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By Casey Krish - Shore Sports Network contributor

MIDDLETOWN -  This year has been far from normal. It is no secret that things feel different while wandering the rink. Marlboro/Holmdel understands there are no conference cups or state titles to play for. They also understand there are measures they need to take to stay on the ice and that is only the beginning.

Many clubs around New Jersey are grateful to just get on the ice, but the Mustangs (3-2-1) expect more from their program than just filling all their game slots.

“We don’t just expect to play our 15 games and call it a success,” first-year bench boss Ben Bugge said. “This is a new era for Marlboro. We want to build it right and make sure the building blocks are laid correctly. Yeah, we get that there isn’t going to be a championship at the end of the line, but we expect to see results and have each game be better than our last.”

Marlboro continued to lay its new foundation Friday night, defeating St. Rose/Donovan Catholic/Red Bank Catholic by a score of 5-2 in a Shore Conference North Division game at the Middletown Sports Complex. The Mustangs struck three times in the opening frame before holding off numerous pushes from the third-year parochial tri-op.

Senior defenseman Daniel Goldstein and senior forward Paul Golembiewski each found the back of the net twice while also adding an assist each to pace the offense.

“In the first period it was all about our puck movement,” Bugge said. “We were able to score in the opening seconds and get our feet moving. We are getting confidence and learning to win the right way.”

“Yeah, we seemed to have it working in the early parts of the game,” Goldstein said. “Paul (Golembiewski) threw in those two early and we had confidence that we were all on the same page tonight.”

Marlboro found the back of the net only 36 seconds into the game when Ethan Gelman won a battle for a loose puck just off the side of the net and slid a pass over to Goldstein, who was staring down an empty net. Golembiewski tacked on a pair of goals before the first period came to a close with Marlboro leading 3-0.

“Getting a goal that early is always nice. It puts them behind and shifts all the pressure on their shoulders,” Goldstein said. “We always want to have these quick starts to get the ball rolling.”

Through the first 15 minutes,  the "G-Line” of Gelman, Golembiewski and Goldstein had played a part in three goals and stamped their names all over the score sheet.

“We have great leadership with that top line, and they really set the tone for us early,” Bugge said.

Goldstein found the twine to account for the fourth goal produced by Marlboro’s top line with 10:50 remaining in the second period. Mark Pellegrino capped the scoring when he walked into the offensive zone and lasered a slap shot into the bottom of the net.

A common occurrence this season has been teams being shut down due to COVID-19 protocols, and St. Rose had become a victim to the long layoff that comes with it.

The Purple Roses, ranked No. 10 in the Shore Sports Network Top 10, were making their long-awaited season debut Friday night, and perhaps their lack of game time contributed to the sluggish opening frame.

Freshman Connor Harms and senior Christopher Lordi scored goals for St. Rose (0-1-0) while Jack Bilancione made 27 saves, including two on breakaways in the third period, to keep his team within striking distance.

After falling behind, St. Rose was able to keep pace with Marlboro for the remainder of the contest. Bugge preached to his team to not become complacent.

“We knew this was their first game and our sixth game, so we weren’t sure what we would get from them today,” Bugge said. “It’s unfortunate that they haven’t gotten a game yet, but we have been able to play a few and we know what we should expect from our game.”

“I told them we had stretches where we seemed too complacent with the way the game was going and took our foot off the gas. We allowed them to get back in the game after we went up by four.”

Marlboro has fared successfully in its opening six contests of the season. They add St. Rose to a list of wins that also include Brick Township and Wall. The Mustangs also battled to a 3-3 tie with St. John Vianney, the No. 2 team in Shore Sports Network’s Top 10.

“We let our game down a little in the middle and last period, but overall I think we were able to stay cool and collect ourselves,” Goldstein said.

“We are happy with the way things are going so far. We are building it the right way,” Bugge said. “We have played some pretty good opponents so far and understand that some nights won’t go our way. Right now, we just have to keep getting better and every single kid in this program has been tremendous and buying into that notion.”

The Mustangs are without their top two scorers from last year with graduates Anthony Galante and Dante Balsamo no longer with the program. Justin Solvey also transferred to Lawrenceville Prep prior to the season, leaving another hole to fill in the lineup.

“Every kid is stepping up and making an impact,” Bugge said. “It might be hard to replace the guys we lost, but this group certainly is buying in and understands that we are going to be a better team than we were last year.”


Box Score

Marlboro 5, No. 10 St. Rose/Red Bank Catholic/Donovan Catholic 2



First Period

Marlboro - Daniel Goldstein (Ethan Gelman), 0:36

Marlboro - Paul Golembiewski (Daniel Goldstein, Matthew Williams), 6:28

Marlboro - Paul Golembiewski (Zach Robinson), 13:26 (PP)


Second Period

Marlboro - Daniel Goldstein (Ethan Gelman, Paul Golembiewski), 4:10

St. Rose - Connor Harms (Jack Foote, Ben Meyer), 6:45


Third Period

Marlboro - Mark Pellegrino (John Spallin), 3:08

St. Rose - Christopher Lordi (Aidan Grant), 5:49



Marlboro - Dmitri Kapranov, 23

St. Rose - Jack Bilancione, 27


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