MORRIS TWP., NJ - The Roxbury High School ice hockey team lost its seventh game on Saturday, falling to rival Randolph in a feisty game that gave the Rams coach his 400th career win.
After leading for a good stretch in the second period, the Gaels lost 3-1, bringing Roxbury's season record to 1-7. While any victory against Roxbury is special for Randolph, the Rams celebrated with extra gusto after the game because it was a milestone win for their coach, Rich McLaughlin.
“It feels good, but it also means you've been around for a long time,” said McLaughlin. “A lot goes go through your head though, Mike (Valvano, assistant coach) has been here with me since day one, and Kyle has been here a long time to. We have had a lot of good people come through here to help make that 400, not just me.”
This is McLaughlin’s 25th year at Randolph, and in those years he has steered his teams to eight state championships in 13 finals appearances in the Public bracket. McLaughlin was also named state Coach of the Year in 2003, the first year he won a state title.
The game didn’t start off the way the Rams would have liked, and it appeared getting the record would have to wait for another day. After a scoreless first period, the Gaels struck in the second to take a 1-0 lead and put Randolph on its heels. The Roxbury goal was made by Billy Hefferle with an assist from Nick Thomas.
That lead held up until the final few minutes of the second period, when the Rams began to take control of the play. Randolph maintained possession in the offensive zone for almost all of the final four minutes, until JT Zangara tied it up, with assists coning from Nick Civetta and Will Zimmer.
“After the first period today I wasn't really happy at all with our play, but we talked it over a bit between periods and we came out and played much better from there,” said McLaughlin. “Roxbury is having a tough time in terms of wins and losses, but they have some good players and fortunately we were able to come back.”
It was all Rams from then on, as they peppered the Gaels net with shot after shot. Early in the third, Will Zimmer broke the tie by putting in the rebound of a Zangara shot. Just minutes later, Zangara struck again with a diving shot that was assisted by Zimmer and Civetta, as the trio combined for all the points resulting in the 3-1 win.
Overall, the Rams outshot Roxbury 41-22, with goalie Trevor Stenberg making 21 saves. Gaels goalkeeper Tyler Marston made 38 saves.
The Gaels next play on Tuesday in the Varsity Holiday Tournament, taking on Indian Hills at the Ice Vault in Wayne at 7:45 p.m.