Knolls beats Randolph sixth consecutive time

January 19, 2006 on 10:42 pm | In game recap | Comments Off on Knolls beats Randolph sixth consecutive time

Morris Knolls 3, Randolph 2
In the best public-school matchup of the season so far, No. 8 Morris Knolls (12-2) got a last-minute goal from Justin Lewandowski to edge No. 13 Randolph (10-3-1) by a 3-2 margin Thursday night at Mennen Arena. I’m estimating the crowd at 1,000, give or take, and the post-game traffic jam was worthy of Seton Hall Prep-Delbarton. A thrilling game, despite a number of penalties, and the Golden Eagles earned their sixth straight win over the Rams since 2003, including four wins by one goal and the public state final last year.

I arrived for the second period with Randolph ahead 1-0 thanks to a power-play goal from Chris Tamminga early in the first period. The teams combined for 12 penalties on the night, and it was another power play that tied the game early in the second stanza. Running the point on the power play, Dan Duda slid the puck to the right face-off circle for Tommy Tomensky, whose centering pass found the stick of Jimmy Timmins at the edge of the crease for a skillful, no-look redirect past Dan Swenson to tie the game.

My impression from the first five minutes of the second period was that Randolph kept the puck in the Knolls zone whenever Duda, Tomensky, and linemate Steven Jones were not on the ice. But those three teamed up for the go-ahead goal just three minutes after the tying goal. Jones skated out of the right corner, drawing the attention of Swenson, before flicking a backdoor pass to Duda, who controlled the puck expertly with his skate before sweeping it home. Randolph kept in the game at even strength, however, and almost tied it with 2:07 remaining in the second when forward Rob Kral skated out of the corner and rang the right post.

Other than that, Josh Ofner was largely up to the task, stopping any shot on which he was square to the shooter. But with its first line forced to spend too much time killing penalties, Knolls finally faltered. As Randolph neared the end of its seventh power play, defenseman Matt Incledon sent a classic back-door pass from the left point to the right face-off circle. Forward Ryan Bannon tried to control the pass with his skate, but the puck skittered through the slot to the opposite side of the ice, where Mike Turner was on hand to finish past a late-arriving Ofner for an emotional tying goal.

The real dramatics were still to come. After calling a time out with 59 seconds remaining, Knolls earned a face-off on the right side of the Randolph neutral zone after a clearance attempt hit a player leaning over the bench. Jones controlled the puck off the draw and looked to Duda wide on the left before turning inside and playing Tomensky into the zone along the right boards. Tomensky won the puck against the boards and threw it into the middle. Second-line forward Justin Lewandowski swiped the puck on goal, where it trickled through the pads of Swenson and, agonizingly, crossed the goal line just inside the left post for the dramatic winner with 22 seconds remaining.

Although Knolls won the game, Randolph put its narrow escape against Mountain Lakes in the past and outshot the defending champion 29-23, with by far the better of play from its second and third lines. But in the end, Knolls’ top line got some help from a pair of second-line forwards in a crucial win. Knolls leads Randolph by one game in the Mennen Division standings, and the teams have identical league schedules until their Feb. 13 rematch. Knolls leads Morristown-Beard and Chatham by three points, but both have a game in hand. Randolph has not beaten Morris Knolls since a 4-0 win in the 2003 Mennen Cup semifinals.

Morris Knolls 3, Randolph 2


MK  0 2 1 3
Ran 1 0 1 2


MK  6 11  6 23
Ran 12 8  9 29

2:57 Ran (pp) #12 Chris Tamminga (#19 John Beatrice)
3:32 MK (pp) #10 Jimmy Timmins (#41 Tommy Tomensky, #14 Dan Duda)
6:27 MK #14 Dan Duda (#44 Steven Jones, #41 Tommy Tomensky)
8:39 Ran (pp) #11 Mike Turner (#29 Ryan Bannon, #15 Matt Incledon)
14:38 MK #7 Justin Lewandowski (#41 Tommy Tomensky, #44 Steven Jones)

#45 Josh Ofner (MK) 29-27
#31 Dan Swenson (Ran) 23-20

Power plays: MK 1-5, Ran 2-7

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