Top-ranked Christian Brothers Academy entered its final showdown with No. 2 Don Bosco Prep focused on not letting that top spot slip away – and dethroning the defending state champion.
Trailing,1-0, after two periods CBA rallied for four third period goals to secure a 4-1 victory over Don Bosco in earning its first state championship in five years at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
It was CJ Cummings scoring early in the third off an assist from Chad Schneider before Zachary Wagnon hit with an assist from Kyle Contessa at the nine minute mark to give CBA a 2-1 lead it would never relinquish.
CBA (20-4-3), also winner of this winter’s 62nd Gordon Cup, now boasts an 8-4 record in state championship appearances. This was just the second meeting between the two Gordon Conference foes in the NJSIAA final. The last came in 1994, with CBA coming away with a 6-1 win.
Don Bosco, which defeated Delbarton 3-1 in last year’s final, pulled its goalie for the extra skater and try and force overtime, but CBA added empty net goals by Contessa and Gio Crepaldi in the final minute to cap the scoring.
Sophomore goalie John Donohoe came through with 20 saves to post the victory.
Don Bosco (20-8-1) opened the scoring when Jake Geraci connected in the opening period for a 1-0 lead. The perennial Bergen County power was seeking its second straight state title and looked to avenge a 2-0 loss to CBA in the Gordon Cup final on Feb. 22. The third period rally under the intense pressure of a final is what especially impressed CBA coach Andy Gojdycz, who returned to guide his alma-mater last summer.
“Character and resilience,” said the former CBA standout. “You don’t pull off what they did in the third period of a championship game with a normal team. Normal teams, even with great intentions, can collapse under pressure. Before the third period I told them to go get it. Words cannot describe the feeling we as coaches have about winning the championship. The guys played like heroes.”
For Don Bosco, making its fourth straight trip to the final, it was a mixed bag of emotions after the setback – disappointed in the loss but pride in the effort.
“It was a good game,” said Don Bosco coach Greg Toskos. “Just a good game by two good hockey teams. I really liked the game that we played. We had a couple of chances to build on our lead in the second period, but we hit two posts and missed on a couple of rebounds. We gave it our best shot. CBA is a great team and deserving champion. It was No. 1 vs. No. 2 and it played out the right way.”