Cam Szary thinks the law of averages is with the Colonials.
When the Morristown High School hockey team faces Ramsey at the Prudential Center for the Public B state championship on Sunday, March 9, 2014, it will be the team’s third straight trip to the finals–and the last one for co-captain Cam and 10 other MHS seniors.
“This is the last time a lot of us will be playing hockey. It means a lot to us,” the hard-working forward said on Saturday after an hour-long practice and a team meal at the swanky Roots Steakhouse, courtesy of the Boosters Club.
On Thursday, Morristown exacted revenge against Chatham, eliminating the Cougars, 2-1, in a semi-finals thriller decided in the waning minutes by a Bradley Griek goal.
“I laid in bed till 4 in the morning just staring at the ceiling, I was so excited,” junior goaltender Shane Brown said of that upset victory.
But Coach Bobby Jones’ boys (15-8-2) must forget that triumph and focus squarely on Ramsey, a 28-2 powerhouse led by 43-goal-scorer Alex Whelan, a junior. The Rams steam-rollered Mendham 7-0 to clinch their first title berth in five years.
“They set a record for the most wins by a public school, and they’ve got a kid going to [College Division I] Quinnipiac,” Cam Szary said, giving the Rams their due.
But Morristown should have an edge from playing tougher opponents, he contends.
“We have the most private-school games of any public school,” said the captain, who shares that designation with his twin brother Jack Szary, a center; and forward Brian Begley.
Morristown and Ramsey met for one period in a pre-season scrimmage, a 1-1 tie, according to Cam.
For the Colonials it’s been a year of “spurts,” and they are riding a good one right now, he said. The key to finally winning the finals, he feels, is to score first and hit everything that moves. “When we play physical, we play better.”
‘TRUST YOUR TEAMMATES’
The chemistry of this lineup differs from Morristown’s last two contenders. In 2012, the Colonials got plenty of firepower from Jordan Klotz and Zach Mourad. Tony Donofrio was the go-to guy last season.
There are no top guns this year; the Colonials roll three solid lines and anyone could be the hero.
“This team is harder-working and has had the toughest schedule in Morristown history,” said Coach Jones. “Twenty of our 27 games this year were Top 20 Star-Ledger-ranked teams, so we are battle-tested.”
Handing Chatham its only public school defeat was a huge boost, the coach said. Ramsey is highly skilled and well coached, too. Getting on the board first and clogging the neutral zone are essential for victory, he said.
The one constant through all three championship runs has been Morristown’s All-State goalie, who as a freshman helped propel a once-mediocre squad to its first title game.
“He’s incredibly reliable,” Cam said of Shane Brown.
Shane expects the Colonials to be cool and confident when they step onto the Pru ice at 5 p.m.; all but two of his teammates have been there before.
“If you don’t stay calm, you overwhelm yourself,” he said, describing the brighter lights, faster ice and livelier boards of the NHL arena.
The public address introductions can distract a newbie; the black seats pose a tough backdrop when the puck flies through the air.
“You’ve got to play like it’s any other game, and trust yourself and your teammates. That’s what got you through the season,” said Shane.
MHS fans are hoping that next March, he will be defending the state crown… and then handing it over to his kid brother.
Freshman Harrison Brown is Morristown’s backup goalie.