Tarantino Goes Down As One Of Wall’s Best By John Sorce


WALL In an 8-0 shutout victory over Verona in a Round of 16 game of the Public C NJSIAA tournament, Wall forward Zach Tarantino scored four goals, added two assists and reached 200 career points in the process. 


The four-year varsity starter has enjoyed one of the most accomplished seasons for any New Jersey high school skater, leading the state with an absurd 94 points (43 goals, 51 assists) in a season that saw the Crimson Knights fall one goal shy of the Shore Conference’s Dowd Cup, and take a trip to the Public C NJSIAA semifinals, where it earned the second seed in the bracket. 

Tarantino ends his high school career with 208 points, just two off Wall’s all-time leading mark. He scored 65 goals as a senior after scoring just 22 his first three years and became the first Crimson Knights skater to ever reach the 100 assist plateau earlier this year, ending his career with 143. 

“He never really scored goals until this year. He had 100 assists before anything, and we’ve never had a player do that,” Wall head coach Mike Dianora said. “That’s part of why Zach is special. He can do it all, but he doesn’t look for the spotlight. As long as we are scoring, Zach doesn’t care. Sometimes you get a guy who can really only do one, but he’s an all-around player. 

Tarantino shares the first line offense for the Crimson Knights with stud seniors Larry Hooper and Ryan Burns, and having players like that on offense allows him to pile up the assists. 

Dianora first saw Tarantino play when he was in eighth grade, and he knew then that he would be a special player. 

“I take pride in knowing the sixth, seventh and eighth graders that are Wall kids and I knew Zach from eighth grade,” Dianora said. “I used to be at the rink all the time and you saw then that he saw the ice really well and saw his teammates. During his freshman year, we were a pretty decent public school in the state and playing the level of the teams that we play, he was right up there going up against 17- and 18-year-old kids as a freshman.” 

With so much going for him, Tarantino is also one of the more popular players amongst his teammates on and off the ice. 

“He’s a great kid, not only for me to say, but from his teammates,” Dianora said. “He’s always smiling and happy off the ice, and is serious about the game on the ice. He’s been a pleasure to coach, too. He’s been a good leader this year as a captain, but for all four years he’s been a guy that I can rely on to get a message across to them or just to be there. The bond I have with him is special. I’ve been coaching high school hockey for 18 years and you develop good relationships with everybody, but with him its special because of who he is.” 

Even with his high school career over, Tarantino enjoyed nothing more than putting on the Wall hockey sweater, and the program is better off because of him. 

“Zach can play on any team at any place you want to put him,” Dianora said. “He’s a better kid than he is a hockey player, and that to me means more than anything. He will do what you ask him to do and what else is important is you have a lot of these travel teams that want kids to go to travel instead of high school, and Zach never once chose to do that. He wants to play high school because it’s important to him. He’s one of the kids to ever wear the “W” that’s put that first, and it means a lot to the program to have a guy like him in it.” 

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