MORRISTOWN, NJ - It took just fourteen seconds into Monday night's hockey game between the Whippany Park Wildcats and the Madison Dodgers at Mennen Arena in Morristown for the visiting Wildcats to score their first goal of the night. Little did the players wearing red and black know that it would be nearly 25 more minutes before they would score their second and final goal of the night and that the Dodgers would themselves score five goals in that span on their way to nine total tallies on the evening. In what turned out to be a high-scoring, highly physical game between Madison and Whippany Park, left winger Louie Cecala would single-handedly dominate the Wildcats and the Dodgers would run away with a 9-2 victory.
The Wildcats stunned everyone by notching the game's first goal less than a quarter minute after the opening face-off when right winger Mike Braviak deflected a wrist shot by center Randy Patrizio past Madison goaltender Grant Percy. Before the crowd had settled into their seats, Whippany Park was up 1-0 and on the attack. For the next five minutes, the pace of the game began to favor the Dodgers as they continued to push the puck up and down the ice. Each rush seemed to result in more pressure being applied by Madison and at the 5:30 mark of the first, left winger Louie Cecala beat Whippany Park goaltender Mike Brattoli to tie the game at one all. The goal was a a sign of things to come - great things for Madison and downright frightening things for the Wildcats. Madison rounded out the first period scoring when Will Remig corralled a Bobby Yutko shot off the end boards and flipped a nifty backhand shot past a diving Brattoli to make it 2-1 at the 9:53 mark.
The second period got ugly in more ways than one and the scoring started even quicker than in the first period, only this time it was Madison right winger Brett Anton who did the damage. A mere ten seconds after the puck was dropped to begin the second period, Anton carried the mail over, around and through the Whippany Park defense and pushed a shot past Brattoli to give the Dodgers a quick 3-1 advantage.
At the 3:23 mark of the second, Whippany Park's Dan Madonna took a hooking penalty and Madison's lethal power play went to work. Just 44 seconds into their first power play, Madison took a three-goal lead when Dodger defenseman Brett Perry sidestepped a diving shot block attempt and fired a wrister that streaked over Brattoli's stick side shoulder and into the top left hand corner of the net which made the score 4-1 in favor of Madison.
From that point, the game took a decidedly more physical tone as Whippany Park tried to take the body in an attempt to draw retaliation penalties by Madison and to spark their own players to turn up the heat offensively. The strategy backfired almost immediately when Cecala and Whippany Park's Dan Serafini took coincidental roughing minors at the 7:09 mark of the second period. Madison scored again just 48 seconds later when Greg Maxwell one-timed a brilliant one-touch pass by Spencer Woresk past Brattoli to up the Dodgers' lead to 5-1.
Down four goals just past the halfway point of the game, the Wildcats continued to fire off big body checks. Madison did not back down and both teams continued to pound on each other during nearly every shift. Several times, players from both teams took runs at their opponents and were not whistled for penalties. When the players saw how much leeway the referees were giving, the hits got bigger and bolder. For a moment, the adrenaline pushed the Wildcats to notch their second - albeit final - goal of the night when forward Mike Marano took a pretty outlet pass from Mike Tripp and got behind the Madison defense for a breakaway, which Marano buried on the backhand after he deked Percy completely out of position.
Whippany Park then forced the Dodgers' Maxwell to take a holding penalty, but the Dodgers' special teams were up to the task as they killed the penalty off. Madison then put the game away during the final 1:25 of the second period when Cecala and Company took over the game and showcased superior offensive skill. In those 95 seconds, Cecala picked up two goals and assisted on the other. Perry notched a goal and an assist and center Erik Andersson assisted on all three Madison scores. At the end of the second period, the scoreboard read 8-2 in favor of Madison and they would not be challenged in terms of the score, though Whippany Park continued to dole out physical punishment.
The third period - like the previous two stanzas - featured a goal in the first minute of play when Perry completed his hat trick after being sprung by two great passes, the first from Cecala and then a give-and-go with Yutko before the Dodgers' defenseman fired a wrist shot stick side to give Madison a commanding 9-2 lead. After Perry's goal, things got out of hand on the ice and the referees seemed almost indifferent about containing the escalating hit parade. Both sections of fans were in full throat imploring the men in black and white to calm down an obviously frustrated Whippany Park team and a Madison squad that would not allow itself to be hit without hitting back. Finally, after a near-fight close to the benches, the referees finally began handing out roughing penalties, though the hitting continued unabated until the final whistle.
The real story of the night, though, was Louie Cecala. The Madison left winger had an extra gear on Monday night and he did not hesitate to use it to push his way past the Whippany Park defense. Though many high school hockey players are fast on the ice, few can couple that speed with the hands and finishing ability Cecala showed against the Wildcats and his six-point effort - including a hat trick - was certainly worthy of "first star" status.