PHOTOS by Mike Gurnis
By Mike Gurnis
MORRIS TWP. — For a young team and a program that has struggled in recent years, it was of the utmost importance for Mountain Lakes-Boonton to start off strong.
It has hopes of taking a step forward this season and competing for a Haas Cup, and it took the first step towards that as it earned a 3-1 win over West Morris to open the year at Mennen Arena.
“It’s always good to start off with a win,” Mountain Lakes coach Clint McDonough said. “We have a small group here, but it’s a tight group. The only way you get the wins is by playing together and as a team. It’s not an individual effort. I think, as a team tonight, we played a real good game.”
Despite Mountain Lakes out-shooting West Morris by a 13-6 margin in the first period, the Lakers found themselves scoreless as West Morris freshman goalie Phil Togno made several key saves to keep the game scoreless.
But midway through the second period, sophomore Aidan Reidy made two plays which changed the course of the rest of the game. Reidy capitalized on a breakaway to give his team the lead, and Mountain Lakes took a penalty almost immediately after the goal.
It was a golden opportunity for West Morris to tie the game up, but Reidy made a play at the blue line leading to a two-on-none break, and he took it himself and deked out Togno to score just 50 seconds after his first marker.
“Any time you score two quick goals in a game, it changes that momentum a little bit,” McDonough said. “Not only does it change the momentum, but it gives our team some energy to keep going and keep winning the one-on-one battles that we need to win, so it was good.”
Reidy added: “We played more disciplined after that (goal), and fought through it.”
The momentum certainly carried over, as Mountain Lakes controlled possession for the majority of the game to the tune of a 40-23 shot advantage. But West Morris did not go away quietly, as Andrew Spina scored a power play goal with two minutes remaining in the third to cut it to 2-1.
Mountain Lakes, however, put the game away as Griffin O’Shaughnessy scored an empty-netter just 41 seconds later to restore the lead to two.
Ben Polizzi made 22 saves for Mountain Lakes, while West Morris’ Phil Togno made 37.
ML — Aidan Reidy 8:08
ML — Aidan Reidy 7:18 SHG
WMC — Andrew Spina (Nathan Meola) 2:00 PPG
ML — Griffin O’Shaughnessy (Cameron Egan, Finn Daggy) 1:19 ENG
Shots: Mountain Lakes 40, West Morris 23
Saves: Phil Togno (WMC) 37, Ben Polizzi (ML) 22