MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ – The Roxbury High School ice hockey team on Monday played hard and, in doing so, complicated Morristown's attempt to qualify for the state tournament.
The Gaels tied Colonials 3-3 to bring their record to 5-12-2. Morristown's record is now 7-10-3 overall and 2-6-1 in MCSSIHL-Mennen Division play. To be eligible for the NJSIAA tournament, sub-.500 teams must be a maximum of four games under to be considered.
With just two regular season games left, vs. Randolph on Thursday and Vernon on Saturday night, Morristown will simply need one tie or one victory to punch its ticket to the states. With the Mennen Division being considered the best non-Gordon Conference league in the state, it is unheard of for any eligible Mennen team not to be selected.
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Morristown appeared poised to qualify in this one, but recently christened all-time Roxbury scorer Billy Hefferle scored a third period goal to force the draw.
The Colonials took a 3-2 lead late in the second period, when Jay Horan scored off an assist from Nate DeFares for the period’s only goal.
Morristown’s Conor Critchley scored just 25 seconds into the game, and his finish came off assists from Tommy Zmachinski and DeFares, but Roxbury would respond with goals from Nick Hefferle and Shane Miller – both off assists of the scoring machine Billy Hefferle’s stick – to move the Gaels ahead.
Critchley’s second goal off a DeFares feed with 7:08 remaining in the first capped off a wild scoring sequence that saw a 2-2 score after one.
The Gaels' final game of the season is Friday against Morristown Beard.