Staff Writer BY NEIL BORENSTEIN The Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) ice hockey team targeted a return to the NJSIAA Non-Public championship game all season and was one win away from a rematch against Delbarton School when the season came to a screeching halt on March 6. The Colts fell to Don Bosco Preparatory School in the semifinals, 5-3.“Immediately following the game, when you enter the locker room, you see players burying their heads in their jerseys crying,” head coach Ryan Bogan said. “Underclassmen and seniors alike understand that their high school season has ended in unfulfilled terms … It’s a hard pill to swallow.”The game marked the fourth time this season that CBA played Don Bosco. The Colts owned a 2-1 advantage in the season series with a victory in the Gordon Cup semifinals, 3-2, and an earlier season matchup on Jan. 17, 2-1. The Ironmen took a Jan. 2 contest, 6-4.“We knew this was going to be tough,” Bogan said. “We played them three times already, and the goal differential was zero. Bosco matched up well against us, and it worked for them.”The Ironmen jumped out to an early lead in the state semifinals and ended the first period sporting a two-goal lead. Jim Rainey added to the lead with just over five minutes remaining in the second period, but the Colts chipped away at the deficit when senior forward Glenn Florczak, who is an alternate captain, notched an unassisted tally 37 seconds later. Junior forward Brendan van Riemsdyk brought CBA to within one when he scored off an assist from senior defenseman and captain Colin Kirkpatrick with 3:17 left in the period.“When we went down by three goals in the second period, we knew we had to chip away at the lead to get back in the game,” Bogan said. “It was difficult to understand because we had outplayed them more than in any other match, yet they were winning.”“My message to the team after two [periods] was keep pounding away,” he added.The Ironmen regained a two-goal edge early in the third period when Rainey scored his second goal of the game, but Florczak netted one with 1:49 remaining in regulation to give the Colts a fighting chance. But it wasn’t meant to be, as Don Bosco held them off and put the game away on an empty net marker with just four seconds left in the game.“To me, that proved we, as a team, had the heart of champions,” Bogan said, referencing the Colts’ late third goal. “We never quit playing that entire game. Hats off to Bosco for matching our effort late in the third.”CBA’s road to the semifinals started with a first-round bye. A 9-0 shutout against Seton Hall Preparatory School, led by a four-goal effort from van Riemsdyk and a 13-save performance in net from senior goaltender Chris D’Alessio, was followed by a much closer 3- 2 win in the quarterfinals over Morristown- Beard School. Sophomore forward Conor Tierney closed out the Crimson in overtime off assists from junior forward Anthony Cusanelli and Kirkpatrick.“The hardest part after winning the Gordon Cup was getting refocused,” Bogan said. “I thought we did that well against Seton Hall. [Morristown-Beard] gave us their best effort all season. I thought we were mentally sharp but physically tired during that game.”The finals of the Non-Public tournament was played on March 9 at the Prudential Center in Newark, where Delbarton claimed its sixth straight state title on a 4-0 victory.CBA gained some redemption over Delbarton when it beat the Green Wave in the finals of the Gordon Cup championship, 5-2, on Feb. 23. The Colts were able to solve Delbarton after two matchups earlier in the season ended in ties. CBA made it to the finals after shutting out St. Augustine College Preparatory School, 5-0, in the quarterfinals and then defeating Don Bosco in the semifinals.“CBA was able to defeat Delbarton to end the streak of 66 unbeaten games,” Bogan said, referring to a string of 66 games that Delbarton played against New Jersey opponents without a loss. “And [CBA did so] when it mattered in the Gordon Cup championship. We wanted that game badly because we knew there wasn’t a guarantee of getting back to play Delbarton in the finals [of the state tournament].”Bogan couldn’t put his finger on any particular aspect of the team’s game that it needs to improve upon in order to win the state title.“If you look back at the history of who has won the state championship lately, obviously it has been Delbarton and noone else, despite teams like CBA and St. Augustine coming close,” he said. “Remember, when you advance to a state semifinals or finals, you have made it further than approximately 220 other teams. “Teams need to peak at the right moment and sometimes that isn’t enough,” he added. Finishing the season with 46 points — third highest on the team, van Riemsdyk was CBA’s leading scorer during the state tournament with six points (five goals, one assist). Cusanelli, who was second in goals (21) and fourth in points (45), put up five points during the tournament, while senior forward and alternate captain Matt Langlois, CBA’s top scorer during the season with 51 points and a team-high 27 goals, notched three points.Langlois is one of six seniors graduating off the team this year. Defensemen R.J. Steer (captain) and Kirkpatrick, forwards Chris Deatrick and Florczak and starting netminder D’Alessio have also played their final game with the Colts.“The seniors provided so much to help us compete next season,” Bogan said. “They taught our underclassmen hard work, focus and dedication. They paved the groundwork through excellent leadership that will allow the underclassmen to continue CBA’s successful hockey program.”The goal for the next group of Colts is to get back to the state championship game. Bogan looks at van Riemsdyk to lead the charge offensively along with juniors Billy Antonides and Billy Meyer, as well as sophomores Brendan Murphy and Tierney. Freshman Ryan Bogan, Tim Clifton and James Stanger will build upon the experience they gained this season on defense. In net, sophomore Connor Silverstein and freshman Michael Cernero will compete for the starting job.