WALL – In the first start of his varsity career, sophomore Matt Pousson stood strong in the crease for Jackson Memorial, leading the Jaguars to a 9-2 opening night victory over divisional foe Toms River East.
Pousson stopped 25 of 27 shots faced – Toms River East outshot Jackson 27-25 in the matchup – and was beaten late in the first period when sophomore defenseman Zander Taafe settled the puck off a Zach Noble faceoff win and whipped a wrist shot through traffic for his first scholastic goal, before Noble went end-to-end in the third period and finished with a strong move in front of the crease.
“To come out and get my first win in my first start with the varsity team felt great, and was a nice experience,” said Pousson, a member of the nationally ranked Brick Hockey Club U16AA travel club.
“There was a lot more talent and bigger, better players on the ice than I’m normally used to,” Pousson added. “But our guys were able to score a lot and build a nice lead. And the defense locked it down. We’re confident right now, and I feel like we can go somewhere if we continue to play like this.”
Pousson had plenty of offensive support in his debut, as the Jaguars provided the sophomore a 4-1 advantage after the opening period.
Freshman Nick Swain notched the first goal of his varsity career at 6:18 of the first, and was followed by two more unanswered tallies from Joe Jablonski Jr. and Cameron Satkowski.
Junior forward Kyle Lalley closed out the Jaguars first period scoring, while Chris Petrone sent Jackson into the intermission with a 5-1 lead, after exploding over the blue line, maneuvering the puck past the Raiders defense and unloading a laser over the glove of Toms River East goalie Nick Price, who made 16 saves on the night.
“We were thinking a lot about this game before we got into the rink,” said Petrone, who led the Jaguars with a three-point game. “We knew we had to play hard because East has some very talented players. We knew we had to come out firing.”
And Jackson did just that, as Petrone was one of seven different Jaguars skaters to record a goal, his second of the night following Justin Mayer’s third period marker, while sophomore Mike Kryzewski and freshman James Termine capped the offensive onslaught later in the final frame.
“It seemed like everybody had a couple of points tonight,” Petrone said. “Everybody on this team knows how to score, and our mindset continues to be to build an early lead and then shut it down defensively, which we were able to do in this one.”
First Star: Matt Pousson earns the first star, as the sophomore goalie held a high-powered Toms River East offense in check with 25 saves in his varsity debut.
Second Star: Chris Petrone helped get the Jaguars offense rolling with a primary assist on Nick Swain’s opening marker, before extending the lead to 5-1 at the intermission, and delivering his second tally of the night in the third period.
Third Star: Toms River East’s Zach Noble helped get the Raiders on the board in the opening period, as the senior won an offensive zone draw back to Zander Taafe, who put a wrist shot to the back of the net. The New Jersey Jr. Titans NAPHL standout also recorded his first goal of the year in the third period.
Up next: Jackson Memorial travels to divisional rival Southern Regional on Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m., while Toms River East is off until Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 4 p.m. when the Raiders host Toms River South.