Delbarton stunned by St. Augustine in Non-Public final

By Mike Gurnis

It was a stunning end for Delbarton.

The top-seeded Green Wave were taken down by seventh-seeded St. Augustine, 3-2 in overtime in the Non-Public final at Prudential Center it Newark.

Enzo Fanelli scored the game-winner for St. Augustine 11 seconds into overtime, which ended Delbarton’s hopes of a first state title since 2018. It also capped off an unbelievable run by the Hermits, who took down second-seeded Christian Brothers, followed by third-seeded Don Bosco in the semifinals, both in dramatic fashion.

“It’s a tough message (to the team). I don’t think anyone’s listening right now,” Delbarton coach Bruce Shatel said. “We had a great season but nobody wants to hear that right now. They’re devastated. Unfortunately, we ran into a team that was destined. They played extremely well the last two-and-a-half weeks of the season, and all the credit goes to them. They were a tough opponent today, for sure.”

Delbarton’s top line which had been dangerous all year struck for two goals by Nick Faccone, which gave it a 2-1 lead in the second period. But it gave up a goal in the final minute of the period to St. Augustine’s Ryan Vaites, and neither team was able to get the go-ahead goal in the third. St. Augustine goalie Bobby Kennedy finished with 27 saves, while Delbarton goalie Jason Cai’s career came to an end with a 28-save performance.

It was a relatively even game, and St. Augustine’s defense was able to neutralize Delbarton’s transition game that had made it so dangerous offensively all year.

“They were stingy defensively,” Shatel said. “They didn’t give us a lot in-zone. I thought their D-zone coverage was solid. I thought we had a couple of chances in transition where we didn’t give up the puck, those were the real opportunities that we had early in the first half of the game that didn’t go for us. Unfortunately at the end of the second, we turned the puck over to the wrong guy and it winds up on his stick. He’s a great player and he finished it.”

It was the end of the career for 11 Delbarton seniors, headlined by Cai, as well as Trip Pendy, Stewart, and Timmy Galvin. That group went through an unprecedented transition at Delbarton, which started when they went 10-10-3 as freshmen, followed by a 3-5-1 campaign as sophomores.

Those were tough times for a program that is used to being one of the state’s elite. While it didn’t cap off their careers with a title like they hoped, it certainly brought the program back to near the top of the state with back-to-back Non-Public state final appearances.

“We had a great senior class,” Shatel said. “We had underclassmen who complimented them extremely well. We have an unbelievable goaltender with a lot of firepower up front. Unfortunately tonight, we would’ve like to have buried more than two. That’s a very opportunistic team. We knew going into the game how they were going to play. You have to really have awareness when they’re in your zone, because they wound up scoring a game-winning goal against their last three opponents within two feet of the goal line. They know that if you want bread, you go to the bakery, and if you want goals you go to the net. That’s what they’ve been programmed to do, and hats off to them for executing.”

E-mail Mike Gurnis at

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