WEST ORANGE, NJ - There may not have been a more perfect way to begin the season for the Montclair Kimberley Academy boys ice hockey team on Monday afternoon. The boys opened with a scoring barrage at Codey Arena, blanking the home team Millburn boys, 10-0, with the game ending in a mercy rule with 2:58 left in the third period.
The MKA Cougars got three goals and two assists from Robert Jaworski to lead the way, while getting a pair of scores from John Buckley and also getting three assists and a goal from Nicholas Picinic in the Cougar rout.
"My team did a good job, we expected to have a good day today," said MKA head coach Dustin Good. "Today everybody on our team got a ton of ice time, we got contributions. A lot of guys who don't necessarily have an opportunity to make a lot of contributions were able to make it tonight and we definitely take a lot from a game like today's."
Less than two minutes into the game, Buckley opened up the scoring for MKA, taking the puck from his own blue line, after getting the initial pass from Picinic. With 9:22 left in the opening period, Jaworski picked up a pass from Picinic at mid-ice, weaved through Millburn's defense and finished with a slap shot low and into the left corner into the net, giving MKA an early 2-0 lead.
After getting another two goals in the opening period from Jaworski and Christopher Sibilia, the Cougars took a 4-0 lead into the second period, and they never looked back.
They tacked on three second period scores to put the game well put of reach. William Brunner put back a rebounded shot from Jaworski with 9:05 left in the period, and then Jaworski completed his hat trick 15 seconds later, finding space after being setup by Brendan Pepe and Picinic. Buckley scored his final goal with 54 seconds left before the second intermission.
In the third period, which was more of a formality than anything else, Pepe, Picinic and Conor Nolan each scored to end the game in a 10-goal mercy rule, and pick up their first win of the season.
On Millburn's side, with MKA coming off of a McInnis Cup championship from a year ago, the Millers were clearly the underdogs heading into the game. They weren't able to get much going offensively, taking just seven shots on goal, without any real serious scoring threats. Much of the offensive struggles were a product of the Cougars dominating possession at mid-ice and in the neutral zone, and MKA bombarding the Millers with shots on net. In total, MKA attempted 57 shots on goal, with 10 going in, and Millburn's Corey Nadell stopping 47.
"We wanted to control the puck, we wanted to have the lion's share of possession tonight," Good said. "Some of what we talked about was attacking the zone with possession this evening, making sure we controlled the puck and only dumped it when we really, really had to. I think the guys did a nice job of doing that tonight."
The contest was an early season New Jersey Ice Hockey League Northern Divisional match, giving the Cougars an early two points to move into an early first place tie with Livingston. MKA plays again on Wednesday at home against Verona-Glen Ridge, while Millburn plays again on Wednesday against West Orange.
"We just have to keep putting pucks to the net," Good said. "I think if we want to continue to score, we have to keep getting to the net front, establish a net front presence, and that's what we'll continue to do on Wednesday night."