46th Mennen Cup final preview- Morristown-Beard vs. Morris Knolls-Hills

46TH MENNEN CUP FINAL

1-Morristown-Beard (8-1-1) vs. 2-Morris Knolls-Hills (6-5-1)

Thursday, 8:15 p.m. at Mennen Arena

Previous meetings: Morristown-Beard picked up a dominant 8-3 win on Feb. 20, before earning a 4-1 win on Feb. 25. In total, this will be the third meeting between these teams in 12 days.

CUP HISTORY

Morristown-Beard

– 13-time Mennen Cup champion (1980, 1982, 1983, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020)

– Has been in every Mennen Cup final since 2013 except for the 2019 final.

Morris Knolls-Hills

– Four-time Mennen Cup champion (1990, 2005, 2012, 2013)

– First final appearance since 2017.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Morristown-Beard

Cam Fernandez (6 g., 16 a.), Hollis Humphries (9 g., 7 a.), Noah Jones (5 g., 3 a.), Seth Kaplan (13 g., 7 a.), Andrew Low (5 g., 13 a.), Jake Ochab (1 g., 12 a.), Dylan Strauss (2 g., 9 a.)

Goalie: Luke McManus (.925 sv%, 1 shutout)

Morris Knolls-Hills

Luke Dickerson (4 g., 3 a.), Jake DiLoreto (3 g., 2 a.), Gehrig Eckoff (8 g., 7 a.), Dylan Idland (6 g.), Timmy Kepler (9 a.), Jason Kwestel (6 g., 14 a.), Jake Quinn (2 a.), Jeffrey Quinn (5 g.), Andrew Ryan (6 g., 9 a.)

Goalie: Aidan Marvin (.867 sv%)

THE MATCH-UP

Will the third time be a charm for Morris Knolls-Hills?

These two teams are certainly familiar with one another after facing each other twice in recent weeks, with the first being an 8-3 win for Morristown-Beard, followed by a much tighter 4-1 win for the Crimson. While it has had its hands full with Morristown-Beard this year- like everyone else in the Mennen Division- it’s a very talented team with plenty of scoring depth that certainly can compete. It’s difficult to beat a good team three times, and that is certainly something working in Morris Knolls-Hills’ favor going into Thursday night. It also is coming off back-to-back Public A state championships, and since there is no state tournament this year, expect this team to go all-out to make sure it wins the last game of the season- like it has the last two years.

For Morristown-Beard, there has been plenty of adversity, despite an unbeaten Mennen Division record. The team dealt with COVID-19 related shutdowns twice- once the first week of the season, then again later in the season It has also been without arguably its best player in junior Nick Vantassell for the entirety of the season, and has been without one of its top defenders in RPI-bound junior Kareem Alazem for the last two weeks. The shutdowns and the injuries haven’t slowed this team down though, as only one team in the division- Morris Knolls-Hills- has come within three goals of it this season. It’s a team that can overwhelm you with speed. It can turn a seemingly harmless play into an odd-man rush, and can make what appears to be an odd-man rush for your team- disappear in an instant with a quick backcheck.

Morris Knolls-Hills will need to manage the puck well and keep turnovers at an absolute minimum in this one, in addition to a big game from goalie Aidan Marvin. But if Morristown-Beard’s top players, such as Seth Kaplan, Hollis Humphries, and Cam Fernandez put together big nights, it will be very tough to beat.

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