WALL TOWNSHIP — – St. John Vianney opened up their season with a commanding 8-0 victory over Shore Conference rival Red Bank Catholic.
The Lancers wasted little to no time showcasing their talents and showing the crowd at Jersey Shore Arena Tuesday night that they are a team to keep an eye on as we get the season rolling.
St. John Vianney received a little bit of everything Tuesday night: scoring from the top line, solid goaltending, results on special teams and depth scoring. In the end, five different Lancers found the back of the net and another also found their name on the stat sheet.
“We had some good practices and two big scrimmage wins,” senior John Gutt said. “The fan section was rowdy and helped us out a lot tonight.”
St. John Vianney started their personal shooting gallery from the very moment the puck dropped, and it didn’t take long for Gutt to start filling the goal column on his stat line.
At 2:33 of the opening period, Gutt took a pass from sophomore A.J. Micalizzi and skated down the left wing. After fooling his defender, Gutt deposited his first goal past Red Bank Catholic goalie Jack Bilancione.
Gutt was just getting started though, as he was able to anticipate and intercept a breakout pass just inside the Red Bank Catholic zone to skate in all alone and beat Bilancione again for a 2-0 SJV advantage. The goal came 29 seconds into St. John Vianney’s first penalty kill of the young season.
Gutt finished off his first period hat trick with a power-play goal, taking a pass from Jeff Ricci and going top shelf from the left circle on a power play.
“We were trying to keep our composure while getting them angry and hopefully get us on some power plays.” Gutt said.
“It feels great to start off that way (with a first period hat trick),” Gutt said of his third-career three-goal game. “I was more of a distributor than a scorer last year, but I have to step it up this year being my senior year.”
St. John Vianney (1-0) kept the pressure on coming out of the short intermission, keeping their foot on the gas and trying to put any threat of a comeback to rest.
“We played our game and played really well in the defensive zone,” Sal Benvenuto said. “The offense capitalized on our scoring chances.”
Dom Troisi aided the cause, causing a turnover in front of the Casey’s goal and planting a backhander into the net with 12:44 left to play in the second. Following the goal, RBC immediately took a cross-checking penalty, resulting in another goal from Micalizzi to put SJV up 5-0. The goal was the first of Micalizzi’s high school career.
The two goals, in a span of 52 seconds, put the game out of reach.
Red Bank Catholic (0-1) never stopped battling and mounted what was their best series of the game after falling behind by five. Of the eight shots they generated on the night, most of them came in the span of six minutes following Micalizzi’s goal in the second period.
Benvenuto was challenged sparingly on the night, but stepped up for the Lancers when he needed to.
“All I can do is stay warm and stay ready,” Benvenuto said. “Anything can happen at any moment. If the puck comes to me, I have to be ready.”
SJV was given a four-minute man-advantage with 4:51 remaining in the middle stanza. The Casey’s killed off the threat, however, and entered the locker room for the second intermission with clinging to momentum following the big kill.
After Bilancione was given a game misconduct at the conclusion of the second, RBC started the third period with goalie Ryan Wood in between the pipes. Bilancione stood tall turning aside 30 of the 35 shots he faced.
With the new netminder, the Lancers wasted no time welcoming him to the mix as senior Colin Meany found the back of the net 1:20 into the third and final frame, sniping a laser shot bar-down from the slot.
Sophomore Nick Colao added to the onslaught with his first two goals of his high school career in a matter of 1:40 in the third to accredit the final score of 8-0.
“It’s huge to start the season this way. It shows everyone that we are capable of taking down any team that comes at us,” Benvenuto said.
With the opening performance, St. John Vianney certainly made a statement to the New Jersey high school hockey world. They will look for a repeat when they host Vernon on Dec. 4 at Jersey Shore Arena.
Red Bank Catholic will try and put this loss behind them. With plenty of season still to play, there is still time for the Casey’s to get the cog turning. They next take the ice Nov. 28 against Montclair Kimberly Academy at Red Bank Armory.
Written by Casey J. Krish / @CaseyKrish
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: St. John Vianney’s A.J. Micalizzi on the rush vs. Red Bank Catholic in a Shore Conference hockey game at Jersey Shore Arena in Wall, N.J. (Tom Smith/TSPimages)
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