MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ – The first weekend of 2018 was a victorious one for the Madison High School boys varsity ice hockey team. With a 2-0 win over Morristown on Sunday in a MCSSIHL inter-division game and a 5-2 defeat against Sparta-Jefferson on Thursday, the Dodgers are now 11-2 for the season.
Though the Morristown Colonials doubled the Dodgers in shots on goal, moved the puck around the rink with alarming ease and controlled a lion’s share of time of possession, their efforts were not enough to secure Sunday's game.
The Dodgers scored their initial goal five seconds off a faceoff in the opening period, and added an empty-netter with 1:17 left to seal the win. This was Madison's second straight win after losing 4-1 to Montclair High School in the Montclair Invitational Holiday Tournament, and it appears the Dodgers are making a comeback.
“There are times after games where I’m frustrated at how we played or things we didn’t execute, but not tonight. Everyone on the ice played a good, sound game. Our play was even better than in some of our wins,” lamented Morristown coach Bobby Jones.
Madison goaltender Matt Ubertaccio, a three-year varsity player, stoned the Colonials 29 times to pitch the shutout. On three separate occasions, Ubertaccio denied what may have been a hat trick on many other nights by Morristown forward Specer Levite. The last of those opportunities came with 2:51 left, when Levite’s one-timer from the far-left post was deflected by Ubertaccio’s left arm pad.
The Dodgers got their initial goal off a faceoff at the 10:14 mark of the first period. Aidan Niceberg shot a ricocheted puck into the upper left corner of the net off feeds from Jacob Erickson and Dave Renzulli to put the Rose City team up 1-0.
Morristown came tantalizingly close to evening the score with nine seconds left in the period, when Sean Donnelly made a defender miss and laced a backhand shot off the top crossbar that prevented a spectacular finish for the Colonials, but the Dodgers prevailed.
Midway through the second period, senior Colonials captain Nate DeFares broke free on a breakaway, but his hard shot was gloved by Ubertaccio to again preserve the shutout.
A Madison player was given a five-minute major with 12:05 remaining in the game, and Ubertaccio would save seven Morristown shots in that span.
With the Colonials pressing for the goal in the game’s dying moments, Erickson added an empty-net finish to double the lead at seal up the surprising victory.
“It’s easier to come up and play a Mennen Division team and win in a one-off game than the absolute grind that is our league,” said Jones about back to back defeats to West Morris and Madison, lower division MCSSIHL clubs. “Ten times a year you have to play against the top programs in the whole state, but that toughness usually shows itself at the end (in states).”
Madison (11-2) will head to Mennen Arena on Tuesday at 8 p.m. to battle it out against Randolph Township (11-0-3).
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