Hungry Lions reach state tournament’s Round of 16

first_img BY WARREN RAPPLEYEAStaff Writer The Middletown High School North ice hockey team roared into the NJSIAA Public School tourney’s Round of 16 with a 6-2 triumph over Verona on Sunday at the Wall Sports Arena. The Lions, seeded fifth, were scheduled to meet 12th-seeded Old Bridge last night at Wall in the Round of 16. The winner moves on to the quarterfinals at South Mountain Arena on Friday. The win over Verona comes on the heels of a 2-0 loss to Bishop Eustace in the Handchen Cup Finals for the championship of the Southern Red Division. Middletown North is 15-7-2 on the year. Freshman Mike Criscuolo netted a natural hat trick to pace the Lions’ attack against Verona, which battled to a 1-1 tie after the first period. George Noble, Brian Waitt and Jesse Walton also scored, and Mike Foley notched a pair of assists, giving him 99 points in his high school career. “We played with a lot of intensity, and when we do that this is a tough team to beat,” Middletown North coach Joe Campisano said. “The key for us is coming emotionally prepared to play. That was not the case against Bishop Eustace. We were tentative, and it cost us.” Early in the season, the Lions were a bit inconsistent and they lost a game against Vernon that Campisano felt North should have won. “We went up there and we thought it was going to be easy,” he said. “It wasn’t. I was very disappointed with that effort, but the important thing is that our guys learned from it. They realized that they have to play hard for three periods against everyone.” Since then, the Lions have consistently played a hard-charging game, relying on grit, intelligence and good corner play to get the job done. Offensively, North’s top line of Foley (14 goals, 23 assists), Noble (17, 14) and Waitt (17, 13) has rightfully garnered a lot of attention. Campisano noted that the Lions second combo of Criscuolo (16, 8), Walton (10, 12) and Nick Brown (2, 3) have been solid and effective. At the other end of the ice, Luke Nesbihal has done the job in goal, with help from a strong blueline corps comprising Jim Hall, Mike Brown, George Berry and Steve Hague. “We’re where we want to be,” Campisano said. “We just have to take things one game at a time and play smart.” Notes… While the Lions are in the midst of their state playoff run, cross-town rival Middletown South is enjoying some success of its own. The Eagles punched their ticket to the Round of 16 with an impressive 10-1 win over Ridgewood. The line of Steve Valan (two goals, one assist), Brendan Crowe (two goals, two assists) and Chris Curchin (three assists) spear-headed the South attack, combining to contribute 11 points in the win. The Eagles outshot Ridgewood, 49-18, with R.J. Hering (eight saves) and Nolan Horowitz (nine saves) sharing time in net. With the win, the Eagles (14-10-2) earned a matchup with Vernon last night at Wall Ice Arena. As for CBA, the top seed in the NJSIAA Non-Public Tournament, they will face off with Monsignor Donovan today in the first round of that tournament. The Colts are coming off a 6-4 loss to Delbarton in the Gordon Cup final, and will not take Mon Don lightly, despite a 5-2 win over the Griffins in the preseason. The two teams did not play during the regular season. The Griffins defeated St. Joseph’s of Montvale, 3-0, last Thursday in their play-in game. BY WARREN RAPPLEYEA Staff Writer last_img read more