STOCKHOLM, NJ - The Chatham ice hockey team got off to a slow start and tried to climb out of a three-goal deficit, but Kinnelon held on for a 4-3 opening victory on Saturday at Skylands Ice World.

Kinnelon scored the first two goals of the game and the Cougars sliced it to 2-1 on Brendan Darby's goal with 25 seconds left in the first period. Chatham continued to put the pressure on in the second with a 15-7 shot advantage before the Cougars got hit with a double whammy in the final 65 seconds of the period.

With 1:05 left in the second, Chatham goalie Jamie Boles appeared to have stopped a shot by the Colts' Steve Gakos. The referee blew the whistle, lifted his arms to stop play and then skated to the net and called it a goal. Just 49 seconds later, Sean Grant put away a shorthanded goal that boosted the Colts' lead to 4-1.

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"It was not in the net," Chatham senior captain Austin Pierce said of the third goal. "He blew the whistle to freeze the puck and then all of a sudden he calls goal. We were kind of confused by that. We thought Jamie (Boles) froze it.

"We were buzzing (in the second), we got some good shots and the goalie made some good saves. Props to our team, we came back in the third and fought back hard. We just came up one goal short."

The Cougars scored 1:25 into the third period. Billy Pyhel sent the puck to Pierce, who took a shot from the left circle. Pierce's shot was stopped, but Jim Herendeen knocked in the rebound to make it 4-2.

Andrew Schmidt's goal with 1:27 showing in the third for Chatham made it 4-3.

"We cannot come out flat in the first and continue to come out flat in the second," Chatham first-year coach Brandon Herr said. "Kinnelon is a scrappy team. We need to bring that compete level, not just for the last two minutes of the game, but for 60 minutes.

"There were good signs. Our power play looked good and we created quality chances." 

Pierce was credited with three assists while Darby and Schmidt each notched a goal and an assist for Chatham, which received 30 saves from Boles.

Thomas Winter makes a bid to score off a faceoff for Chatham in season opener on Saturday