MONTCLAIR — St. Joseph was already down three players when another skated off with an injury in warm-ups.
Twice the Montvale school took the lead and twice Montclair Kimberley Academy battled back to tie before eventually going ahead by one late in the second period. Its odds of keeping its perfect season intact were slipping away by the minute.
Despite everything going against it, St. Joseph refused to bend, refused to break and instead turned the tables as Aiden Garabed tied it with 6:40 left in the second before Aiden Grieco, Andrew Del Priore and Michael Posma scored back-to-back-to-back in a span of 3:03 in the third as the Montvale school remained perfect with a 6-3 triumph over Montclair Kimberley at Clary Anderson Arena in Montclair.
“Coach just said with the new ice in third, after the ice cut, it was a fresh start,” Posma, who finished with two goals and two assists, said. “We just busted out there.”
Larry Mahurter’s message was delivered as the St. Joseph bench boss watched as his team snapped the 3-3 tie after two with a three-goal flurry in the final frame to win its fifth straight game to begin the 2017-18 season.
Posma set up Grieco for the go-ahead goal 6:07 into the third, Del Priore scored unassisted 1:41 later, before Posma came back and finished one all his own as St. Joseph (5-0) put the pedal down.
“We got an early one and executed,” Posma added. “The goaltending, Jacob Serey, the defense is helping him out and the offense is getting it done through hard work and determination,” Posma said. “Six goals? Not bad. We’re playing pretty good.”
“We started off a little slow, hard some trouble completing passes but toward the end of the second and throughout the third we really started playing our game out there,” Grieco, who lines up alongside Posma and Andrew Javier, said. “We’re pretty good, eh?”
St. Joseph has defeated Pascack Valley, Xavier of New York, Paramus Catholic and Northern Valley this season. Three of their wins have been one-goal games.
“We have been a good third-period team this year,” coach Mahurter said. “All our wins have come in the third where we’re trailing going into the third, tie it up in the third… We made some adjustments… We created some odd-man rushes and we have some guys that can put the puck in the net.”
Montclair Kimberley Academy (2-5-1) valiantly defended its home barn. MKA erased 1-0 and 2-1 deficits on goals from Jason Gertz and Oscar Worob before Brian Schindler, who assisted on both of goals, scored to give his team a 3-2 lead 3:47 into the second period.
“Overall, it was a pretty close game,” Schindler said. “Throughout the course of the game we were tight with them. The first two periods I think we played better than them. But we took five minutes off in the third period, they got three quick ones, and against a team like that you can’t take any time off. They’re going to capitalize.”
Jared Brunner and Sebastian Burns combined to make 11 saves for MKA. Jacob Serey made 17 saves in between the pipes for St. Joseph.
“We made some mistakes and gave them some things we can’t give them,” MKA coach Tim Cook said. “They’re a good team, they have some really skilled players. You’ve got to lock those guys down and can’t give them anything they don’t earn, but overall I liked our compete level. I liked the way we battled throughout the entire game. We didn’t quit at the end when they went up by three so I liked that.”
“We’re making a name for ourselves,” St. Joseph sophomore Justin Rauch (goal, assist), said. “We came in, sat down, regrouped, came out then put the game away.”
“The thing is, we have depth on this bench,” Mahurter added, “and we’re going to going to get some more of that depth back pretty soon.”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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