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No Puck Luck for Bucs in Hockey Opener

Franco hat trick puts RBR up 3-0 after two periods, Toms River East overcomes deficit to win 5-4.

The Raiders (1-0) came back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Buccaneers (0-1) by a score of 5-4 as both teams opened their seasons Saturday as the .

Red Bank put together an early lead as junior Joe Franco scored twice in the first and once in the second for the first hat trick of the season.

"The first goal was right off the faceoff, so I just got a kind of lucky bounce through the kid's legs," said Franco, assisted by Sam Marascio on the play.

"The second one was on a breakaway, I faked a shot with my backhand and it went right in. The last one was a backdoor, nothing there but a great pass," said Franco, who was assisted by Joe DelSordo on both goals.

RBR goalie Charlie Fox frustrated Raiders shooters in the game's first two stanzas, gobbling up all 18 shots he faced in the first and second period.

As the Zamboni cut the ice between the second and third period, both teams gathered in their locker rooms. Down 3-0, Toms River East Coach Bruce Kocenski told his team to play within themselves and work the puck around.

"We had a power play to start the third, so we said 'let's go out and get one,' right at the start of the third period, and luckily, we got three in the first minute and a half so we got ourselves right in the game. That was the turning point there," said Kocenski.

TRE's Corry Dineen scored a powerplay goal 42 seconds into the third, followed 6 seconds later by an even strength goal from Marc Panzitk. Charlie Mule tied the game at 3-3 at 11:01, then gave the Raiders the 4-3 lead three seconds later on a power play goal. Mike Starace scored to make it 5-3 with 5:06 left on the scoreboard.

"It looked like they came out of that locker room fired up and we came out sitting on our heels a little bit, and couldn't adjust," said RBR Coach Tim Hall. "We just couldn't find that spark again, and every goal they scored was like fuel on the fire for them."

RBR's Joe DelSordo scored with 36.4 left to go in the game to bring the score to 5-4 and keep it interesting, but the Bucs were unable to get back into the TRE zone and fire off another shot before the buzzer.

"We were a little tired at the end and we thought we had it, but we had a great first two periods, and I think we'll be alright this year," Franco said.

Kocenski, who coached his first game for TRE Saturday night, said the win was huge for his team, especially his seniors who have won only three games in as many years.

"You don't see five goals in the third period a lot, expecially if you're down. But let me tell you something, this program has gone through some rough times in these past few years. For me to come into this game as my first game, and to come away with a win like we came out with, it says something about this group of kids," said Kocenski.

The Bucs are hitting the road Thursday, Dec. 8 at 6:45 p.m. to take on Manasquan at Howell Ice World. They'll be back at the Armory on Saturday, Dec 10, to face rivals Rumson-Fair Haven at 8:15 p.m.

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