Knolls wins the Cron (again)

December 14, 2006 on 12:38 am | In analysis | No Comments

I usually find a way to go to a Cron Tournament game. There have been 11 such tournaments since I began covering hockey in this state, and I have probably been to at least one game in maybe eight of those. From Mendham’s first-ever game back in 1996 to Morris Knolls’ first tournament title in 2002, I’ve managed to see at least one game on a regular basis – I even went directly from the airport once. I made friends with the coaches at Morris Knolls and Mendham at a young age, so I was always about seeing Morris County teams in action. And freezing my butt off.

So it was with a touch of sadness I received a phone call tonight informing me of Morris Knolls’ 3-1 win over Mendham for the Golden Eagles’ fifth consecutive tournament title. (Five in a row ties the record held by St. Joseph Metuchen from 1993-’97.) I remember when St. Joe ruled the Cron roost, beating Rob Loderstedt, Adam Dilly, and a second-year Mendham team in that ’97 final. I remember the Knolls-Mendham rivalry fueled by former Knolls coaches John Kovacs and Rob Dachisen running the show at Mendham; Knolls head coach Bob Loderstedt’s son, Rob, playing for Mendham; Dachisen’s nephew, Mike, playing at Knolls; and the innumerable Kovacs-Keiper connections. Plus, both teams were good for a while.

Knolls finally broke through, of course, to become one of the state’s leading public programs at the moment. A quick skim through my own archives shows that Knolls beat Mendham in the the ’02 semi, and the ’04 final. Of the five tournament titles, Josh Ofner won the MVP award twice, Bobby Jones once, Dennis Zak once, and now Tommy Tomensky after a 12-point performance in three games. Maybe next year I’ll be there to see if Knolls can make it six.
Round up
While Knolls won the tournament, Mendham showed very well and appears to be part of a very strong Halvorsen Division. In case you missed it, Pingry appears to be legit this year. The Big Blue have quietly been improving in numbers and skill level over the past few years, and they’ve always had the experience on the bench in the inimitable John Magadini. Pingry drilled Princeton 8-1 on Wednesday and beat Mendham 6-4 last week. Those two appear to be the class of Morris County’s ‘B’ division, ahead of Kinnelon and West Morris. Pingry and Mendham could very well beat Mountain Lakes and give the other Mennen teams a run for their money.

Elsewhere Wednesday, in scores I have received, Wall earned an emotional 3-2 win over Rumson-Fair Haven with former Bulldog coach Dave Smith behind the Wall bench as an assistant to Mike Dianora. It is the first regular-season win for Wall against RFH. The Knights are getting it done with defense, with 3-1 and 3-2 games so far.
The favorites held in the CVC and Morris County and both MKA and Sparta pulled off non-league wins.
In the Central Conference, St. Joseph (Metuchen) rallied to knock off Bridgewater-Raritan 4-3 in a game that is sure to sting for Panther head coach Patrick Alvin for quite a while. Fellow Irish namesake Pat Verney appears to have stolen Alvin’s late-game luck, as Verney’s Hillsborough squad held off South Brunswick 3-2. I’m sure that’s not how the former Hudson Catholic star drew it up.
There’s plenty more I could write about, but here’s what to watch for on Thursday: a telling non-league contest between Notre Dame and TRN; Red Bank-Old Bridge in Southern White action; Bishop Eustace-MonDon in a critical early Southern Red game; and debutant Jackson Memorial tries to go 2-0 by taking Brick Memorial.
Keep sending scores!

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