round of 16 action

March 8, 2006 on 10:36 pm | In game recap | No Comments

MCSSIHL representation in the state tournaments was reduced to three Wednesday night, as 13th-seeded Clifton knocked off Chatham in the opening game at Mennen before Randolph rallied to crush Mountain Lakes 8-3.

NJSIAA Public round of 16: Clifton 3, Chatham 2
Although the game was held on Chatham’s home ice at Mennen Arena, Clifton seemed right at home. After all, the Mustangs pulled off one of the biggest upsets in state tournament history at Mennen Arena in 2001, and Clifton had a sizable advantage in terms of fans.

Chatham had a major advantage in terms of possession and chances in the opening stanza, but Chris Donini in the Clifton goal was up to the task. More importantly in terms of positioning itself for an upset, Clifton got the first goal. Against the run of play, Craig Junda won an offensive zone face-off and headed for the net, where he redirected a slap shot from standout forward Anthony Yelovich (how was he not Northern Red MVP, by the way?) through the legs of Chatham goalie James Stolfi. The Cougars drew level four minutes later on a nifty play by forward Jeff Chatterton. With a loose puck in the slot, Chatterton beat Donini’s pokecheck to the puck, flipped it into the air, and backhanded the puck out of mid-air behind the sprawling goalie.

Although Chatham started the second period on the power play, Clifton struck first nearly four minutes into the period. To nobody’s surprise, Yelovich was the architect, deking around two defensemen high in the right circle before backhanding a pass that left both defenseman and goalie stranded, setting up Junda for a high finish past Stolfi.

Stolfi, starting in place of the injured Michael Infante, made two saves to deny Clifton shorthanded chances in the middle of the period, diving to cut off Junda and stopping a sharp Yelovich shot. And after Chatham killed off Clifton’s first power play, the Cougars tied the game. The puck came off the end-boards to Chatterton parked to the left of the net, and he wristed a shot from a tight angle to beat Donini up high at the near post. Before anyone had caught their breath, however, Clifton responded with a goal from its second line, as Sean Yip’s shot from the left circle beat Stolfi up high for a 3-2 Clifton advantage. Just as in Chatham’s Mennen Cup semifinal win over Morris Knolls, a goal from either team’s second line was going to be a difference-maker, and you could tell from the Mustang celebrations they knew this one was key.

Chatham continued to try to wear down Clifton, skating its third line for regular shifts halfway into the third period, but Clifton seemed unaffected. Donini displayed great lateral movement to stop Mario Bronzino at the left post early in the period, but Chatham did not show true offensive initiative until the final minutes. Given a power play with 1:21 remaining, Chatham struggled to set up in the offensive zone and only pulled Stolfi with 22 seconds remaining, getting two shots before time expired.

Clifton advances to play Montgomery in the quarterfinals this weekend, again at Mennen Arena, and you have to give the Mustangs a decent chance at making some more Mennen magic.

Randolph 8, Mountain Lakes 3
The second game was the much anticipated rematch between Randolph and Mountain Lakes after a pair of tense one-goal battles earlier in the season. And it lived up to its billing for two periods before Randolph pulled away in the third.

Mountain Lakes came out feeding on adrenalin and emotion and had the lead within a minute, as Dan Lio stole the puck behind the net and fed a wide-open Nick Simone in the low slot, who one-timed it past a motionless Dan Diamond. Predictably, Randolph controlled much of the period and Lakes goalie Matt Lowell responded well to the pressure, holding onto the 1-0 lead.

With first-line forward Jacob Sutker’s shifts limited, Mountain Lakes was essentially rotating five forwards to Randolph’s ten. Yet the Lakers went on top 2-0 at the 9:13 mark when James Putney’s blue-line wrist shot hit Diamond’s pads and slowly trickled just over the goal line. Dan Swenson came off the Randolph bench to replace Diamond, but even he could not prevent the pumped-up Lakers from going ahead 3-0 late in the period. Putney stole the puck from a Randolph defenseman at the blue line and, with a 2-on-1 break, fed Lio for a breakaway. Swenson forced Lio wide, but the Lakers’ most dangerous offensive player kept his composure to get around Swenson and finish just inside the far post.

The ice cut could not have come at a better time for Randolph, and the Rams found their scoring touch in the second period, doing so (as usual) in front of their student fans. The first goal had an element of luck about it, as Rob Kral popped up in the slot to bang a shot that immediately deflected off a skate and shot through the legs of Lowell to make it 3-1. Probably the most important goal came at the 4:06 mark, as Ed Keenan fed Ryan Bannon in the right circle, and his wrist shot slipped through the legs of Lowell.

Lakes clung to its 3-2 lead through the middle of the period and was frustrated by penalty calls, with Randolph finally taking advantage on its fourth power play of the night. After a point shot by defenseman Kyle Krannich, the Rams converged on the net, and Ed Keenan finally slotted the third rebound past Lowell to tie the game. The Rams struck again less than a minute later, as captain Jason Kleinwaks found a streaking Greg DaSilva at the back post for an emotional tiebreaking goal.

Mountain Lakes trailed only 4-3 into the third period, but you had to be skeptical about its chances, given the lack of depth. And Randolph did not disappoint, as Kral sored with a perfect wrist shot less than three minutes into the period. Kral completed his hat trick late in the game, sandwiched between goals from Kleinwaks and Derek Ranger, as the Rams eliminated Mountain Lakes from the state tournament for the second consecutive season, once again by a five-goal margin. The Rams advance to a quarterfinal matchup with Indian Hills, whom they beat 6-1 during the regular season.


Clifton 3, Chatham 2

Scoring

Cli 1 2 0 3
Cha 1 1 0 2

Shots

Cli 4  9 5 18
Cha 18  8 10 36

1st
6:23 Cli #18 Craig Junda (#27 Anthony Yelovich)
10:33 Cha #12 Jeff Chatterton (#23 Pat Coyne)
2nd
3:40 Cli #18 Craig Junda (#27 Anthony Yelovich, #17 Maran Roszowski)
10:37 Cha #12 Jeff Chatterton (unassisted)
10:59 Cli #21 Sean Yip (#9 Oscar Jaramillo)
3rd
none

Goalies
#30 Chris Donini (Cli) 36-34
#37 James Stolfi (Cha) 18-15

Power plays: Cli 0-1, Cha 0-3

Randolph 8, Mountain Lakes 3

Scoring

ML  3 0 0 3
Ran 0 4 4 8

Shots

ML  8 5 4 17
Ran 14 14 15 43

1st
0:46 ML #77 Nick Simone (#23 Dan Lio)
9:13 ML #9 James Putney (#44 Clint McDonough)
11:56 ML #23 Dan Lio (#9 James Putney)
2nd
1:44 Ran #9 Rob Kral (#29 Ryan Bannon)
4:06 Ran #29 Ryan Bannon (#16 Ed Keenan, #9 Rob Kral)
9:12 Ran (pp) #16 Ed Keenan (#29 Ryan Bannon, #21 Kyle Krannich)
10:03 Ran #26 Greg DaSilva (#25 Jason Kleinwaks)
3rd
2:53 Ran #9 Rob Kral (#29 Ryan Bannon)
6:52 Ran #25 Jason Kleinwaks (#11 Mike Turner)
10:59 Ran #9 Rob Kral (#29 Ryan Bannon, #16 Ed Keenan)
13:54 Ran (pp) #10 Derek Ranger (#25 Jason Kleinwaks)

Goalies
#30 Matt Lowell (ML) 41-34
#15 Ray Reynolds (ML) 2-1
#1 Dan Diamond (Ran) 5-3
#31 Dan Swenson (Ran) 12-11

Power plays: ML 0-2, Ran 2-7

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