Mired in a three-game losing streak and in need of a spark, St. Joseph turned to freshman goalie Eddie Kavien in a big game against Ramsey in the Ice Vault Holiday Classic.
Making his second appearance of the season, Kavien steered aside all 23 shots he faced while picking up a rare assist on the only goal of the game by Ty Carter with 11:34 remaining in regulation, as the Metuchen school slipped past Ramsey, 1-0, at the Ice Vault in Wayne.
“I was pretty nervous. I knew there was a lot was riding on this, Ramsey has solid D and a good goalie so I had to keep it close,” Kavien said. “I can’t remember the last time I had an assist.”
In a scoreless tie with the puck deep in his own zone, Kavien directed it to Carter who went coast-to-coast before breaking left-to-right and sending a backhander through traffic that ultimately found the back of the net 3:26 into the third period.
The puck, and the subsequent scrum that followed in the crease, further clouded judgement as Ramsey protested to officials it may have in fact been kicked in.
Carter had no doubt.
“The puck came to Eddie, it bounced out, I picked it up, went down the ice, went around their defenseman, took it hard to the net and just buried it,” Carter, a senior, said. “I went backhand. He made the initial save, it went off his shoulder, off my body and went in — right off my inner thigh.
“It was pretty important,” Carter said of his third goal of the season. “You’re on a three-game losing streak and you’re 0-0 going into the third. We needed that little extra push to get the guys going.”
After Carter broke the scoreless tie, Ramsey, went on the offensive looking for the equalizer. The Bergen County school was afforded a 5-on-3 man-advantage late in the third period and called timeout just prior to pulling its goalie in favour of an extra attacker with 49 seconds left, but ultimately could not solve Kavien in between the pipes.
“We didn’t get enough chances, we didn’t get enough shots on net,” Ramsey coach Jeff Mills said. “It was a very well-played game, defensively, on both sides. A little questionable on their goal, if it was kicked in or not, but it is what it is. We didn’t put any goals on the board. We hustled, we worked hard, but we didn’t put any pucks in the net.”
With 35 saves, Ramsey goalie Jonny Kopack nearly ensured both teams skated off in a scoreless tie.
“Most of the shots were from the outside, not too many from right inside the house,” Kopack, a senior, said. “I thought we played good, defensively, keeping guys out of the way, keeping it clear. Just a lucky bounce at the end. I don’t know.”
“Jonny has been solid all year. He keeps us in every single game,” Ramsey senior defenseman Brendan Crimmins said. “We just have to do a better job of getting pucks on net and give us a chance to score.”
Crimmins had a different perspective on the game-winning goal.
“I thought it was a clear kick,” Crimmins said. “Whether the refs agree or not, we can’t win if we don’t score. I was backchecking on the play, it popped up and I thought it was a clear kick… It’s a 1-0 game. It is what it is.”
Ramsey drops to 6-4-1, while St. Joseph snaps a three-game skid to stand 4-4.
“With 15 players that are brand new to the varsity program this year, in order to get us going out of this losing streak, we needed to get back to doing what we do well — get pucks to the net, crash the net and utilize our speed to the outside,” St. Joseph coach Ryan Carter said.
“I claim amnesty,” Carter said of the game’s only goal. “I don’t really know because I was so far away. All I saw was a good net drive, a shot and beautiful save. But the goal was huge. With what we’ve been struggling with, that first one after putting so many shots on net was very, very important for us.”
St. Joseph out-shot Ramsey 36-23, including 14-9 in a wild third period.
“The D was great, blocking shots for me, allowing me to make the first save,” Kavien, who made his first appearance against Livingston on Dec. 17, said. “It was great to get the win.”
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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