MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ – The Morristown ice hockey team’s season opening game vs. Jackson Memorial presented a unique challenge for the local squad.
The Jaguars have more size than perhaps any public school team in this area, and their physicality allows them to control the boards and many 50/50 pucks.
But when all was said and done, Morristown walked away with a 1-1 draw on early Sunday evening at Mennen Arena.
Remarkably, the result marks the first time since the 2009-10 season that Morristown did not fall in its initial start. On December 3rd, 2009, the Colonials defeated Mendham 3-0 and dropped their last seven openers since, five of them coming to perennial state powerhouse Morristown-Beard.
“It was a good result to get tonight. (Jackson) is a very big team and their top-line talent is excellent,” said Colonials coach Bobby Jones. “We were smaller but our puck skills we’re very, very good in what was a tough game.”
The Morristown goal was the equalizer in this one, and it came with 7:09 remaining in the third period. Colonials center Stephen Brockman banged home a shot from center from off a feed from Jay Horan to get Morristown on the board. The goal game following a relentless onslaught of pressure from the home side throughout the third period.
Just several minutes earlier, a disputed no goal call by the referees took away what would have been a goal scored by captain Nate DeFares. Off a scramble in the box, DeFares’ close range effort beat Jackson goaltender Matt Pousson and landed right on the goal line, but was ruled as not having crossed the goal line before a Morristown crease violation.
Less than five minutes into the game, the Colonials nearly got on the board early, but sophomore Conor Critchley’s backhand to the far corner grazed off the post. Morristown would again hit iron in the second period, when a deflected shot from Ryan Scott also missed by a razor thin margin.
“We created plenty of chances, which is a good sign. As we move into Mennen Division play, we need to finish,” explained Jones.
Jackson—who outshot Morristown 27 to 20 in this game—got its goal in the second period, when forward Matt Mezzina took a pass from Cody Jablonski and fired in the short-ranged effort.
As the game finished with an up and down, frenzied crescendo, Mezzina nearly had a winner but was denied by Morristown keeper Derek Peck. But off the rebound to the left point, the Jaguars’ Connor Lowrey drilled a slapshot off the post.
Peck finished with 26 saves for the Colonials, while Pousson turned away 20 Morristown shots.
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