Baltimore. Bridgeport. Boston. Now, Rochester. The New Jersey Pride has taken down the competition in methodical, step-wise, chess-like moves. The club is no doubt the comeback pick of the mid-season litter with four wins in a row, two of which were decided in overtime thrillers. The Rattlers were the latest Pride victim falling 16-7 in front of the 3,073 spectators at Commerce Bank Park. The Tiger class of 1998 was back in effect and avenged the earlier 7-15 loss to Rochester on June 22nd. Jesse Hubbard (Princeton 98’), Jay Jalbert (UVA 00’) and Jon Hess (Princeton 98’) each scored a cool five points a piece. Bud Light MVP Player of the Game goalie Steve Koudelka (Gettysburg 93’) had 20 saves for the day. Middie John Fay (Duke 98’) led the otherwise reticent Rattler offense with two points.
The game should have been more competitive. If anyone had the edge – and they did, it would belong to New Jersey (4-3) who entered the contest on a huge three-consecutive game-winning streak. Rochester had an even .500 record (3-3). Both clubs have wins over Boston and Bridgeport; and losses against Long Island – Pride lost 12-18 and Rochester 12-13. The only curious discrepancy between both schedules is that New Jersey split a loss and win against Baltimore. In their first meeting, the Bayhawks walked away with the 18-11 win, and in their most recent outing New Jersey won 22-17. Meanwhile, Rochester has fallen to their Chesapeake foe twice (13-10 and 17-13). Putting aside the softer side of point-spread speculation, you knew the game was going to be somewhat physical given a Rochester team that is full of vocal personalities who are very much agents of uncensored self-expression – both non-verbally and verbally – and a Jersey team that won’t back down. And yes, the game was physical. Rattler defender Casey Connor (Maryland 00’) left the game with what may be a broken collarbone and fellow team mate goalie Brian Dougherty (Maryland 97’) was slapped with a two minute technical for organizing a thug style 3v1-style party in the crease with the Pride’s David Curry (UVA 97’). A win would hinge on possession – especially on grounders and face-offs.
According to the balance sheet of items, New Jersey and Rochester were neck-in-neck with 40 shots on goal apiece. Pride’s Koudelka had 20 to Dougherty’s 17 saves. The Rattlers were unable to convert on any of their two man-up opportunities while the Pride cashed in on three out of six. The Pride were responsible for only two of the eight game penalties, and beat the Rattlers on grounders 53-35. The significantly taller Peter Jacobs (Hopkins 95’) had an outstanding day against face-off specialist Chris Cercy (Syracuse 01’). Jersey maintained possession of the face-off for a majority of the game. In summary, Jersey played a cleaner, tighter and more effective game.
Jersey gained possession of the face-off at the start of the first period. Big man Jesse Hubbard took less than 20 seconds to seal the deal. Hubbard moved from left to right up top and unleashed a punisher of a low-hi sweeper that passed Dougherty’s right hip (1-0). Scott Urick (Georgetown 00’) followed nearly two minutes later with a goal of his own. Hubbard was behind the cage on the right side and dished off to Urick on the right side wing. Urick scored on a lefty skip-jumper that pegged the lower left corner (2-0). Pride gained possession of the face-off and broke the offense down into a 1-4-1. Matt Caione (Syracuse 00’) took the ball from the rightside hole and worked his d-man with the bump and grind until he took the shorty with a roll on his outside hip. Caione shot past Dougherty’s leftside hip (3-0). Both teams traded possession for the rest of the period and Rochester was unable to capitalize on more than a handful of shots on goal. Powell, Fay, Soudan and Watkins were all suspiciously quiet in the first.
The Pride started with the ball at the top of the second period, but a turnover almost became a goal. Fay had the ball at the top of the box and managed a scoop pass to Powell who then got a behind the back shot attempt off into Koudelka’s navel. The first goal of the period and for the Rattlers was a Kahoun Brothers production. Older brother Craig Kahoun (Butler 96’) dished off to Cory Kahoun (Butler 99’) who was rightside top. Kahoun, the younger, cranked one past Koudelka’s left hip (1-3). Jon Hess (Princeton 98’) responded less than 30 seconds later. Jay Jalbert was flying downfield up the center. Hess used the crease as a pick and popped up free from behind, faked Dougherty high, then low and then finally finished with the touch shot (4-1). Rattler John Fay responded with two goals. The first goal was from up top on the left. Fay shot low reducing the margin to two. Jalbert got called for the slash. Nate Watkins (Syracuse 02’) dished off Fay who then tacked the upper right 90 of the cage (3-4). After timeout, Jay Jalbert responded with a nasty shot that hit rightside upper 90 (5-3). The Pride rounded out the scoring in the first half. Hubbard took a behind the back shot on goal that went wide. Assist king Jon Hess snagged the rebound from behind and in self-less fashion quickly released the ball to Drew Melchionni (UVA 01’) who was two steps outside of the upper lip of the crease. Melchionni scored off a tight and low shot (6-3).
Rochester gained possession of the face-off at the start of the third period however a turnover resulted in a goal. Jalbert drove across the top of the box moving from right to left and then gunned one in the top left corner (7-3). Rochester’s Cory Kahoun responded with a shot that hit top right seam (4-7). The Pride then had three unanswered goals starting with one from Hess. After a fast break, Hess punctuated the series with a goal. Hess faked Dougherty high and low and then ended up taking him top right shelf (8-4). Hess was able to cash in on the shorty he was paired up against all evening. Hubbard scored his second goal of the game as he singed the top right corner of the cage (9-4). Rochester’s Nate Watkins was called for slashing. Jersey used 1-4-1 set up during the man-up opportunity. Curry was up top with the ball and he drew the double and freed up Jalbert on the wing. The defense also anticipated the pass going to Hubbard on the other wing. Instead, the defense was caught flat-footed and Jalbert had an open tarmac shot. He whipped in a low sweeper that got past Dougherty’s left hip (10-4). Rochester’s Ryan Powell scored his only goal of the game on an assist from Conor Denihan (JHU 01’). Powell’s shot hit upper right 90 (5-10).
The fourth period kicked off with a Hubbard-Hess combo. Hess snagged the grounder and dished off to Hubbard for a hat trick. Hubbard, who was two and a half steps from the crease got the dip and dunk shot past Dougherty (11-5). Jersey gained possession of the ball and perhaps frustration was setting in for the visiting team. David Curry had three Rattlers set loose on him in the crease. Dougherty was pulled for a 2:00 unsportsman like conduct. Reserve Rattler goalie Scchreiner during Dougherty’s timeout. It was like the good old days. The Hubbard-Hess connection was followed up by a Massey-Hess combo platter. The man-up opportunities for both goals didn’t make it any easier for the Rattlers. Hess was behind. Curry, Urick, Jalbert and Hubbard were around with Massey in the hole. Hess threaded the needle to Massey who got the soft dumper shot past Dougherty (12-5). Jersey tried to work the same play, but it was Jalbert who scored his fourth goal of the game this time (13-5). Jalbert hit upper 90. Urick dished off to Caione for the next goal of the game. Caione hit top right corner (14-5). Rochester responded with their final two goals of the period and game. Soudan scored on a left bouncer and caught Schreiner off guard with the bad bounce (6-14). Watkins fired one in past Schreiner’s left hip for a clean goal (7-14). Hubbard scored his fourth goal of the game as he worked the rightside crease from behind. He dipped the right shoulder and the followed through low-high and spanked the top right seam (15-7). David Curry signed the terms sheet at 2:33 with the final goal of the game. Curry cranked one that hit lower left corner. Final score Pride 16 Rochester 7.
New Jersey will face its stiffest competition from Nationals league peer Baltimore Bayhawks (6—2) on July 18th at Baltimore. The Pride defeated Baltimore earlier on June 29th 22-17. Rochester will meet Long Island at Long Island (5-1) for the second time. The Rattlers lost to the Lizards 12-13.
New Jersey Pride vs. Rochester Rattlers
|New Jersey Pride||5-3|