While Morris Knolls-Hills won’t get the opportunity to win a third-straight Public A state championship this winter, it does find itself just one win away from closing out the season with some hardware.
Thanks to three first period goals, coupled with a solid performance in net from sophomore Aidan Marvin, second-seed Morris Knolls-Hills picked up a 4-1 win over third-seed Randolph in the semifinals of the 46th Mennen Cup at Mennen Arena.
The win clinches a spot in Thursday night’s final, where it will take on top seed Morristown-Beard, with face-off set for shortly after 8:15 p.m. at Mennen Arena.
Gehrig Eckoff put Morris Knolls-Hills on the board 42 seconds into the game, as he finished off a feed from the corner from Jason Kwestel. While there appeared to be contact with Randolph goalie Joe Yutsus, there was no goalie interference ruiling and the goal stood.
Randolph, however, tied it right back up six minutes later as Zach Gallo’s shot from the right circle beat goaltender Aidan Marvin.
But Morris Knolls-Hills struck twice late in the period, as Jeffrey Quinn and Andrew Ryan scored 1:50 apart to build a two-goal advantage. It held a decisive advantage in shots at 32-14, and allowed very few opportunities for Randolph throughout the game. Randolph goalie Joe Yutsus kept his team in it with a 29 save performance, and allowed his team to find its game a bit towards the end of the third. But Marvin was equal to the task and took away any chance of a Randolph comeback.
Andrew Ryan sealed the game with an empty-netter with 24 seconds to go.
Now, Morris Knolls-Hills (6-5-1), will hope the third time is the charm on Thursday. It has played Morristown-Beard twice this season, and fell by scores of 8-3 and 4-1 respectively. It will be making its first appearance in the Mennen Cup final since 2017- which was a 4-3 loss to Morristown-Beard- and will look to win the program’s first Cup title since 2013, when it was co-champions with Kinnelon.
First star: Andrew Ryan, Morris Knolls-Hills- 2 goals
Second star: Jason Kwestel, Morris Knolls-Hills- 2 assists
Third star: Aidan Marvin, Morris Knolls-Hills, 13 saves
MKH — Gehrig Eckoff (Jason Kwestel, Andrew Ryan) 14:18
RAN — Zach Gallo 7:18
MKH — Jeffrey Quinn (Jake DiLoreto, Jake Quinn) 3:15
MKH — Andrew Ryan (Jason Kwestel, Gehrig Eckoff) 1:25
MKH — Andrew Ryan 0:24 ENG
Shots on goal: Morris Knolls-Hills 32, Randolph 14