Video: Morristown wins its second state hockey title
By Kevin Coughlin
Morristown hockey Coach Bobby Jones insisted before Monday’s Public A title game against Randolph that his top-seeded powerhouse was the underdog.
Not anymore. The Colonials skated off the Prudential Center ice in Newark with a 2-0 victory and their second trophy in three seasons.
“This puts us on the map for Morristown High School. Everyone can win one. But when you win multiple state championships, it’s not like you’re lucky anymore. It’s a solid program right now,” said Jones, who led the Colonials to a 24-3-1 record in his eighth season behind the bench.
He said getting the first goal was the key on Monday, in a clean contest with only a couple of penalties.
Jakob DeFares, Morristown’s top scorer, took a pass along the boards from Christian Rodriguez and flipped the puck over the shoulder of Rams’ goalie Luc Swedlund at 9:08 of the first period.
The senior’s 24th goal of the season was all the Colonials needed. They kept Randolph off-balance for the rest of the night.
“Christian just chipped it out to me, it came down, I threw it on net and it went in,” said DeFares. “It was a huge relief to get that first goal. It was good for our momentum. Throughout the game we had them on their heels.”
Teddy Dolan added an insurance tally in the third period, on a deft pass from behind the net by Drew Shandlay.
It was Morristown’s third victory this year against arch-rival Randolph, winner of eight state titles since 2003. The Colonials earned their showdown by beating Westfield (4-1), Morris Knolls (4-1) and Ridge (3-1) in the playoffs. The Rams steamrollered Manalapan, Southern and Montclair en route to the Prudential Center.
Although Morristown will lose nine seniors to graduation, the program should remain strong between the pipes. Jones’ star of the game, goalie Evan Szary, is only a sophomore.
“He played lights-out… he was absolutely solid for us tonight,” the coach said.
Szary credited his defense for a relatively easy evening. He praised senior co-captain Brad Greik for shutting down Rams’ top gun Dan Janson, a 26-goal scorer this season.
Although Szary faced 28 shots — 10 more than his Randolph counterpart — the Rams’ only real sustained attack came in the last two minutes, when they pulled their goalie for an extra skater. But a late Randolph penalty helped the Morristown cause.
Szary said it took a few moments early on to adjust to the bright lights and soft ice of the Rock, home to the New Jersey Devils of the NHL.
“I was kind of able to calm down from there,” he said. At last, he expects an end to the needling from brothers Cam and Jack, stars of the 2014 champs.
“Now I’m not getting anything from them about their rings!” Evan Szary said with a huge grin.
DeFares and Dolan had additional scoring chances, but Swedlund made nice stops on their rushes.
The victory was especially sweet for Dolan; as a sophomore in 2014 he rode the bench for that clincher.
“It feels unreal; it hasn’t really hit me yet, to be honest,” he said after Monday’s win.
Dolan started skating at age 4.
“It’s been a long journey. To end like this is amazing,” he said, noting that the Colonials are a close bunch, in and out of rinks. “We’re brothers, cliché as that sounds.”
Jones said that’s the common DNA between his two championship teams: Clutch goaltending, good defense, and “hard-working guys, that just battled for each other.
“The ongoing theme is family,” the coach said. “These guys are like family to me, family to each other, and I think when you’ve got family in the locker room, you’re going to work a lot harder for each other.”