TOMS RIVER — The Wall Crimson Knights skated to a 3-2 win over Jackson Memorial in the championship game of the Winding River Tournament.
Zach Tarantino scored two goals over the final eight minutes of the third period to ensure Wall would be victorious. The first of his two tallies came only 11 seconds after Jackson Memorial found the equalizer and appeared to take the momentum.
Jackson Memorial appeared to score first when Nick Swain drove to the net and tucked the puck past Wall netminder Logan Beattie. The Jaguars celebrated, however, it was soon learned that the ref had blown the whistle prior to the puck crossing the red line.
Along with Beattie stopping all 14 shots in the first period, Jackson Memorial goalie Matt Pousson had an excellent period of his own stopping 12.
The stale mate would continue until 8:11 remained in the middle period when Wall forward Ryan Burns scored on a shot from just above the blue paint that barely trickled through Pousson’s legs. The goal was set up by Larry Hooper and Tarantino, who registered his first of three points on the night.
The 1-0 lead held up for the Crimson Knights until Tommy Falletta was sent off for tripping with just under nine minutes to play in the final period. Mike Krzyzewski poked home a puck during the power play and knotted the score up at 1-1. Assists were given to Noah Sampson and Matt Mezzina.
After the goal, Tarantino took the rest of the game into his own hands and it took only 11 seconds after the equalizer for him to once again put Wall back in front.
It was the same trio that collected a point on the first goal, with Hooper adding his second assist and Burns adding to his tally.
Jackson Memorial was able to supply ample pressure in Wall’s end for the rest of the game, but it was Tarantino placing Wall’s third goal of the night into an empty net that clinched the trophy for Wall. Burns and Robby Curran were also in on the play.
“I hadn’t been scoring many goals before this year – it’s a good feeling – new for me and I like it,” Tarantino said.
With 1:19 left to play and down by two, the Jaguars did not give up.
Kevin Lalley poked home a puck to cut it to 3-2 with only three seconds remaining. Nick Swain and Cody Jablonski picked up assists on the goal that came too little, too late.
“We knew we couldn’t underestimate this team – they are a good team,” Tarantino said. “We started off good and got the lead. We had to keep playing well or else they could come back.”
Jackson Memorial had their eight-game winning streak snapped. They will look to start a new streak when they head to Jersey Shore Arena on January 2 to take on Freehold Borough at 6:15 p.m.
Wall has now run its unbeaten streak to 10 to start the season; their only non-win being a 2-2 tie with St. John Vianney. The 2016-2017 state runner-ups will return to action on January 2 at 4:00 p.m. when they take on Central Regional at Winding River Skating Center.
WINDING RIVER HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT RESULTS
Tuesday December 26
(2) Point Boro 10 – (7) Brick Township 2
(3) Jackson Memorial 6 – (6) Toms River North 3
(4) Jackson Liberty 4 – (5) St. Rose 3
(1) Wall 9 – (8) Toms River South/East 0
Wednesday December 27
Consolation and semifinals
(6) Toms River North 5 – (7) Brick Township 3
(5) St. Rose 5 – (8) Toms River South/East 2
(3) Jackson Memorial 4 – (2) Point Boro 2
(1) Wall 8 – (4) Jackson Liberty 3
Friday December 29
7th-place game: Brick Township 5 – Toms River South/East 4
5th-place game: Toms River North 2 – St. Rose 2
3rd-pace game: Jackson Liberty 5 – Point Boro 4
Championship: Wall 3 – Jackson Memorial 2
Written by Casey J. Krish / @CaseyKrish
Special to HockeyClan
Photos by Jessica Rabstein / @JRabstein
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