to make it 5-0 before Matt Maselli connected 28 seconds later.
Glen Rock wasn’t finished, however, as LaMacchia set up his defensive partner for his second of the game and third of the season with 1.3 ticks remaining to put the Panthers up 7-0 at the end of two periods of play.
“That’s what I’m talking about right there,” LaMacchia said with a laugh. “That’s the difference between shots being an inch higher or an inch lower. It’s all about how hard you work.”
Montville was in the midst of one of its most successful seasons in recent history before running into Glen Rock in the Sweet-16.
“Starting off with two penalties, that kind of gave them the momentum to start the game,” Montville senior captain Jonathan Cuozzo said. “I think we had them in the first period, but it just didn’t go our way. A lot of bad breaks in the second, but our goalie Adrian really kept us in there for a while. He’s just a freshman — he’s amazing.”
After going 4-17-1 in 2016-17, the Mustangs won the Haas Division and the Haas Cup with a 4-0 victory over Park Regional on Feb. 15, en route to a 17-3-4 turnaround under first-year coach Alex Beatrice.
“Obviously, a great season,” Beatrice, who starred at Randolph under coach Rich McLaughlin before taking on as an assistant at Morristown-Beard the past few seasons, said. “If anybody told me we were going to end up here at the beginning of the year I would have been a little hesitant to believe it but our guys did a great job all season.
“We were just out-matched tonight — pretty simple,” Beatrice said. “It was tough to dig ourselves out of that 5-on-3 to begin the game. Glen Rock is the defending state champions and way better than a number four seed, but for our guys to come in here… we held our heads high the first period. Penalties definitely hurt us but we’re ecstatic the way we finished it out right to the last buzzer.”
Glen Rock out-shot Montville, 39-10, through the first two periods and 40-13 overall.
“Don’t pass up any good opportunities,” Jeffries said. “Shots on net — that’s one of the things coach tells us to do — everything on net, pucks to the net, crash the net and be hungry in front.”
Coach Anthony Yelovich garnered State Coach of the Year honors his first season behind the bench at Glen Rock last winter. Now in his second season at the helm, Yelovich says the team is determined to prove their seeding wrong.
“We really didn’t deserve anything better. We had a good stretch of games where we weren’t playing well,” Yelovich said. “I think we’re seeded where we should be. The guys just have to work.”
After a 7-1-1 start, the Panthers lost six-of-seven games before righting the ship in February.
“We’ve readjusted since that little lapse in the middle of the year,” Yelovich said. “It’s good to get humbled. They hit a little speed bump. I think this win is great for team morale and we’re just going to take it one game at a time and hopefully keep moving along this way.”
Glen Rock advances to take on familiar foe, Ramsey, in the quarterfinals.
“A really good start but it’s all about how hard you work from here,” LaMacchia said. “We’re not the same team as last year.”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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