ENGLEWOOD, NJ — In its final game of the 2021 season, the Nutley/Columbia High co-op ice hockey team displayed the same trait it had many times this season — its resiliency.
The Maroon Raiders trailed by two goals twice against Tenafly but battled back to forge a 3-3 tie on Thursday, March 4 at the Mackay Ice Rink in Englewood.
“We showed character and came back,” said first-year head coach Dave Macri. “We gave a good effort, and it was a good game to go out on.”
With the tie, Nutley/Columbia finished the truncated 2021 campaign with a 4-8-1 mark.
“We were fortunate to get in as many games as we did,” said Macri. “We lost two games to COVID protocol (in February) but not too many schools in the state played as many games as we did.”
Tenafly (8-4-2) held a 2-0 lead before Cooper Fojas scored of assists from Julian Poole and Rocco Albanese late in the first period for Nutley/Columbia.
Tenafly then went up, 3-1, in the second period before C.J. Hannon scored off feeds from Albanese and Zach Fagin later in the stanza.
The Maroon Raiders then received the equalizing goal when Fagin connected off a pass from Frank Matrona in the third period.
Senior goalie Oliver Tauscher finished with 27 saves in net.
This year's team was led offensively by Albanese (six goals, eight assists), Matrona (six goals, two assists), T.J. Wassman (five goals, three assists), Vijay Vinton (four goals, three assists), Fagin (three goals, five assists), Poole (three goals, five assists), Hannon (three goals, three assists), Fojas (two goals, two assists), Trey Gigante (one goal), Mallory Albanese (four assists), Andrew Nicolette (two assists), Paul Poplawski (two assists), James Gonon (one assist) and Tommy Devlin (one assist).
Victoria Rutnik and George Dietrich also saw time in net.
The Maroon Raiders will only lose four seniors to graduation in Tauscher, Fojas, Gonon and Fagin, but they were four instrumental members of the squad.
“I can't say enough about our four seniors,” said Macri. “They are all from good stock and will go on to bigger and better things not necessarily hockey related.
“They were team leaders for us and played as hard as they could.”
Tauscher was sensational in goal this year, especially against Cranford where he saved over 50 shots in two games (a 4-3 win on Feb. 20 and a 3-0 loss on Feb. 27).
"Oliver stood tall so many times," said Macri. "He had a lot of character and just brought it every night he was on the ice for us."
Overall, Macri was pleased with his team's effort this year.
“This was not a season that we're all used to, but we did the best we could, and I'm very happy with our play,” said Macri. “We won a game in the last-seconds, lost a game in the final seconds and also won and lost by big margins. We experienced pretty much everything in a short amount of time.
“We're losing four major impact players, and now we'll see who will fill the void,” Macri added. “Hopefully next year we can experience a full season. I'm definitely looking forward to it.”
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