RANDOLPH, NJ – Needing the victory to qualify for the state tournament a few weeks ago, the Morristown High School ice hockey team became the only team to beat Randolph this season, so far.
In a NJSIAA Public B quarterfinal on Sunday afternoon, it was those same loaded Rams who knocked the Colonials out of said tournament.
A suffocating defensive performance was turned in by Randolph, as they controlled Morristown for 45 minutes to take a 3-0 victory at Aspen Ice. Morristown – outshot by a 45-22 margin in this one – finished its campaign at exactly .500, with a 12-12-3 mark.
“(Randolph) never really let us control the puck and have an extended possession. It was difficult to even keep the puck in our own end over the first two periods,” said Colonials coach Bobby Jones about Randolph’s relentless press. “I wish we would have had a better start but they were a step ahead it seemed.”
Randolph wasted little time in getting out on the front-burner, as they outshot the Colonials 16-5 in the opening period. A little over two minutes in, Morristown was awarded a power play following a Rams cross-checking penalty, but the swarming “D” by the winners didn’t allow Morristown to get off a shot during the advantage.
With 6:03 to go, the breakthrough finally came for Randolph, as Max Gaudioso finished off a shot from inside the left point off assists from Justin Harper and James Mattson, giving the Rams a 1-0 lead.
Just under two minutes later, Connor Critchley had one of Morristown’s true scoring chances, but his slap shot from the left-wing was turned away by Randolph goaltender Scott Kimiecik.
Fifty-eight seconds later, the Rams put home a dagger in beautiful fashion.
Adam Redgate fed a beautiful thru-pass in transition to C.J. Mortello, who juked a Colonials defender, cut to the left, and launched a laser into the upper left-hand corner of the net to double the lead to 2-0 and send a heavily partisan crowd into a frenzy.
Outshooting Morristown 18-5 in the second period – with the Colonials having no real scoring threats – Randolph added a third goal when Will Zimmer scored off a feed from J.T. Zanagara on a rebound with 8:55 remaining in the period.
Morristown played the final 4:23 of the game a man up with Randolph having been whistled for a major penalty. They nearly broke the shutout with 1:15 to go, but a one-timed blast by Critchley from point-blank range was stuffed by a reflexive Kimiecik.
In the other net, Colonials goalie Derek Peck was outstanding in his final game, turning away 42 shots.
“When you look at our season, I think we had as tough as schedule as any public school team in the state. 12 games were against teams that are in the top 20 right now,” said Jones. “I think beating Randolph in the regular season was a huge accomplishment, and we absolutely needed it to make the playoffs at the time, but I don’t think getting them earlier in the season did us any favors today.”
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