Middletown South skates out to perfect start on the ice

Middletown South forward Aiden Cavendish and Marlboro-Holmdel forward Ethan Gelman battle on the faceoff during a game played on Jan. 20 in Middletown. Middletown South defeated Marlboro-Holmdel 3-0 to improve to 2-0 on the season.

The first week of the 2021 ice hockey season was a perfect one for the Middletown School High School Eagles.

After rolling to a 6-1 victory over Southern Regional High School of Manahawkin in its season opener on Jan. 19, Middletown South got right back on the ice at the Middletown Sports Complex on Jan. 20 to face off against the co-op team made up of players from Marlboro and Holmdel high schools.

The first Shore Conference North Division showdown for the Eagles (2-0) worked out in their favor as they scored a 3-0 victory over Marlboro-Holmdel.

“The guys were ready to go right from the start,” Middletown South Coach Andrew Rosenbloom said. “We couldn’t have had a better start. I’m just happy we are out here and playing games. To be out here and to see the guys is a sense of normalcy. To get two wins is just like a cherry on top.”

Middletown South and Marlboro-Holmdel were scoreless in the final three minutes of the second period. The Eagles had controlled most of the action, but had trouble getting anything past goalie Dmitri Kapranov.

Kapranov, who is a junior at Holmdel High School, made 19 saves in the first period and finished with 41 saves. Kapranov made 56 saves through the first two games for Marlboro-Holmdel.

Middletown South finally scored with 2:45 to play in the second period as junior Luke Finn tapped in a goal, his second of the season, to put the Eagles up 1-0.

“I had a lot of chances in the first period and I couldn’t bury them. In the second period when I put it in, it gave the team a confidence boost and we scored a couple goals from there,” Finn said. “The boys are doing really well right now and 2-0 is a great start.”

Junior Michael Ferlanti was credited with the assist on Finn’s goal and helped set up the next Middletown South score with 8:26 left in the third period.

After racing into the Marlboro-Holmdel zone to pick up a loose puck, Ferlanti sent a pass to the point where freshman Owen Oglevee fired it into the net for his first high school goal to put the Eagles up 2-0.

After the Mustangs pulled their goalie, freshman Justin Ferlanti scored his first high school goal into an open net to complete the 3-0 victory.

In two games, eight players scored for the Eagles.

Junior goaltender Jack Collings made 17 saves against Marlboro-Holmdel and had 46 saves through two games.

Rosenbloom credits a lot of the team’s success on offense and defense to the depth of talent that allows him to play four lines.

“Some guys who don’t have a lot of playing time have stepped up and exceeded expectations,” the coach said. “They are playing good smart defense. Jack Collings has been outstanding in net. We have to continue what we have been doing; continue to play with confidence. We are a fast-paced deep team.”

Middletown South is coming off a 14-8-4 season that saw the Eagles reach the finals of the Handchen Cup. Winning a Shore Conference division title and keeping the winning tradition going is something this year’s players have set out to accomplish.

“I think this year we have a tight group and our core group of guys from last year are very good,” senior Michael Volpi said. “The freshmen and the swing guys we have this year are filling into their roles. Overall, we’re just rolling right now.”

Marlboro-Holmdel started its 2021 season with a 5-0 victory over Brick Township High School on Jan. 15.

Under the leadership of new coach Ben Bugge, the Mustangs are focused on building a new culture and standard of play in the program. Bugge believes his players are on the right track after the way they played in the first two games.

Junior Ethan Gelman scored two goals and had an assist in the victory over Brick Township. Senior Andrew Kim and sophomore Mark Pellegrino both scored a goal and added an assist in the Mustangs’ season opening victory.

“The coaching staff is really happy with how the kids are playing,” Bugge said. “It’s an awesome group of kids. The start of the season has been great. We are setting a new standard of Marlboro-Holmdel hockey. We know the kids are buying into it. We have big things we are expecting moving forward.”