Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ramsey's Big Chance Is Here

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Ramsey's Big Chance Is Here

Article excerpt

WAYNE - Inside a virtually empty lobby at the Ice Vault, Dean Portas sat and spoke calmly about his team's upcoming opportunity.

He already had watched film of Ramsey's past three games in the last 24 hours. And he watched some of Don Bosco's, too.

The first-year Ramsey coach was prepared and focused Tuesday afternoon on the eve of the biggest game of his coaching career - tonight's Bergen County tournament ice hockey final against the Ironmen. He's excited and confident. And he's anxious, yet eager, constantly looking for the best ways to tweak his lineup.

Clad in an aesthetically clashing Ramsey hockey fleece and Ohio State (his alma mater) cap minutes before his team's final tune-up, Portas traded in his Fair Lawn red for Rams blue in the off-season. He accepted the challenge of keeping Ramsey among the premier programs in New Jersey.

Although his Rams have passed every test this season en route to a 13-1-1 record, the true measuring stick comes tonight.

For the third straight year, the new-look, but seemingly equally- as-talented Rams will take on the county's four-time defending champ Don Bosco (7:15, Ice Vault in Wayne).

"We haven't gotten the result we've wanted yet, though," Ramsey senior Kyle DeBel said. "But I feel like this is the best chance we've had so far. It's going to take a big effort from everyone, but being here before definitely helps a lot."

The outside perception that Ramsey - a Bergen tournament and Public B state finalist the past two years - would regress this season provided motivation inside the Rams' locker room. Each of their 13 wins has only added to their growing confidence.

Portas said they might not be the same flashy team they've been in years past, but they're one that's going to play together.

"We've got to be a team that scores those dirty goals," Portas said. "I like to call them sacrificial goals. Who's willing to sacrifice their bodies in order to make a play for us? That's what we're looking for. And there's so much balance with us right now, it's tough for defenses. There's no one guy to really zero in on."

The Rams' attack, exceeding expectations to a degree, hardly has missed a beat despite losing "100 goals of offense from last year," Portas said. …

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