TOMS RIVER — West Windsor-Plainsboro used two goals from junior Senan Shannon and an 18-save performance from Alec Doody to defeat Toms River South-East 3-1 Monday night at Winding River Rink.
Both squads stepped foot on the ice with a fresh start, a clean slate with the same hopes of fielding a successful team for the 2018-2019 campaign.
West Windsor came out firing, opening up a 1-0 cushion as well as a 10-1 advantage in shots on goal in the opening 10 minutes of the contest. The opening tally of the season came with the help of two Toms River South-East tripping penalties in the opening period.
Gifted with a 5-on-3 power-play for nearly an entire minute, West Windsor took full advantage of the extra room on the ice. The faceoff was won back to the point where defenseman Aidan Crichton found Shannon near the left circle. His wrist-shot from the left circle found Ronan Keenan in front of the net and his redirection found twine for the first goal of the contest.
Toms River South-East responded later in the opening stanza when freshman Chris Dineen came streaking down the right wing from the neutral zone. Dineen carried the puck near the circle and flung it in front of the goalmouth where senior Brandon Coyle was waiting to poke home the loose puck.
That would prove to be the only blemish on the night for West Windsor goaltender Alec Doody, who survived an onslaught of shots in the second period.
The “Radians” fired 10 shots on goal in the middle frame, however, seven of those shots came on a minor penalty that West Windsor took with 5:40 remaining while clinging to a 2-1 edge.
The penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4 for West Windsor.
“Alec kept us in the game,” Shannon said. “It could have been a lot worse for us on the scoreboard if he wasn’t back there.”
“We played very well defensively, getting the puck out of the zone,” Doody said. “Most of the shots they took were fairly easy to fend off.”
West Windsor Plainsboro (1-0-0) got that 2-1 lead earlier in the second on another power-play tally. This time Shannon deposited the eventual game-winner into the net from the left circle on a pass by Crichton from the point. Anvj Dutta was also credited with an assist on the goal.
“We kept grinding to get pucks along the boards,” Shannon said. “We communicated very well and dominated on the power-play.”
The third period was a different story on the back end for Doody and West Windsor-Plainsboro. A majority of the period was spent down in the Toms River zone, where West Windsor supplied constant pressure. Toms River only mustered two shots the final 15 minutes, in which Doody tracked both aside.
“You always have to be ready in the net,” Doody said. “Shots can come from anywhere at any time.”
Despite the constant attack from West Windsor, Toms River junior goalie Mark Bish made some big saves down the stretch — ultimately making 30 saves — to keep his team without striking distance.
Shannon finally iced the game in the waning seconds, putting West Windsor up 3-1 with an unassisted tally in the final minute.
The win proved to be a positive start for a West Windsor-Plainsboro team (1-0) that saw their season end in the opening round of the NJSIAA state tournament last February. They will look to carry that into their next game against Notre Dame.
“It feels great, (to start 1-0),” Shannon said. “We lost in the first round of states last season so this is a big win to get the wheels rolling in the new season.”
“You always want to have a good start to the season. This is definitely the way we saw it going,” Doody added.
West Windsor Plainsboro will play its home opener, tomorrow, Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 3:00 against CVC rival Notre Dame at Mercer County Rink.
Toms River South-East (0-1) will look to right the ship in their next contest. They will stay at Winding River and host Jackson Memorial in their Shore Conference A-South division opener scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 29 at 4:00.
Written by Casey J. Krish / @CaseyKrish
Special to HockeyClan
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