CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham ice hockey followers believe there is a game in the future where the Cougars will get the best of Morristown-Beard in the Mennen Cup playoffs and bring home their first title since the Chathams became one high school.
There was hope that this could be the year Chatham might win the Mennen Cup for the first time since Chatham Township High won it in 1981 when Alex Laferriere scored with 4:03 left in the third period to tie the game and force overtime.
Chatham's soaring hopes were turned into "wait till next year" mode on Wednesday when Brayden Patricia converted a power-play goal 1:16 into overtime to win the semifinal matchup for Morristown-Beard, 2-1, at Mennen Sports Arena.
Sophomore Laferriere had stuffed home a 5-on-3 power-play goal to tie the game for Chatham (13-7) and send the Cougars into their first OT period this season. Dan Mahoney and Tanner Acone were each credited with an assist on Laferriere's goal.
"On our power-play, we just wanted to get pucks to the net," Laferriere said. "We moved it around the perimeter and got the puck to the net. We beared down and put it in the net."
Tanner Acone and Dan Mahoney helped set up Alex Laferriere's power-play goal with 4:03 left in the third period that tied the game at 1-1
Connor Tartaglione's goal 5:45 into the first period had made it 1-0.
"We were down 1-0 from the start, basically, and we kept battling back there," Acone said. "We got the one at the end on the 5-on-3. We had chances after that and just couldn't capitalize."
It was a clean hard-fought battle and neither team was whistled for a penalty until late in the third period when the Crimson were charged with back-to-back penalties, setting up the 5-on-3. Chatham's only penalty of the game came in the overtime.
"Our compete level and our resiliency was unbelievable," Chatham coach Brendon Herr said. "To tie it up real late and force overtime is something to be proud of. It wasn't for lack of effort tonight."
Chatham opens play in the state tournament Thursday, Feb. 27 vs. Jackson Liberty at Mennen Sports Arena.