4-Chatham (9-8-2) vs. 5-Morristown (10-9-4),
Mennen Cup First round
Tuesday at 8pm, Mennen Arena
What’s at stake: The winner will get to take on top seed Morristown-Beard on Thursday at 8:15 in the Mennen Cup semifinals.
Previous meetings: Both games between these squads have been tightly contested. The first came early in the season on Dec. 5, which saw the teams skate to a 2-2 tie. The next meeting on Jan. 11 ended in a 2-1 win for Chatham, as the Cougars’ Danny Mahoney and Tommy Sennett scored in the first period to build a 2-0 lead. Goalie Jennifer Olnowich held it down the rest of the way, as she stopped 28 of 29 shots to secure the victory.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Ryan Sordillo (13 g., 13 a.), Declan Curry (6 g., 7 a.), Brandon Lupi (7 g., 4 a.), Danny Mahoney (5 g., 5 a.).
Goalie: Jennifer Olnowich (.908 sv%, 2.14 GAA, 7-6-1 record)
Jack McKenna (18 g., 6 a.), Harry Santen (12 g., 8 a.), Stefan Brockmann (6 g., 19 a.), Conor Critchley (13 g., 9 a.), Jack Keller (3 g., 10 a.), Francis Zaklukiewicz (4 g., 5 a.)
Goalie: Dylan Peck (.868 sv%, 3.23 GAA, 10-9-4 record)
BREAKING IT DOWN
This is a perfect match-up for a 4 vs 5 game in a tournament, as both teams are very evenly matched as evidenced by how close the two regular season meetings were. No matter what happens, both teams have qualified for the state tournament, so this game will not be the end of the road for whichever team loses.
But as even as both teams are, they’ve been trending in somewhat different directions as of late. In Morristown’s last six games, it has gone 2-2-2, including a win over a strong Verona-Glen Ridge squad as well as a tie with perhaps the state’s top public team in Randolph. Even one of the losses, a 2-1 defeat to a very talented Lakeland team, showed that Morristown has the talent to compete with anyone.
On the other hand, Chatham has stumbled down the stretch. While it won its most recent game, 4-3 against a perennially strong Northern Highlands team, prior to that Chatham had lost five games in a row. That losing streak included a four-game scoreless streak against Randolph, Morris Knolls-Hills, Morristown-Beard, and Mendham, before finally finding the back of the net in a 4-2 loss against a good Rumson-Fair Haven team. It certainly has been a challenging schedule down the stretch for Chatham, but if the team is going to advance, it will have to find a way to get things going offensively in this one.
Prediction: Expect a tight, low-scoring game, much like the prior two meetings between these teams. But Morristown is a young team that has progressed nicely throughout the year, and is playing well at the right time.
Morristown 2, Chatham 1