Saturday afternoon saw top-seeded Brick and No. 2 Wall grapple for ownership of the 2012-13 Dowd Cup title and the Green Dragons departed from the Red Bank Armory the same way they entered the building, atop the bracket by way of a 7-4 victory.
“We’ve won these types of games before,” said longtime Brick coach Bob Auriemma, “but it never gets old. Every one is a thrill. I hate to rate them against one another because you see these boys work so hard all year long to get here and we become like a family. That’s why every one is so special.”
Brick entered the contest off a 6-0 semifinals dismissal of a talented Southern Regional squad, an exhibition of Dragons dominance that drew inspiration from the recent passing of a beloved classmate and program supporter Thea Gail Juezan.
The sentiment surrounding the finals meeting was much of the same, as members of the student body and players alike entered this competitive atmosphere to grieve and honor the recently departed, as much as to capture the school’s first Dowd Cup since the tournament’s inception back in 2002.
“We have mixed feelings about winning with the surrounding circumstances,” continued Auriemma. “But on the other hand this team has given the school and the players a chance to rally around something that’s positive. We all mourn in our own way, but hopefully something like this will help us get passed this emotionally.”
A banner draped over the guardrail of the Brick student section that read “Win It For Thea” became of focal point for the Dragons goal scorers, as senior forward Brian Lange set the example following his first period marker at 4:29 for what would become common practice to those who followed.
A Wall power play gone awry sprung Lange past center ice, where he would poke the puck away from a Crimson Knights defender, move in on goalie Troy Klahre, who stopped 18 shots, and put it past the netminder for a 1-0 lead. Lange, who would convert another breakaway chance at 7:17 of the second period, proceeded to remove the spotlight from his actions by pointing to Thea’s placard in a heartfelt moment of reverence.
“There’s so much that the school has gone through this year,” expressed Lange, “and this means a lot to a lot of people. We worked hard all season and I’m just really proud of everyone on this team. This was a great team effort and a huge win for different reasons.”
Wall and Brick traded four goals in the second period as the Crimson Knight’s J.T. Tarantino and Jeff Morgan sandwiched a goal by Brick’s Ryan Price at 6:36 with scores of their own, while the Drgaons Andrew Reiss followed with a goal of his own at 11:45.
At the start of the third, the Dragons’ David Kearns was the recipient of a drop pass at center ice, which led the junior forward on yet another breakaway chance, which was converted at 2:18, placing his team up by a count of 4-2.
Morgan followed shortly after with his second goal of the game at 3:25, surprising Brick goalie Jake Lampiasi with an off-angle shot from behind the Dragons’ net and banking it in off the junior’s pads.
Wall’s Andrew Wuestnick answered Lange’s second marker of the night at 12:31, but consecutive empty net goals by Reiss and Tyler Iannarone secured the Brick victory.
Two goals by David Desleni, one by Matt Kidney and another by Mike Gelatt helped lead the Lancers to the 2012-13 Handchen Cup title as No. 2 St. John Vianney downed the fourth-seeded Purple Roses, 4-1.
The Lancers’ James Ellis stopped 19 of 20 shots faced, save for an early third-period marker by St. Rose’s lone goal-scorer J.P. Regan.