A ten round shoot-out win. An epic third period comeback win. What would happen in the third meeting between CIRIUS Fitness and Stihl?
Tuesday evening marked the third time these two teams would clash on the ice at Jersey Shore Arena this summer. CIRIUS had just gotten beaten up badly losing a 9-3 game two days before. Throughout the 48 hour break, emails flew back and forth between teammates trying to rile up the squad in preparation for the next game. After taking such a lashing on Sunday, Tuesday was nothing short of a must-win game.
Sparking CIRIUS in the locker room, defenseman Ryan Nolan returned after being sidelined for several weeks with a foot injury. In addition, Steve Cirincione was back for his second consecutive game after not seeing the ice since the Atlantic City tournament back in mid-May. These two were joined by 11 other skaters which resulted in a full bench for the night. Mike Nill centered Brendan Keelen and Dave Keelen on the first line. Mike Pavlou took his familiar spot centering Ryan Susca and Keith Meyers. Joe Cirincione centered Chris Johnson and Steve Cirincione (both wingers moving up from defense to offense). Tending the blue line was Will Hanley, Rob Susca, Eric Fischer, and Ryan Nolan. Jay Moye started his eighth straight game in goal.
CIRIUS started with a series of strong shifts but eventually let up the game's first goal. Down 1-0 for a bit, the team continued to stick to their game plan. Brendan Keelen scored to tie the game with another brilliant goal. Coming down the left wing side, Keelen was being mauled by defenders. With a flick of the wrist he flipped the puck up while jumping over a sliding opponent. Landing back on the ice, he then staved off the stick of another opponent, cut to the net and cashed in for the goal. As he skated back to the CIRIUS bench, he knew it was a highlight reel goal.
The team gave up the second goal in the second period but again, just went back to work. Also coming down the left wing side, Chris Johnson sniped a puck right through the goalie's legs for CIRIUS' second tally. The second period ended in a 2-2 tie with all the opportunity being left in the third.
The team buckled down and revved themselves up during the break. The tie was broken when Chris Johnson struck for the second time, giving CIRIUS a 3-2 lead. Steve Cirincione stood directly in front of the net, drawing both the attention from the defenseman and the goalie. As he continued to battle out front, he took a shot to the back, and a split second later...Johnson's shot rippled the mesh. This goal gave CIRIUS all the momentum heading deeper into the third period.
The Cirincione-Cirincione-Johnson line struck again to give CIRIUS a two goal lead. Curling with the puck in his own zone, Joe Cirincione flipped an alley-oop like pass out of the zone, just over the leaping defenseman’s out-stretched hands, landing in front of a streaking Chris Johnson. Johnson took the puck into the offensive zone as he skated down the right wing side. Chris made a beautiful pass across to Steve Cirincione whose shot bounced around the falling goaltender before popping up, over, and into the back of the net.
The team was not finished. They struck once more late in the third period when Ryan Nolan set up Brendan Keelen to take the puck hard to the net. Once Keelen had pulled the goalie toward him, he dished the puck across to Mike Nill who buried it. CIRIUS went on to win by a final score of 5-2. Jay Moye posted one of his best GAA's of the season, stopping all by two shots. This marks the third time they have bested Team Stihl this season. It also marks their sixth win of the summer which brings them to a 6-2 record, a .750 win percentage, and the first place slot in the standings.
After the game, we asked Steve Cirincione (1G, 1A) about his critical goal, and his mindset before the big win Tuesday:
“Credit to Chris who made a strong rush down the wing to give us the 2-on-1, and who fed me a perfect pass for the chip in. My focus heading into the game was just to keep things simple, crash the net, and open up space for my line mates. I always enjoy lacing up the skates with the CIRIUS squad and doing my best to contribute in what was a great, all-around team effort.”
Some extraordinary play in a big-time team victory. CIRIUS has two regular seasons game remaining on the schedule before heading toward the playoffs in early August. Catch them next week on Wednesday at 7:45 PM at the Jersey Shore Ice Arena.
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