Rumson-Fair Haven Stuns St. John Vianney, 1-0, Behind Schmidt, Hickey

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RED BANK, NJ — Andrew Schmidt saw the change on the fly and stepped up into the play. 

Anticipating, reading and reacting to the breakdown on a line change, the junior defenseman went on the offensive, scooped up a loose puck and drove to the net scoring the game’s only goal for Rumson-Fair Haven in a stunning 1-0 upset over St. John Vianney at The Armory in Red Bank Monday night.

“There was a little turnover in the defensive zone when their guys went to get a change and I grabbed it,” Schmidt said. “I saw the breakdown, went to the red line to get the puck deep then just tried to take it to the net, 1-on-1. I walked in and got a lucky bounce — sometimes you win games like that.”

RFH’s Sam Catalano controls the puck in the high slot during the Rumson Fair Haven-St. John Vianney Shore Conference hockey game at The Red Bank Armory. 1/20/20. (Tom Smith | tspimages.com)

In a high-flying, back-and-forth game starring both goaltenders, Schmidt’s goal 11:02 into the first period didn’t loom large at the time. But as the clock wound down in the battle between two of the top teams in the Shore Conference, it became clear neither netminder might not surrender another one. 

In a game with a combined 49 shots on goal, Rumson’s Ronan Hickey was the difference, stopping all 24 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season while dealing 11th-ranked St. John Vianney its first loss to a conference public team in over three years. 

“No, I definitely did not think it was enough. We had to keep working and get another goal. We didn’t, but Schmidt’s goal proved enough to get us the win,” a relieved Hickey said following the triumph. “Our defense played really well in front of me — Andrew Schmidt, Casey Freeman, Spencer Hobson, Spencer Lee — they let me see all the shots and I just did my job.” 

The victory marks Rumson’s first win over St. John Vianney since a 9-2 decision in the 2016 Handchen Cup quarterfinals.

Rowan Goldin nor any of his fellow Rumson seniors were on the team the last time the Bulldogs defeated the Lancers, but does the upset signal a shift, a change in the balance of power in the Shore Conference?

RFH’s Mike Kuras controls the puck at the blue line, helping to keep SJV from sustaining an attack during the Rumson Fair Haven-St. John Vianney Shore Conference hockey game at Red Bank Armory. 1/20/20. (Tom Smith | tspimages.com)

“Definitely,” Goldin said. “No one looks at RFH hockey as a dominant hockey school. We’ve had our years but we’ve never been that prominent team in the conference. This may mark the start of something and I’m really excited to be a part of it.”

Determined to usher in a new era of Rumson ice hockey, the triumph also gives first-year head coach Eric Zullo a token win in what has already been a very impressive 7-1-1 start to the season.

“We’ve been building over the course of last few weeks, getting our sense together and we’re rolling pretty strong right now,” Zullo said. “It was a back and forth game. Got a nice lucky bounce on our goal there, but we worked hard and did what we needed to do and that’s what won us the game at the end of the day.

“I’d say it’s our biggest (win of the season so far),” Zullo said. “SJV — they’re strong up and down their lineup. First line, second line, two strong sets of D. They’re a team to beat, a really good team on our schedule and that’s what we want to do is play and beat these good teams.”

Seeking the program’s first winning season since the 2015-16 season when it went 13-4-2, Rumson-Fair Haven has booked a difficult schedule with upcoming games against Ridge, Chatham and Randolph. It defeated Westfield, 7-1, on Dec. 9 and also tied St. Peter’s Prep, 2-2, on Jan. 15.

“Just the experience,” Schmidt said. “The tough schedule is making us work hard. We know we have something special here. We just want to keep rolling with it.”

RFH’s Andrew Schmidt, here working the puck out of his zone, scored the only goal during the Rumson Fair Haven-St. John Vianney Shore Conference hockey game at Red Bank Armory, Red Bank, NJ. 1/20/20. (Tom Smith | tspimages.com)

Sal Benvenuto matched his counterpart with 24 saves for St. John Vianney, but without any firepower to back him up the Lancers fall to 7-5-1. The loss was the program’s first to a conference public school since a 3-1 decision versus Middletown North on Dec. 19, 2017.

“I don’t think we came ready to pay tonight. I think we came in pretty lethargic with the day off from school,” St. John Vianney coach Mick Messemer said. “Sal made some good saves and kept us in it. He kept ’em off the board and we were right in it. Rumson executed their game plan and we just couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net.

“It’s our first loss to a Shore Conference public school in a pretty long time so kudos to Rumson-Fair Haven — they came ready to play tonight and we didn’t.” 

Related: Back-to-Back! St. John Vianney Edges Point Pleasant Boro for Handchen Cup

SJV goalie Sal Benvenuto makes the save on a shot form in close during the Rumson Fair Haven-St. John Vianney Shore Conference Hockey Game at Red Bank Armory, Red Bank, NJ. 1/20/20. (Tom Smith | tspimages.com)

Two teams that could very well secure the top seeds in the upcoming Dowd and Hanchen Cups, St. John Vianney and Rumson-Fair Haven, along with Christian Brothers Academy of Lincroft, lead a resurgence down the Shore. 

St. John Vianney will look to get back on track right away with a game against Notre Dame on Tuesday. Rumson is also back in action Tuesday against Manalapan.

“Looking past that Randolph, a potential number one in Public B, a team that has won the state title eight out of the last 15 years, and another strong Public C team in Chatham,” Zullo added. “We really want to play those teams and prove we can compete with the big dogs night-in and night-out.”

Related: Rumson Shuts Out Manalapan, 6-0, Behind Spagnuola, Hickey

There were plenty of body checks to go around during the Rumson Fair Haven vs St John Vianney Shore Conference Hockey Game at Red Bank Armory, Red Bank, NJ. 1/20/20. (Tom Smith | tspimages.com)

“It’s easy with a coach that cares about us this much,” Goldin said. “We know what we need to do going into every game. Coach Zullo, the coaching staff, shows us the film, talks about what we need to do, the game plan — we just need to go out and do our jobs.”

“A new coaching staff that is focusing on working together rather than individual talent,” Hickey added. “We haven’t beaten St. John Vianney since I’ve been in school. We haven’t beaten them in a while so it feels really good.” 

Scoring

1-0 RFH Andrew Schmidt (unassisted) 3:58-1st

Shots: 25-24 RFH; Hickey, RFH, 24 saves; Benvenuto, SJV, 24 saves


 

Written by John Christian Hageny  @JCCSPORTS 

Special to HockeyClan

 

Photos by Tom Smith  @TSPImages / TSPSportsimages

 

Main Image: Rumson Fair Haven mobs goaltender Ronan Hickey after his 24-save shutout over St John Vianney in a Shore Conference hockey game at Red Bank Armory, Red Bank, NJ.  1/20/20. (Photo by Tom Smith | tspimages.com)

 

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