MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - The Morristown High School ice hockey team played as well as they have all season in Sunday night’s MCSSIHL inter-division game vs. Madison.
The Colonials doubled the Dodgers in shots on goal, moved the puck around the rink with alarming ease, and controlled a lion’s share of time of possession.
But as Morristown was reminded after the final whistle, hockey can be a cruel game with a little bit of bad luck and a hot goalie, and Madison walked away with a 2-0 victory.
The Dodgers scored their initial goal five seconds off a faceoff in the opening period, and added an empty-netter with 1:17 left to seal the win. The frustrating loss – Morristown’s third straight – drops the Colonials back under the .500 mark for the season at 6-7-2.
“There are times after games where I’m frustrated at how we played or things we didn’t execute, but not tonight. Everyone on the ice played a good, sound game. Our play was even better than in some of our wins,” lamented Morristown coach Bobby Jones.
A major part of the problem for Morristown was Madison goaltender Matt Ubertaccio, a three-year varsity player that stoned the Colonials 29 times to pitch the shutout. On three separate occasions, Ubertaccio denied what may have been a hat trick on many other nights by Morristown forward Specer Levite. The last of those opportunities came with 2:51 left, when Levite’s one-timer from the far-left post was deflected by Ubertaccio’s left arm pad.
The Dodgers got their initial goal off a face-off at the 10:14 mark of the first period. Aidan Niceberg shot a ricocheted puck into the upper left corner of the net off feeds from Jacob Erickson and Dave Renzulli to put the Rose City team up 1-0.
Morristown came tantalizingly close to evening the score with nine seconds left in the period, when Sean Donnelly made a defender miss and laced a backhand shot off the top crossbar that prevented a spectacular finish for the Colonials.
Midway through the second period, senior captain Nate DeFares broke free on a breakaway, but his hard shot was gloved by Ubertaccio to again preserve the shutout.
A Madison player was given a five-minute major with 12:05 remaining in the game, and Ubertaccio would save seven Morristown shots in that span.
With the Colonials pressing for the goal in the game’s dying moments, Erickson added an empty-net finish to double the lead at seal up the surprising victory.
“It’s easier to come up and play a Mennen Division team and win in a one-off game than the absolute grind that is our league,” said Jones about back to back defeats to West Morris and Madison, lower division MCSSIHL clubs. “Ten times a year you have to play against the top programs in the whole state, but that toughness usually shows itself at the end (in states).”
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