MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ – After sixty-minutes of intense, playoff cup action, the Morristown High hockey’s Mennen Cup chase came down to a shootout.
The Colonials’ pursuit of its first cup since winning the Halvorsen in 2012 was cut short in the end though, as Randolph advanced 3-1 in a shootout—following a 1-1 draw in the game—in the Mennen Cup quarterfinals at Mennen Arena. Morristown has yet to win a Mennen title, but did win the prestigious Gordon Cup in consecutive years in 1965 and 1966.
Morristown, now 8-10-3 on the season, has its state tournament fate in limbo, as brackets have not been released yet. With an overall record under .500, Morristown would need to be awarded a wild card berth in the Non-Public A bracket to have their season continue on.
In the shootout, Randolph received goals from each of its first three shooters, while Morristown couldn’t find the back of the net on Rams goalie Luc Swedlund until its third attempt, when captain Nate DeFares got Morristown on the board. However, the next Colonials shot was foiled by Swedlund, sealing the game and setting off a jubilant celebration by the Rams bench.
The shootout concluded what was a long and entertaining night of hockey. After a mostly uneventful first two periods, the game quickly heated up. Just over a minute into the third period, Morristown lit up the scoreboard first when DeFares took control of a Randolph turnover in the midst of a line shift, and found Connor Critchley in front of the net to give the Colonials a 1-0 lead.
However, that advantage would last all of 62 seconds. After Morristown was whistled for a penalty, Randolph got an unassisted power play goal from Zach Vino to level things up at one apiece. Vino launched a shot from the right wing, and his hard dribbling effort bounced through all kinds of traffic and ultimately past Colonials goalie Harrison Brown (26 saves) to find its way into the back of the net.
Morristown’s best remaining chance in regulation came with fifty-seven seconds left, when Connor Wisloff found himself free in front of net in a transition sequence, but his shot was stoned by Swedlund at near point-blank range.
Tired legs were all over the ice in the overtime session, and they nearly cost Morristown less than two minutes into the extra period, when Randolph’s Dylan Quinn broke free on a breakaway, but Brown came up with the clutch save to extend the game.
With just fourteen seconds left, Sean Donnolly of the Colonials possessed the puck uncontested just several yards off the center of goal, but his shot spun just left and the game headed for its shootout conclusion.
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