WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Verona/Glen Ridge ice hockey team is headed onward in the Public C State Tournament after a 5-0 victory over Mountain Lakes on Monday evening.
“I knew we were the best team in the rink we just had to push through it…the second half of the game I think these guys figured it out,” said VGR Head Coach Ken Lilien.
Both teams were scoreless after the first period with VGR leading the shot count with 12. Eventually the speed of the Hillbillies would create a two on one scoring chance early in the second period. Alec Vecchione received a soft pass from Andrew Martell to put the Hillbillies up 1-0 on the game’s eventual decisive goal.
“I got a nice pass from Andrew for that first goal…it was a relief to get that first one because if we don’t get that first one anything can happen,” said Vecchione.
The Lakers would battle back to pressure the VGR squad. A late breakaway in the second period could have changed the complexion of the contest, but VGR goaltender Colin Gilmore was there to make a sprawling save to preserve the lead. Gilmore finished the game with a shutout on a unofficial 26 saves.
“It’s amazing as a coach to not have to worry about the goaltender position…it’s not like he ever comes in and is not dialed in,” said Lilien.
The Hillbillies proceeded to keep up their impressive play in the third period skating away with the contest. Jake Kuhn’s 14th goal of the season would come off the second assist of the game from defenseman Martell. Kuhn’s blocker-side wrist shot gave VGR all the insurance they would need in the contest.
VGR continued to pile on the offense for the remainder of the contest outshooting the Lakers 31 to 26 for the contest. A pair of seniors would light the lamp three more for VGR in Sean DeCandia and Dylan Ruggiero.
For DeCandia, a team Captain who collected two third period goals for VGR it was the continuation of a hot streak. DeCandia, although quiet of late had collected three goals in just two games against Mountain Lakes this season.
“[DeCandia] is a big leader in the locker room he does take it personal with this team,” said Lilien.
The VGR hockey team’s win improves the squad to 15-5-7 on the season breaking a two game losing streak in the process. The Hillbillies will now head to number two-seeded Wall who is 18-3-2 on the season. Despite their long odds, the squad is steadfast in their belief in themselves to continue their Cinderella run.
“Wall’s a good team, but I’ve seen 15 seeds in the past beat two seeds so I think we can do it,” said Vecchione.
All photos by Nick Teodoro.
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