Central Regional head coach Joe Pelliccio described the Golden Eagles’ 6-4 victory over Jackson Liberty on Thursday night as “probably the proudest moment in my 25 years of coaching.”
This wasn’t merely an opening night victory over a Class B North rival. Such emotions from Pelliccio wouldn’t fit that script. But rather, this win marked the first triumph as a member of the Shore Conference community in this program’s young history. And what’s more, it’s something this fledgling collective of hungry competitors has been working towards for more than a year.
“This night is what these guys had been working toward for months,” Pelliccio said. “As soon as last season ended, everyone started working for this night. And the closer we got the more stressful it got for us.”
“The kids were a little nervous at the start,” Pelliccio added, “but we knew all the work and all the preparation was leading to this. They knew if they trusted the prep, trusted themselves, and left it all on the ice, then winning would take care of itself.”
In the opening minutes of the first period the ice tilted in favor of Jackson Liberty, as Lions captain Cole Moskal notched his first goal of the season at 3:41.
However, Central captain Robbie Wiatrowski answered the call with consecutive tallies, the first of which was assisted by Zach Burr, to send the Golden Eagles into the second period with a 2-1 lead.
In the middle frame, Central extended its advantage to 4-1 when Troy Grady connected with Dylan Jenkins at 7:38. Less than 30 seconds later it was Jenkins again finding the back of the net off an assist by Adam Leighton.
Joe Deandrea cut the Central lead in half with his first of the season as the Golden Eagles entered the intermission with a 4-2 lead.
The Lions struck first in the final period as Nick Severino notched a goal in the opening minutes, but Central sophomore Mike Mania got it back at 7:32 off a feed from Nicholas Pelliccio, and Jenkins pushed the count to 6-3 with his third of the night only 23 seconds later.
Jackson Liberty’s Leszek Gronowski delivered his fourth goal of the season late in the third period.
R.J. Boucher made 27 saves to preserve the Golden Eagles victory while his counterpart Chris Stefanowicz stopped 8 shots and allowed four goals, before teammate Christopher Boyce entered the crease and turned away 10 of 12 shots in 20 minutes of play.
“This is one of the proudest moments this coaching staff has had, and we’ve been at it a long time” Pelliccio reiterated. “To play such a good team in our first game and to pull out a win speaks to the sort of players we have and the program we’re trying to build here.”
“We want to set a standard at Central based around hard play, respect for our opponents, and respect for the game. And tonight was the first step.”
Central continues its regular season schedule on Monday, December 8 at home against Jackson Memorial. The puck is slated to drop at 8 p.m.
OCEAN 2, RED BANK 2: Ocean skated to its second tie in as many outings on Thursday, skating to a 2-2 decision with Class B North foe Red Bank after an opening night stalemate with Robbinsville.
Red Bank jumped out to a 2-0 lead in its first game of this 2014-15 campaign when junior forward Kyle Amato put home his first of the season at 4:47, and extended the advantage after senior captain Brian Lynch delivered a short-handed tally at 10:16.
However, Ocean captain Eric Bolsch cut the lead in half at 14:03 of the first before a scoreless second period sent the Bucs into the intermission with a lead.
At 7:14 of the third period Ocean’s J.T. Toomey assisted on Joe LaValle’s game-tying goal and strong goal-tending by Ocean’s Brian Harlow – who stopped 18 shots – and Red Bank’s John Pierce – who made 19 saves – made the knotted score standup.