MORRIS TWP. – The Halvorsen Cup has a new home.
Senior Vincent Arlotta scored a pair of goals, including what turned out to be the game-winner into an empty net with 52 seconds remaining, and senior goaltender Josh Beron made 21 saves, to lift Montville to a thrilling 3-2 victory over West Morris in the Halvorsen Cup final at Mennen Arena.
The Cup victory was especially sweet for Arlotta and the Mustangs, who won the Haas Division regular-season title last season but failed to win the Haas Cup.
“This definitely feels better than last year,” Arlotta said. “We knew that moving up to the Halvorsen this year was going to be tough but all of our hard work all season long paid off.”
West Morris had trouble handling Montville’s speed to open the game. The Mustangs’ top line took advantage and went to work early, giving the home team the lead just 2:06 into the opening period when Arlotta took a feed in the slot and fired a shot past West Morris netminder Tim Polglase, who had allowed just one goal in his team’s Cup wins over Mountain Lakes-Boonton and Roxbury. Linemates Tom Marabondo and Emerson Emery assisted on the goal.
Montville’s Emerson Emery (19) goes to his knees in front of the goal as West Morris’ Alex Scott (12), left, and Jarrett Ortiz (11) look for an opportunity in the Halvorsen Cup ice hockey final between West Morris Central and Montville at Mennen Arena on February 19, 2015. (Photo by Keith A. Muccilli/ Special to NJ Press Media)
The Wolfpack had a chance to tie the game moments later on the power play but Ray Law’s shot from the circle rang off the post and kept the Mustangs on top. Montville also had a couple of quality scoring chances while shorthanded but Polglase was equal to the task.
Law got another chance and tied the game at 10:09 of the opening period when his shot from the slot was stopped by Beron, who had the puck drop at his skates and trickle over the goal line. Anthony Piombino assisted on the game-tying goal.
Both teams nearly took the lead early in the wide-open second period, but the goaltenders were up to the challenge. The Wolfpack started quickly but failed on a power-play chance before the Mustangs took control. They missed some quality chances of their own before finally breaking the deadlock and regaining the lead at 12:43. This time it was Marabondo, who picked up the rebound of an Emery slap shot and poked the puck under a fallen Polglase. Arlotta also assisted on the go-ahead tally.
Montville had some early opportunities to extend its lead in the third, but Polglase came up big and got some help from the post. The Wolfpack then pressed for the tying goal in the final minutes and pulled Polglase for an extra attacker with 1:11 remaining, but the Mustangs sealed the victory on an empty-net goal by Aroltta with 52 seconds left. Dalton Smith’s goal with 21 seconds left pulled the Wolfpack closer but they simply ran out of time as the Mustangs celebrated their first Halvorsen Cup title.
“It’s unfortunate we gave up the empty-net goal, but I told our guys, ‘We can’t give up. There was still some time left,'” West Morris head coach Erik Jacobsen said.
West Morris 1 0 1 2
Montville 1 1 2 3
First period: 1. M, Vincent Arlotta (Tom Maraondo, Emerson Emery), 2:06; 2. W, Ray Law (Anthony Piombino), 10:09.
Second period: 3. M, Marabondo (Emery, Arlotta), 12:43.
Third period: 4. M, Arlotta, (Emery), 14:08 (en); 5. W, Dalton Smith (Piombino), 14:43.
Shots on goal: West Morris 10-6-7—23. Montville 14-13-5—32.
Goalies: WM, Tim Polglase (31-29). M, Josh Beron (23-21).