Randolph wins second consecutive Public A championship
by Rob Hoffman
When the clock ticked down to zero and Randolph defeated Morristown 3-1, it marked the second consecutive state championship for the school and their sixth over the last 10 years. But for Coach Rich McLaughlin, who just concluded his 19th season as coach of the Rams, it’s not just about the team’s success on the ice but in the community as well.
“It used to be about wins and losses, but not as much anymore,” he explained. He recounted the evening of the finals when the team gathered with their friends and families at a local church for a pregame dinner. “I was sitting there with everyone’s families -- aunts, grandmothers, cousins -- and everyone is smiling and having a great time. This is why I do this stuff.”
“The whole family makes sacrifices for the kids with time, effort, and money, and this is the payoff.” The coach added that this sense of family and sacrifice extends to the team itself. “This group is very, very close. They’d do a lot for each other,” McLaughlin said.
“The fact that these kids grow up together and play together from a young age helps a lot with their teamwork,” McLaughlin acknowledged. He credits the team’s hard work and dedication for their success.
“I tell the players there’s a lot of work to be done. Success is not automatic. You have to put in a lot of hard work to get the results, but in the end, it’s worth it.”
How much hard work do the Rams put in? “We practice every day,” he explained. The team calls the Aspen Ice Arena in Randolph their home. They’re able to afford the ice time in large part because of the money the team fundraises, according to McLaughlin.
“We’ve got a booster club that’s been together for a long time,” he said. They raise around $70,000 per year for ice time. Fundraising activities range from bake sales to book sales to car washes. “The players even parked cars on the Fourth of July for the town’s fireworks show,” he added.
Hockey is an integral part of the larger Randolph community, according to McLaughlin. The town has a recreational youth hockey league that starts with the Mites (ages 7-8) and goes all the way up to the Midgets (18 and under).
“Every year, we have a ‘Fan Appreciation Night’ where the little kids get to practice with the big kids,” McLaughlin said. It’s done to keep the younger kids interested in hockey, and it works.
“There was a little kid standing in the middle of the ice, just looking around at the arena and said, ‘This is awesome!’”
PUBLIC A FINALS: Randolph 3, Morristown 1
Not at all unfamiliar with playing on the Prudential Center's ice, the Randoph Rams brought home their second consecutive Public A championship on Friday when they beat newcomers Morristown by a score of 3-1.
After taking a 2-0 lead after two periods on goals by freshman Matthew Bruno, who played with a broken wrist, and Andrew Tucker, Morristown was able to get within striking distance after junior Steven Windt made it a one-goal game with 4:04 remaining. Had they came back, it would have been back-to-back games that Morristown trailed 2-0 before taking over the game and winning.
However, that was not the case this time. Senior Nick Holowko scored 1:05 later to prevent the Morristown comeback to give the Rams the title.
The game featured back-and-forth highlight reel saves as goalies Michael Pollio of Randolph and Shane Brown of Morristown made 17 saves apiece.
||PUBLIC A RESULTS
Public A finals underway: Live updates
by Rob Hoffman
FINAL: RANDOLPH RAMS 3, MORRISTOWN COLONIALS 1
THIRD PERIOD STARTS
The teams are back out on the ice for the start of the third period.
Five minutes have gone by in the third period. Shots are even at two a piece for the period. Faceoff in the Morristown zone.
7:22 remaining in the game. Total shots now 17-13 for Randolph. The Rams almost took a 3-0 lead but goalie Shane Brown was able to swat it away.
Shane Brown standing on his head as he makes two great saves on a strong Randolph scoring opportunity. Morristown clears the puck down the ice for an icing.
Morristown nearly cuts the goal deficit to one but Michael Pollio makes the save. Morristown to the powerplay following a penalty against Mitchell Gaudioso for interference at 9:35.
The Colonials are sustaining strong pressure on the powerplay so far. They'll need to score if they want a good chance to come back in this game.
Morristown scores a powerplay goal! Jack Szary may have tipped-in a shot from junior Steven Windt. It's a one goal game with 4:04 remaining in the third.
Morristown goal credited to #18 Steven Windt. Assist to senior captain Jordan Klotz.
Randolph answers back with a goal of their own at 12:0 of the third! It's a 3-1 lead for the Rams after Nick Holowko puts the puck in the net. Assists to Mitchell Gaudioso and Connor Ryan.
Guadioso redeeming himself after the penalty that led to the Morristown goal -- aside from the assists, he just stole the puck from Morristown when captain Zach Mourad was winding up for a shot. One minute remaining in the third period.
The Colonials pull their goalie with 45 seconds remaining in the third, but to no avail. Final score is 3-1.
The Randolph Rams are your 2012 NJSIAA Public A Champions! Two years in a row!
THIRD PERIOD ENDS
RANDOLPH 3, MORRISTOWN 1
SECOND PERIOD STARTS
NJ sighting! He was spotted riding around the Prudential Center ice on a zamboni, shooting t-shirts to the fans during the intermission.
Faceoff won by Randolph to start the second period.
Randolph to go on the powerplay with 11:03 remaining the second following a 2-minute roughing minor on Brian Keller.
Shots this period are 5-2 in favor of Randolph following the succesful penalty kill by Morristown.
Randolph had 4-on-2 advantage going down the ice, but Morristown goalie Shane Brown made a glove save to keep it a 1-0 game. 6:05 remaining in the second.
Randolph on another powerplay at 10:14 of the second following a 2-minute minor on Gerard Smith of Morristown.
Morristown has a 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity that misses early in the penalty kill.
The Rams score! 2-0 lead following a power play goal by senior defenseman Andrew Tucker. Puck trickled past Brown after it hit one of his own defensemen. Timeout Morristown.
Second period ends with a 9-3 shot advantage for Randolph. Two period total 13-11 advantage for Randolph.
SECOND PERIOD ENDS
RANDOLPH 2, MORRISTOWN 0
FIRST PERIOD STARTS
The Randolph Rams scored first at 2:38 of the period, freshman Matthew Bruno from Liam Finneran and Michael Slavin.
Following the goal, the Morristown Colonials had a quick scoring opportunity but Michael Pollio made a glove save.
Morristown on the powerplay at 5:40 of the first period. Had a few very good chances but couldn't put it home.
With 4:45 remaining in the first period, shots are in favor over Morristown 8-4, but Randolph still has the only goal on the board. Some great saves by Pollio and missed opportunities by Morristown have us at 1-0 Randolph.
Neither team was able to sustain any pressure for the remainder of the first period with both teams playing some tough hockey between the blue lines. End of first period with shots still at 8-4.
FIRST PERIOD ENDS
RANDOLPH 1, MORRISTOWN 0
Randolph and Morristown to meet in Public A state finals
by Rob Hoffman
With a 7 PM puck drop at the Prudential Center in Newark, No. 1 Randolph looks to defend their title against No. 3 Morristown in their fourth consecutive finals appearance.
The two teams last saw each other on January 9 when Randolph came out as the victors in a 2-1 win. “That was a tough game and they’ve gotten a whole lot better. They’re going to be a tough team to beat,” Randolph coach Rich McLaughlin said. “We’re going to have to play our best hockey if we want to win.”
The Rams (21-2-4) come into the game following a 7-2 victory over No.5 Middletown South and have now outscored playoff opponents by a combined 17 to 2. Senior captain Nick Holowko scored a hat trick in their last victory, including what was the eventual game-winner.
For the Morristown Colonials, this is the first time their hockey program has reached the state finals. “We’re more than happy to be here,” coach Bobby Jones said. “We want to have fun and we want to enjoy this.”
Morristown (22-4) is coming off of an impressive 4-2 win over No. 2 Morris Knolls. After Morris Knolls jumped out to a 2-0 lead, the Colonials won after senior captain Jordan Klotz scored the go-ahead goal with 9:53 remaining in the third period.
“They’re not only putting up the points but their leadership in the locker room has been outstanding,” coach Jones said of Klotz and fellow senior captain Zach Mourad. “I know they’re ready to play come game time.”
Coach Jones isn’t too worried about the experience factor even though they’re facing the defending champions. “We won two huge games against Morris Knolls and Montgomery, so we know what kind of work it takes to get here. Our players want this. They want the championship rings.”
Coach McLaughlin told his team to cherish this moment. “I told them to enjoy the day and the experience. This is a game they’ll never ever forget for the rest of their lives,” he said. “It’s always a pleasure to be a part of this.”
Four of the top five seeds reach semifinals in Public A tournament
by Rob Hoffman
The Public A tournament semifinals will feature some of the best teams in the bracket as No. 1 Randolph will take on No. 5 Middletown South while No. 2 Morris Knolls will take on No. 3 Morristown.
Randolph, the defending Public A champions, have yet to allow a goal in their two playoff games so far. Their most recent game, a 7-0 victory over No. 8 Ridgewood, was highlight by senior Nick Howlowko’s pair of goals in the second period.
Middletown South defeated No. 13 Pascack Valley 4-1 on Sunday with a pair of goals from James Burns and a pair of assists matched with a goal from Chris Connor.
The Mennen Arena Public A matchup on Sunday is headlined by a Morris Knolls team that has scored 16 goals in two tournament games and a Morristown team that has scored nine while only allowing two.
The winners of the semifinal matchups in each bracket will face off this Friday, March 9, at the Prudential Center to determine the state champions. The Public A game will take place at 7 PM, Public B at 5 PM, and Non-Public at 9 PM.
Dual hat tricks provide Morristown with win
by Rob Hoffman
The Round of 16 continued Wednesday as seven games took place in the three different brackets. Public A featured two matchups – No. 11 Howell against No. 6 Montgomery and No. 3 Morristown faced off against No. 14 Wayne Valley.
At Protechockey Ponds, the Montgomery Cougars blanked the Howell Rebels, 2-0. Even though they were outshot 40-8, the Rebels were in the game until Montgomery’s Kevin Wanke scored the second and final goal of the game with just over three minutes remaining in the third period.
Montgomery will take on No. 3 Morristown this Sunday after the Colonials cruised to victory over No. 19 West Windsor-Plainsboro North in a 7-1 victory. Senior co-captain Zach Mourad had a hat trick while the Colonials other co-captain, Jordan Klotz, put up a team-high five points with a goal and four assists. Forward Cam Szary also cashed in with a hat trick of his own. The Knights only goal came from senior Nick Skerlick.
NJSIAA Tournament Begins
by Rob Hoffman
Round one of the NJSIAA Tournament got underway this past weekend as 64 teams took the ice across New Jersey with hopes of playing on the New Jersey Devils' home ice. The championship round of each bracket will take place at the Prudential Center on Friday March 9, 2012.
The first round went mostly as you'd expect with only one upset as No. 21 Marlboro defeated No. 12 Westfield by a score of 6 to 5. The big story of the first round, however, was No. 6 Montgomery's Luc Esposito scoring 6 goals and 2 assists as the Cougars blanked the No. 27 Manasquan Warriors 9 to 0.
No. 14 Wayne Valley defeated No. 19 West Windsor-Plainsboro North in a close game as Zach Morrison scored the go-ahead goal with 7:34 remaining in the third period to give the Indians a 3 to 2 win.