Preview, predictions for Wednesday's Haas Cup semifinals
HAAS CUP SEMIFINALS
1-Park Regional (17-1-4) vs. 4-Gill St. Bernard's (12-4-3)
Wednesday at 4pm, Mennen Arena
Previous meetings: Gill St. Bernard's is the only team to beat Park this season, as it came away with a 3-0 victory back on Dec. 14, thanks to a two-goal performance from Brenen Lavoie and a 23-save shutout from Matt Cooper. However, it was a vastly different story the second time around on Jan. 4, as Park Regional rolled to an 8-1 win behind a hat trick from Michael DeRosa.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Tyler Cross (33 g., 25 a.), Angelo DePinto (18 g., 30 a.), Michael DeRosa (9 g., 19 a.), Ed Karpinski (12 g., 18 a.), Joey Demartinis (10 g., 6 a.), Steven Carter (8 g,, 8 a.)
Goalie: A.J. Schauder (.951 sv%, 1.11 GAA, 14-0-4 record)
Gill St. Bernard's
Brenen Lavoie (30 g., 14 a.), Edward McCarthy (17 g., 17 a.), Christian Mote (16 g., 11 a.), Matthew Bloomenthal (7 g., 12 a.), Liam Jones (6 g., 17 a.), Logan Mote (6 g., 17 a.)
Goalies: Matt Cooper (7-1-1 record, .875 sv%, 2.71 GAA) or Alex Steinberg (4-2-2 record, .905 sv%, 1.88 GAA)
It's not often that you find two results between two teams that are the polar opposite of one another, but that's exactly the case between Park Regional and Gill St. Bernard's.
Since that 3-0 loss on Dec. 14, Park Regional has gone on to put together one of the best regular seasons in program history, thanks to a very deep and balanced lineup, as well as lights out play from perhaps the Haas Division's best netminder in A.J. Schauder.
Gill St. Bernard's, on the other hand, also has plenty of talent up front. But if it is to knock off Park like it did in December, it will need to find a way to clamp down defensively, as well as do what few teams have been able to do- get more than one goal past Schauder. A win here would put Gill St. Bernard's in the Haas Cup final for the first time in program history.
Given that postseason games always have a tendency to be tighter, we're likely to get a result more in the middle of what we had in the first two meetings between the two. As good as Gill St. Bernard's is, it's hard to go against a Park team which hasn't lost since mid-December.
Park Regional 4, Gill St. Bernard's 2
2-Mountain Lakes-Boonton (13-1-4) vs. 3-Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown (14-6-2)
Wednesday at 5:30pm, Mennen Arena
Previous meetings: Mountain Lakes-Boonton was victorious in both meetings this year, as it took home a 5-1 win on Dec. 13, before picking up a 2-0 shutout on Jan. 6.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cameron Egan (12 g., 21 a.), John Lane (10 g., 9 a.), Griffin O'Shaughnessy (15 g., 5 a.), Aiden Reidy (10 g., 19 a.), Caz Kotsen (8 g., 8 a.)
Goalie: Ben Polizzi (13-1-4 record, .940 sv%, 1.00 GAA)
Nicholas Cioce (20 g., 27 a.), Thomas Cioce (25 g., 30 a.), Evan Parr (23 g., 11 a.), Jason Bonante (5 g., 13 a.), Liam Murphy (6 g., 8 a.)
Goalie: Zach Bahammou (11-3-1 record, .911 sv%, 1.47 GAA)
At first glance, the edge would go to Mountain Lakes-Boonton based off of the team's two wins over Mount Olive this season. Mountain Lakes has certainly established itself as one of the top teams in the Haas, and fell just one point short of the top seed. While short on numbers, the Lakers have a very talented and balanced group to go along with a very strong netminder in Polizzi, who backbones a strong defense that has allowed the fewest goals in the entire MCSSIHL.
But the Mount Olive tri-op has as much firepower as anyone, as its 111 goals this year are just two shy of Park Regional for the most goals scored in the division. It has three players that have scored over 20 goals this season. They're also well-positioned for the future with a strong freshman class, and all of its top players are underclassmen.
This is your trademark battle of offensive firepower vs. defense. In the postseason, the scale always seems to tilt towards the defensive-minded squads, and in this case, Mountain Lakes has already proven it can severely limit Mount Olive on the scoreboard.
Mountain Lakes-Boonton 3, Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown 1