WALL — After an invitation this past summer to the USA Hockey Development Camp, it was only a matter of time before Jake LaRusso took the Shore Conference hockey ranks by storm, and the sophomore has certainly done that with St. John Vianney.
On Tuesday evening at the Jersey Shore Arena, the winger continued his strong start to the 2017-18 season with his second consecutive four-point game in a 6-1 decision over Class A North rival Howell.
Following a a freshman campaign in which he skated on the blue line, LaRusso logged a goal and three assists in an opening night victory over Red Bank Catholic (Nov. 28), and was even better against the Rebels, distributing two helpers and lighting lamp twice for the first multi-goal game of his young scholastic career.
“It’s a special feeling to get my first multi-goal game, and to put up multiple points in consecutive games to open the year. I’m playing with kids that I know, and skating on a great line with [John Gelatt and John Gutt], it just makes it easier, because we blend so well together. It all starts in practice for us, and we’re able to carry it over to the game,” LaRusso said.
The combination of LaRusso, Gelatt and Gutt has been truly special for the Lancers, as the dynamic top line trio has combined for 21 points on eight goals and 13 assists in just two outings.
And LaRusso credits the familiarity they’ve developed from a young to the success they’re experiencing together at the varsity level.
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“I’ve known both of these guys since I was little, and we’ve all played together at one point or another,” said LaRusso, who logged the primary assists on Gelatt’s third of the season, and Gutt’s second of the year in the victory over Howell. “Playingwith these guys now on an every day basis just makes it easier for us. They’re both great players and it’s a lot of fun to play with them.”
With eight points on three goals and five assists, LaRusso currently leads a touted Lancers outfit in scoring, and has helped St. John Vianney outscore opponents 11-1 through their first two tilts.
“The boys are rolling right now. We’re all playing well, all four lines. The defense is playing good. [Jeremy] Connor is playing well in net. Our coaches are putting together great game plans for us. Everything is going well right now, and it’s just a lot of fun to be out here with such a great program.”
Senior forwards Brett Schneider and Kevyn Rigatti rounded out the Tuesday night scoring for the Lancers with their first goals of the season, while Jeremy Connor steered aside 27 of 28 shots faced to preserve the win.
Howell’s Sean Mylod continued his strong start to the year by registering his Shore Conference-leading 14th goal and 20th point through Howell’s first five games.
The Lancers are back at it tonight against Southern Regional at 7:30 p.m. and travel to Middletown South on Friday, Dec. 8 for a 5:40 p.m. puck drop.