Despite more cup and NJSIAA titles than any other team in state history, Delbarton takes absolutely nothing for granted.
After falling short in the cup final last season, Delbarton made no mistake this time around as Jack Malone scored twice, Andrew Bosland and Mark Benemerito each tallied a goal and an assist while Troy Kobryn was flawless in net as the top-seeded team in the tournament skated off with a 5-0 triumph over second-seeded Pope John in the final of the 59th annual Gordon Cup at Codey Arena in West Orange.
"It's huge. Coming off a loss to CBA last year we definitely wanted to come back here and hold that trophy," sophomore Jack Malone said. "Coming into today we knew we had to play well against a good Pope John team and we were able to do all the things we wanted to do. We've really been clicking as a group. I think we're playing our best hockey."
The title marked Delbarton's seventh Gordon Cup in school history. It also has 18 Mennen Cups to its credit along with nine NJSIAA state titles on its resume, including six straight from 2008-'13.
Nick Siffringer set the tone from the drop of the puck with his goal 2:36 into the game and the Morris Township school went into lockdown, defensively, with a dump and chase regimen while standing Pope John up at its own blue line. Delbarton outshot its conference rival from Sparta 12-2 in the first period before coming back with 13 more shots in the second producing goals from Bosland and Malone to establish a 3-0 lead after two.
"I kept doing what I'm doing, making stops, trying to keep us in it hoping maybe we'd get a lucky goal," Pope John sophomore goalie Matt Schoer, who stood tall with 38 saves, said. "They are a hard forechecking team, got to rebounds, screened me, did everything they could to put the puck in the net."
Pope John tied Delbarton, 4-4, in its only previous meeting this season on Jan. 17 but iIt was without leading scorer John Spetz (34 goals) as well as Alex DuPuis, Brady Waitze and Mike Quatrella in this one, however, and Delbarton had no reservations seizing the initiative.
With a 25-4 stranglehold in shots, it went back to work in the third and Benemerito and Malone delivered the final blow, finding the back of the net 2:55 apart to etch its team's name once more time in the record books.
"It was a great game, the guys came out flying and we executed our game plan," Kobryn, who recorded 10 saves for his eighth shutout of the season, said. "We played sound defensively and kept everything to the outside. After last year, it feels really great to come out and get the win."
"Troy has been our backbone in net. He was named MVP of the Gordon Conference for a reason. He's been phenomenal all year," Malone added. "After this big win we feel real good about ourselves. It's a huge confidence booster going into states."
Delbarton redeems itself after a 3-1 loss to Christian Brothers last season, capturing its first Gordon Cup since 2015 and sixth in the last 10 years. The top-seed in the Non-Public State Tournament, the prestigious private school improves to 23-1-2 this season and receives a first-round bye. Pope John falls for just the second time this season to stand 18-2-3. It too has a bye in the first round and awaits the winner of Notre Dame-St. Rose.
"They're a very strong team. They just wore us down," Pope John coach Ryan Brown said. "They got pucks deep, forechecked well and we turned the puck over. I think we were a little nervous and made some uncharacteristic mistakes. They have a lot of talent on that team. Hats off to them, they deserve it tonight but we'll get back here and hopefully get another chance to play these guys."
"It's not the best we've played. We know we can play a lot better," Schoer added. "Once we get our team back, we're going to come back and beat these guys and win states."
In the end, the night belonged to Delbarton.
"We don't look past anyone," Bosland said. "We cycled, worked hard the whole game, played the body and found a way to put a few home. I was injured last year so I've always wanted this. We lost last year so it feels good to get it done this year."
"It's a big accomplishment coming away with this trophy but there's another trophy coming up we're going to try and win," Malone added. "Two big trophies, one we were able to accomplish and another one ahead of us. We're just going to keep the momentum going."
Photo Credit: John Christian Hageny/newjerseydevils.com