MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - There was no rubbing of the eyes or yawns when the Chatham ice hockey team took to the ice at 10:30 a.m. Monday for its season opener on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Mennen Sports Arena, going up against the new tri-school team, Kinnelon Sparta Jefferson.
While classmates might have been sleeping in late for the non-school day holiday, the Cougars were wide awake and raring to go from the start with 27 shots in the opening period. A four-goal outburst in the second spurred Chatham's 6-2 win over a combined Kinnelon-Sparta-Jefferson team.
While the shots were aplenty, Chatham didn't hit the net until its 22nd shot when sophomore Doyle Curry connected from the right wing with his angled strike into the far side of the net (see below).
The Cougars broke open the contest with four goals in the second period on goals by seniors Declan Curry, Brandon Lupi, and Ryan Sordillo. Declan Curry's second goal came on a breakaway with 13.6 seconds left, as he put his shot high over the goalie's shoulder to make it 5-1 before the break.
"I came out of the penalty box and Doyle (Curry) hit me with a nice pass from our deep zone and I caught the goalie off guard by going top shelf," Declan said.
"First game of the year, without a practice under our belt," Chatham coach Brendon Herr said. "I think we settled in in the second and third. The lines worked well. We were happy with the effort at least.
Declan Curry's first goal of the game made it 2-0 for Chatham before "Kinspason" cut it to 2-1 on a goal by Dillon Fleksher.
A minute after Fleksher's goal, Lupi connected for his first goal. Ryan Burke took a shot that was blocked and Chatham teammate Will White made an attempt at the rebound before Lupi stuffed it home for a 3-1 advantage (see below).
James Battaglia scored 17 seconds into the third period for Kinnelon-Sparta-Jefferson before Lupi closed out the scoring with his second goal.
Dillon Fleksher and James Battaglia each found the net for KSJ with Connor O'Neil, Matthew Francescutto and Kyle Sutton each getting a point for the assist.
KSJ tied their home opener on Friday at Skylands against Mendham. KSJ jumped out ahead with two in the first period. Battaglia banged one in shortly after the first face off. Matthew Espinosa took advantage of a power play scoring on the assist from Andrew Stefancik and Fleksher.
Mendham charged back in the second with four of their own. KSJ added their last three before the second period ended. Nicholas Roslan scored on the assist from William Donaldson, Mitchell Fradkin smacked one past Mendham's goalie and Espinosa scored assisted by Fradkin adn Sutton.
The KJS squad will play at home on Friday against Roxbury on Friday. The puck drops at 4:40 p.m.