High School Ice Hockey:
Monday, January 25, 1999
By Mike Costantino
In what could have been a preview of the SJHSIHL finals, Eastern overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period and defeated Clearview 5-4 on a goal by John Schellenhammer with twelve seconds left in the game. This game had a playoff atmosphere and as the game wore on, the question was whether the excellent team defense played by Clearview would be able to contain the speed of the Vikings led by the two "Mighty Mikes", Cianfrani and Becker.
Clearview struck first, scoring a fluke goal as Schellenhammer inadvertently knocked the puck into his own net with John Meenan getting credit for the goal and the 1-0 lead. As he did in their last meeting in December, Clearview's goalie Rich Reeger kept the Vikings off the scoreboard as he came up with big stops on both Becker and Schellenhammer. The period ended at 1-0. Eastern finally solved Reeger midway through the second period as Mark Manara scored at the end of a power play with Adam Levenson and Schellenhammer assisting. The game was now tied at 1-1.
After Clearview was stopped on an odd man rush as Vikings goalie Mike Kappeler robbed Ryan Arnold, Eastern broke in on a 2-on-1 and Mike Cianfrani scored with Schellenhammer assisting and Eastern led 2-1. Clearview battled back and scored the next two goals a minute apart, with Gunner Fox tallying with just under three minutes left. Patrick Sullivan scored on a breakaway and Clearview led 3-2. On Sullivan's goal, Eastern goalie Mike Kappeler was injured as he tried to poke check the puck and collided with two players and had to be helped from the ice.
With Mike Masiejczyk now in nets for the Vikings, Clearview wasted little time testing him and Rob Coble scored early in the third period to give his team a two goal lead.
Eastern now faced a difficult task in not only trying to overcome a two goal deficit against a very good team defense but playing without their starting goalie. However, one thing Coach Pontonio's team is resilient and they seem to be able to handle most challenges. Marc Manara cut the lead in half at the ten minute mark with Mike Becker assisting. Now with the 4-3 score, Eastern seemed to be sparked by that goal and kept the pressure on. Finally John Shellenhammer tied the score at 4-4 with assists to Mike Cianfrani and Marc Manara.
With the Vikings' speed, particularly Becker and Cianfrani keeping the heat on, Clearview goaltender Rich Reeger made several key stops including stoning Cianfrani on a breakaway with two minutes left in the game. Then with the game looking like it would end in a tie (and with the way both teams played that wouldn't have been a bad thing), Schellenhammer was setup by Becker and Manara and his slapshot found the back of the net with just twelve seconds left and the Vikings had a thrilling 5-4 victory.
Coach Pontonio said after the game, "I'm proud of my team and it's great that Schellenhammer got the game winner." With the win Eastern remains in first and with only Cherry Hill East left on their schedule, they can clinch first with a victory.
Photos by Art Redd
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