LITTLE FALLS, NJ - A tough second period cost the Passaic Valley/Cedar Grove Ice Hockey Team a trip to the Passaic County Tournament Finals as the squad falls to Wayne Co-op in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss.

“I’m disappointed, I thought we had a team this year that was capable of winning a championship and I still think that…it’s disappointing to see that it’s not going to happen, that’s what it comes down to,” said Hornets Head Coach Mike Sheehan.

The Hornets utilized a counter-punch philosophy against a faster Knight squad. The Knights took control in the opening period outshooting the CG/PV squad to the tune of 22 to 12 for the period.

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“They definitely took it to us that first period,” said Sheehan.

Hornets goaltender Noah Vazquez was up to the task saving all 22 for the period. Vazquez finished the contest with a 45 save night.

“Noah played great, he’s been real solid for us this year…[He] earned that opportunity tonight and didn’t do anything to us to lose it,” said Sheehan.

PV/Cedar Grove responded late in the first period to the shooting clinic that Wayne had put on. A rare mental error from the Knight squad resulted in a penalty of too many men on the ice and a powerplay for PV/Cedar Grove.   After a series of blocked shots yielded a loose puck in the slot, Joe Kubu picked up the loose rebound and found the top corner of the net for the 1-0 Hornet lead with 6:22 left in the period.

“Our powerplay has been good all year and we definitely capitalized,” said Sheehan.

Wayne, however stood the course knowing their offense would eventually break through. A defensive blunder early in the second period on the blue line for PV/CG resulted in the Knights squad answering the call. Marc Perez’ breakaway goal tied the game at 1 with 12 minutes remaining in the period.

“It [deflated the team], we knew we couldn’t give that line opportunities, we gave them two opportunities and they buried it on us,” said Sheehan.

Having gained momentum from the tying goal the Knights continued to pepper the Hornets net with shots for the remainder of the period. The lack of defensive clears and breakouts for PV/Cedar Grove resulted in traffic in front for Wayne. The Knights eventually capitalized with a wrist shot from the point off the stick of Dan Bielsten for the 2-1 lead with 6:18 left in the period.

“We made two big mistakes in the game and they ended up in the back of our net,” said Sheehan.

Cedar Grove was not without their opportunities to tie the game, however pushing late in the second and throughout the third period. Missed chances in the form of breakaways and rebounds saved resulted in the eventual 2-1 loss for the squad and their title dreams shattered.

“We couldn’t capitalize on their mistakes and that’s what stinks,” said Sheehan.

The loss drops the Passaic Valley/Cedar Grove team to 5-7-2 on the year as they’ve lost four of their last five games. The team will look to regroup as their next contest will be on Jan. 19 against River Dell.

“It’s been a very inconsistent season, but the plan is to try and run the table from here and get ourselves back in the States and back in the Silver Cup and try to do some damage then,” said Sheehan.

TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove  is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.

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