January 14, 2014 at 10:50 PM
MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ -Sophomores Ryan Barnett and Mark McNally each netted their first goal of the season and goalie C.J. Albanese came up with his sixth shutout as undefeated Chatham scored a 2-0 victory over Randolph on Tuesday night at Mennen Sports Arena.
Albanese, who finished with 27 saves, was tested early by Randolph (8-2-1), the three-time defending Public A state champion. The Rams pinned Chatham in its own end for a good portion of the period and Albanese came up big when he made a sliding save on a shot by Randolph's Christopher Holowko.
"They were better than us in the first period," said Chatham coach Frank Gilberti, whose team won the Public B state title last season. "If you don't move your feet like you should, the puck is going to be in your end more than you want it to be. Credit our defensive zone coverage and credit our goaltender for coming up big."
Barnett, who missed the first part of the season recovering from a football injury, scored 5:10 into the second with a shot from between the circles that beat Rams goalie Andrew Holowko to the glove side. McNally and Kevin Allen were credited with assists on the play.
"Mark (McNally) took it deep and I was just covering for him at the point," Barnett said. "Then he put it deep to Kevin Allen and he passed it to the center. I was right there. I've been getting a lot of chances to score this year and I hadn't scored, so that felt good."
Chatham (10-0-3), which tied Randolph last month, 4-4, got another goal from its gritty third line at 9:19 of the third period. McNally connected on a slap shot from the right point for his first career goal.
"Ryan Barnett passed it to me and I just shot it," McNally said. "Goose (Allen) had a good screen and I didn't even see it go in. I didn't think it actually went in. I didn't think about scoring. I just wanted to get it to the net. It would have been nice to see it go in.
"It was a big game for us. It was a fast-paced game and it was a good way to get into the tougher part of our schedule."
Albanese made a number of excellent saves to earn his shutout, including a shot from the blue line by Jack Zimmer, which found its way through a crowd to the goal. But Albanese dropped down to block it.
"I kind of just dropped and hoped it would hit me," Albanese said. "My D does a really good job of clearing them out front. They're a really good team, so they kept firing away in the first period."
Randolph coach Rich McLaughlin lamented the missed opportunites in the first period.
"We had the better of the play in the first period, but we didn't score," McLaughlin said. "Scoring has been a problem for us."
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