High School Ice Hockey:
Monday, March 8, 1999
By Mike Costantino
Jon Bianco and Rick Salvador scored two goals each, as Lenape defeated Eastern 5-2 in game one of the SJHSIHL championships at the Coliseum on Monday night. The game was a lot closer than the final score might indicate as both teams played good defense and both goaltenders had strong games. Prior to the game, Coach Pontonio of Eastern felt he needed a big game from Mike Keppler and was hoping the quickness of Mike Cianfrani and Mike Becker would create good opportunities.
The first period was scoreless as both teams concentrated on playing defense and not taking too many chances, although Eastern had a two-man advantage for one minute and sixteen seconds and failed to score. Lenape's best chance happened at the five minute mark as they broke in 3-on-2 but Greg Bagnoli was denied by Keppler to keep the game scoreless.
Early in the second period, Keppler stoned Salvador on a breakaway, but a few minutes later Bianco gave Lenape the 1-0 lead with the assist to Joe Schneck. Not to be outdone by Keppler, Sean Sheehan made several good saves as Eastern would fire twenty shots in the period. With just under six minutes left, Becker tied the game at 1-1. Ten seconds later on a designed play, Jeff Bagnoli set up Salvador right off the face-off and Lenape regained the lead at 2-1. Sheehan continued to shine and stood tall on a breakaway by Cianfrani that could have tied the game, and we headed into the third period with the Vikings down by one.
You couldn't ask for much more in a championship setting, as it was pretty obvious both teams were very well prepared and avoided taking dumb penalties. Eastern fans were hoping for an early goal and Cianfrani would oblige them when with just about a minute played, he tied the score at 2-2. This goal would also set the club record for most points by a Viking player. The turning point would occur midway through the final period with Eastern on the power-play. Bianco broke in all-alone on Keppler and the puck just dribbled over the goal line and Lenape led once again 3-2. Salvador would score his second of the game with just over four minutes remaining with Ken McClure assisting and it was 4-2. Bagnoli closed out the scoring into an empty net with eight seconds remaining and the 5-2 final.
Game 2 is set for Wednesday night at 9:15 at Twin Rinks of Pensauken where Lenape has had success against Eastern. Come out and see if the Indians will reign supreme in the SJHSIHL or if the Vikings can right the ship and force a game three.
Photos by Boog Williams
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