Over the past four years no one in the Shore Conference has been a more successful facilitator of offense than Zach Tarantino, and on Nov. 29 the senior completed a feat that no other player in the history of Wall Township ice hockey had achieved.
The winger entered this Wednesday night tilt with non-conference foe Monroe closing in on a milestone that only confirms his vision, anticipation and creativity.
In the first period of an eventual 4-3 victory over the Falcons, Tarantino delivered the primary assist on Ryan Burns’ team-leading sixth goal of the 2017-18 season.
However, what Tarantino didn’t realize is that this particular helper was the 100th of his four-year varsity career — more than any other local skater since the 2014-15 season — cementing his legacy as one of the best ever to don the red, white and blue of Wall Township.
“I knew I was getting pretty close to 100, but I forgot about it during the game, and didn’t realize until afterward that I hit it, when coach [Mike Dianora] came in and tossed a puck to me,” said Tarantino, who has 123 career points.
Just as his on ice performance is of the unselfish nature, so to is Tarantino’s outlook on this monumental achievement, as the Knights captain was quick to credit those around him for hitting the century mark.
“Before high school I was more of a goal-scorer, and really wouldn’t get a lot of points. But when I got Wall, and I began playing with guys like Shane Haviland, Burns, Larry Hooper, it’s like every time I would give them the puck they would score,” Tarantino said. “Moving the puck was working. Making the extra pass was working. So you start to trust it more, and trust the guys around you.”
A season ago, Wall Township captured its first ever Shore Conference Championship with a victory over St. John Vianney in the Dowd Cup finals, before making the program’s inaugural appearance in a state title game.
It was a run aided by Tarantino’s career year, in which he led the Knights in scoring with 56 points and 45 assists.
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As a senior, the wingers is off to a past start with nine points in Wall’s first three games, including a Conference-best eight helpers…and he’s enjoying every second of it.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve had good vision, and I’ve been lucky enough to play with a lot of great players who are always in the right spot. Making a great pass and setting up a goal, the creativity, it’s always been a lot of fun to me. And it doesn’t always get the recognition that a great goal does, but for people who know the game, and see the games, they appreciate it. And it’s nice to hear the crowd roar after a great pass turns into a highlight goal.”
Tarantino and the Knights are back in action on Dec. 5 at 2:45 p.m. on the road against Old Bridge.