By Mike Gurnis
The first round of the Mennen, Halvorsen, and Haas Cups all took place this past week, while the Gordon Cup is set to kick off this week for Delbarton and Pope John. On the girls side of things, the Morris-Union Girls Ice Hockey League championship is slated for this Thursday at 7 p.m., when Chatham-Madison will take on Kent Place in a rematch of last year’s final at Union Sports Arena.
Below, let’s take a look back at the first round and look at what lies ahead this week.
If you like overtime, then the first round of the Mennen Cup was for you.
Both first round games needed the extra session to decide winners. The chaos began on Thursday night when 5-Chatham took on 4-Morristown-Beard. Morristown-Beard led, 2-1 going into the third period, before Declan Curry’s power play goal with 8:14 left tied it up. In overtime, Chatham had to kill off almost all of a minor penalty to open the period, before Brian Nall put home the game-winner 5:49 into the session, which moved the Cougars onto the semifinals.
The other first round game pitted 3-Morris Knolls, one of the hottest teams in the state over the last month, against 6-Morristown, which went 0-10 in the Mennen Division this year in regular season play.
Morristown and its goalie, Dylan Peck did all it could to pull off what would have been a shocking upset, as it took a 1-0 lead into the third period on Stefan Brockmann’s goal. But Jason Kwestel scored with 47 seconds left in regulation on the power play to tie it up, forcing the extra session. Then, James Betz put the Golden Eagles into the semifinals with a goal with 6:47 left in overtime. Peck finished the game with 43 saves on 45 shots, while Morris Knolls’ Andrew Rush stopped 23 of 24 shots.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the tournament:
SEMIFINALS- Wednesday at Mennen Arena
3-Morris Knolls vs. 2-Madison, 6:15; 5-Chatham vs. 1-Randolph, 8:15
FINAL- Friday at 5:45 p.m., Mennen Arena
Since we’re on the subject of overtime, let’s start with the first round game between 4-Sparta-Jefferson and 5-Roxbury. With both teams ineligible for the state tournament, the Halvorsen Cup is the lone chance for postseason play for these teams- and that made for an exciting match-up on Wednesday.
The game was tied up, 3-3 going into overtime, before Sparta-Jefferson sophomore Matthew Francescutto finished it off with the game-winner to put the team into the semifinals. This came after another sophomore, James Battaglia, tied the game up with 16.7 seconds left in regulation to force OT.
In the other first round game, 3-Montville rolled past 6-West Morris, 5-1. Joe Nuzzi recorded a hat trick, while Matt Swagulinski chipped in with three assists for the Mustangs.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the tournament:
SEMIFINALS- Monday at Mennen Arena
1-Vernon vs 4-Sparta-Jefferson, 6:30; 2-Kinnelon vs. 3- Montville, 8:30
FINAL- Thursday, TBD at Mennen Arena
The overtime theme also carried over into Saturday’s first round thriller between 5-High Point-Wallkill Valley and 4-Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown.
It was a high-scoring affair, which saw Mount Olive hold a 7-5 lead late in the third after Blake Corbett’s third goal with 3:52 left. But High Point-WV’s Brandon Mudrick scored with 2:05 left, followed by Eric Honold’s tally just seven seconds later, which forced overtime.
In overtime, Honold buried his fourth of the game to send High Point-WV on to the semifinals. Honold finished with four goals and two assists, while Mudrick added three goals and an assist.
Top-seeded Mendham picked up a dominant 5-0 win over eighth seed Parsippany. Jake Marszalek scored twice and had an assist, while Ryan Bruin also scored twice.
Third seed Gill St. Bernard’s knocked off sixth seed Mountain Lakes-Boonton, 6-3, while second seed Park Regional moved past fourth seed Newton-Lenape Valley, 4-1.
Here is the schedule for the rest of the tournament.
SEMIFINALS at Mennen Arena
Monday- 2-Park Regional vs. 3-Gill St. Bernard’s, 4:15
Tuesday- 1-Mendham vs. 5-High Point-Wallkill Valley, 8
FINAL- Thursday TBD at Mennen Arena
The Gordon Cup is set to kick off this week, with the first round on Monday, followed by the semifinals Wednesday and the final on Friday night at 8 p.m. at Codey Arena in West Orange.
Delbarton, which has won this tournament for the past two seasons, will go for the three-peat as the second seed. Pope John, which has never won this tournament, has earned the sixth seed after winning the Gordon Conference-National Division.
Delbarton will host seventh seed Seton Hall Prep on Monday at 4 p.m. at Aspen Ice in Randolph, while Pope John will travel down to Jersey Shore Arena in Wall to face sixth seed Christian Brothers at 4:25.
Chatham-Madison has broken out this season with an impressive 18-1-1 record, which includes a win over Morristown-Beard along with two wins over Princeton Day- and both programs are the most established programs in the state. Now, it will get the chance to win its first league title on Thursday, when it goes up against Kent Place at 7 p.m. at Union Sports Arena.
Chatham-Madison lost to Kent Place, 4-2 in last year’s final, so there will certainly be a bit of revenge on the squad’s mind going into this one. It has won both meetings against the Dragons this year by a combined score of 13-1.