There were plenty of goals to go around when Marlboro High School and Jackson Liberty High School battled in a high-scoring affair that ended in a draw between the two boys’ ice hockey teams.
Each club put up five goals in a back-and-forth contest at the Jersey Shore Arena in Wall Township on Dec. 16.
The Lions scored first when junior Joe Granza netted a goal with 9:26 remaining in the first period. The Mustangs struck back with two goals before the end of the period to take a 2-1 lead into intermission, including the go-ahead goal from senior Casey Cavasin with five seconds left.
The second period started in similar fashion to the first, with the Lions striking early on a goal by sophomore Zach D’Andrea to tie the game at 2-2. Back-to-back goals for the Mustangs by Cavasin and sophomore Anthony Galante gave Marlboro the lead back at 4-2. However, D’Andrea score again with only 52 seconds left in the period to cut Jackson Liberty’s deficit to 4-3.
The Mustangs extended their lead early in the third period to 5-3 when senior Jack Intveldt scored just 12 seconds in, but the Lions put on a late rally to get the score tied at 5-5. Granza scored his second goal of the night with 3:15 seconds remaining in third, while D’Andrea picked up the hat trick with his third score of the game a little more than one minute later to close the scoring in the game.
The tie was the fourth of the season for the Mustangs, who are 1-0-4 on the season and continued the trend of giving up late goals and surrendering leads. Marlboro coach Wayne Anderson was not happy with the result and hopes his team fixes its ongoing issues soon.
“The problem is we just have to learn how to win,” Anderson said. “This is our fourth tie now. We’re still undefeated, but when you have a game in hand, 5-2, 5-3, you should be able to take the game and finish it. That’s something that this team still has to learn, and we’re learning that. As we go forward, like I said, we’re still undefeated, so that’s a good thing. That’s where we want to be, but we just have to learn how to finish off hockey games.”
Despite the latest tie, Anderson has his sights set on an undefeated season, stating that he still believes his team has what it takes to get the job done.
“We had a lot of ties, but still, no one has beaten us,” he said.
Cavasin, who had two goals and an assist against Jackson Liberty, was also disappointed that the team hasn’t pulled out wins lately, but he feels it’s a problem the team will correct sooner rather than later.
“We just have to play a full game,” Cavasin said. “We gave up a lot of third-period goals lately. We just have to stay back and protect the net when we have a lead.
“I hope we start winning and stop tying. Every game, we just have to keep working and play better defense.”
The Mustangs, which is a co-operative program between Marlboro and Holmdel High School, were scheduled to play Lacey Township High School on Dec. 19 at the Jersey Shore Arena.
The result against Marlboro was Jackson Liberty’s first tie of the season, moving its record to 2-2-1. The Lions’ coach, Kyle Weise, was happy with his team’s effort, but he felt his team got too chippy, and it might have cost it the chance to win.
“We have to stay out of the penalty box,” he said. “We shot ourselves in the foot with too many penalties. We were able to overcome it, but that’s the main takeaway. When we played five-on-five, I thought we were the better team today, but we didn’t play that way very often, and it cost us.”
Weise believes the season is still young, and he is interested to see how his team continues to improve as the season goes on.
“My expectations are just to keep building,” the coach said. “It’s still early in the season. This was just our fifth game. We got some new defense, and we’re slowly getting on the same page and getting our systems down. But I think we’ll keep building and have a great season.”
Senior Joseph Rugarber had an assist Marlboro and is a team captain for the Lions. He was proud of the way the team battled back, especially since it was down toward the end of every period in the game.
“We skated hard,” Rugarber said. “We had a real hard comeback in the end. It was difficult, but we definitely skated hard. It would have been nice to put a few more pucks in the net and come out with the win, but you can’t be mad at the effort we showed tonight.”
Rugarber believes this was a statement game for the team, symbolizing how it wants to play the rest of the season.
“I think the rest of the way, we’re going to play with a lot of heart,” he said. “Even if we’re down, we always say that heart is where we’ll come out over other teams. So we’ll skate hard and get late goals and play with heart.”
The Lions will play Toms River High School North on Dec. 22 at the Howell Ice World at 4:50 p.m.