MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ — John Gutt has been playing through the season for St. John Vianney with a broken bone in his right wrist. But the injury certainly hasn’t diminished his offensive skills.
The senior center and his Vianney teammates took their unbeaten hockey show on the road on Thursday and came through with a marque performance in fashioning a 7-2 victory over Morristown-Beard at Twin Oaks Ice Rink in Morris Township.
The 5-7, 165-pound Gutt finished with six points on four goals and a pair of assists and was tenacious in all three zones while linemate Dom Troisi collected two goals and two assists as St. John Vianney, the 2018 Handchen Cup Champions, remained unbeaten in improving to 10-0-2.
“The wrist hasn’t really affected me too much,” admitted Gutt, who sustained a similar hairline fracture to the same wrist as a sophomore. “I think I’m more of an assist guy than a scorer anyway. I forget about (the injury) it and just play the game.”
There wasn’t too much to forget about his performance in this game as he pushed his season totals to 14 goals and 20 assists. Gutt, who has compiled 118 career points, and Rick Kulazewski each assisted on the opening goal by Troisi, who redirected a shot 4:34 into the first to give the Lancers a 1-0 lead.
Gutt took a pass from Troisi near the Morristown-Beard blue line and sped in before snapping in a shot with 5:03 remaining in the first to extend the lead to 2-0.
From there it was sparkling play in all three zones by the Monmouth County school, which received a strong effort in goal from Sal Benvenuto, who earned his second varsity win with 19 saves.
The Lancers played a punishing physical game at times, denied shooting lanes and clogged up the neutral zone consistently in holding Morristown-Beard (4-9-2) to 21 shots.
In the second period it was all Vianney as Gutt put on an offensive show in scoring two power play goals before adding an unassisted shorthanded tally to extend the lead to 5-0 with 1:15 left in the period. Morristown-Beard cut the deficit to 5-1 before the second stanza ended as Dylan Dezoulos connected on the power play with 53 seconds on the clock.
Along with keeping its unbeaten streak intact, St. John Vianney’s overall effort on the road against a Mennen Division team was equally impressive.
“Mennen teams are pretty tough to beat up North and we had to battle a lot,” Gutt said. “If we wanted to get a win we’d have to play 45 minutes of hockey. If we could do that and battle we’d get a win.”
Gutt surely has deep hockey roots, particularly in terms of the scoring touch, too. His father, Stan, was a standout at Bayonne, where he exploded for 79 goals as a senior in 1988 and earned All-State honors; and was elected into the New Jersey High School Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
Troisi scored his second goal before Evan Knoll hit net to make it a 7-1 lead for St. John Vianney.
“This game was huge for us,” said Troisi, a junior forward, who has 21 points this winter on 12 goals and nine assists. “We’re on a great streak right now and we want to keep it going. We really stressed playing good hockey in all three zones and we’ve been scoring a lot of goals lately. John played a great game today. He put four goals on the board and was amazing.”
Nick Vantassell capped the scoring when he delivered a power play goal for Morristown-Beard with 1:16 left in the contest.
The Lancers’ top line of Gutt, Troisi and Knoll accounted for 13 points in the game.
“Our plan coming in was to play fast, physical and hard,” said St. John Vianney coach Mick Messemer. “We wanted to come out and set the tone early after having some bus legs. We really wanted to emphasized beating them wide with speed and beating them early and I think we did that. Whenever you can get a win on the road over a Mennen team you have to be happy with that.
“I’m really proud of John Gutt and getting Sal Benvenuto his second win of the season in his second start. John is a leader and as he goes we go. He’s a great player in all three zones and in all facets of the game. And he just elevates his game as the season goes on with his wrist and bumps and bruises. As he goes we go.”
Written by Paul Bruno / @PaulBrunoHS
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