MORRIS TOWNSHIP - After going 27-2 a year ago and winning the Haas Cup, the Madison ice hockey team has moved up the ladder into the MCSSIHL-Halvorsen Division.
The Dodgers launched this campaign by passing the first test in the new league.
Thanks to a game-winning goal late in the second period from Aaron Willsea—and timely saves from goalie Kavi Sinha—Madison defeated West Morris, 2-1, at Mennen Arena on Monday night.
The season opener was also a Halvorsen Division contest. Aside from West Morris, the Dodgers will have to navigate through Montville, Mendham, Roxbury and Pequannock in divisional play this season.
“I thought our kids played hard, and this is a great way to start the season,” said Dodgers coach Dave Hansen, “West Morris is a very, very good team and these types of games will be big tests for us.”
Despite shots on goal being even at 6-6 in the opening period, Madison had the better opportunities and controlled the run of play. However, it wasn’t until 1:58 remaining that the Dodgers were able to crack the scoreboard.
Madison attackman Charlie Cleaves was able to finish off a pass from Sean Hurley on a fast break, making it 1-0 at the end of one. Willsea was also credited with an assist for setting up the scoring combination.
In the second period, however, the flow of play evened out, with the Long Valley squad continuing to add pressure in the attacking third.
With 6:59 remaining until the end of the period, Madison was assessed with a tripping penalty, and less than a minute later, the Highlanders were able to capitalize.
Anthony Gambino took a pass at near point blank range from Dalton Smith, and slapped the puck into the net, drawing the Long Valley squad even at 1-1.
“(West Morris) executed on their power play and put one in on us. Overall though, Kavi was great in net and came prepared for the challenge,” said Hansen.
With 1:27 remaining in the period, the Highlanders found themselves in on a breakaway on goal, but Sinha stoned a high shot to keep the score level.
Fifty-four seconds later, Willsea took a pass from Sean Hurley and converted it, giving the Dodgers the eventually decisive 2-1 edge. Ryan Carson also received an assist.
In the game’s final ninety seconds, West Morris emptied its net and came with one final surge in the Madison attacking third, but to no avail.
The Maroon & White will jump right back into Halvorsen play on Wednesday, when they take on Montville back at Mennen Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 4:00 PM.
Madison: Charlie Cleaves 13:02 (Sean Hurley & Aaron Willsea assists)
West Morris: Anthony Gambino 7:08 (Dalton Smith assist)
Madison: Aaron Willsea (Ryan Carson & Sean Hurley assists)