Penalties a Big Factor as Southern Ice Hockey Team Falls to Point Pleasant

Dec 05, 2018
Photo by: David Biggy Southern goaltender Trey Mattern makes a save during the Rams’ 6-1 loss to Point Pleasant Borough on Nov. 30 at the Ice Palace in Brick.

In ice hockey, sometimes you kill the penalties and sometimes the penalties kill you. When Southern Regional visited Point Pleasant Borough at the Ice Palace in Brick on Nov. 30, the Rams ended up taking a few too many penalties.

“Penalties are crippling,” new head coach Dan Wasilewski said following a 6-1 loss. “I don’t care if you’re a freshman or a senior. If you’re going to take stupid penalties, you’re going to lose most of the time. You have to be disciplined, and if you’re not, you have to be prepared for it. We were neither tonight.”

With three of the Panthers’ first four goals tickling the twine on the power play – the first of them arriving just over five minutes into the contest – the Rams attempted to play catchup for most of the game. Unfortunately, not killing off 60 percent of the penalties against them was only part of the problem.

“We have a lot of young players, for sure. But we have a lot of talent with this young group,” Wasilewski said. “Still, if you’re not working hard, what good is the talent? We weren’t stopping on pucks. We weren’t supporting underneath on the breakouts. We weren’t winning 50/50 pucks, and we were soft on the walls. That stuff will catch up to you during the course of a game.”

The problems for the Rams began with 9:55 left in the first period, when a hooking call put the Panthers on the power play. Aidan Zielaznicki scored just 16 seconds later for a 1-0 lead. With 5:02 left in the first, a crosscheck to the back of an opponent’s head was whistled for a penalty. Point Pleasant teed up the eventual game-winner when Ryan McCabe rushed into the offensive zone 1:18 later and sent a shot past Southern freshman goaltender Trey Mattern, who ended up with 22 saves.

Just 1:07 into the second period, Will Herrington scored even-strength to give the Panthers a 3-0 advantage, before Zielaznicki scored on the power play nearly three minutes later. The Rams finally got on the scoreboard with 7:59 to go in the second, when sophomore Christopher Laureigh pounced on a puck in the neutral zone and scored on a breakaway.

During the third period, Southern barely mustered any offensive pressure as the Panthers’ defense locked down the neutral zone. They added two more goals in the process as well.

“We didn’t control the neutral zone,” Wasilewski said. “We spent too much time chasing pucks and then we were taking penalties in the offensive zone, and that just doesn’t work. If you have more command of neutral ice, you’re not going to be in those positions in the first place. Our guys have to be more disciplined, and we can’t take it for granted that we’re talented enough to win games without working hard.”

Wasilewski expects his young squad – 14 of the team’s 23 players are either sophomores or freshman, many of whom started or played significant minutes against Borough – to quickly acclimate themselves to the high school varsity game, which is quite different than many of them play at the club levels.

“A lot of our guys are used to playing really fast, because they play on 16U AAA club teams,” Wasilewski said. “But the high school game is a little bit slower, and some of them have to adjust to that. We just have to do better at controlling the puck. If we do that, a lot of the other stuff will fall into place.”

A lot of stuff fell into place against first-year Pennsauken in the Rams’ opener on Nov. 26, as Southern came away with a 12-0 victory.

Freshman forward Brooks Hradek got the party started 2:32 into the game when he scored off an assist from sophomore forward Will DiStefano. Junior Andrew Irwin delivered the second goal with 9:45 left off an assist from junior defenseman Justin Braun, and Braun assisted Hradek’s second goal of the season with 7:37 left in the first to make it 3-0. Junior defenseman Jeff Leonard made it 4-0 just 39 seconds later and Laureigh scored on an assist from Irwin with 3:52 left to cap the first-period scoring.

Just over a minute into the second period, DiStefano and Laureigh scored eight seconds apart, before Braun, Jeff Leonard and DiStefano buried goals at 3:24, 4:17 and 5:49 of the second to make it 10-0. Sophomore forward Rich Romano, assisted by freshman forward Matt Leonard, and freshman defenseman Yater Henry, assisted by junior defenseman Andrew Brock, later added goals 1:24 apart to cap the scoring.

Freshman goaltender Kaitlyn Braun needed just one save to help secure the shutout, while the Rams peppered the opposing goalie with 56 shots.

— David Biggy

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