NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Compounding mistakes from the West Essex ice hockey team resulted in the Knights’ second consecutive loss to Millburn, this one by a final score of 8-5.
“We made a lot of mistakes in the defensive end that eventually bit us in the behind and that’s what cost us the game,” said West Essex head coach Marc Gregory.
The Millers took it to West Essex in the opening period, outshooting the Knights 12-3 for the frame. Millburn’s Spencer Brown tallied the first of his three goals in the first. Brown was joined by Sam Charlot to stake Millburn to an early 2-0 lead.
‘The first period, it was fundamental stuff and we talked about it,” said Gregory.
Millburn continued its supremacy in the second period, capitalizing off of complacent defensive coverage on the Knights’ part. Ethan Ostroff and Matt Riskin benefitted off the mistakes, scoring two early second-period goals to give Millburn a 4-0 lead.
“In the second period, it was a lack of coverage,” said Gregory.
Displeased with his team’s effort, Gregory called a timeout to change the momentum. Pleading with his team for a better effort, Gregory was rewarded with the Knights’ first goal of the game off the stick of Connor Hapward.
“I think after the timeout, they seemed to be a little bit more responsible in the defensive end,” said Gregory.
Despite the swing of momentum, the Millers were not worried. Brown collected back-to-back goals to answer the call and complete his hat trick for the evening. Brown finished the season with six points in two games against West Essex.
“[Brown] is a good player,” said Gregory. “He was driving the net and we weren’t picking him up and he can finish there.”
West Essex collected its second goal late in the second period to cut the lead to 6-2. Reed Dooskin collected his first career goal for the Knights on that play and later added a second in the third period for good measure.
“[Dooskin] is a great team player and it’s really great to see him have a couple of goals today,” said Gregory.
The Knights saved their best period for last, outshooting Millburn 10-3 in the third period. The Knights tallied three additional goals off the sticks of Reed Dooskin and Sammy Friedman among others.
While the Knights' play was encouraging, it still begs the question of what would have happened had the squad turned on the intensity for three consecutive periods.
“They got more intense in the third and it paid off, but you’ve got to play three periods,” said Gregory.
The loss drops the Knights to 3-8-1, as they’ve now lost four consecutive games. The group will look to correct its mistakes and get back on the winning track with another game against Nutley on Monday evening.
“What I will say is they won’t quit,” said Gregory. “They have a good attitude…they will keep moving and keep working hard and we’ve got Nutley on Monday and nobody is going to feel sorry for you so we’re back at it on Monday.”