The South Brunswick High School ice hockey team called on its depth to score a recent victory over Old Bridge High School.
South Brunswick, sparked by junior Harin Ponna’s two goals, defeated host Old Bridge, 4-1, at the Old Bridge Ice Arena on Dec. 19.
Juniors Justin Guelph and Michael Castiello each connected on one goal, while Guelph also contributed an assist.
South Brunswick held a 2-0 lead going into the final period and hit on two goals to stretch its lead before Matt Kravitz scored for Old Bridge to avoid a shutout.
Senior Peter Hernandez and freshman Alex Sech were credited with an assist each for Old Bridge.
The victory improved South Brunswick to 3-2 on the year.
Assistant coach Nick Gazzale of South Brunswick saw some flaws from the Vikings but expressed his pleasure in the team’s depth.
“Honestly, we were kind of sloppy,” Gazzale said. “I know it was kind of warm playing on the outside rink, and we were a little bit slower, but still. What I did like is that we had a lot of guys contribute, which is awesome. We were able to run all three lines and get production out of all of them. That’s what we want to see. We want to see in bigger games who steps up and can we use you moving forward.”
The assistant coach was full of praise for all three lines.
“So, for us, [it was good] to see the first line contribute. Then [we] have the second line with Harin and Justin, who’ve been doing it all year for us, and then the third line was really competitive, ” Gazzale said. “They kept the puck down in their zone, which is what we want. They created chances for themselves. Unfortunately, they didn’t convert any today [against Old Bridge], but what we saw is that we can use three lines going forward.”
Gazzale believes South Brunswick is rounding into the quality form that the coaching staff is eager to see.
“Our expectation coming in was that we wanted to compete,” he said. “We thought we were one of the best teams in the county. So, for us, we haven’t played in a while. We played Monroe a week ago, beat them, and then had a whole week off. So for us to have all that time off and still win just solidifies our belief that we are one of the best team in the county.”
Guelph pointed out some mistakes South Brunswick experienced.
“We came into it strong, but we lightened up a little bit,” he said. “Going into the third period, we had to come out strong, but we didn’t. Luckily, we were able to finish the game strong.”
Guelph is confident this will be a good year for the Vikings.
“[We have to] work hard the whole game, play all three periods and work together,” he said. “I thought this will be a really good season. We’ve started out strong. I think we’re going to be good this year.”
The Vikings were scheduled to face Nottingham High School on Dec. 22.
Old Bridge fell to 1-3 on the season with the loss. The Knights added a tie to that record with a 2-2 result against Colonia High School on Dec. 20.
“Our team worked hard,” Old Bridge assistant coach Ben Miller said following the game against South Brunswick. “There were a lot of good things, but at the end of the day, the bounces didn’t go our way. We just have to work on staying tough in our zone, clearing out the guy in front, taking some good shots in their zone and we’ll be fine.”
Miller hopes the Knights stay positive despite the defeat.
“[We need to] just keep working as a team, keep picking ourselves up when we don’t have our best game and just make sure that we keep doing what we need to do to win,” he said.
Junior winger Heather Figueroa, who is one of two female players on Old Bridge’s roster, expressed her confidence in the Knights’ ability rebound going forward.
“We just broke down a little bit,” she said. “Our passes weren’t as great, so they were able to turn those around on us. We just have to work hard, work together as a team and hopefully, we can come out on top.”
The Knights were scheduled to host at the Old Bridge Ice Arena against Red Bank Regional High School on Dec. 27.