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2000's Keep Crown at Home

By Chris Barling, 09/23/14, 12:00AM EDT


After spending the first two weeks and eleven games of the 2014-15 season on the road the Jersey Hitmen 2000 team finally returned to the Ice Vault on September 12th to host the first annual Hitmen Bantam Classic. Home ice was very welcoming to the boys in blue, who swept the four game event to claim their first championship of the young season.

The weekend began with a clash against Metro Elite Hockey League foe, the New York Aviators. The Aviators would grab an early lead on a shorthanded goal by Shane Pinto just over three minutes into play. New York would hold their 1-0 lead throughout the first period as the Hitmen were slow to get started on their home ice.

The second period saw the Hitmen begin to regain their form and just 14 seconds in draw even on a goal by Tyler Sedlak with the help of Mickey Burns. Late in the second period Michael Forgione would give the Hitmen their first lead of the weekend, capitalizing on an opportunity created by Stephen Perez and Johnny Campomenosi. Under 30 seconds later the pesky Aviators would pull even on a goal by Ian Lavitman. However, Jersey would recapture the lead by the end of the period when Nick Siffringer found the back of the net with help from Burns and Nolan Barrett. Sedlak would add his second of the game with the help of Siffringer and Burns early in the third and the hosts would skate off with a 4-2 victory.

Saturday’s first contest would pit the Hitmen against the Philadelphia Revolution. This game would be all Hitmen as seven different goal scorers contributed to an 8-0 win. Tyler Sedlak would lead the way with his second consecutive two goal performance. Luke MacMillan, Michael Forgione, Thomas Schweighardt, Mickey Burns, Stephen Perez and John Anthony would all chip in goals during the rout. With the win the Hitmen clinched their spot in Sunday’s title game.

Saturday night would see a preview of the Final as the Hitmen took on the Red Bank Generals. The line of Nick Siffringer, Mickey Burns and Tyler Sedlak would dominate this contest from the very beginning. Nick Siffringer got Jersey on the board just over four minute in with the help of Burns and Johnny Campomenosi. Red Bank would pull even with 1:45 left in the opening frame on a goal by Nick Longo. However, just 40 seconds later Siffringer would strike again with the help of Tyler Sedlak to give the Hitmen a 2-1 lead.

In the second Red Bank continued to fight and even the score at two when Connor Murray found the back of the net. From there it would be all Hitmen. Mickey Burns would collect his first of four consecutive goals with the help of Siffringer at the 7:55 mark to give Jersey the lead for good. Burns followed with two power play tallies before the end of the second and capped his four goal performance with 2:10 left in the third to lead the Hitmen to a 6-2 win.

Heading into Sunday’s game the Hitmen knew they would see a strong push from the Generals and got exactly what they expected. This game would go back and forth to the bitter end.

Red Bank would be the first to find the score sheet on this day when Tristan Thomas scored just over three minutes in. The Hitmen fought back with consecutive goals, the first off the stick of Luke MacMillan with the help of Mickey Burns and Georgie Weiner. MacMillan’s goal was followed when Nick Siffringer connected with the help of Burns and Tyler Sedlak. Refusing to go quietly the Generals evened things up before the end of the period on a Jim Dowd goal.

With Dowd’s goal generating some momentum Red Bank jumped into the lead a minute into the second period courtesy of a Bryan Laureigh goal. Tyler Sedlak made sure Red Bank didn’t hold the lead for long, scoring twice on one shift to give him his third two goal performance in three games.

In the third the Generals fought back again, once again scoring in the first minute when Dean Difazio converted a Hitmen turnover into a goal, and the game was even yet again. Continuing to push the Hitmen finally broke through with 38 seconds left to play when Marc Perez connected for his first of the weekend. Seemingly on their way to being crowned champions the Hitmen hopes were jolted when Michael Racioppi even the game for the Generals with .03 seconds left on the clock to send the game to overtime.

In overtime the Hitmen cranked up the pressure, determined not to see the title leave their building. On the second shift of overtime Marc Perez forced a turnover behind the Red Bank net before wrapping the puck around and through the legs of Red Bank goalie Blake Guerriero to send the home squad into celebration.