Neither team would give an inch.
Neither defending champion Morris Knolls nor newcomer Kinnelon would back down on the ice in their Mennen Cup final on Thursday. The result was a 4-4 tie after four intense periods of hockey and the schools being declared co-champions.
For Morris Knolls, the share of the title gives it two straight Mennen Cup crowns. For Kinnelon, it’s a chance to get its name on the Cup and the championship banner that hangs inside Mennen Arena for the first time.
Kinnelon had the edge in play over the first 15 minutes but the Golden Eagles got on the scoreboard first at 10:53 when senior defenseman Zack Simmons made an end-to-end rush and finished it off by firing a high wrist shot over the catching glove of Kinnelon netminder Thomas Huber. It was only the third shot of the period for the defending Mennen Cup champions, who were outshot by the Colts 8-6 in the opening period. Kinnelon’s best scoring chance came prior to Simmons’ goal when Brian Gnad beat a pair of defenders at the Knolls’ blueline but his shot rang off the crossbar.
After a conservative opening period, the goals came fast and furious in the second period as Kinnelon scored four times, three on the power play, to grab a 4-3 lead.
Matt Civil tied the game for the Colts on the power play before Simmons netted his second goal of the game, also on the power play, to regain the lead for the Golden Eagles. The Colts then got successive power play goals from Dylan McMurrer and Bruce Anderson to take their first lead of the game. But Morris Knolls’ Jack Monahan tied it for the home team just 24 seconds later. Gnad then gave the Colts the lead at the intermission when he banged in a loose puck during a goalmouth scramble.
The Colts then played a tight defensive third period in protecting their one-goal lead and were 39 seconds away from their first Mennen Cup title when Simmons struck for his third goal of the game with Goffredo pulled for an extra attacker to tie the game at 4-4 and force overtime.
The best chance in overtime came off the stick of Kinnelon’s Hunter Ledwith, who hit the post with 7:00 remaining after a move around the defense in the low slot.
Kinnelon 0 4 0 0 4
Morris Knolls 1 2 1 0 4
First period: 1. MK, Zack Simmons, 10:53.
Second period: 2. K, Matt Civil (Gnad), 8:25 (pp); 3. MK, Simmons (Ryan Deemer), 9:22 (pp); 4. K, Dylan McMurrer (Gnad, Hunter Ledwith), 11:19 (pp); 5. K, Bruce Anderson (Gnad, Ledwith), 12:48 (pp); 6. MK, Jack Monahan (Eric Haddock-Weiler), 13:12; 7. K, Gnad (Anderson, McMurrer), 14:31.
Third period: 8. MK, Simmons, 14:31.
Shots on goal: Kinnelon 8-16-3-6–33. Morris Knolls 6-7-10-7–30.
Goalies: K, Thomas Huber. M, Mike Goffredo.