MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - The No. 13 Warriors were out of upsets and their Cinderella ending fell just short on Sunday. No. 2 Ridge held on to win its first state championship in nine years in the NJSIAA Public A ice hockey final Sunday night at Mennen Arena, 2-1 over Watchung Hills.
Three upsets got the Warriors to the final with wins over Hunterdon Central, Livingston and Princeton.
The fans sang the National Anthem.
"Congratulations to our ice hockey team on a wonderful season!," said WHRHS Director of Athletics Chris Van Vliet. "We are so proud of your effort in tonight's state championship game. To Coach Criscitello, his staff, and all of our Warrior players, thank you for providing us with many special memories this winter. We look forward to seeing our Warriors on the ice next season! "
Ryan McHugh stopped 24 shots on goal for Watchung Hills. Ridge out shot Watchung Hills, 26-19 and scored both its goals in the second period after a scoreless first period with both teams killing off a power play.
The game remained scoreless until 12:30 of the second period, when Brett Carey made a long pass from the defensive zone to Connor Villa, who converted to give Ridge a 1-0 advantage.
With 4:44 to go in the second, Jack Mandala found John Vilade in the slot and Vilade finished the play with a goal for a 2-0 Red Devils lead. Ridge killed one penalty in the second period and then another early in the third before Watchung Hills finally converted on another power play.
With 6:23 left, Matt Piro took a pass from Mike Brady and Zach Lindewirth on a breakaway and scored to bring the Warriors within one goal, 2-1.
And that was the game. Next door rivals. Skyland Conference teams. Two communities coming together for a night of hockey. Ridge over Watchung Hills, 2-1. The teams, many players lifelong friends, congratulated each other on twitter after the game.
The Tribe tweeted, "Congratulations to @2017WHpuck on bringing the sickest student section ever and making us so proud. Awesome season boys!"