January 3, 2005
Despite losing their opening game, the Squirt Major Selects rallied to win the recent Winter Championship in Marlboro.
After surviving a myriad of tiebreakers, the Warriors drew NEH in the semifinals of the playoffs. VJW played its best game of the series and beat NEH, 5-1. The scoring was spread among the forwards -- two goals by Cam Owens, and single tallies from Robbie DeLoreto, Michael Cusack and Kyle Vincze. That game also marked the return of solid defenseman Ernest Guerrera, who had been out sick for the previous games.
In the finals, the Warriors drew the Bridgewater Bandits, who the Warriors had previously beaten by a score of 6-3 earlier in the tournament.
The final game was a rock fight from the very start.
The Bandits started the scoring off in the first period with a deflection of a Warrior defender for a quick 1-0 deficit for the blue and gold. It was a physical battle for the next two periods with up and down action and both goalies keeping pucks out of their nets.
?The refs let the boys play and we couldn?t stay out of the penalty box? said VJW coach John Cusack. ?Ironically enough, what has hurt us the majority of the season, penalties, came to our corner late in the third while still trailing 1-0.
A Bandit took a game misconduct and the elects took full advantage. On the three-minute power play, after a pretty feed from steady defenseman Nate MacLaughlin to a flying John Harty on the off wing, Harty cut to the middle and lifted a pretty backhand top shelf to tie the game at 1-1.
?John Harty actually was covering for an injured left wing and we put him out on double duty on the left side,? said forwards coach Paul Collins. ?Johnny usually plays right wing but what a backhand from the left side?.
With the scored tied 1-1 and after a few more penalties, it appeared regulation was to end in a tie when Jason Nawrocki skated the puck from behind Kyle Williams? net to the center ice line and got the puck deep in the Bandits zone. A quick change of five fresh legs put speedy forward Josh Dubin on the Bandit puck carrier deep in the Bandit zone. Dubin forced the turnover in the corner and came out with the puck. He used their defenseman as a screen and roofed a wrist shot up over the shoulder of the Bandit goalie for a 2-1 Warrior lead with only 1:39 left in regulation.
The Warriors moved the puck to the open ice for the final minute frame with the Bandit net open and prevailed in taking home the Championship trophy.
?We made some mistakes out there today but he kids were resilient enough to persevere and pull it out in the end,? assistant coach Mike O?Connor said after the game.?