MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - The Chatham- Morristown semifinal ice hockey game to determine which team goes on to the state championship at the Prudential Center was everything that it was expected to be and more.
A rematch of the 2013 state championship, the two powerhouse teams clashed one more time. This time, however, revenge was taken.
After a nail-biting ,back-and-forth contest, the Morristown Colonials skated off of the Mennen Arena ice with a 2-1 victory. They will move on to the NJSIAA Public B State Championship game.
Despite a phenomenal all-around effort by the Cougars, the Colonials were able to capitalize when needed. The Cougars, led by captains Colby Collier, Robert Graziano, A.J. Albanese and Teddy Simson, had nearly twice as many shots on goal than the Colonials and dominated the possession of the puck for most of the game.
Although the game was expected to be a collision filled matchup, it was anything but. Not one player over the course of the entire game was put into the penalty box. This game was nothing but good, clean, old-fashioned hockey.
After a scoreless first period, Randy Terhune connected for Morristown’s first goal past Chatham’s C.J. Albanese 1:32 into the 2nd period. The true excitement started with about nine minutes left in the 3rd, when Chatham’s Teddy Simson connected for a deep slap shot score into the left corner past Morristown’s goalie, Shane Brown.
In the midst of all of the excitement and cheer, Brown and other Morristown players protested the call of a goal. After the two referees convened, the goal was overturned. Chatham was called for high-sticking that nullified the goal keeping the score at 1-0 in favor of Morristown.
Chatham refused to give up, as a mere minute later, Simson reconnected with the net. He was set up for a slap shot in front of the Morristown goal from teammate Will Barnett. Again, however, the referees overturned the goal. This time, the goal was overturned because the Morristown net was kicked by a player and was sliding. Thus, the goal was taken away, leaving seemingly every Chatham player and coach in a state of utter frustration and anger.
With a slim six minutes left on the clock, and Chatham facing crunch time, Mark McNally scored from afar past Brown to tie the game up at one. The goal lifted not only the spirits of the Cougars, but also the spirits of the notorious ‘7th Skater.' Ryan Barnett was credited with the assist on the tying goal.
The Cinderella story for Chatham was not meant to be, as Morristown’s Bradley Greik flicked in the go-ahead goal for the Colonials past a swinging Albanese with 3:44 left in the third. At that point, the Cougars’ fate was sealed.
“We got our shots and didn’t capitalize on our chances,” said junior Will Barnett, whose assist to Simson’s goal was overturned. “The bounces didn’t go our way and the refs aren’t to blame for the game.”
Unfortunately, this was the last game for the Cougar seniors. “It’s tough to see the senior go out on that note,” Barnett added.
Senior captain Colby Collier, despite a valiant effort, will not be headed back to the Prudential Center. Instead, he, along with others, will be hanging up his skates.
“To be honest, I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that those last few minutes were the last few minutes I would ever play in a Chatham uniform," Collier said. "I was so fixed on trying to get that tying goal, but we came up short.”
Collier’s tenacity was evident as he and his teammates were fighting up until the clock struck zero.
“The loss and abrupt end to the season didn’t really hit me until that final buzzer went off,” Collier said.
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