BRONX, N.Y. Super Bowl Sunday. One of the best days to sit back, relax, grab some food, and watch hockey. Yes, hockey.
This morning, the Chatham Cougars and St. Peter’s Marauders took to the ice for a battle between two of the top New Jersey high school hockey teams. This was not just another game, however, as the teams played at Yankee Stadium as part of the NHL Stadium Series.
“It’s a bigger game, but we’re ready to go,” Chatham head coach Frank Gilberti said. “It’s a good opportunity for our program to be on a big stage in the middle of the season.”
All of the hype surrounding the big game did not deter Coach Gilberti or his players from the ultimate goal of coming out with another victory. “It’s the same business as usual, just a bigger bus, just a longer drive, but it’s the same hockey game.”
After a nail-biting back-and-forth contest, the Cougars were able to hold off the Marauders for a 3-2 victory.
Chatham (13-2-3) struck first when sophomore Austin Pierce took advantage of a deflection from teammate Ben Seitz-Sitek 5:30 into the first period. A mere 30 seconds later, St. Peter’s (8-6-2) answered with a goal from sophomore Augie Burkhardt.
“We were able to play our system after we struggled to get comfortable during the first period,” Chatham junior Will Barnett said.
This was certainly the case, as three minutes into the 2nd, Chatham senior Brett Montgomery capitalized on a deflected shot from Bryn Casey for a goal. This 2-1 lead would carry the Cougars into the 3rd period with all of the momentum.
Chatham tried to put St. Peter’s away for good when sophomore Ryan Barnett scored off a feed from Pierce with 11:20 left. However, St. Peter’s Rocky Coviello had other plans, as he scored with 4:12 left in a desperate effort to catch up to the Cougars. The Marauders were unable, and the Cougars skated off with another victory.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Chatham junior Jack O’Connor said. “It was an amazing feeling looking around in warm-ups, and it felt great to play in such a historic building.”
“It was a great experience. Winning made the experience much more memorable and will last a lifetime,” Barnett added.
Not only did the Cougar players have fun, but the fans that came to watch, including the notorious ‘7th Skater’ student fan section, had fun as well. Before the game, Sean Landolfi, former Chatham quarterback, said that, “I’ve never been to Yankee Stadium, and it’s going to be pretty cool to see my classmates and friends play in the game.”
Chatham looks to keep this momentum going, as it continues its season against Morris Knolls High School on Thursday, Feb. 6 at Mennen Sports Arena.
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