By Mike Gurnis
MORRIS TWP. — The tri-op program of Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown may be short on numbers, but it certainly wasn’t short on goals on Saturday night.
The team- which consists of just 10 skaters and a goalie- is at a disadvantage on most nights as it goes up against teams with larger rosters, such as the Park Regional squad it faced on Saturday. But thanks to a four-goal performance from John Salvia and two goals from Blake Corbett, the squad found the back of the net a total of seven times during a 7-4 win over Park Regional at Mennen Arena.
“It was a good win. They’re like our rivals,” Salvia said. “We wanted to come in here hard, we have 10 kids, and we had to play with composure. It was a tough game, we were all really tired but it was a good win.”
The game was a back-and-forth battle during the first period, as Park Regional got on the board on Tyler Cross’ goal just 1:46 into the game. The teams went on to trade goals during a high-scoring first period, and Park held a 3-2 lead after Ryan Salus’ goal with over five minutes remaining.
But with six seconds left in the period, Corbett scored his second of the game on a wrap-around to tie it up, which helped reset the game going into the intermission.
“It definitely helped because that tied the game going into the first intermission,” Corbett said. “We knew it was tied, it was basically 0-0, so we knew we had to go out there and score first. That’s what we did.”
The first goal of the second period did not come until there was under four minutes left, when Salvia buried his second of the contest after knocking home a loose puck in front to give his team its first lead. Salvia added another at the 1:43 mark, as he beat Park Regional goalie Chris Schneider top shelf to complete the hat trick and extend his team’s lead.
“Once we scored we just got into a rhythm and we just had momentum on our side,” Corbett said. “Obviously we had a couple of bounces go our way, but we’ll take it. Any way we can get a goal, we’ll get a goal. Any way we can win, we’ll try to win.”
Mount Olive carried that momentum into the third, as Evan Parr added another goal early in the period. While Park Regional’s Tyler Cross scored his second of the game early on to cut it to 6-4, Mount Olive was able to hold off any comeback attempt. Salvia ultimately iced the game with an empty-netter in the final two minutes.
It managed to win the game, despite being out-shot 37-28. Goalie Michael Veronda turned aside 33 shots in the win.
“We did a good job keeping the puck in their zone and keeping it out of our zone and not getting pinned,” Salvia said. “We stayed out of the box. We were all tired like I said, but we just have to play a game where we just ice it up the red.”
It was a critical early-season win for Mount Olive, which hopes to be in the mix for a Haas Cup title this season. The early part of the season has shown that this division is as wide-open as it gets aside from Mendham’s undefeated start, and while Mount Olive may not have the numbers other teams have, it does have some difference-making players who can change a game.
“We definitely need to improve on things, but I feel like every team will say that,” Corbett said. “I feel good. We feel like we have something special here even though we have a small group. But I think we can make something happen by the time of the Haas Cup.”
PARK — Tyler Cross (Michael DeRosa) 13:14
MOHH — Blake Corbett (Darren Roebuck) 10:37
PARK — Jordan Handler (Tyler Cross, Angelo DiPinto) 6:55
MOHH — John Salvia (Blake Corbett) 5:25
PARK — Ryan Salus 5:17
MOHH — Blake Corbett (John Salvia) 0:06
MOHH — John Salvia (Kevin Murphy) 3:33
MOHH — John Salvia 1:43
MOHH — Evan Parr (Ian Deiling, Kevin Murphy) 13:38
PARK — Tyler Cross (Jordan Handler) 11:41
MOHH — John Salvia (Ian Deiling) 1:53 ENG
Shots: Park Regional 37, Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown 28
Saves: Michael Veronda (MOHH) 33, Chris Schneider (PARK) 11, Evan Wotyas (PARK) 10.
Team records: Park Regional 3-2, Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown 2-2-1.
LIKE the Morris-Sussex Hockey Report on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/morrissussexhockey/
FOLLOW us on Twitter and Instagram: @MorrisCtyHockey