MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - The Chatham ice hockey team has now reached "legit" status as a Mennen Cup contender this season.
The Cougars, thanks to senior goalie Jamie Boles, made that clear by pulling off a 2-1 win over Morristown-Beard in a Martin Luther King Jr.-Day matchup Monday at Mennen Sports Arena.
It was the second time in five days that Chatham (10-3-2) had defeated Morristown-Beard (10-5), having scored a 3-0 victory last Wednesday.
"This shows we're a legit team," Chatham senior Billy Pyhel said. "At the beginning of the season, we got some really bad rankings. We can't let our foot off the gas pedal. This puts us first in the league, but we can't let up."
The victory puts Chatham atop the Mennen Division standings with a 6-1 mark, followed by Morris Kniolls at 4-1-1 and Morristown Beard with a 4-2 mark.
Boles had to be on top of his game from the start since the Crimson came out with something to prove. The Cougars were out-shot, 12-4, in the opening period, but took a 1-0 lead into the break with a goal at the 5:24 mark. Senior Jim Herendeen stuffed in a rebound of Pyhel's breakaway shot (see video) that was initially stopped by goalie John Cohen.
Other than the goal by Chatham, Morristown-Beard was swarming the net and Boles was up to the task, making half of his 24 saves. In the two meetings, Boles piled up 53 saves and shut out Morristown-Beard for more than 83 straight minutes before Isaac Davison scored with 6:37 left in the third period.
Chatham goalie Jamie Boles talks about holding Morristown-Beard to one goal over two games
Chatham coach Brendon Herr credited with Boles with keeping his team in it during a rough first period.
"Jamie did a phenomenal job in keeping us in the game," Herr said. "He made some real big saves in the first to get us out of some jams.
"You're always happy with a win. I think we just started out a little flat for the first two periods. After we got the first goal, we had a bit more momentum. This is the first time Chatham has beaten them twice in four years. The key for us this year has been our goaltending. "
Chatham had given Boles a little breathing room by scoring a power-play goal 7:04 into the third period. Shay Black sent the puck to Tanner Acone for a shot that was saved, but Thomas Winter put in the rebound to make it 2-0.
"I was on varsity as a freshman and this is the first time I've been part of a team that beat them twice," Winter, a junior, said. "In the first period, we weathered the storm and Jamie played out of his mind. That has been the X factor this year."
Chatham holds on in final seconds to secure second win over Morristown-Beard in 5-day span