Chatham’s turnaround season ends in loss in Public B final

By Mike Gurnis

It was just one year ago where Chatham finished off an injury and illness-plagued season to finish 5-14-1.

It was an unusual season for the program that is used to being one of the state’s best. Fortunately for it, all it took was one season for it to return to what it is used to being.

Chatham went 16-4-5 and won the program’s first Mennen Cup title in 42 years this winter. It was unable to snap it’s 10-year state title drought though on Monday night, when the fourth-seeded Cougars fell, 3-2 to second-seeded Middletown North in the NJSIAA Public B final at Prudential Center in Newark.

Still, it was a season and run to remember for Chatham, which took down top-seeded Northern Highlands- which had just one in-state loss all season- in the semifinals just to get to this point.

“The maturity of this team was unbelievable,” Chatham coach Brendon Herr said. “Like I said in the room, our expectation every year is to get down here. This year they blew expectations out of the water. I think once we got rolling there after the Middletown South game, we were like 6-0-1 after that game, we started to build confidence. The guys who were freshmen last year, guys like Nacinovich and (Isaac) Suh, those guys matured a whole year and were a huge part of our success with Ronan (Curry) on that top line.”

Herrr added, “The boys played hard. I’m proud of this team. They’ve exceeded expectations and I don’t think anyone expected us to be here. (Middletown North) is the number (two) seed and that’s why they’re here.”

Chatham built a 2-1 lead in this game thanks to goals from Ronan Curry and Doyle Curry that were 47 seconds apart early in the second period. But Middletown North’s Joseph Wall tied it up with under six minutes to go in the second, before Christopher Imbriale buried what proved to be the game-winner with 9:13 to go in the game.

The Cougars threw anything and everything towards Middletown North’s standout goaltender in Luke Chrzan in the third period, but were unable to break through.

“We were prepared to play. Honestly in the third period there, I thought we were the better team,” Herr said. “Their goaltender has a .950 save percentage, and they’re the number (two) seed, that’s why they’re here, they’re a good team and so are we. We knew tonight was going to be tough. We made a couple of mistakes in the first and second there, but we played well. The kids bought into the game plan. We executed pretty well there. Like I said, I thought our third period was our best period.”

It was the end of the career for four Chatham seniors, headlined by brothers Ronan and Doyle Curry, who played major roles for this team all season long. Chatham should be well-positioned to be successful again next year with what it has coming back, but the loss of those four seniors will still be tough shoes to fill.

“They were a huge part of our success the last four years,” Herr said. “You knew coming in tonight that both of them were going to do something spectacular, and they did. They’re a big part of why we’re here this year. Ronan led our offense for the most part, and Doyle plays a physical, hard game. They both played really well tonight, and we’ll miss them for sure next year.”

E-mail Mike Gurnis at

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