By Jeff Appelblatt
Freehold Township High School’s ice hockey season didn’t end like the team had hoped, but head coach Mike Celano hopes his team is able to focus on its accomplishments this year.
The Patriots (18-5- 1) had their best season overall, and a few playoff losses didn’t lessen Celano’s pride in the team.
“I will defend our [team] and their integrity to no end,” the coach said. “This team is responsible for having the best record in [Freehold] Township history.
“In any sport, wins and losses happen. It is especially difficult in single elimination tournaments.”
The Patriots lost to Howell High School in the Handchen Cup, and they lost to Sparta High School in the second round of the NJSIAA Public A Tournament. Freehold Township put together three wins between the playoff losses, but the Patriots were just not able to handle Sparta, which sunk Freehold Township at the Jersey Shore Arena in Wall, 4-2, Feb. 24.
Nick Raiola stopped 22 of the 26 shots fired his way, but four goals was more than enough to outscore the Patriots, who connected on only two of 18 shots attempts.
Julian Kislin, who will play ice hockey next year for Northeastern University, and fellow senior Tyler McNamara each netted a goal for Freehold Township.
Despite the loss, Celano is adamant he’s not disappointed in his team’s performance over the course of the season.
“Players on this team … set career records in school history. We have a [NCAA] Division I commitment player on this team. They’ve hit personal goals of scoring over 100 points in their careers,” Celano said. “Disappointment would not be accurate [for how I feel] at all.
“Losing one game [in the playoffs] does not define disappointment.”