SOMERSET, NJ - The end of Saturday night’s Skyland Cup Tournament hockey final came like a flash.
Exactly 15 seconds into sudden death overtime, Hunterdon Central’s quest to win the Cup for the first time since 2017 ended.
Junior Jared Kordonsky scored to give Pingry School a 3-2 victory and its second straight Skyland Cup title. Kordonsky was voted game MVP.
The Red Devils had a 10-game unbeaten streak snapped. They hadn’t lost since Jan. 3, a 4-1 setback to Randolph.
Fortunately for Hunterdon Central, its season wasn’t ended. The Red Devils, who have a 10-6-3 record, begin play next week in the NJSIAA Public A Tournament. That is to be seeded Tuesday.
Hunterdon Central won a state title in 2018 after being beaten by Pingry in the Skyland Cup. So perhaps history can repeat.
That’s not something anyone wearing red and black was in the mood to discuss in the aftermath of the overtime loss at Protek Hockey Ponds Ice Center in Somerset.
“He (Kordonsky) just made a really good job coming over the blue line,” said Hunterdon Central coach Mike Murphy. “We tried stepping up and he’s a great player and he got the puck over the top of the goalie and it just happens. Sometimes when you pick a perfect spot and you make a great shot like that there’s nothing you can really do about it, it’s just the bounces of the game.”
The calls of the game are also nothing you can really control. A big penalty that went Pingry’s way in the second period may have changed everything.
Hunterdon Central took a 2-0 lead in the second period on Peyton Miller and Darin Michaels goals. But a five-minute major penalty against Central opened the door for Pingry, and the Big Blue capitalized, scoring twice during the power play.
“It was a really hard call,” said Murphy. “I didn’t argue it, it’s a tough call, but I don’t want to take the aggressiveness out of the kid. He’s not a dirty player by any means.”
Pingry took full advantage.
“It’s a great team with a good power play and they got into some rebounds and they were able to knock a couple in,” said Murphy. “It could have been worse. I told the guys, ‘listen five minutes down, that’s a great team over there.’ So to still have it 2-2, we had every chance to make it. We were still confident. We still felt very good about it.”