By Rich Chrampanis
NEWARK – Middletown South defense-man Demitri Forand and Trinity Hall winger Adriana Crepaldi stood in front of the New Jersey Devils locker room anxious to see who was coming out of the door. The local duo was being honored at Monday night’s game at the Prudential Center against the Blackhawks for having two of the top five high school goals in the state as selected by the NHL team and Jersey Sports Zone.
When Devils defenseman Damon Severson emerged to shake hands with the recipients, what followed next was a special moment that will stick with Forand and Crepaldi a lifetime. Severson took a good look at the video of all the top goals being honored. First up was Forand’s one-time blast from the point that scorched the net against Point Pleasant Boro back on Dec. 11.
“One-timer. Nice. It’s been a while since I’ve scored one of those,” Severson said when watching Forand’s blast. “That looked good. Nice shot. The goalie’s looking for it, he wants to know what happened.”
It was extra special for the Middletown South junior since he got praise from a fellow blueliner.
“It really means a lot. I look up to these guys, I watch them every night,” Forand said. “To see an NHL guy talk about my goal like that, it’s something I’ve never seen before. It means a lot to me. A wonderful feeling that I’ve never felt before.”
After the top five goals around the state were selected, the debate came as to who deserved the number one spot in the countdown. When it was decided that Crepaldi’s dazzling move around the defender to score on a backhand in Trinity Hall’s first-ever varsity game earned the top spot, Severson agreed with the selection.
“Oh yeah, that’s the best one. Sorry boys but she’s got you beat,” Severson said when watching the Crepaldi goal with the honorees. “Toe drag to the middle, backhand high glove. That was nice. Those girls were watching you skating around them, that was beautiful. Hopefully, I can score one like that tonight.”
Severson didn’t light the lamp, but he did have an assist in the Devils 8-5 win over Chicago. Forand and Crepaldi were treated to dinner prior to faceoff and then when the Zambonis hit the ice for the second inter- mission, the final big moment of the night came. The top five high school goals of the month played on the Prudential Center’s scoreboard, the largest indoor arena video system in the world. In front of thousands in attendance, the crowd let out some oohs and aahs followed by applause when Crepaldi’s goal was shown to rabid hockey fans.
“I was very thankful to be nominated and having it play on the screen was very exciting,” Crepaldi said. “Everyone was saying ‘great goal’ and I was just smiling and laughing.”
In addition to her mother and brother watching the big moment, a number of Adriana’s Monarchs teammates on the ice were on hand to witness Trinity Hall in the hockey spotlight.
“If it wasn’t for them, this wouldn’t have happened,” Crepaldi said with her teammates by her side.
The Devils organization makes it a point to have a strong connection with New Jersey’s high school hockey community. From hosting the New Jersey state championships to honoring the captains of every varsity team prior to the season, the Devils Goals of the Month is yet another example how New Jersey’s pro hockey team has a special connection with the grassroots of the sport.
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