ROXBURY, NJ - A first-period hat-trick performance by Nick Thomas led the Roxbury High School ice hockey team to its ninth victory Thursday as the team defeated Vernon.

The Gaels got off to a fast start en route to the 6-3 victory led by Thomas' three goals. Thomas' first was unassisted, and the next two were assisted by Nick Hefferle and Brian Westergaard.  

Vernon scored early in the second period, but Roxbury responded minutes later with a goal from Hefferle and an assist from Kevin Keane. 

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Vernon scored again, to make it 4-2, and had a big opportunity to make it a one-goal game with a penalty shot late in the period. But goalie Ryan Callahan made the save - one of 21 he accomplished during the battle - reigniting the Gaels.

With six seconds to play in the period, Hefferle led a two-on-one rush up-ice, sliding a beautiful pass to Kyle Jenkins who fired it to the back of the net for the goal. Hefferle then won the face-off at center ice, raced in on goal and scored unassisted with less than a second remaining. 

Vernon scored one in the third, but couldn't get any closer as Callahan shut the door for the rest of the night. The win brought the Gaels record this season to 9-6-1.

Roxbury's next game is Senior Night, on Jan 26 when it plays Mount Olive at 6:30 pm at Aspen Ice in Randolph.