Morristown took a big step forward last season, winning 10 games and earning the fifth seed in the state tournament after a two-win campaign in 2018-19.
With a ton of talent returning from last year’s squad, Morristown looked- on paper- like a team that could take yet another big step forward and compete for the Mennen Cup this season. And on Sunday, it certainly appeared well on its way, as it took advantage of its opportunities and received outstanding goaltending from Dylan Peck in a 4-0 win over Madison at Mennen Arena.
Junior Jack McKenna- the team’s leading scorer a year ago- led the way with two goals offensively, including the game’s opening goal just 3:07 in, as he opted to shoot the puck on a 2-on-1 and found the back of the net.
The lead increased to two in the final minute of the first, as Harry Santen backhanded home a shot, off a feed from behind the net by Nick Romano.
Madison didn’t allow things to snowball, however, as it played a very even second period, and kept the deficit at two going into the third. But Morristown got its first power play of the game early in the third, and took advantage when Jack Keller picked up the puck at the left circle, cut to the slot, and found McKenna open at the right circle, who ripped home a one-timer with 10:13 to go.
The scoring was capped off with 5:45 to go, as Patrick Bozza blasted home a slap shot from the point to make it 4-0. From that point on, Morristown clamped down and kept Madison off the board for the rest of the way.
— The score is not at all indicative of the level of play by both teams in this game. This game was way more even than the four-goal disparity would suggest. Madison had plenty of offensive zone time in this game and had some solid opportunities to score, but plain and simply, Morristown goalie Dylan Peck wasn’t going to be beat today. He entered his junior season with two full years of starting experience in the Mennen Division under his belt, and he certainly appears ready to take another step forward based on his performance on Sunday.
— Morristown’s junior class certainly provides plenty of optimism for the program, even after this year. It is deep and talented, and all three goal scorers tonight are juniors. Sunday was just game one, and it will be tested even more once its Mennen Division schedule gets rolling, but this was as good of an opening game as it could’ve hoped for.
— There weren’t many penalties in this game. Aside from coincidental minors in the first period, Morristown had just one power play- which it scored on. Madison, on the other hand, had a power play at the end of the second period which Morristown successfully killed off to keep it 2-0, and then had another shortly after Morristown went up by three. Morristown’s penalty kill was outstanding in both instances and was a big reason it skated away with this win.
— Back to Madison. As previously mentioned, this was a fairly even game on the ice, even if the scoreboard didn’t show it. It already opened the year with a 4-0 win of its own against Mountain Lakes-Boonton, and Sunday should just be a minor bump in the road for this team. It has some extremely talented players, led by seniors in Aidan Niceberg and Jacoby Erickson- along with an outstanding goalie in Keaton Tom- and that showed in this game. It opens its Halvorsen schedule on Saturday against Mendham, which will be a big opportunity for it to jump ahead early in the Halvorsen title race.
First star: Dylan Peck, Morristown- 27 save shutout.
Second star: Jack McKenna, Morristown- 2 goals, including the game-winner.
Third star: Keaton Tom, Madison- Kept Madison in the game with several big saves along the way.
MOR — Jack McKenna, 11:53
MOR — Harry Santen (Nick Romano), 0:47
MOR — Jack McKenna (Jack Keller) PPG 10:13
MOR — Patrick Bozza 5:45