WAYNE, NJ - The Passaic Valley-Cedar Grove ice hockey team’s thrilling run at a Passaic County Tournament Title ended on Wednesday with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Lakeland in the tournament finals.

    “I’m extremely proud of my group for everything they did.  They played a really good hockey group and they gave them all they could handle,” said Erich Fleischmann.

    The Hornets found themselves in a tough spot against top-seeded Lakeland who showed why they were placed so high. Lakeland pelted the net with shots throughout the contest, but were often stonewalled by PVCG goalie Nick DiNardo, who collected 35 saves in the evening. 

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    “[DiNardo] was outstanding, he’s probably one of the best goalies around and he kept us in it all day long.  He couldn’t do any more. He played his heart out,” said Fleischmann.

    The Hornets were not without their chances to make this game theirs however. The PVCG squad utilized their speed and elusiveness to force six power play opportunities, but failed to convert on any.

    “We were 0 for six on the power play if we get a goal there it’s a whole different hockey game,” said Fleischmann.

    Ultimately the game’s decisive goal would come late in the first period for the Lancers. Junior Joey Cole converted a one-timer opportunity with 4:39 left in the period for the key blow of the contest.

    “They found a guy back door, he snuck in on us and got a goal and that was the difference,” said Fleischmann.

    The Hornets would eventually produce some momentum in the second half of the game by throwing outside shots on the net. The team could not get through the larger bodies of the Lancer defense for any second-chance opportunities. 

    “We tried every which way to get some bodies to the net, to get some guys there and we couldn’t,” said Fleischmann.

    Lakeland did a solid job of shutting down the key offense from forward Sam Giuffrida. Giuffrida collected seven points throughout the PCT Tournament to help lead the Hornets onto the finals.

    “[Giuffrida] has had a great run, he has scored a lot of goals, he had a big game against West Milford to get us here,” said Fleischmann.

    The Hornets will now drop to 9-7-1 on the year. Despite the loss, the PVCG squad will continue to ride momentum having won two out of their last three games and earning a State Playoff berth with their last two victories. 

    “We had a great weekend last weekend to lock [State Playoffs] down and get prepared for this game and here we are looking forward to the Big North Playoffs and States,” said Fleischmann.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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