MONTVILLE, NJ - The Montville Mustangs had trouble slowing down the speed of the Mahwah Thunderbirds in their 7-3 loss in the first round of the NJSIAA Public B State Playoffs on Monday, Feb. 23.
However, things got off to a promising start when Senior Vinny Arlotta put the Mustangs on top at 4:22 of the first period. Just 1:06 later Mahwah Senior Tyler Gutierrez scored his first of two goals on the night. With 6 minutes remaining in the first period Gutierrez promptly notches his second of the night and just like that Mahwah led 2-1, a score that would hold up until the first intermission.
In the second period, things started off quiet on both ends until Mahwah got their speed and attack going. Finally at 5:15 of the 2nd, Anthony De Alto gave Mahwah a 3-1 lead and Montville began to unravel. Just 17 seconds after De Alto’s goal, Montville takes a tripping penalty to put Mahwah on the power play in which Marty Kapoian beats Mustangs netminder Josh Beron on a shot from the blueline to put the Thunderbirds up 4-1. Less than 2 minutes later Freshman Shane Ciongoli adds to the scoring to make it 5-1. Late in the second Montville seemed to gain some momentum in hopes of a comeback as Mahwah Senior Liam Brown gets called for a 5-minute boarding penalty. Montville did score once to cut the deficit to 5-2 but failed to get another during the entire five minutes which carried over into the 3rd period.
The third period saw no scoring for most of the way until Montville Senior Tom Marabondo connects on the power play at 8:17 to cut the score to 5-3. Unfortunately for the Mustangs that’s as close as the game would get.
At 9:28, Luc Roberts scores a power play goal to extend Mahwah’s lead to 6-3. Then with less than 2 minutes left the game things got testy; Montville was on the attack and after a shot was saved by Mahwah goalie Jared Moss, Montville players kept whacking away at him attempting to loosen the puck before the whistle. Mahwah players took exception and a series of pushing, shoving and wrestling ensued. When the dust settled, Mahwah added one more for good measure to finish off a 7-3 win.
Montville coach Meg Hishmeh was proud of the way her team never gave up and continued to show intensity even though the scuffle is “not something she’s proud of.” She liked the heart of the team and has nothing bad to say about her team this season. Hismeh also gave Mahwah credit for how hard they played and she said “we couldn’t stop their rushes.”
Mahwah coach Kevin Sabella was very impressed at how his team was able to contain the big scorers of Montville. He called it “an accomplishment” to hold them to under 4 goals. He called it a good win and he knew Montville was coming off their Halvorsen Cup title and prepared for their best. He also spoke highly of his Freshman Goaltender Jared Moss who played extremely well on the day stopping 33 of 36 shots.
For Montville, Vinny Arlotta recorded 2 goals and 1 assst; Tom Marabondo had 1 goal and 2 assists; and James Reynolds recorded 2 assists. On Mahwah’s score sheet, Marty Kapoian had a monster night scoring 1 goal and recording 4 assists; Tyler Gutierrez who recently scored his 100th career point, scored 2 goals and had 1 assist, and Luc Roberts had 1 goal and 2 assists.