WALL — With time winding down in the third period of an anticipated Class A North divisional tilt featuring state powers Wall Township and St. John Vianney, the spotlight shined bright on Crimson Knights netminder Logan Beattie.
Bearing down on the junior keeper was one of the Shore Conference’s premier talents in Lancers standout John Gutt, as the winger tore down the right side boards, ducked his shoulder around a Wall Township defender, and pulled the puck across the crease to his backhand, ladleing a shot on net that appeared destined to to be written in as the game-winning tally.
However, in sprawling split that would have left a lesser athlete torn, shredded and in no shape to enjoy the upcoming holiday break, Beattie kicked his pads out wide to cover up all of the blue paint, knocking Gutt’s attempt wide and preserving the Knights’ (6-0-1) eventual 2-2 stalemate with St. John Vianney (7-1-1).
“Gutt’s a really good player, so I knew it was trouble when I saw him picking up speed down the right side,” Beattie said. “It looked like he was going to beat my defenseman, so I got ready for that. He came in, I came out, played the puck, watched it in and made the save.”
A modest young man indeed, Beattie’s description is a severe over-simplification of the athletic feat he performed — it was butterfly effort that left many in the capacity sore just from watching it — an effort that was held in high regard by Knights coach Mike Dianora.
“He made that save and he saved the game for us,” Dianora said. “It’s his ability to make saves like that, that makes him one of the best goaltenders in the state. I know, every game we go into, if we have Logan in the net we’re the favorite to win. I don’t care who we’re playing, we could be going up against the St. Louis Blues or the Mighty Ducks from the Disney movie…if we have this kid playing I’m confident in our chances to win the game.”
Beattie stopped 32 of 34 shots faced in this 2016-17 Shore Conference Dowd Cup rematch, and his workload increased as the game went, as the goaltender steered aside all 10 shots faced in the opening frame, before knocking 10 more in the second and 12 in the third period.
“This was a big game for us, and my focus had to be there from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer,” Beattie said. “This was a battle. We both have great players. And I was actually putting in some pre-game prep all day for this game, watching video at school. There wasn’t a winner, but this is definitely something we can build from.”
Lancers senior Brett Schneider opened the scoring in this contest with his seventh of the season, which came 54 seconds into the second period.
Kyle O’Neill knotted the game at 1-1 with just under nine minutes to play in the middle frame, before John Gelatt lit the lamp with 8:59 remaining in regulation.
Wall Township answered with a power play goal less than two minutes later, as Zach Tarantino notched his ninth of the year to help secure the 2-2 tie.
“We can absolutely build off this, because they’re such a quality opponent,” Dianora said of the Lancers. “To this point they’ve had a better schedule than we’ve played. And that’s no disrespect to our opponents, but that made me a little nervous coming into tonight. Not that I didn’t have confidence in my staff and our players, but I was interested to see where we stacked up. And I’m happy with the result.”
Wall Township will be back at it on Jan. 2 in the opening round of the Winding River Holiday Tournament in Toms River on Dec. 26.