47TH MENNEN CUP FINAL
1-Morris Knolls-Hills (13-6-1) vs. 3-Morristown-Beard (12-11-1)
Monday, 7 p.m. at Mennen Arena
Previous meetings: The teams split the season series this season, with each game being lopsided. Morris Knolls-Hills took the first meeting on Dec. 3, 7-1, before Morristown-Beard picked up a 9-4 win on Jan. 10.
– 13-time Mennen Cup champion (1980, 1982, 1983, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2020, 2021)
– Has been in every Mennen Cup final since 2013 with the exception of 2019.
– Morris Knolls is a four-time Mennen Cup champion (1990, 2005, 2012, 2013)
– Second-consecutive final appearance after losing to Morristown-Beard, 3-1 in last year’s final.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Charlie Guida (6 g., 17 a.), Hollis Humphries (29 g., 19 a.), Noah Jones (20 g., 13 a.), Andrew Low (9 g., 19 a.), Hutch McDonald (1 g., 13 a.), Billy Moloney (4 g., 21 a.), Jake Ochab (2 g., 10 a.), Dylan Strauss (5 g., 14 a.)
Goalie: Casey Connor (8-5-1, .894 sv%) or Julian Melendez (4-6, .848 sv%)
Luke Dickerson (17 g., 18 a.), Matt Kuglin (8 g., 3 a.), Jack Martinez (6 g., 7 a.), Bryan McCarter (16 a.), Jake McCloud (8 g., 15 a.), Michael Simone (2 g., 9 a.), Kyle Thornton (17 g., 11 a.), Dante Tironi (8 a.)
Goalie: Aidan Marvin (9-4-1, .891 sv%) or Aiden Chominsky (4-2, .893 sv%)
If the first two meetings between these teams are any indication, then anything and everything is on the table in this one.
The first meeting saw Morris Knolls-Hills soar past Morristown-Beard (which was absent several key players) 7-1. The second meeting included Morristown-Beard building a 4-1 lead before it evaporated in the second period, before it rattled off five-unanswered to win the game 9-4.
These are two teams that can find the back of the net with regularity, as both teams have averaged roughly 3.6 goals per game. This game has all the makings of an offensive shootout.
Morristown-Beard has had an up-and-down season and struggled to gain much traction until the last two weeks, and is coming in as one of the hottest teams in the state. It is coming off four-consecutive wins, including a dominant 5-1 win over second-seed Randolph in the semifinals. This streak began after two-way defenseman Noah Jones was moved up to be the team’s top line center, and that move has paid off big time with both Jones and Hollis Humphries putting up crooked numbers since then. Morris Knolls-Hills will have its hands full in trying to stop that line, because there are few teams that can when it is on its game.
Morris Knolls-Hills, on the other hand, won the regular season Mennen title and clinched the top seed thanks to the play of its top line of Kyle Thornton, Jake McCloud, and Luke Dickerson. That trio has been solid all season, and if that line can continue its strong play, along with big performances on defense from Bryan McCarter and Dante Tironi, it will have a good chance to win this game.
Ultimately, with all of the talk about each team’s top line, this is going to be a game where depth will win out. Right now, Morristown-Beard appears to have a bit more depth and is flying high after four-straight wins, so look for the Crimson to complete the three-peat on Monday night in what should be a very high-scoring game.
Prediction: Morristown-Beard 4, Morris Knolls-Hills 3