WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ — St. John Vianney was down but never out, scoring four unanswered goals — three in the final period — to charge back and defeat Manasquan/Point Pleasant Beach, 4-2, Tuesday night at Jersey Shore Arena.
In a matchup between each of the 2019 Shore Conference Tournament cup winners – SJV winning the Handchen Cup, while Manasquan claimed the Dowd Cup – it was the Warriors who came out of the gates red hot.
Matt Franzoni found the back of the net twice in the opening 4:36 to give Manasquan (1-2-0) an early 2-0 lead, and at the same time set up for what seemed could turn into a rout.
But St. John Vianney (2-0-1) is one of the top teams in the Shore Conference, and after cleaning up a period full of chasing the puck and sloppy line changes, that started to show.
St. John Vianney head coach Mick Messemer was not behind the bench following the birth of his child, so Dan Tacopino took on the interim tag for Tuesday’s matchup.
“We told the kids when they were down to just find their hearts – find their grit and passion and they’ll be able to get this game back in their hands,” Tacopino said.
“In the first period we went down 2-0 thanks to a few little mistakes,” St. John Vianney junior forward Nick Colao said. “We were all down on each other put we started to battle back.”
It started when A.J. Menditto found the back of the net with 1:13 remaining in the second period to cut the SJV deficit in half. The goal sparked something for the Lancers after seeing their first 14 shots stonewalled by Manasquan goalie Conall Doughtery.
“Getting that first goal really started us off,” St. John Vianney senior Dom Troisi said. “Getting more pucks on net is what got us going.”
Doughtery, who faced 16 shots in the final period alone, ended the night stopping 28 shots for the Warriors.
Menditto’s goal was the first of the season for the junior, but it turned out to be just what SJV needed.
“Whenever you can score a goal in the last two minutes of a period, it becomes a huge momentum swing,” Tacopino said. “A.J. scoring that goal right before the ice cut was big. They had fresh legs and we told them the first and second shifts were going to get us a goal.”
Sure enough, the Lancers scored on both their first and second shifts in the final stanza.
After an extended intermission due to some Zamboni malfunctions, the Lancers came out with a new life and buzz that wasted very little time equalizing.
Colao wristed home the game-tying goal just 48 seconds into the third period before Troisi gave Vianney the lead just 23 seconds after that.
“Menditto gave me a nice pass through the neutral zone and skated down the right wing. I just took a slapshot from the circle and it went bar-down,” Colao said of his tying goal.
Troisi, who had scored a pair of goals in each of the Lancers first two games, netted the fifth of his senior season on Wednesday.
“The motto coming out of the locker room was to just get as many shots on net as we can,” Troisi added. “We exploited their goalie and that was the biggest difference.”
Manasquan did not go down without a fight. The 2019 Dowd Cup champions are coming off a 19-1-0 season in which they did not lose until the opening round of the NJSIAA state tournament. This year, the Warriors face a much tougher schedule – one that has already seen Shore parochial powers in Christian Brothers Academy and St. John Vianney.
Manasquan applied pressure in the SJV zone for much of the final 13-plus minutes. Sal Benvenuto, who took over the starting reigns this season, stood tall and made 23 saves to pick up his second win of the year.
“This team has been together a long time — we are a family,” Colao said. “When we are on the ice we know how to pick each other up, and when we are on the ice we know how to put it all together.”
Jeff Ricci planted a goal into an empty net with 23.4 seconds remaining to account for the final 4-2 tally. Ricci and Menditto each had two-point nights, adding an assist to go along with their goals. Sophomore defenseman Alec Osher was credited with an assist as well.
Senior defenseman Luke McNamara had an assist for Manasquan.
St. John Vianney has a difficult turnaround on the schedule. The Lancers will have little time to rest as they head to Mennen Arena to face Public B runner-ups in Randolph on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.
Manasquan also has a quick turnaround. They will look to bounce back as they host Paul VI Wednesday night at Jersey Shore Arena at 7:00 p.m.
0-1 M Matt Franzoni (Luke McNamara) 13:03-1st
0-2 M Matt Franzoni (unassisted) 10:24-1st
1-2 SJV A.J. Menditto (Alec Osher) 1:13-2nd
2-2 SJV Nick Colao (A.J. Menditto) 14:12-3rd
3-2 SJV Dom Troisi (Jeff Ricci) 13:48-3rd
4-2 SJV Jeff Ricci (unassisted) :23.4-3rd ENG
Written by Casey Krish / @CaseyKrish
Special to HockeyClan
HockeyClan continues to upgrade its apps to benefit their growing hockey community.
Want to write about hockey? Join the HockeyClan community! While you are here visiting Rate Rinks! You can rate every rink you have ever been to based on the most important criteria. Interested in doing your own Player’s Blog? Send your hockey story to us at email@example.com