RANDOLPH, NJ- The Randolph Rams hockey team hosted Southern at Aspen ice in the quarterfinals of the NJSIAA state playoffs on Monday Mar. 2. Nick Gallo scored two goals to lead the offense, while Gavin Einfeldt turned away all 18 shots he faced to lead the Rams to a 6-0 victory.
While the shots on goal were relatively even in the first period ( the Rams had a 9-8 advantage ) it was the home team who had the better aim as Chris Civetta, Ben Yurchuk ( short handed ) and Gallo all lit the lamp for a 3-0 lead. Gallo’s tally came with just 2 minutes left in the period and was the perfect example of the Rams' superiority in the game.
After a rush into the offensive zone, the junior took a high hit that sent him sprawling to the ice. While the Southern defenseman was busy listening to the cheers from his bench for the hit, Gallo jumped right back up and beat his man to the net, where he took a pass from Yurchuk and scored, stealing back their 5 seconds of momentum.
Randolph established complete and total control in the second period, maintaining long possessions in their opponent’s end, and they started racking up the shots on goal with 13 in the period while only allowing 5. The physical play picked up late in the period as Southern grew frustrated with their inability to gain puck possession, so they started delivering some late hits and picked up some bad penalties in the process.
The score remained the same into the middle of the third, when Gallo struck again with 7 minutes left to effectively end the game. Shortly after, Evan Xhumba got his revenge for a dirty hit he took to the head, when he walked in on net from the corner and scored for a 5-0 lead. Finally, Matt Rogers scored on a scramble in front and the rout was on at 6-0.
Having been totally outclassed, Southern continued their chippy play, taking late runs at the Rams and slashing behind the play. Sam Jones decided it was time to send a message back, and he got revenge for some of his teammates when he caught Southern's most physical player skating the puck out of his own zone with his head down. Executing a textbook open ice check, Jones delivered a thunderous hit that sent his opponent crashing to the ice, throwing the Randolph crowd into a frenzy.
With three minutes left, a Southern player was ejected for too many penalties, and another was sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct in the final minute. For the game, Randolph dominated the shots on goal by a 38-18 margin. JT Zangara had 3 assists, while Justin Harper and Yurchuk each had 2.
Randolph plays next against Middletown South on Wednesday Mar 5 at Cody Arena in West Orange at 6:30, with the winner advancing to the state finals.