On Monday evening at 8:00pm, CIRIUS Fitness Ice Hockey gathered at the Jersey Shore Ice Arena to take on the Slashers in their highly anticipated semifinal matchup. Coming off an incredible overtime victory in the quarterfinals, CIRIUS hoped their gritty play and determination would continue in the next round.
CIRIUS packed out the bench as the team boasted their full roster for the big game. Nine forwards skated for the team who were broken down into three lines; Line 1 – George Noble centered Will Hanley and Scott Dinella, Line 2 – Mike Nill centered Dave Keelen and Joe Cirincione, Line 3 – Mike Pavlou centered Chris Johnson and Keith Meyers. Tending the blue line were CIRIUS’s defensemen consisting of Eric Fischer, George Fischer, Rob Susca, and Ryan Nolan. In goal, Andrew Rammairone made his 17th consecutive start of the season.
Within a tense playoff atmosphere, the puck dropped and the game began. Within the first several minutes, the Slashers scored twice and CIRIUS quickly found themselves on the wrong side of a 2-0 game. Bearing down, CIRIUS knew the next goal was crucial. The team dug in and picked up their pace of play. CIRIUS notched their first goal of the game to get themselves on the board. It was soon followed by two others and the team had captured the lead.
About as quickly as it came, CIRIUS let up two goals to give the lead back to the Slashers. Late in the second period, CIRIUS managed to tie the game on another gritty effort to get the puck into the back of the opposing net. Their hopes of reaching their second championship finals were entirely dependent on a single fifteen minute period. During the intermission, goalie Andrew Rammairone gave the team a much needed word of encouragement. The message was clear, “leave it all on the ice”.
The squad listened to their goaltender and quickly went to work. The game turned from a 4-4 tie to a 7-4 CIRIUS Fitness lead. As the team settled in to hold their three goal lead in the third and final period, the Slashers picked up their fifth goal. The opponent’s marker posed risk to the team’s lead until their eighth goal of the game to go back up by three. CIRIUS began to play against the clock and worked shift after shift to break down the time remaining in the game. A final act of desperation and the Slashers pulled their goalie. Will Hanley sealed the win for CIRIUS Fitness after burying the ninth goal for the team.
Some of the notable stat lines and highlights:
- Chris Johnson on the third offensive line netted a hat-trick. He opened the scoring for the team on a beautiful short side snipe from just below the hash marks.
- Dave Keelen’s slick pass across the crease set up a streaking Rob Susca for an unbelievable goal at one of the most crucial times in the game. It was his first of two assists.
- Mike Nill’s speed was his best weapon throughout the game as he scored two goals of his own.
- Keith Meyers’ return to the ice made a big impact as his line combined for four of the nine goals, with Meyers directly assisting on two of those four goals.
- Andrew Rammairone’s outstanding effort kept CIRIUS in the game through the first two periods. He made a series of remarkable saves in the third period which allowed CIRIUS to pull away and eventually capture the win.
It was an exciting finish on the biggest stage of the season. With the victory, CIRIUS Fitness advances to the Championship Finals where they will play their biggest rivals in a three game series. Game 1 against the Shaughnessy Shooters will take place on Thursday evening (5/14) at 10:30 PM.
2015 PLAYER STATS
2 – Chris Johnson
4 - George Fischer
5 – Joe Cirincione “A”
13 – Rob Susca "A"
19 – Brendan Keelen “C”
20 – Keith Meyers
21 – Dave Keelen
27 – Mike Pavlou
31 – Jay Moye - G
35 - Andrew Rammairone - G
42 – Eric Fischer
50 – Will Hanley “A”
52 – Scott Dinella
82 – Ryan Nolan
88 - Mike Nill
98 – George Noble