West Morris moves past Roxbury in shootout, on to Haas Cup final

By Mike Gurnis

Phil Togno couldn’t bear to watch.

When Tuesday night’s Haas Cup semifinal between West Morris and Roxbury went to a shootout, the veteran West Morris coach went from coach, to concerned parent, knowing the amount of pressure his son (also named Phil) was about to face.

Phil Togno Jr., a senior netminder for the Wolfpack, had the unenviable task of having to make big saves to keep his team’s Haas Cup title hopes alive. And all his father could do was look away.

“I couldn’t watch,” Coach Togno said while laughing. “I really couldn’t watch. It was tough. I know as a coach and as a dad, it was nerve-wracking from my standpoint. I didn’t even watch him face one shooter. I’ll have to watch it on tape.”

When he eventually watches it on tape, he’ll see his son come up with clutch saves, including a pair of poke-checks.

The senior made saves on four of six shots in the shootout, paving the way for Ben Barnhill’s winner in the sixth round of the shootout, as second-seeded West Morris prevailed in the shootout, 3-2 over third-seeded Roxbury, after playing to a 3-3 tie in the Haas Cup semifinals at Mennen Arena.

The shootout got off to an inauspicious start for the goalie, as he gave up goals to Roxbury’s Ryan VanZile and Jake Calanni on the first two shooters. Luckily for him, teammates Ben Barnhill and Tommy Togno each scored to keep it even.

Those were the last shots that Togno would let in, as he made four-straight saves, including a poke-check on VanZile in the sixth round, which set the stage for Barnhill’s winner.

“After the first two goals went in, I focused more on just keeping my eye on the puck at all times,” the senior goalie said. “It became such a focus, that my eyes would track the puck wherever it goes, and if I saw that chance to poke-check, I would.”

He added, “It feels amazing. I can only thank my own team for even getting me there. Especially Barnhill- scoring two goals in that shootout- without him we’re not even in that.”

It all came after a back-and-forth regulation, which saw West Morris build a 2-0 lead on goals from Alex Trezza and Tommy Togno. Roxbury, however, began its comeback with less than 30 seconds left in the second, when Ryan VanZile scored to cut the deficit to one.

The momentum clearly shifted in Roxbury’s favor, as Jake Calanni scored on a pair of deflections 3:08 apart to give the Gaels a 3-2 lead.

West Morris responded almost immediately though, as Layton Cummings put home the rebound of a Zach Knopf shot to tie it up at three.

“Our school moniker is pride in the pack, and the team that played tonight had a lot of pride,” Togno, the coach, said. “They showed it, they played a 200-foot game. Roxbury jumped out on us in the start of the third period, and they had us up against the ropes. It was just pride that allowed us to hang in the game, find our game, find our legs again and we get a lucky goal there that sends us into overtime, which was nice.”

The overtime saw West Morris control play, and fire several shots on Roxbury netminder Mikey Guadagnino. It out-shot Roxbury, 13-5 in the extra session, but Guadagnino stood tall, making several big saves on Grade-A opportunities to keep his team in it.

In total, he finished with 40 saves, as his team was out-shot 43-26 in the game.

“By far the best game Mikey has played this season,” Roxbury coach Jon Benbow said. “He was calm under extreme pressure, particularly in overtime, and patient during the shootout. We don’t get to the shootout without Mikey’s performance in overtime.”

West Morris coach Phil Togno added, “I felt bad for Guadagnino, he played a heck of a game, and for him to have to take an L in a situation like that is difficult.”

There was a delay between overtime and the shootout as there was confusion over the rules in how the game should conclude (more on that below).

It advanced West Morris to the final for the second-straight year after winning last year’s title. It will take on the winner of top-seeded Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex and fourth-seeded Park Regional in the final on Monday at 6:15 p.m.

“It feels great. We’ve put in the work,” Togno, the goalie said. “While at certain points in the season, we got off to bumpy starts and bumpy patches, I feel like now we’ve honed in at the very end at least, now that we’re playing like a team.”

His father added, “This program, we don’t have a lot of numbers. The kids really give it a lot. The parents provide a lot of support for us, and the school provides a lot of support. To get the opportunity to play another championship is always a blessing. A lot can go wrong in a season, and a lot has to go right for you to come back and get another crack at it.”


As already mentioned, after the overtime period, there was some confusion on how the game would proceed to determine a winner.

When the teams came out after an ice cut, it was announced over the public address system that the game would continue with 7:30 periods of sudden-death, 4-on-4 until a winner is determined.

Shortly afterward, a league official was having a conversation with the referees, and then got on the phone with someone to discuss how to proceed. It eventually led to a conference with both coaching staffs. After nearly a half-hour delay, in which both teams were in their bench areas, it was determined the game would be decided in a shootout.

According to NJSIAA regulations, this was the correct protocol to follow. They can be found here.

Under rule 9-11- Tied Games- League and Non-League, it states “There shall be no overtime periods except in league/conference playoffs, regular season tournaments, or when playing out of state. For games that require a team to advance, a 15-minute overtime and shootout procedure must be used.”

The confusion seemed to stem from the rule for League/Conference Cup Final games, which states: “For League/Conference Cup Final games, the NJSIAA State Final Overtime Period Procedure shall be used; One fifteen-minute sudden victory overtime must be played. If the score is tied after the first overtime, a ten-minute rest period must take place. A seven and one-half minute sudden victory overtime period will be played. Each team shall be allowed a maximum of four players plus a goaltender, 4 vs. 4. If the score remains tied after the first seven and one-half minute, 4 vs. 4 overtime period, a ten-minute rest period must take place. The game shall continue with subsequent seven and one-half minute, 4 vs. 4 overtime periods and ten-minute rest periods until a goal is scored.”

It was certainly an unusual situation, but in the end, the correct procedure was applied.

“Our league president Ken Mullen was on the phone making sure the proper procedures were being followed,” West Morris coach Phil Togno said. “The fact that it wasn’t a championship game, there was a little nuance in the rules that it goes to a shootout. They were just clarifying, and like good officials do, they were communicating with the bench and the coaching staffs of both teams, and just communicating what was happening.”

He added, “We didn’t even know that it was going to be a shootout until we came out to the ice. Then I looked over and I saw Kenny Mullen talking on the phone, referees having a conversation, we really weren’t sure. So we were game planning in the locker room how to play 4-on-4, so we come out and our greatest plans are thrown out the window. Next thing I know, I’m trying to put together a shootout.”

The confusion created a unique situation not just for the coaches in terms of how to plan for what came next, but for the players, especially the goaltenders, like Togno Jr.

“I’m going to be honest, at least from my end: It was panic building the entire time,” he said with a laugh. “I was sitting there freaking out…there was a shootout, there was not going to be a shootout. Back-and-forth.”

First period
WMC– Alex Trezza 0:22
Second period
WMC — Tommy Togno (Jimmy Thompson) 6:50
ROX — Ryan VanZile (Gavin Barooah, Jake Calanni) 0:28
Third period
ROX — Jake Calanni (Gavin Barooah) 14:14
ROX — Jake Calanni (Stephen Ellison, Ryan VanZile) 11:06
WMC — Layton Cummings (Zach Knopf) 10:45
Round 1- Roxbury Ryan VanZile scored
WMC Ben Barnhill scored
Round 2- Roxbury Jake Calanni scored
WMC Tommy Togno scored
Round 3- Roxbury Gavin Barooah stopped
WMC Zach Knopf stopped
Round 4- Roxbury Stephen Ellison stopped
WMC Michael Ferry stopped
Round 5- Roxbury Tyler Peterson stopped
WMC Tyler Hill stopped
Round 6- Roxbury Ryan Van Zile stopped
WMC Ben Barnhill scores

Shots on goal: West Morris 43, Roxbury 26

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