MORRISTOWN - The St. Augustine Prep ice hockey team's improbable playoff run ended Thursday.
The Hermits (12-9-1), a scoring machine throughout the state Non-Public playoffs, were shut out by Christian Brothers Academy 1-0 at the Mennen Sports Arena. The Hermits were the seventh seed in the playoffs and CBA was No. 3.
CBA will play against Morristown-Beard on Sunday in the state Non-Public final at the Prudential Center in Newark.
The Colts (20-4-3) clogged the middle of the ice for most of the game, lessening the quality of shots St. Augustine put on CBA goaltender Michael Cernero.
Cernero made 27 saves, but the difference came in CBA's size on defense.
"We had opportunities to pull the trigger and our guys were trying to make the extra moves," Prep coach Tim Fingerhut said.
"You have to shoot on this team every chance you get. That's where we had success against Don Bosco (on Friday), and we got away from that today and it kind of hurt us in the end."
CBA's veteran defense was the exact opposite of St. Augustine's young blue line. The inexperience showed late in the second period when the Colts got the game's only goal.
A mad scramble in front of the net was punctuated by Greg Malafronte's goal with 1 minute, 58 seconds remaining in the second period.
Colin Tierney and William Antinedes got the assists.
The goal was initially waved off by the referee. But when he went to defer with the goal judge, they overturned the decision and gave the Colts the lead.
"It is what it is," Fingerhut said. "At the end of the day, they counted it and we didn't put any in the back of the net."
On the other end of the ice, Hermits goalie Samuel Fitzpatrick made 27 saves.
The lone blemish on his stat line didn't take away from the effort he put forth in this game and all season for the Hermits. Fingerhut and the players said after the game that it was just another typical excellent performance by the senior from Wildwood.
Fitzpatrick was a part of the reason St. Augustine was so successful all season. Following an 8-13-1 record in 2012-13, the Hermits made it to the state semifinals, something they hope the younger players can build on next season.
"I hope they think about it tonight," senior Ryan Conlin said. "Obviously, they're going to be a little disappointed, but I hope they sleep on it and get that feeling that they don't want this to happen again. They wanna win, and I hope this gives them that edge, that push for next year."
The younger players include sophomore forward Anthony DeRuchie, who skated on the top two lines for much of the season. DeRuchie got a taste of playing in a big arena, and playing in a big-time game against one of the top hockey schools in New Jersey.
"Our seniors were tremendous to us," DeRuchie said. "They treated us great, had great leadership in the locker room, and when I move up into being an upperclassman, I hope we can fulfill what they did for us."
It was an unwanted end to the season for the Hermit seniors that included Fitzpatrick, Conlin and captain Dean DiSimone. And for DiSimone, this was the last hockey game he will ever play.
DiSimone, of West Deptford, will prepare for boys lacrosse in the spring. He will then play lacrosse at the University of Delaware next year.
"It's not going to be the same, not being able to step on the ice, shoot every winter. It's going to be bad," DiSimone said.
When asked how long it will take to miss ice hockey, DiSimone answered, "Tomorrow."
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