MORRISTOWN, NJ – Senior forward Adam Redgate set up the game’s first goal in the second period, then scored the game-winner off a wrist shot from the slot in the third to lead No. 8-ranked Randolph hockey team a 4-2 win over No. 11 Morristown-Beard, claiming the programs first Mennen Cup title in ten years at the Mennen Sports Arena.
The pace of the game was fast and hard hitting, as both teams had their opportunities in an evenly played first period, but it wasn’t until the second period that the game started to open up.
“There were a lot of swings of momentum in this game,” Randolph coach Rich McLaughlin said after the game. “At times we’d get our forecheck going and as soon as we didn’t get it going, they’d put us back on our heels and come at us. We each took our turn and luckily for us, we got that extra goal.”
Randolph capitalized on a dump-in from the blue line when Redgate contested Morristown-Beard goaltender Anthony DelTuto for the puck behind the net. Neither player was able to play the puck cleanly, but Randolph was able to center the puck after a brief scrum and sophomore defenseman Michael Sofia was able to knock the puck in the back of the net before DelTuto could regain his position just over a minute into the second period.
The Rams nearly doubled their lead a few minutes later when sophomore forward JT Zangara split up the ice on a breakaway, but missed the net by mere inches. Later that shift, Zangara was called for a hooking penalty, setting up the Crimson’s first power play opportunity of the game. In the waning seconds of the extra-man advantage, Morristown-Beard netted the equalizer, a wrist shot from the point from Tom Matthews.
It appeared Morristown-Beard took the lead on the next shift when a shot from the blue line was redirected into the back of the net, but the goal was called off by referees, who said the puck was touched with a high stick.
More good fortune for the Rams came a few minutes later when they got their first power play opportunity of the game courtesy of an interference call.
Randolph team captain William Zimmer won a faceoff in the offensive zone as the Rams kept the pressure on with the man advantage. Zimmer would eventually cash in on a rebound in front of the net with assists from Zangara and Zach Vino on the play. They’d take a 2-1 lead into the third period, despite being outshot 11-7 that period.
Appropriate to the back-and-forth them of the night, Morristown-Beard again tied the game up four minutes into the third period on a blue line shot that caught Randolph goaltender Scott Kimiecik off balance.
The Rams, however, would ultimately score with what turned out to be the game-winning goal just three minutes later when Redgate hit twine on a wrister off a beautiful feed from junior Austin Cross.
“It’s one of the greatest feelings that I’ve ever had,” Redgate said recalling his game-winning goal. “Randolph hockey is really built on playing with heart and never giving up; that’s what our team’s been really good at this year and we’ve had a lot of close games that we’ve come out on top of. (Winning the Mennen Cup) was always a goal for us in the beginning and we’ve always had our eye on it.”
Kimiecik held strong down the stretch of the game making save after save, including a pair of glove saves on back-to-back shot attempts. Those were just two of his 25 saves on the evening.
“I just try to stay cool, calm and collected – play my game like it’s been working all year for me,” Kimiecik said after the game. “I knew if I continued to play that way the boys and I would be able to close it out well. There’s no feeling like it – it’s just incredible after all the work that we’ve put in over the past couple of months.”
With just over a minute left in the game, Morristown-Beard sought extra firepower and pulled their goalie. Randolph capitalized on a Crimson turnover in the neutral zone when Zangara sent the puck from center ice into the back of the empty net, which all but sealed Morristown-Beard’s fate in the game.
“We’re going to have fun with this tonight and then move on because Monday we’re back at practice,” added Randolph coach McLaughlin. “I’m going to have to bring these kids back down to earth and have a tough practice on Monday. We beat a good team and we learned how to win a tough game tonight; I hope this takes us to another level.”
Randolph will look to parlay their success in the Mennen Cup as they set their sights on the upcoming state tournament, which begins next week. The Rams have already earned the No. 1 seed for that tournament and will host the winner of the Tenafly-Newton game on February 23 at 6 p.m.