MORRIS TWP. – The Park Regional hockey team had much to celebrate during its 8-1 victory over Gill St. Bernard’s at Mennen Arena on Saturday.
First and most importantly, they avenged their only loss of the season, a 3-0 setback to the Knights in mid-December, in a big way to further establish themselves as one of the teams to beat in the MCSSIHL’s Haas Division.
Park Regional and its always supportive fan base also got to celebrate a career milestone for senior Tyler Cross, who collected the 100th point of his career when he scored his first of two goals late in the second period. Cross finished with two goals and an assist.
The celebration continued into the final minute of the game, when senior defenseman Mike DeRosa completed his hat trick by scoring his team’s final goal in what was arguably its best performance of the season.
“We were definitely a focused group after our loss to them the last time,” said Park Regional head coach Tom Levis. “It all starts with defense first which is something we learned against Ramapo during our holiday tournament. And we didn’t take anything for granted heading into the third period which was tough because the guys were celebrating Tyler’s 100th point between periods. Besides taking too many penalties, we played a very solid game.”
After killing off a Gill power play early in the opening period, Park Regional grabbed a 1-0 lead at 4:11 when DeRosa took a lead pass at center ice after stepping out of the penalty box, pulled away from the Knights’ defense, and scored a breakaway goal. Cross assisted on the tally.
Park Regional continued to carry the play in the second period, netting three goals to build a comfortable 4-0 advantage heading into the final 15 minutes.
DeRosa helped his team expand the lead at 5:44 when he took a pass from Angelo DePinto in the high slot and fired a quick wrist shot past Gill goaltender Matt Cooper.
Park’s penalty killing continued to get the job done in the second when they killed off the Knights’ third man-advantage of the game. The home team continued to get odd-man rushes and finally cashed in on a pair of chances in the final 1:06 of the period to stretch the lead to 4-0 at the intermission.
DePinto struck first at 13:54 when he took a tape-to-tape pass from defenseman Ed Karpinski and wired a shot past Copper from the inside the faceoff circle. Just 29 seconds later, Cross skated his way past the Gill defense in along the boards in the offensive zone, cut to the middle of the ice and flipped a backhand shot over Copper to make it 4-0. The goal gave Cross 100 career points and set off an on-ice celebration with his teammates.
“This was a big win for us because Gill has given us trouble the last three times we played them,” Cross said. “We were a little unlucky the last time but were able to use our depth to wear them down tonight.
“It’s a great feeling to reach 100 points and to be able to share it with my teammates and our fans. About halfway through last season I started thinking that it could become a reality and it was just a really cool feeling when it happened tonight.”