MADISON, NJ - A stellar, 42-save performance from goaltender Alec Vitton was not enough, as the the Summit High School Boys Varsity Hockey team lost to Madison 2-1 at Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown.
Madison's Michael Gleason scored a goal, and assisted on the eventual third-period game-winner by Charlie Cleaves with just over six minutes left. Summit freshman Luc Radice scored a highlight goal to make the last two minutes interesting, turning a Dodger defender inside out before ripping a shot into the net.
The majority of the first period and a-half was played in the Hilltoppers end of the ice or in the neutral zone, as Summit consistently found themselves defending. The recorded shots on goal -- 22-2 in favor of Madison -- may not have been exact, but the exponential disparity did tell the story after a period of play.
Despite the number of pucks directed on goal, Vitton looked comfortable turning everything away until the 4:30 mark, when Madison's Jett Tom broke down the left wing and fed Gleason on the doorstep. Vitton had no no chance, and Madison had a 1-0 lead.
Summit got their legs going in a two minute-span in the second period when, down a man, a Dodger penalty created a 4-on-4 span of play which the Hilltoppers seemed to enjoy. Using the extra space, Summit got the puck into the Madison end of the ice, and earned a power play opportunity.
Skating 4-on-3 for over a minute, Summit didn't score, but the balance of play, while not even, had become, well, more balanced, and the second period ended with Madison clinging to the one-goal advantage. Shots on goal after two periods were 32-15 in favor of the Dodgers.
The third period was played tight by both teams, and Vitton did his best to keep it a one-goal game when -- midway through the period -- he came up aces, stoning Madison's Ryan Carson on a breakaway.
Later in the period, however, a wild scrum in from of Vitton resulted in the Dodgers taking a 2-0 lead, when the puck squirted free to Cleaves, and he shoveled it into an open net.
With just under three minutes to go it looked like the result was a formality, but junior defensemen Corey McManus hit Radice in stride with a pass near center ice and the talented freshman did the rest. Crossing the blue line he feigned as if he was going to his right, pulled the puck back to his left and unleashed a 20-foot wrist shot that beat Madison goaltender Matt Ubertaccio. There was 2:46 to go, and Summit trailed 2-1.
Madison did a good job keeping the puck in the Hilltopper end of the ice in the final 90 seconds, but Summit did get Vitton to the bench for an extra skater with less than 35 seconds remaining. After a tripping penalty with 14 seconds left, Summit had a face-off in the Madison end and a 6-on-4 advantage but, despite the puck ping-ponging around the front of the Dodger net, the Hilltoppers never really got a stick on the biscuit.
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