CRANFORD - Jake Icklan scored the game-winning goal on power play with 6:18 remaining to lead second-seeded Cranford past third-seeded Oratory, 2-1, in the semifinal round of the Kelly Cup on Monday at Warinanco Ice Skating Center.
Oratory's Thomas LaMonte was whistled for a two-minute delay of game penalty with 7:50 to go. Shortly before his goal, Icklan nearly lit the lamp when he drilled a shot into the chest of goalie Darren Keaveney, but he was able to knock it down. Seconds later, Icklan snagged a pass off the faceoff and flicked it this time past the outstretched Keaveney.
"I got the puck right off the faceoff and I knew there was going to be a guy coming in to block the shot, so I knew I had to kind of maneuver and find a shooting lane," said Icklan. "That's what I did and I kind of just laid one into it."
It was sort of a deja vu moment for Icklan as back in December against Oratory, he scored a third period game-winner as Cranford also went on to win that game 2-1.
The Rams were able to jump out to a 1-0 lead Monday night when a Tyler Gobel wrist shot eluded Cranford goalie Harry Devenny with 5:37 left in the second period. Oratory had an opportunity to add an insurance goal on power play with just over two minutes left in the period, but it was instead Cranford's Matteo Wilde who evened things up with a shorthanded goal assisted by his older brother, Christian Wilde.
Devenny recorded 23 saves for Cranford while Keaveney made 29 for Oratory.
The Cougars advance to the Kelly Cup finals for the third year in a row where they will take on top-seeded Verona-Glen Ridge, tentatively set for Friday at Codey Arena in West Orange. This season, Cranford is 0-2 against the co-operative program (5-2 L and 8-0 L).
"We'll need to do the simple things," said Icklan on the upcoming matchup. "We'll need to check pucks out, clear the puck, and we can't make stupid mistakes at the blue lines. We just need to play our brand of hockey like we have been."