Monday at Mennen

December 12, 2005 on 11:00 pm | In game recap | Comments Off on Monday at Mennen

I caught the first two games at my home rink, Mennen Arena, Monday, both crucial games for Mennen Division teams.

Morristown-Beard 3, Randolph 2
In the first game between the three teams who appear to be actively chasing Morris Knolls in the Mennen Division, the Crimson were slightly fortunate to come away with a one-goal win. Neither team shot well on the day, and Beard (2-1) held off a spirited third-period comeback for the 3-2 win over Randolph (1-1).

After a fairly even first period that saw Randolph use its speed to produce a swarming forecheck but fail to cash in on any opportunities, Morristown-Beard took control of the game in the final minute. After Dan Swenson made a save on Crimson forward Greg Alberti, Dan Shurts controlled the rebound in the right face-off circle, deked between one defender’s legs, and lifted a backhand over Swenson’s glove at the near post for a 1-0 lead. Then came the crushing blow, after a penalty against Randolph with 0:03 remaining in the period. Beard head coach John Puskar pulled his goalie for an extra attacker on the offensive-zone face-off. That decision, combined with a slow clock start, set up Pat Yannotta for a bad-angle slap shot from the right corner that snuck through Swenson at the buzzer.

The game appeared to swing in Morristown-Beard’s favor early in the second period. With the Crimson on the power play, Ram defenseman Ricky Roma stole the puck in the neutral zone and skated in against John Yanchek with a brekaway. Skating in from the left side, Roma deked to his backhand, but Yanchek made a sprawling glove save at the right post to preserve the 2-0 lead. The Crimson added to their lead just one minute later on their third power play of the game. Yannotta was again the key figure, keeping the puck in the offensive zone with a gloved knock-down at the blue line before whipping a shot on net. Swenson made the save, but Sam Altiero was on hand to slot in the rebound. Randolph increased its pressure, aided by two power plays, and had a 26-15 shot advantage through two periods but remained in a 3-0 hole.

After killing an early penalty in the third period, Randolph came to life on a strange goal at the 4:04 mark. Ed Keenan’s wraparound attempt was deflected straight up in the air. With Yanchek down to protect against the wraparound, he lost sight of the puck, which caromed off his back and into the crease, where Greg Da Silva was on hand to tap it in. The Rams got to within a goal just 1:36 later, as forward Rob Kral rode a defender inside from the right boards and squeezed a bad-angle wrist shot between Yanchek’s glove shoulder and the crossbar for a terrific goal. Randolph only got more aggressive and confident as the period wore on, but never seriously tested Yanchek; his second-period save on Roma turned out to be the key play.

Randolph will turn its attention to another crucial division clash with rival Chatham on Thursday, while Morristown-Beard could have trouble with Mountain Lakes, a tough defensive team, the same day.

Morris Hills 4, Pingry 2
It is far too early in the season to be talking about must-win games, but Morris Hills’ contest against Pingry was as close as you can get. In their first season in the Mennen Division, the Scarlet Knights played well but lost their first two divisional contests. They have yet to suit up all three first-line forwards in a league game, with the trio of Jon Gaffney, Scott Shapiro, and Joe DiScala each missing a game.

It did not matter which two were playing in the first period, however, as Pingry (1-1-1) took advantage of an uninspired Morris Hills (2-2) team to take a 2-0 lead. Leading forward Dan Ambrosia opened the scoring at the 2:43 mark for John Magadini’s team, creeping out from behind the net and backhanding a shot through the legs of Ilya Schuf. Big Blue forward Dan Weiniger scored a similar goal midway through the period, skating out from the opposite corner and roofing a wrist shot past Schuf’s glove. Morris Hills outshot Pingry but, setting the tone for the game, took three penalties in the first period.

The Scarlet Knights got two power plays early in the second period, however, and although they did not score, Gaffney and Shapiro seemed to come to life. Late in the period, Gaffney hit Shapiro with a pass at center ice, and the latter stickhandled through the slot before backhanding a shot over Pingry goalie Bard Riccardi. (On a side note, Bard? Are you serious? Only at Pingry. All name jokes aside, and with no offense to his parents, he played well.) Pingry went on the power play with 1:41 left in the period, and Hills’ frustration showed a bit when Gaffney was called for closing his glove on the puck in the offensive zone. But Shapiro won the resulting neutral-zone face-off and wristed a shot from the high slot that caught Riccardi by surprise, tying the game.

The tying goal seemed to give Morris Hills confidence in the third period, and Gaffney scored probably the best goal I’ve seen this season to get things started. He intercepted a pass in his own right face-off circle and took off, skating past three defenders and deking past a fourth before beating Riccardi with an elaborate move and tucking the puck in on the left side. Soon after, he skated in alone on Riccardi with a semi-breakaway and deked to his backhand, this time, turning away in celebration. But Riccardi made a diving lunge at the puck to save a goal, despite Gaffney’s protests that it had crossed the line. Nevertheless, he sewed up the game with 7:08 remaining on another shorthanded strike, this one a lightning-quick wrist shot from the left wing.

Like most games this season, the game was marred by penalties, but Morris Hills pulled out the win to stay on pace for a state tournament berth. Pingry has now squandered multiple-goal leads in both league games it has played, but the Big Blue are much improved over past seasons.

Morristown-Beard 3, Randolph 2


MB 2 1 0 3
Ran 0 0 2 2


MB 8 7  2 17
Ran 14 12  9 35

14:22 MB #21 Dan Shurts (#19 Greg Alberti)
15:00 MB (pp) #10 Pat Yannotta (#19 Greg Alberti)
3:52 MB (pp) #9 Sam Altiero (#10 Pat Yannotta)
4:04 Ran #26 Greg Da Silva (#16 Ed Keenan, #10 Derek Ranger)
5:40 Ran #9 Rob Kral (#15 Ed Keenan)

#30 John Yanchek (MB) 35-32
#31 Dan Swenson (Ran) 17-14

Power plays: MB 2-4, Ran 0-4

Morris Hills 4, Pingry 2


Pin 2 0 0 2
MH 0 2 2 4


Pin 8 5 6 19
MH 10 7 12 29

2:43 Pin #26 Dan Ambrosia (unassisted)
8:41 Pin #17 Dan Weiniger (#14 Andrew Krill)
12:09 MH #10 Scott Shapiro (#9 Jon Gaffney)
14:01 MH (sh) #10 Scott Shapiro (unassisted)
1:34 MH #9 Jon Gaffney (unassisted)
7:52 MH (sh) #9 Jon Gaffney (unassisted)

#33 Bard Riccardi (Pin) 29-25
#1 Ilya Schuf (MH) 19-17

Power plays: Pin 0-6, MH 0-4

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