MORRIS TOWNSHIP – The immediate reaction following Saturday night’s 1-1 tie between the hockey teams of Morristown and Montville high schools told the whole story.
The Mustangs had celebrated the result at center ice, while the Colonials appeared to be deflated.
Montville – a Haas Division team, the third tier in the MCSSIHL – gained a well-deserved point from top (Mennen) division Morristown team that did not quite look as sharp as its recent form. The result moves the Colonials overall record to 4-3-2 on the campaign. With a .500 record above the only way to completely assure a playoff birth in the NJSIAA Public B bracket, Morristown also missed out on a chance to pad its record in hopes of automatically qualifying.
“I think this will be a valuable lesson for our guys,” said Morristown coach Bobby Jones. “You can’t just get on the ice and expect to win, it doesn’t work that way in Morris County hockey. I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt us.”
The lone Morristown goal came in shorthanded form, as the sequence began with a Montville turnover while on the attack.
Senior captain Nate DeFares stole a pass, sprinted up rink and found an open Spencer Levite just off center frame from about twenty feet out. Levite would rip a shot into the left corner of the net at a midway height to level things up at 1-1 just 91 seconds after Montville scored.
With momentum having swung greatly in Montville’s favor in a very chippy and physical game that included eleven penalties, Levite’s equalizer came in a huge spot.
“We did need that goal there to kind of bring their momentum down a little bit,” Jones said. “They were kind of pushing the tempo until that point, but it was back and forth the rest of the way.
The Montville goal was also a pretty one, as sophomore Daniel Scheine laced a one-timed shot off a back pass from Joe Nuzzi (via Thomas Nees) to get the Mustangs on the board four minutes into the second period.
The boys from the northeastern end of the county nearly won the game outright in the final minutes, when Nuzzi struck the post immediately after a faceoff resulting from a Morristown icing infraction.
The Colonials will now move onto the Ice Vault Classic, which will be played at the tournament’s namesake rink in Wayne. On Tuesday evening, Morristown will face Wayne – a newly formed co-op team of Hills and Valley high schools of that town – at 8:30 PM.
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