Boca High ‘Nicks’ Pine Crest 11-8

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St. Nick’s Day came early this year in Boca Raton last night.

Nick Schultz scored four goals, Nick McCabe added 2 and Nick Martin saved 14 of 22 shots to lead Boca Raton to an 11-8 victory over visiting Pine Crest last night. Both teams were missing key offensive pieces in Harris Stolzenberg and Parker Giarratana but Boca’s depth was better able to handle the loss. The story of this game was two-fold. Boca’s offense showed much more efficiency than any other game I’ve watched of theirs this year and Pine Crest’s best players, forced to play more minutes than desired due to injuries, wore down at the end when a comeback looked possible. A sub-story was early in the second quarter, where Boca was able to neutralize PC’s face-off weapon, Sam Talkow, leading to a goal scoring run that PC was not able to overcome. Talkow dominated 14-6 on the night but four of those losses were in that second quarter, leading to a 14-4 shot advantage for Boca in that frame.

The game started off with a Brad Singer unassisted fast break goal, as he cut down the middle to beat PC goalie Patrick Haley (12 saves) at the 8:13 mark. Boca stretched the lead to 2 at 5:25 on Christian Mauro’s crease effort, as he dodged after taking the feed. PC struck back with two goals in about a minute to tie the game at 2. Chris Dunne scored on an EMO crease feed from the left wing by Michael Diener and Talkow took a long feed from Diener off a quick re-start. Boca’s Jake Shickles scored the first of his two to put Boca back up with 1:09 to go on a right alley dodge bounce shot, well placed from about 10 yards out. Boca put 6 of it’s 7 shots on goal in that period while PC only hit the net 4 times on it’s 10. PC also hurt itself in the quarter by committing 7 turnovers, even as Talkow went 6-0 on face-offs.

Boca started out on fire in the second, scoring three times between the 9:16 and 7:42 marks. McCabe with his first off a dodge down the middle was followed by a Schultz EMO tally off a Ryan Clinton feed from behind, and topped off by Martin Murphy’s similar crease cut from a Mauro feed. PC fought back with two goals in 17 seconds to cut the lead in half. David Tescher scored off a fast break, assisted by Zach Smith at 6:41, followed by Smith’s solo face dodge from the left side at 6:24. Boca’s shooting fell off in the quarter, which kept them from stretching the lead further, and they took the 6-4 lead to the locker room at halftime.

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PC cut the lead to one after the break on Tescher’s second on a 2 on 1 break from Sean Dicarolis’ feed at the 5:22 mark and Boca’s Schultz answered with his second on a crease feed from Mauro a little over a minute later to make the score 7-5 after three. The goalies were the story in the third, as Martin made 5 saves and Haley answered with 6.

A back and forth fourth quarter started with Boca stretching the lead back to three. 24 seconds in to the period Schultz added his third on a Harrison Rodormer feed to the middle of the defense, followed by Shickels’ step down 12 yard bounce shot from Kyle Frey’s behind the net feed. 30 seconds later Talkow’s EMO crease feed from Smith cut the lead to 9-6. Boca’s Schultz pushed the lead back to 4 at the 5:02 mark with a wing dodge.

PC again cut the lead to three on Smith’s epic one-man effort, dodging and re-dodging with 2:46 left. PC called time out to try to cut the lead further but Schultz scored the back-breaker with 2:21 left to put the lead back to four. Marc Woolf scored 14 seconds later to cut the lead to 3, off another Smith assist, but after one more attempt at goal Boca was able to run off the last 90 seconds to clinch the win as PC’s efforts fell short. Congrats to Boca for getting a nice win late in the season and to PC for never going away. A nicely played game to build on as both teams start their late season preparations for the district playoffs. A lot less one-on-one play and more off-ball movement helped Boca.

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Face-offs: PC 14 – Boca 6
Shots: Boca 43 – PC 35
SOG: Boca 23 – PC 22
Turnovers: Boca 16 – PC 22
Boca took 2 penalties and PC took three

Both goalies played great games. Nick Martin saved 14/22 for a 64% save percentage and Patrick Haley went 12/23 for a 52% game.

Boca was led by Schultz with the 4 goals, McCabe and Shickles with 2G each, Mauro (1G/2A), Singer and Murphy with a goal each, and Rodormer, Frey and Clinton adding assists. PC’s Smith led with 2G/3A and Talkow and Tescher with 2G each. Dunne and Woolf added a goal and Diener (2A) and Dicarolis also added assists. Diener played his usual dominating defensive game; I enjoyed watching how he sets up ball carriers for takeaway opportunities. Fans, when watching the game, try to not always focus on the ball carrier and watch how he plays the carrier. Kids, if you are playing long pole, you can learn a lot from watching him play.

PC hosts Vero Saturday afternoon in their last regular season game while Boca travels south to Ransom Everglades Friday to end their season.