HOWELL — In a Saturday afternoon tilt with the New Jersey Rockets at Howell Ice World, Jersey Shore Whalers standout Mike Franzoni forced a turnover in the neutral zone, took possession and turned up the ice.
The winger gained the offensive zone, split the pair of opposing defensemen with a toe-drag to his backhand before ladling a no look pass into a vacant patch of ice in the high slot.
Franzoni’s delivery didn’t appear to be pre-meditated but something more instinctive…an impulse to act.
As the puck sailed over the taped-up toe of the defender’s stick, Matt Franzoni came careening over the blue line, accepted the pass on his tape and proceeded to tuck his fifth goal of the season to the back of the twine.
The on the ice intuition of the Franzoni brothers is something to be marveled, and has helped transform the siblings into one of the most dynamic offensive tandems in not only Monmouth and Ocean County, but the state of New Jersey.
“It’s a big advantage for us to play on the same line together, because I know exactly what he’s going to do before he does it, and exactly where he’s going to be before he gets there,” said Matt Franzoni, who has registered 11 points on five goals and six assists in nine games with the Whalers 16U outfit.
Technically speaking, the Franzoni’s have been teammates since the 21st of July in 2001, when the Brielle natives were brought into the world. As their fine motor skills were developed enough to warrant such activities, hockey sticks were promptly placed in their mitts and their mutual chemistry began to develop.
They spent hours in the garage, dueling with one another for knee hockey supremacy…and many a mornings and evenings in the driveway continued to sharpen their skillsets.
But on the ice is where the Franzoni’s have flourished, and particularly in their past two youth hockey campaigns with the Whalers organization, where the dynamic brotherly tandem has started to garner attention as NCAA Division I prospects.
“It’s a great organization to be part of,” said Mike Franzoni, who has also notched 11 points through nine games on seven goals and four helpers. “We’ve had a lot of fun playing with the Whalers, and with a lot of great guys and great coaches. We’ve really been able to develop our here, and we’ve won a lot of games along the way.”
A season ago the Franzoni’s combined for 49 points on 32 goals and 17 assists over the course of a 24-game regular season, and carried that production into their high school campaign with St. John Vianney, where the they starred in top line roles and collectively produced 45 points on 19 markers and 26 assists in 23 outings.
In October it was revealed that the Franzoni’s would be transferring back to their districted high school of Manasquan for the 2017-18 scholastic season, and despite having to sit out 30 days of the regular season due to NJSIAA transfer rules, the standout forwards are waiting with great anticipation to suit up for an exciting Warriors group.
“We’re definitely looking forward to it, and honestly we can’t wait,” Mike Franzoni said. “High School is certainly an exciting experience. Every game it seemed like it was a big rivalry game, and there was always a big crowd on hand. If we can get the fans at Manasquan to come out this year, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Manasquan is scheduled to open it’s season on Monday, Nov. 27 at 8:15 p.m. on the road at non-divisional foe Rumson-Fair Haven, while the Franzoni’s are expected to make their season debut season debut after the holiday break in a Jan. 3 road tilt with Point Boro.
In the meantime you can catch them and the Jersey Shore Whalers 16U club at the Ocean Ice Palace on Sunday, Nov. 3 at noon against the Northern Cyclones.