RANDOLPH, NJ- The 2016-17 season for the Randolph boys ice hockey team has been wrought with challenges, as injury and illness to an unusually high number of players has left the team with a non-typical record of 8-6-4.
However, senior night brought out the best in the Rams, as they showed a 13-2 Livingston team the difference between playing in the McInnis Conference and the Mennen Conference, by controlling the game and skating off with a 3-1 victory.
Before the game, the team held its annual ceremony to honor each senior’s dedication to the program, where each player presents flowers to their mothers and takes a family photo on the ice.
“The seniors on this years’ team have done an excellent job,” said Rams coach Rich McLaughlin. “They come to practice and work hard each day, they all love hockey and are proud to play for their school. It tells you a lot about them as people who work hard and do not always receive the praise they deserve.”
Hard work has long been the trademark that Randolph hockey is known for, and has helped the squad achieve tremendous success throughout the years.
“You have to want to make each other better, and you have to support each other through thick and thin,” said senior captain Jack Zimmer. “Randolph Hockey has never been about flashy plays or highlight reel goals, it’s about working together, wearing other teams down, playing hard, sound defense and scoring gritty goals. That's what it takes to make it to the 'big show.'
Against Livingston, the Rams broke out their workmanlike game, controlling play for much of the first period and firing 14 shots on net while holding the Lancers to only six. The teams traded goals in the second, with JT Zangara scoring first for Randolph off assists from Jack and Will Zimmer. Livingston tied the game at one apiece just before the second period horn.
But the Rams flexed their might in the third, getting two goals from Adam Redgate ( assisted by Justin Harper and Nick Civetta on the first, and by Zach Vino and Matt Siegel on the second ) to slam the door on Livingston and take a 3-1 victory.
“Ultimately, we want to find ourselves at the prudential center ( for state finals ),” said goalie and senior captain Luc Swedlund. “These guys have battled all year, I don't think any team has had to battle though the injuries, sickness that we have. We have always preached peaking at the best time and we have a great opportunity to find ourselves over the next month.”
With one game remaining in the regular season, and the Mennen Cup tournament about to begin, there is no better time than now for the Rams to get on a run. For the seniors, this is the home stretch of their RHS careers.
“Randolph Ice Hockey means so much more than just throwing on a jersey,” said Zimmer. “Playing for this team the last four years and representing that 'R' has been an absolute honor. Randolph Hockey has provided me with work ethic, confidence, and sense of working for a common goal. These are all leadership skills that are necessary in life.”
To underclassmen, and to younger middle school hockey players who aspire to play for RHS one day, Swedlund offered some advice.
“Appreciate this opportunity when you get here, love to have practice every day because one day it'll end, and you'll miss it,” said Swedlund. Be motivated, take criticism, understand your role, and keep Randolph hockey where it has been for many years.”
Coach McLaughlin is about to complete his 26th year at the helm. He has seen many graduating classes come and go in that time, and has had a similar message for them all over the years.
“These kids all came into the program as ninth graders with hopes of playing for Randolph, and each has worked very hard to do so,” said McLaughlin, when asked about this years’ class of seniors. “They never quit which is a great character trait they can use the rest of their lives. I tell them, ‘if they want something bad enough, and are willing to put in the time and effort, they can do great things in life.’”