Trio of Shore Conference Schools Reach NJSIAA State Semifinals By John Sorce


Three Shore Conference schools reached the NJSIAA state semifinals in ice hockey in 2018: Wall, Christian Brothers Academy and Marlboro/Holmdel. 

Wall earned the second seed in the Public C tournament. They earned a first-round bye and shut out 15th-seeded Verona in the second round, 8-0. The Crimson Knights defeated 10th-seeded Vernon, 5-4, in the quarterfinals, coming back from a 3-0 second-period deficit to tie the game at three before forcing overtime and winning on a goal by Zach Tarantino, before falling to number three seed Chatham, 6-1, in the semifinals. Ryan Burns scored Wall’s lone goal in the game, coming with 10:53 in the third period. 

The Crimson Knights finished the regular season, 20-4-2 overall and third in A North with a 4-1-2 record behind Middletown North and Saint John Vianney. They were led by the Shore’s most dynamic offense, with seniors Tarantino (43 goals, 51 assists, 94 points), Ryan Burns (29 goals, 57 assists, 86 points) and Larry Hooper (26 points, 52 assists, 78 points) leading the way. Junior goaltender Logan Beattie finished the season with 548 saves and a 92 save percentage. 

CBA was awarded the number three seed in the Non-Public tournament. The Colts earned a first-round bye and defeated 14th-seeded Bergen Catholic, 3-1, in the second round and grinded out a 1-0 overtime win over sixth-seeded Seton Hall Prep in the quarterfinals, as Liam Noonan scored the game’s lone goal 29 seconds into overtime. 

The Colts fell , 5-0, in the semifinals to second-seeded Delbarton,  who would go onto defeat top-seeded Don Bosco Prep and win its third straight state title. 

Christian Brothers were led by senior Dean DiFazio (9 goals, 19 assists, 28 points), senior Liam Noonan (10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points) and senior Nicholas Lidondici (12 goals, 12 assists, 24 points). Junior goaltender Jake Brown finished the season with a 94.6 save percentage. 

Marlboro/Holmdel earned the five seed in the Public A tournament, garnering a first-round bye. The Mustangs defeated 12th-seeded Paramus, 7-4, in the second round and 13th-seeded South Brunswick, 6-3, in the quarterfinals. 

In the semifinal game, they had a 2-0 lead heading into the final minute of regulation, when Colonia scored twice in a 12-second period to tie the game at two and force overtime. Colonia’s Travis Beni scored just over three minutes in as the Patriots stunned the Mustangs and advanced to the state final. 

Marlboro/Holmdel ended its season with an 11-3-6 overall record and 5-1-2 in A Central, good for third place behind undefeated Manasquan and Freehold Township. 

The Mustangs were led by sophomore Anthony Galante, who led the team in goals (28) and points (45). Sophomore Dante Balsamo led the team with 24 assists and finished second with 38 points. 

All three teams were recognized by in its year-end rankings. Christian Brothers ranked third in the state, behind only Delbarton and Don Bosco Prep. Wall ended the season at 18, while Marlboro/Holmdel came in at 39.