MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Chatham goalie Jamie Boles was just about ready to go back into the game when a grimace of pain crossed his face. That grimace had nothing to do with his tight groin, but with the fact that on the ice Middletown North had just scored a power-play goal to tie the game in the third period.
Boles returned to the ice seconds later and finished the final game of his Chatham career with 29 saves in what turned out to be a heartbreaking 4-3 overtime loss to No. 13 seed Middletown North in the second round of the NJSIAA Public B state tournament on Thursday night at Mennen Sports Arena.
All the hard work No. 4 seed Chatham (13-7-3) put together in building a 3-1 lead in the third period melted away into a sudden-death defeat.
"I said to them in the room, in all my years of coaching I've never been around a group of players who worked so hard for each other, who came to practice every day wanting to get better," Chatham coach Brendon Herr said. "That's all we can ask as coaches. Next year we come back with some good, young talent and we'll be even better than this year."
The Cougars hadn't played in nine days and struggled to remove the rust early against Middletown North (13-7-4). Chatham trailed 1-0 before Shay Black scored with 1:09 left in the first period (see video) on a pass from Danny Mahoney to tie the game at 1-1.
The game stayed tied until the first minute of the third period when the Lions were on the power play. Thomas Winter took the puck out of his own zone and skated down the left wing before cutting in to score his short-handed goal that gave Chatham a 2-1 lead just 30 seconds into the period. Tanner Acone was credited with the assist.
The Cougars improved their lead to 3-1 with 10:44 left in the third when Evan Schmidt converted a feed from Alex Laferriere.
John Hallard's second goal of the game cut the Lions' deficit to 3-2 before Boles was forced to leave the game with 6:43 showing on the clock. He was replaced by Zach Pendergrast.
"He had a little bit of a groin issue going on," Herr said. "We asked him if he needed the trainer and he said no, but a couple of minutes later the pain was too much and he had to come out. He was struggling pushing off with his leg. Both goalies played well. That's not the reason we lost. That's sports."
While Boles was trying to recover, John Dinnocenzo connected on a power-play goal that tied it for Middletown North with 5:26 to go. Dinnocenzo then won it with his second goal, 1:11 into the overtime.