WEST ORANGE -- Win or go home. Don Bosco Prep and Glen Rock booked a return engagement while Wall Township will make its first state-finals appearance in school history as each prevailed in the semifinals of the 2017 NJSIAA/New Jersey Devils State Tournament at Codey Arena in West Orange. Here's a recap of each one of Wednesday's bouts. The semifinals resume today at Codey Arena.
10-Wall Township 7, 3-Middletown South 3: There's a first time for everything.
Shane Haviland scored four goals, Zach Tarantino picked up two goals and three assists while goaltender Logan Beattie stood tall with 34 saves as Wall Township booked its first-ever state final with an upset of epic proportions as the 10th-seeded Crimson Knights skated past third-seeded Middletown South, 7-3, in the semifinals of the Public B Tournament.
"It's going to be awesome. I can't believe it," Haviland said after the triumph. "Tremendous feeling right now I can't put into words."
Haviland and Tarantino each scored in the first to stake Wall to a 2-1 lead after one. The dynamic duo did it again in the second frame to put their Monmouth County school up 4-2 after two before Haviland connected two more times in the third, including an empty-netter, to ensure its first state-finals appearance.
"It's for the 16 years of kids we've had in this organization to get to the state finals," Wall coach Mike Dianora said. "It's about all those kids, all those assistant coaches, all those years. These guys did it but we're all one."
Gavin Gulash scored twice and D.J. McKay also hit for Middletown South (19-5-1). Wall Township improves to 18-6-2 and advances to take on Glen Rock in the state final set for March 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Mennen Arena in Morris Township.
"Maybe we just have the heart," Haviland said. "This team is a band of brothers and we don't want it to end."
1-Glen Rock 4, 13-Middletown North 1: Glen Rock still has some unfinished business.
After making its first state-finals appearance in program history last season, top-seeded Glen Rock is back for more after Jake Kinney scored three goals and Ryan McAuley made 20 saves in a 4-1 triumph over 13th-seeded Middletown North in the semifinals of the Public B Tournament.
Glen Rock fell to Ramsey in the 2016 state finals. But in 2017, the Bergen County school is determined to write a new chapter to its legacy.
"You can't look at the seed of your opponent because this time of year there are only quality teams left," senior Jake Kinney said. "Last year didn't end the way we wanted to. This year, we're hoping to make some history."
Kinney put Glen Rock on the board 3:34 into the game but Middletown North battled back and tied it up at 1-1 just 35 seconds later on a goal from Brad Heuer. Two goals from Kinney and Matthew Maselli 26 seconds apart over the final minute of the first period, however, was the turning point which sent Glen Rock into the intermission with a 3-1 lead.
Kinney completed the hat trick on the power play 1:07 into the second frame.
"This is what Jake has been doing all year for us," Glen Rock coach Anthony Yelovich said. "He's one the greatest players in the state and this is kind of becoming a reoccurring theme. In the beginning of this game we needed someone to step up for us and he was the one who put us on his back."
It was a Cinderella season for Middletown North (13-8-5), which defeated Chatham, Point Pleasant Boro and Wayne Hills before finally getting bounced. Glen Rock, meanwhile. improves to 21-3-4 and will prepare for Wall Township in the state finals on Monday.
"We're not content. We still have another goal in mind," Yelovich added.
"We'll be ready come Monday," Maselli said.
3-Don Bosco Prep 5, 2-Pope John 0: It's a remarkable instance watching a team get knocked down then rise from the ashes.
After bowing out in the semifinals of the 59th annual Gordon Cup last month, Don Bosco Prep came back with a new-found sense of purpose as Liam McLinskey scored twice in a span of 2:01 while his brother, team captain Ryan McLinksey, also found the back of the net twice as the third-seeded Ironmen finally solved second-seeded Pope John, 5-0, in the semifinals of the Non-Public Tournament.
It was the Ramsey school's first win in three tries against its rival from Sparta. But Don Bosco is content having the last laugh as it makes it third state-final appearance, first since 2013 and third overall. It is in search of its first NJSIAA title.
"The first goal was huge because it gave us a lot of momentum. And our team, once we score we just feed off it and kept going," Ryan McLinskey, who opened the scoring 52 seconds into the game, said.
Liam echoed his brother's sentiments.
"We haven't got that first goal so getting it right away was really big for us," Liam McLinskey said. "Quality chances. Last time we played them we had a ton of shots but this game we did a really great job of burying our chances."
Masanko made 12 saves to record his sixth shutout of the season. The win propels Don Bosco (20-6-1) to the final where it awaits the winner of Thursday's Delbarton-Christian Brothers match-up. Pope John's tremendous season comes to a close at 20-3-3.
"We felt like we controlled the first period and withstood the last four, five minutes of the second period. That was their big push," Don Bosco coach Greg Toskos said. "It's good to be back."
"Senior year, it's great to go out at the state finals against either CBA or Delbarton," Ryan added. "It's always a great game against them. One last run, hope we end it on a good note."