For a team that went 11-10-1 during regular season play, just qualifying for a berth in the NJSIAA State Ice Hockey Tournament would be an accomplishment. The Red Bank Regional High School Bucs did just that, but they haven’t stopped there.
The 25th seeded Bucs defeated heavily favored eight-seed Glen Rock 5-4 in the first round of the Public B Bracket behind two goals each from senior Joe DelSordo and junior Drue Amato. Two days later, the underdog Red Bank team defeated nine-seed Indian Hills 3-2 behind an overtime goal once again from DelSordo at the 14:41 mark.
Earning a spot in the tournament quarterfinals has led to some labeling this Bucs team as the ‘Cinderella Team’ of this tournament, an accomplishment that head coach Tim Hall endorses.
“We are tremendously proud to have advanced this far in the tournament,” Hall explains. “Mostly we’re glad to be showcasing the Shore Conference and, hopefully, showing the rest of the state that there is good hockey being played throughout The Shore.”
Winning the past two games against heavily favored teams was no easy task, but the result is “The boys are definitely feeling very confident and are looking forward to keeping the roll going,” Hall says.
Formulating a successful game plan at this point in the season is a tall task. As the 25th out of 26 teams to qualify in the Public B Bracket, the Bucs were heavy underdogs in their first two games, but managed to come out on top.
Even as the challenges get tougher at this point in the tournament, Hall believes there is no reason to modify a plan that has be successful thus far.
“We’ve done a good job of executing our game plan,” Hall says. “The boys have bought in to what we’re trying to do.”
With a team that includes nine seniors, getting to this point in the tournament is an opportunity the nine players will never earn again at this level. This has provided the team with all of the motivation they need to overcome the adversity they have faced.
“They’ve given these first two games everything they’ve got, and they have tremendous faith in each other,” Hall notices.
Going forward, the Red Bank squad has a tough task ahead of them, as they are set to face off against top seed Ramsey on March 3. Despite once again being the underdog, this is a situation that the Bucs’ team has been in before. As long his team continues to play a disciplined game like they have been, Hall doesn’t see any reason why his team won’t continue to execute under pressure.
“In winning these first two games we’ve gotten over the unknown of how good these teams are,” Hall says. “While they are certainly more talented than us on paper, the boys have seen that disciplined hockey players can always compete.”
The Championship game will be at Prudential Center on March 9.
Game statistics courtesy of The Star-Ledger.
For more, head to NJ Youth Hockey Central.