MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - The No. 1 seed in the Halvorsen Cup had already been locked in by the Madison hockey team prior to Monday night’s game vs. Pequannock.
So was a share of the regular season divisional title.
By the time the game had ended, the outright pennant was the property of the Dodgers as well.
Paced by a pair of goals off the stick of Aaron Willsea, Madison cruised to a 4-1 victory over Pequannock at Mennen Arena, bringing the Dodgers’ record to 10-6-1 and 8-1 in the Halvorsen Division.
Madison will now finish at least two points clear of any team in the league.
“It’s a really nice achievement for our kids to win the division,” said Dodgers coach Dave Hansen, “we mixed our lineups tonight and played everyone. It wasn’t our best 45 minutes, but it was enough.”
Twenty seconds after being stoned by Pequannock goalie Dylan Knighton on a breakaway, Willsea got Madison on the board a little more than three minutes in when he finished off a feed from Will Scavone to make it 1-0 Dodgers.
Despite outshooting the Golden Panthers 12 to 7 in the opening period—and spending two minutes on the power-play—Madison was not able to crack the scoreboard for the remainder of the period.
Things got very interesting with 10:54 remaining in the second period when Pequannock leveled the score. Frank Fiorino of the Panthers found a streaking Andrew Sontag in transition, where the junior buried a backhanded shot past Madison goalie Matt Ubertassio.
It would be the only goal Ubertassio--who has spent most of the season backing Kavi Sinha—would allow on the evening. He turned away sixteen shots, including several impressive saves from close range after Madison defensive breakdowns occurred.
“(Matt) has been working hard all year, and I wanted to give Kavi a night off,” explained Hansen, “He did an excellent job for us tonight.”
The lone Pequannock goal seemed to wake the Dodgers up, as the Maroon & Gold quckly came back with a pair of responses.
Michael Gleason, who has facilitated Madison’s potent attack in the offensive third all season long as the team’s assist leader, notched his fifth goal of the season off a feed from Jett Tom to make it 2-1 less than two minutes after the equalizer.
Not long after that, Gleason and Scavone set up Jared Finnerty to double the lead. Finnerty launched a rising puck into the upper right corner of goal to essentially put the game on ice.
Pequannock, who only has two lines on its varsity squad, became noticeably tired in the final period and got out shot 13-5 by Madison. The last Dodger tally came with 11:01 to play, when Willsea sniped a shot on net to make it 4-1. Joey Goret and Gus Haralampoudis assisted on the goal for Madison.
Madison will be back in action on Wednesday night, when they face Chatham of the Mennen Division in a MCSSIHL crossover. The two teams met on December 20, when the Cougars defeated Madison, 5-1.