Montville rolls past Morris Catholic into Charette Cup final

By Mike Gurnis

What a difference a year makes.

Wins have been few and far between for Montville over the past two seasons, as it won a combined four games while dropping from the Halvorsen Division down to the Charette during that time.

This season has seen a drastic turnaround for the Mustangs, who have gone from two wins last year to 13 this season, and earned a Charette Division title in the process. Now, it finds itself in a cup championship game, as the top-seeded Mustangs moved past fourth-seeded Morris Catholic-St. Elizabeth in the semifinals of the third Charette Cup at Mennen Arena.

The win sends Montville to the Charette Cup final on Monday, where it will face the winner of second-seeded High Point-Wallkill Valley-Kittatinny and third-seeded Newton-Lenape Valley at 4:15 p.m. at Mennen Arena.

“It means a lot to us,” senior Aidan Engle, who finished with a hat trick, said. “Especially because we’ve had a rough two seasons. We won a combined three games (in the last two years). So this season has really meant a lot to us, and to make it this far is really meaningful.”

Montville built a 3-0 lead after the first period on two goals from Aidan Stepien and one from Matt Trifari. Morris Catholic, however, settled down in the second period, and got several key saves from Daniel Mark, who made 39 saves. It cut the deficit to 3-1 with 4:23 left in the second on a goal from Aidan Domenick, which was too close for comfort for the Mustangs.

It erupted for five goals in the third period- including three from Aidan Engle, one from Joe Laino, and one from Marco van de Graaf.

“I think we just had to stop playing selfish hockey and start moving the puck a little bit more,” Engle said. “We had to play a more aggressive game, and get out there and really put the pressure on him in the third.”

Trifari added, “Once we went in the locker room (after the second period), we knew that we could come out here and just play our game and play tough, stick with our systems. Coach told us just work hard, and the whole team just fought really hard.”

And with that, Montville has a chance to win a Cup championship on Monday, which would be the program’s first since 2017-18 when it won the Haas Cup title.

It’s an opportunity that none of the players, especially the ones that endured losing over the past two years, are taking for granted.

“Obviously, everyone’s got butterflies,” Engle said. “That’s good though, because they keep you on edge. You can’t get too relaxed for this game. You have to get ready, get in the mental game, and we have to be ready to come out as hard as we can on Monday.”

First period
MON — Aidan Stepien (Marco Van De Graaf) 4:36 PPG
MON — Aidan Stepien (Joe Laino) 3:33
MON — Matt Trifari (Matthew Crowell, Joe Laino) 2:16
Second period
MCSE — Aidan Domenick (Michael Najjar) 4:23
Third period
MON — Matt Trifari (Aidan Engle) 11:21
MON — Aidan Engle (Matt Trifari) SHG 9:01
MON — Joe Laino PPG 3:08
MON — Marco Van De Graaf PPG 2:52
MON — Aidan Engle 0:51
MON — Aidan Engle 0:34

Shots on goal: Montville 47, Morris Catholic-St. Elizabeth 18

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