MORRIS TWP. – With a few key pieces missing from its opening-day lineup, a young and slightly undermanned Parsippany Regional ice hockey team never quite found its skating legs as it fell to Gill St. Bernard’s 8-0 in a MCSSIHL Hass Division matchup at Mennen Arena.

“We had three kids that weren’t here today, so when you lose three of your 9 or 10 skaters it’s huge,” said Parsippany Regional head coach Anthony Egidio.  “It wasn’t easy, but I’m proud of the fact that we moved a kid who’s a forward to play defense so we played three defensemen (Jake Weiss, David Zilinskis, freshman Kyle Kirt) and they played crazy minutes and played tough. And our forwards stuck their noses in there and did the best they could.

“Gill is a great team with some very talented players. As a coaching staff, we just want to see our guys getting better throughout the game and throughout the season and I think that we saw that today.”

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Outshot 58-8 overall, it was only the outstanding goaltending of senior Justin Wellman (50 saves) that kept Parsippany Regional in the game after the opening period (trailing 2-0) as the four-year starter turned in a sparkling effort between the pipes. Wellman also kept his streak alive of playing every game he’s been eligible to play for his team since entering the program as a freshman.

“Without Justin this is a 10-goal game by the second period,” Egidio said. “He made some outstanding saves and if he’s not first-team all-conference this year it’s crazy. He keeps us in games. He’s been the backbone of this team since he walked in his freshman year. He makes coaches look good.

“He’s always been a great leader the way he prepares and his work ethic. But I told him that the kids care about what he says and he’s speaking up more now on the ice and in the locker room and everyone stops and listens. It means more coming from him than it does from us.”

The Knights held a 23-1 shot advantage in the opening period and grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals by Christian Mote and Ed McCarthy.

“Justin kept us alive after the first period and gave us a chance,” Egidio said.

Parsippany Regional picked up its play early in the second period but could not break through against Knights’ goaltender Alex Steinberg, who stopped eight shots in the contest in posting the shutout. Gill would increase its lead to 6-0 after second-period goals by McCarthy, Mote, and a pair by Brenen Lavoie.

Parsippany’s best scoring chance came early in the third period when Weiss skated end-to-end and nearly slipped a backhand shot past Steinberg, who held his ground while Weiss skated through the crease and got the shot off.

The Knights completed the scoring with a pair of goals in the final period, including one by Lavoie, who netted his third of the game at 6:31 to record the hat trick.