WALL — In what proved to be one of the biggest regular season victories in program history, Jake LaRusso delivered the most productive performance of his young scholastic career.
In a Week 3 meeting with Gordon Conference power St. Augustine, LaRusso starred for St. John Vianney, registering the hist first hat trick effort at the varsity level, while leading the Lancers to a 5-3 upset of the Hermits…and what’s more,announcing the Holmdel club as a parochial state power.
“We came into the game knowing how good [St. Augustine] was. The teams they’ve beaten in the past and the things that program has accomplished over the years just shows it,” LaRusso said. “Their pre-season ranking was pretty high, and they can compete with anyone in the state…So we knew we were going to have to elevate our game.”
LaRusso did just that, as the sophomore staked the Lancers to a two-goal lead in the first period, when he accepted a pass in the slot from John Gutt and rifled a wrist shot off the crossbar and in with 7:25 to play.
The sophomore made it a 4-0 Vianney advantage at 2:58 of the middle frame with a highlight reel tally, in which LaRusso stick-handled over the blue line, toe-dragged across the slot and around a Hermits defender, pulled the puck back to his forehand and jammed it past the keeper for his second of the night.
Three consecutive Augustine goals cut the deficit to one goal with under a minute remaining in the final frame, but LaRusso wrapped up this monumental victory by sliding his third of the night into an empty night.
“Putting the puck in the net is what I like to do, especially in big games, and getting three goals in a win like that felt really special,” LaRusso said. “Putting up three against a Gordon Conference team like that, it’s not only meaningful for me, but it shows that our team can skate with anyone.”
LaRusso — who was named the SportsFood.com / Alite Flooring Player of Week 3 — rounded out the seven-day stretch with his team-leading 10th goal of the season in a win over Paramus Catholic, and carried his special start to a breakout sophomore campaign in Week 4, with another tally and a four-point outing in a win over Red Bank Catholic (Dec. 20)…a victory that helped improve the Lancers’ record to 7-1-0.
“We’ve gotten off to a good start, but we can’t look ahead,” LaRusso said. “We have big goals that we’d like to accomplish this year, but we have to take it game-by-game, week-by-week, or we won’t get to a point where we can accomplish those goals. If we look ahead, then we’ll get ahead of ourselves, and that’s when you slip up.”
Through eight games LaRusso is third in team-scoring with 20 points and a club-best 11 goals.
The Fan Favorite
The people have spoken, and they’ve made their voices hear in the favor of Jackson Memorial’s dynamic brotherly tandem of Cam and Luke Satkowski.
In a Week 3 reader’s poll that saw upward of 20,000 votes cast, the Satkowski brothers commanded 43.68 percent of the vote, or 8,742 total votes cast.
The pair of Jaguars forwards earned their nominations for SportsFood.com / Alite Flooring Player of the Week after leading Jackson Memorial to a 7-2 victory over non-conference foe Montgomery, when they combined for five points while delivering two goals apiece.
Through eight games the Jaguars have skated to a 6-1-1 mark, and the brotherly tandem hae been a big part of that success, as Cam — a senior who plays his travel hockey with the Jersey Shore Whalers — and Luke — a freshman and Brick Hockey Club product — have combined for 20 points on 12 goals and eight helpers.
Stars of Week 3
Ciaran McNelis, Red Bank Catholic: After a tough stretch of opening games, the senior goaltender registered his first victory of the year by stopping 17 of 18 shots faced in a victory over Toms River North.
Tim Regan & Sean Grant, St. Rose: The dynamic sophomore duo helped the Frozen Roses to a win over non-divisional rival Brick Township, as Regan delivered his first career hat trick, and Grant picked up three assists to secure the club’s first victory of the 2017-18 campaign.
Aidan Tolnai, Manasquan: The junior scored a single-game career-high four goals in a Class A Central divisional victory over Manalapan.
Zach Tarantino, Wall Township: The senior had a single-game career high four goals and seven points in a Class A North victory over divisional rival Rumson-Fair Haven.
Anthony Galante, Marlboro: The sophomore had two goals in the a tie with Middletown North and another tally and two helpers in a tie with Jackson Liberty.
Paul Keyes & David Lytle, Southern Regional: The senior duo combined for 10 points in a win over Brick Memorial, as Keyes had three goals and two helpers, while Lytle logged a tally and four assists.
Kat Brezniak, Toms River North: The senior logged her third-career shutout with a 24-save performance in a victory over West Windsor-Plainsboro South.
Kurt Kroeper, Brad Heuer & Justin Skelly, Middletown North: The senior trio combined for 13 points on six goals and seven assists in a Week 3 tie with Marlboro and a 7-5 victory over non-divisional foe Manasquan.