UNION, NJ — While Scotch Plains-Fanwood had less than half as many shots on target as Verona-Glen Ridge, the final result remained the same for both hockey sides.
Despite striking first, the Raiders couldn’t hold on to a late 1-0 lead in their second game in as many nights. Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Verona played to a 1-1 tie Sunday at Union Sports Arena.
Breaking a scoreless deadlock that lasted over two periods, Kyle Remo put the Raiders ahead on a backhanded goal with three minutes into the third period. However, Verona pulled its goalie with under two minutes left and the move immediately payed off; Anton Martino buried a slap shot to even up the score with the Raiders just one minute, 33 seconds away from victory. Both teams were awarded a power point for playing to a draw.
“It’s always tough getting a tie at the end when we were up,” said Scotch Plains-Fanwood head coach Matt Gunther. “But by no means am I disappointed with the way that our players played. We all contributed to a successful game, and it’s going to be nice having a rematch against them on December 3rd.”
After the Raiders netted three goals in a victory last night, Remo brought his team back to their scoring ways right out of the second intermission. Three minutes into the third period, Remo gained control of a lose puck in the Raiders’ defensive circle, and the sophomore came streaking down the right side of the ice.
Putting on a crafty move to break free of two Verona defenders, Remo unleashed a backhanded shot and scored, giving the Raiders a 1-0 lead with just over 12 minutes remaining.
“I just saw the open ice, and [the defenseman] was coming out to play me so I made a little move,” Remo explained. “Got a little lucky on the shot and it just happened to go in.”
“It’s a great feeling to get the first one in the game,” he added. “Just wish we were able to prevail and got the win, though.”
Remo’s first goal of the season provided Scotch Plains-Fanwood with a lead for 11 minutes, two seconds. With under two minutes separating the Raiders from a 2-0 start to the season, Verona pulled its goalie, called a timeout to strategize, and executed its game plan. The Hillbillies won the face-off, passed up to Anton Martino standing at the blue line, and Martino buried a wicked slap shot to knot up the score.
“It was actually the exact play that we had drawn up,” Verona-Glen Ridge head coach Ken Lillen praised of Anton’s goal-scoring play. “Our face-off man, Jarred Keating, seriously wins 80 percent of his face-offs, so we’re pretty comfortable with getting in a face-off position. Everybody locked up their man; it was exactly how we drew it up in the time out.”
Martino’s equalizer erased Raider goalie Dalton Tango’s bid at a shutout. In his first start at Scotch Plains-Fanwood since transferring from Colonia, Tango posted 33 saves between the pipes, including some spectacular lead-preserving ones. Among others, Tango made a great diving save to help the Raiders thwart a Verona power play in the fourth minute of the period, and three minutes later, sold out to block a point-blank shot.
Both sophomores, Raider goalies Tango and Ryan Lamberta this weekend combined to save 66 saves and allow just two goals.
“It’s nice having [Tango] come in from his old town, Colonia, and put pressure on our starting goaltender from last year,” Gunther said. “We have two solid goaltenders, and what’s nice is that we have a lot of back-to-back games this year, and at no point in the season do I feel that we’re going to have a fatigued goaltender.”
Despite scoring on Remo’s goal, chances were few and far between for Scotch Plains-Fanwood. The Raiders benefited from just one power play, and were able to manage just 15 shots-on-goal, compared to Verona’s 34. Adam Glod made a bid to give the Raiders a lead in the second period, but his point-blank shot on a breakaway was deflected, and his shot off the rebound was swallowed up by Verona goaltender Colin Gilmore.
While they didn’t win, the Raiders still receive a point for tying, and in total, the team collected three points during opening weekend — a great start to the season, by any measure.
"Compared to other starts that we’ve had in the past, it’s great to get the few points here,” Remo said. “Gotta keep winning now.”