ELIZABETH, NJ – The ice hockey showdown between defending Public B champions Chatham and Union County power Westfield was as exciting as anyone could have expected, except without any scoring.
The Cougars and Blue Devils skated to a scoreless tie in front of a standing room-only crowd on Wednesday at Warinanco Skating Center in Elizabeth.
Neither side was able to breakthrough their opponent’s net minder, as Chatham’s CJ Albanese and Westfield’s Dan DoCampo each pitched their first shutouts of the season.
Blue Devil head coach Sean Cromarty was satisfied with his team’s overall efforts this early in the season.
“A tie is a tie, we liken it to kissing your sister,” Cromarty said. “That’s a really good team. [Chatham] beat us last year. They won Public B. They didn’t graduate a lot of guys. They have some top end players. That’s a good showing for us this early in the year.”
This game was scheduled at the perfect time for the Blue Devils. Despite being just two games into the season, Westfield has two challenges ahead of them in the next week. They play Ridge on Friday, before battling county rival Summit next Wednesday.
Cromarty said every game is scheduled for a specific reason.
“We don’t schedule games just to strengthen our schedule, every game we schedule we consider we can be in,” Cromarty said. “We play to win games. We gave a good showing today. That’s a strong team, a good goaltender. It came out in a tie.”
While Westfield came away happy with Thursday’s outcome, the same might not said for Chatham.
Over the first four games of the 2013-14 season, the Cougars have played to ties in their last three contests.
Chatham head coach Frank Gilberti might not be happy his team isn’t coming away with wins, he is pleased to see his team improve each game they have played.
“Its an OK start to our year,” the second year head coach said. “I don’t think anybody will classify it as good. We’re learning lessons every single day. We’re finding a way to collect points in the process, which makes it a little bit easier for us.”
Sitting at 1-0-3, the Cougars have had chances in each of their three ties. They held third period leads against Randolph and Morristown-Beard before giving up late goals.
Gilberti thinks his team needs to work harder late in games if they want to pick up more wins.
“There’s no question I think we had an opportunity to win every game that we did tie and we fell just short in those areas,” he said. “We’ll continue to teach, hopefully the players will continue to learn and we’ll grow together.”
The Cougars host Mendham on Saturday at Mennen Arena with faceoff scheduled for 5:45 p.m.