High School Ice Hockey:
Wednesday, March 3, 1999
By Mike Costantino
Eastern defeated Washington Township 5-3 and now advances to the finals to face Lenape for the championship of the SJHSIHL varsity division. Goalie Mike Keppler turned aside 37 of 40 shots and Mike Cianfrani had two goals and an assist to pace the Vikings. Derek Poletis led Township with two goals.
Mike Becker, who along with Cianfrani had missed the first game due to a suspension, scored an unassisted goal in the first twenty-one seconds of the game to give Eastern the 1-0 lead. Three minutes later Jason Knee gave Eastern a 2-0 lead with the assist to Rob Ianni. When Cianfrani scored at the five minute mark to give Eastern a 3-0 lead, the route seemed to be underway. However, Coach Harrington changed goalies and inserted Derek Lucas in nets and his play seem to spark Township. He kept Eastern off the board for the rest of the period.
Township came out and dominated the first half of the second period, out-shooting the Vikings 17-11. Midway through the period, Poletis scored his first of the game and the lead was 3-1. With Keppler making several big saves, he was the main reason Eastern led by two heading into the third period. Playing with a sense of urgency as the period began, Township scored in the first minute as Poletis scored his second of the game and all of a sudden it was 3-2.
Both Keppler and Lucas continued to make great saves and you got the feeling the next goal would be huge. When Eastern went on the power play with under ten minutes to play, Township needed a stop. But Cianfrani scored his second of the game with Manara assisting and a 4-2 lead.
Just ninety-seconds later Cianfrani made a great pass to John Schellenhammer for an easy goal and the lead was 5-2. To their credit, Township continued to hustle despite being down by three goals and Adam Zaccaria scored with one second left to close out the scoring at 5-3.
Eastern will meet Lenape in the best of three finals starting on Monday night at 7:00 at the Coliseum. Get your tickets early as this should be a great series.
Photos by Boog Williams
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