The St. Joseph High School ice hockey team would love nothing more than to have a shot at redemption against Old Bridge in this year’s Greater Middlesex Conference Tournament.
The top-seeded Falcons (10-5-2, 5-1 GMC) suffered their only regular-season conference loss in its history when they lost, 2-1, to the Knights back on January 8.
The only way both teams can meet, however, would be in the tournament final.
For St. Joseph, that means not overlooking fourth-seeded South Brunswick (5-8-2, 2-3-1 GMC) in the semifinals tonight at 8 p.m. at the Woodbridge Community Center.
“We’re not looking past South Brunswick,” Falcons head coach Ryan Carter said. “We just want to get back to the finals. Whoever we play there, we play there.”
If the Falcons do, in fact, get to the finals and take on the Knights, Carter admits the team will have to perform at their highest level.
“I don’t think we played our ‘A’ game when we played them last,” Carter said, whose squad will be seeking its third straight GMCT title. “We were coming off of a long stretch where we had played multiple games in a row and I think we just relaxed a little bit. Old Bridge played their game and they did a great job. We didn’t do what we were supposed to do. If we both get to play again, we’re going to have to play more focused and stick to our game plan.”
As for the second-seeded Knights (15-3-1, 5-1 GMC), they’ll take on third-seeded Woodbridge (10-5-1, 5-1 GMC) today at John Piccolo Arena in Old Bridge at 3:45 p.m.
The only conference loss for Old Bridge this season came against Woodbridge, when the Barrons defeated the Knights 4-3 back on December 23rd.
Unlike the St. Joseph versus South Brunswick matchup, this one should be a bit more enticing.
But nearly two months removed since that defeat, Old Bridge is a much different squad this time around.
“We’re playing a very disciplined game now,” Old Bridge head coach Damien LoNigro said. “Ever since then the kids have all committed themselves to playing the same way, playing together and with discipline. There’s nobody out there that I feel we can’t play with. We just have to make sure we come out ready and play our style.”
In its history, Old Bridge has appeared in two GMC finals, losing to South Brunswick in 2011 and last year to St. Joseph.
They’ve never won a postseason conference title, but the Knights feel as though it is within their grasp.
“The sky is the limit here,” LoNigro said. “We’re not setting any small goals at this point. The whole team is on the same page.”
Old Bridge senior Peter Krzewinski is tied with former Knights’ skater Ryan Melis for the most points (162) in Old Bridge ice hockey history.
If Krzewinski nets a goal or tallies an assist against Woodbridge, he will become the school’s all-time leading points scorer.