Vikes gain first win

By: Ken Weingartner
   The players on the South Brunswick High ice hockey team knew it was becoming critical to get into the win column.
   After starting the season with four losses, the Vikings did just that with a 3-1 victory over Montclair-Kimberley Academy on Saturday.
   "The players knew coming in that this was one game we had to win to keep ourselves afloat," first-year coach Noah Antonoff said. "The players were anxious and excited about playing, and it showed right from the beginning of the game. We had a good practice the day before, and we saw a lot of things clicking in our loss to Watchung Hills and felt that if we played our game, we could win.
   "My first win as the South Brunswick head coach was made even more special because the team we beat is coached by my former assistant at Bernards and a close friend of mine."
   After a scoreless first period, Mike Mazzola set up Vinny Fedele for a goal two minutes into the second. It was Fedele’s third goal of the season. A minute later, on the power play, Mazzola provided the assist to Anthony Calvano for his second tally of the campaign.
   Richie Stewart’s power-play goal in the third period, coming from assists by Mazzola and Fedele, gave the Vikings their margin of victory. Zack Brooks made six saves to notch his first varsity win.
   In the 7-3 loss to Central Conference White Division leader Watchung Hills, the Vikings rallied from a 4-1 third-period deficit to pull within 4-3, but came up short. Fedele, Mazzola and Stewart scored for South Brunswick. The third line of Tyler Scharff, J.D. Tom and Jordan McNeil drew praise from Antonoff for its performance, which included drawing a number of penalties.
   "The score isn’t indicative of how hard the team worked and played," Antonoff said. "We had a lot of players get ice time, and they capitalized on their opportunities."
   South Brunswick was scheduled to face winless Bernards, Antonoff’s former team, yesterday. The Vikings’ next game is Jan. 4 against Summit, although a contest against Johnson Regional might be added Dec. 28.
   Oddly, the Vikings are following nearly the identical script as last season, when they lost their first four and won in their fifth game. South Brunswick ended the campaign 10-9-2 despite starting 1-7-1.
   "It’s surprising how with a new coach the season is becoming similar to last year," Antonoff said. "I still believe that we can have more success than last year’s squad, not taking anything away from them. I’m looking forward to the game against Bernards and earning our second win of the season against my former team.
   "After the (holiday) break, we have to lower our heads and push our way up the standings and get our season back to where we think it could be."