Glen Rock hockey advances to state semifinals
It took a little while for the Glen Rock High School hockey team to grab hold of its quarterfinal matchup against visiting Summit Monday afternoon at the Ice House in Hackensack. But as they’ve done over and over this season, the Panthers eventually took control, wore their opponent down, and ground out another win.
Goals by Jake Kinney, Matt Maselli and Peter Cassidy powered Glen Rock, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, to its 20th victory of the season, a 3-1 decision over No. 8 seed Summit that lifted the Panthers into the semifinals of the State Public B tournament. Next up is a matchup against No. 13 Middletown North, which beat No. 12 Point Pleasant Boro Monday afternoon in a shootout. That game will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Codey Arena at South Mountain, in West Orange.
Summit (16-8-2) entered the game having won two games already in the playoffs, and not having allowed a goal, outscoring their opponents by an aggregate 9-0. The teams seemed to be evenly matched early on, until the visitors took a penalty, giving Glen Rock a power play with 6:40 left in the first period. The Panthers did not score with the man advantage, but generated four shots on goal. From that point on, Glen Rock (20-3-4) would dominate possession.
“I think the execution is still something we’ve got to kind of work on,’’ Glen Rock coach Anthony Yelovich said. “It’s attention to detail that really makes a difference. But look, when you are battle-tested, I don’t think you’re ever going to be out of a game, so I’m really happy how they reacted.’’
The Panthers were piling up shots against the Hilltoppers goal in the opening minutes of the second period, but it wasn’t until Glen Rock’s Leo Pawlika took a penalty to give Summit a power play that the Panthers finally broke through. Halfway through the two-minute penalty, Kinney got a semi-breakaway and scored a shorthanded goal to give Glen Rock a lead at 13:40. It was his team-leading 23rd goal of the season.
The Panthers would double the lead with a power play goal by Maselli at 4:41, and made it 3-0 when Cassidy scored his 20th goal, off assists from Maselli and goaltender Ryan McAuley, who skated out of his goal to corral a loose puck before a Summit attacker could get there, and fired it up the wing to Maselli. Maselli skated into the slot and left a drop pass for Cassidy, who stepped into it and fired a shot into the top corner of the net.
McAuley lost his shutout with 18.8 seconds left, after Summit had pulled the goaltender for an extra attacker and finally scored off a rebound. But while he didn’t get the shutout, at least McAuley left the game with his first assist of the season.
“We’re fired up for that,’’ Yelovich said with a grin. “We got the puck and everything.’’