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Freshman Trainor nets GWG in OT as Princeton Prevails

Aidan Trainor's goal with 90 seconds left in overtime lifts Princeton to 3-2 upset over Southern; Second Round Recap

by John Christian Hageny @JCCSPORTS /

Sweeter by the dozen. There were 12 NJSIAA/New Jersey Devils Sweet-16 state tournament games around the Garden State Thursday night producing some high profile upsets and convincing victories. Check out live coverage of Princeton's dramatic comeback win in overtime along with a recap of every game played in the state:

TOMS RIVER -- Deep in the doldrums of overtime a freshman emerged. 

Deadlocked in sudden-death, Aidan Trainor took a pass from Brendon McCormick in the slot and buried it 13:30 into overtime lifting ninth-seeded Princeton to a 3-2 upset over eighth-seeded Southern Regional in dramatic fashion in the second round of the NJSIAA/New Jersey Devils State Tournament at Winding River Rink in Toms River.

"Brendon carried the puck all the way down, beat the guy wide and gave it to me in the slot. I just put it home," a short-of-breath Trainor described his game-winning goal. "Just a great play by Brendon. It's phenomenal. It was a team effort, bottom to top. We're really making some noise this year. It's been a lot of fun."

Princeton never led in the game until the final buzzer sounded. Twice, Southern Regional took the lead and twice Princeton battled back to tie before recording the fifth upset of the day in the state tournament just 90 seconds away from sending the game to a shootout. 

Jack Conrad took a deft, cross-crease pass from Paul Keyes as Southern took a 1-0 lead 6:11 into the game. The goal stood until 1:30 into the second period when Justin Joyce tied it for Princeton. The celebration was short-lived, however, as Nolan Ruff returned the lead to Southern 1:21 later. Not discouraged, Princeton went back to work right off the ensuing face-off and tied the game back up at 2-2 just 27 seconds later.

Three goals in a span of 1:48 of the second period gave way to 40:12 of scoreless hockey as Princeton goalie Sawyer Peck (38 saves) and his counterpart at the other end of the ice, Cam Conrad (36 saves) of Southern, denied wave after wave of offense.

"Enemy territory, they kind of intimidated us a little bit, but once we gained our composure it was easy going from there," Peck said. "We knew we could come from behind. Three or four games we won it in the late minutes so we know we're capable. 

"Aidan -- our star freshman -- he's lights out."

Princeton coach Terence Miller was thrilled with the way his team hung in there in a hostile environment on the road. 

"We battled back. They made it hard on us all night but we were able to get one in there," Miller, in his fourth season as coach, said. "Aidan -- he's just another phenomenal freshman we've had the luxury of coaching. He's very creative with the puck and composed. He and Brendon -- the chemistry those two have really comes through in games like this." 

"When we were down one we were kind of worried but kept telling ourselves, 'We got to get back in this,'" Trainor said after notching his 18th goal of the season. "A big game-tying goal from JJ got us back in the game and we just kept pushing."

Princeton improves to 18-3-4 and will prepare for top-seeded Morris Knolls in the Public A quarterfinals. Southern Regional of Manahawkin, the Shore Conference's South Division Champs, will hang up their skates here at 18-8-1.

"We played our hearts out all season. One bad bounce didn't go our way," Southern senior Trent Markley said. "They had a power-play but we killed it off. In OT we were playing well. A bad bounce and they come out on top. We played our hearts out. Nothing to hang our heads about."

Public A 

Second Round

1-Morris Knolls 10, 16-Robbinsville/Allentown 0: Kenny Riddett scored twice and set up three more goals as Morris Knolls prevailed at Mennen Arena in Morris Township. Douglas Fischer and Thomas Housel also scored twice and Chris Conway added a goal and three assists for Morris Knolls, which received an 18-save shutout from goaltender Ty Franchi. Morris Knolls will take on ninth-seeded Princeton in the quarterfinals.

3-Randolph 9, 14-Tenafly/Cresskill 1: Jack Zimmer recorded five goals and J.T. Zangara added two goals and five assists as Randolph rolled at Aspen Ice in Randolph. Nick Civetta and C.J. Mortello also scored and Will Zimmer had six assists for Randolph, which awaits the winner of Freehold-Sparta. Matt Brown scored for Tenafly.

10-River Dell/Westwood 3, 7-Bridgewater-Raritan 1: Jackson Henig had a hand in each of his team's goals as the senior picked up a goal and two assists in a River Dell upset executed at Protec Ponds in Somserset. Christian Proot and Joey Rango also hit for for River Dell, which received 16 saves from Matt Ajello and advances to take on the winner of Ridge-Manalapan. Jake Goldstein scored for Bridgewater.

Public B

Second Round

18-Mahwah 3, 2-Northern Highlands 0: Anthony De Alto gave his team the lead and Ryan Selman made it stand with 31 saves and a shutout in net as Mahwah delivered the biggest upset of the tournament so far at the Sport-O-Rama in Monsey, N.Y. Kevin Johnston provided an insurance goal in the third period and Evan Levitsky added an empty-netter for the 18th-seeded Thunderbirds, which will take on Wall in the quarterfinals. 

13-Middletown North 4, 4-Chatham 3 (OT): John Dinnocenzo tied the game and forced overtime before delivering the game-winner in sudden-death as Middletown erased a two-goal deficit in a come-from-behind win at Mennen Arena in Morris Township. Dinnocenzo's power-play goal with 5:26 left tied it before connecting again 1:11 into overtime to win it. John Hallard also scored twice for Middletown North, which advances to take on the winner of Indian Hills-Point Pleasant Boro. Shay Black, Thomas Winter and Evan Schmidt scored for Chatham.  

10-Wall Township 5, 7-Roxbury 3: Shane Haviland and Larry Hooper each found the back of the net twice and Zach Tarantino added three assists as Wall Township pulled out the upset on the road at Mennen Arena in Morris Township. Ryan Burns also hit for 10th-seeded Wall, which will host a surprising quarterfinal bout against 18th-seeded Mahwah next.  


Second Round

1-Delbarton 9, 17-Montclair Kimberley 0: Mark Benemerito, Andrew Bosland and Danny Colon each tallied two goals and an assist as top-seeded Delbarton cruised to victory at Aspen Ice in Randolph. Jack Malone had three assists and Michael Balzarotti, Connor Burke and Jack Maguire also hit for the defending state champions, which will look to keep it going against Bergen Catholic in the quarterfinals. Troy Kobryn and Kenny Burgess combined on the shutout. 

3-Don Bosco Prep 6, 14-St. John Vianney 0: The top line of Mickey Burns and Ryan and Liam McLinskey combined for five goals and six assists as Don Bosco Prep rolled at the Ice Vault in Wayne. Ryan had three goals, Liam chipped in a goal and an assist and Burns added a goal and four assists for Don Bosco Prep, which received a combined 14 saves from Alexei Masanko and Dante Durante in net. Don Bosco will take on 11th-seeded Bishop Eustace in the quarterfinals.

4-Christian Brothers 10, 13-St. Joseph (Montvale) 0: Derek Contessa and Garrett Silverman each scored twice among eight different goal-scorers for CBA at the Jersey Shore Arena in Wall. John Cernero, Corey Clifton, Nic Dietrich, Dean DiFazio and Nicholas Lidondici each tallied a goal and an assist while Jake Brown posted the shutout for CBA, which meets St. Augustine in the quarterfinals. 

5-St. Augustine 4, 12-St. Joseph (Metuchen) 2: Max Gravenstine found the back of the net twice while Giovanni Albano registered 24 saves in between the pipes as St. Augustine doubled up St. Joseph at The Igloo in Mount Laurel. Matt Boczar and Andrew Carpenter also scored for St. Augustine, which will take on CBA next. Mike Rocco and Rey Rodriguez scored for St. Joe's.  

10-Morristown-Beard 4, 7-St. Peter's Prep 0: Gavin Puskar scored twice and Anthony DelTufo stood tall with 34 saves and a shutout as Morristown-Beard played spoiler with another upset at Secaucus Town Rink. Dennis Layden and Jake Kurz also hit for Morristown-Beard, which will take on Pope John in the quarterfinals. 

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