MONTVILLE, NJ - Coming off a game in which their seven-game winning streak was snapped in a 1-1 tie against Morristown last Saturday, the struggles continued for the Montville hockey team on Friday as they played to a 2-2 tie against Paramus Catholic at the Ice House in Hackensack.
The Mustangs looked like they had awoken from their brief offensive slumber in the opening period as they scored a pair of goals in the first six minutes of the game. Thomas Nees netted his team-high 13th goal of the season just over two minutes in. Montville would add another goal at the 9:01 mark of the first period when Joe Nuzzi scored on the power play to give his team a sizable advantage in the early going. However, the offense seemingly went into hibernation for the rest of the game.
Momentum continued to stay on the Mustangs’ side until Thomas Nees laid out the Paladins’ goalie just outside the crease with 7:06 remaining, which resulted in Nees’ ejection from the game, as well as a five-minute major penalty. Montville Coach Alex Beatrice was disappointed with the conduct of one of his senior leaders.
“It was a stupid play from Tommy and you can quote me on that,” Beatrice said. “He has to be smarter with his surroundings. Losing our best player on a stupid play like that changed the entire momentum of the game.”
Paramus Catholic answered just over a minute after Nees’ ejection when Austin Teats scored on the power play to finally get them on the board. The chippy play continued for the remainder of the period, but the Mustangs continued to play tough and keep the Paladins off the scoreboard as they took a one-goal lead into the final period of play. The defense looked sharp for most of the period, but the back line seemingly ran out of gas and allowed Paramus Catholic to get the game-tying goal, courtesy of Alejandro Castro, with only 2:51 remaining in regulation. The Paladins rode the momentum and nearly scored the game-winning goal as time expired, but the puck failed to cross the goal line when the buzzer sounded. Despite leaving Hackensack with a tie, Beatrice still considered the result to be a defeat.
“I look at this as a loss,” Beatrice said. “We gave up another short-handed goal to tie the game just like we did with Morristown. It’s embarrassing. Our guys should be embarrassed. I really don’t think it would hurt for us to lose. These guys need a reality check, quite honestly.”
Things won’t get any easier as Montville will have to make a quick turnaround to face off against River Dell at Mennen Sports Arena on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.