WEST ORANGE, NJ — Jenn Olnowich believes limiting opposing shooters to as few second opportunities as possible will give her Chatham teammates the best chance to win.
The Princeton-bound senior again displayed that reliable glove hand and crease presence in stopping all 34 shots for her second consecutive shutout while junior forward Declan Curry scored two first-period goals to help Chatham forge a 4-0 victory over a relentless Verona-Glen Ridge opponent on Monday in the Essex Holiday Tournament at Codey Arena.
“I’ve worked a lot on rebound control,” said Olnowich, who halted 24 shots in a 6-0 victory on Saturday against Vernon. “I feel like that’s one of the biggest parts of the game for a goalie — and it’s often overlooked. It’s really that you don’t give the other team a second or third chance. We knew Verona-Glen Ridge is a scrappy team and we were going to have to go out and really battle today.
“I knew I’d have to make some big saves early and keep my head in the game so my team could get a goal or two and get us the lead.”
Indeed, it was Curry whose deflection off a point shot by Danny Mahoney just 42 seconds after the opening faceoff gave Chatham a 1-0 lead — and in the end that was enough for Olnowich and her defense.
Less than two minutes it was Curry hitting net again, this time for a power-play tally to extend the Morris County school’s advantage to 2-0.
“The first goal definitely got our bench going,” said Curry. “I was able to get another goal on the next shift and that gave us even more momentum. Verona came out hard and they took the body, but we were able to get pucks deep and pressure their defensemen. After the first period coach (Brendon) Herr just challenged us to keep it going. It’s a contact sport and you’re going to get hit. We tried to just keep hunting the puck.
That was certainly the case often in this game, as both clubs played with an intense physical gusto for the entire 45 minutes. The teams were whistled for a total of 13 minor penalties, including five for roughing. Both clubs were certainly in a festive mood for physical hockey.
The board battles were often intense, and it was a fast-paced match where every player had to keep his head up and on a swivel every shift.
Verona used its size up front throughout, especially during the first period when it produced a large portion of zone time in Chatham’s end. The Essex County club threw 17 shots Olnowich’s way, but the Chatham goalie was unfazed in helping her team take the 2-0 lead into the second.
“Chatham gets a redirect in the first minute and then another quick goal, but our guys responded,” said Verona-Glen Ridge coach Ken Lillien, whose squad outshot Chatham 34-15 overall. “I think we outplayed them, but Jenn Olnowich is something in net. She is square to the puck and she didn’t give us much to shoot at. She’s tremendous. But to keep your focus when you’re dominating at times but down on the scoreboard is commendable. We never quit and we were physical. We just couldn’t figure out their goalie.”
Verona, which saw its three-game winning streak halted, had an opportunity to slice into the two-goal deficit in the second period during a power play with less than five minutes remaining. Senior captain Chad Otterbein’s snapshot from the left circle eluded Olnowich — the lone attempt that got past her — but the puck rang off the far post and into the corner with 4:40 left in the second period.
Just 2:05 later Mahoney unloaded a shot from the point for a power-play goal as Chatham (4-1-2) extended its lead to 3-0.
“Yeah that was a bit of a turning point,” said Otterbein, who was a force along the wall and carrying the puck. “If we get a goal there it’s a 2-1 game and the momentum changes. We battled and played a hard, physical game but we just couldn’t get that goal we needed. Their goalie played well and there wasn’t much room in the middle of the ice.”
Verona (3-2) had another power play chance in the third period down 3-0, but Olnowich, again so calm in the crease, came through with big stops on shots by Alec Vecchione and Will Benson to preserve the shutout.
“When she is in goal the team just plays with such confidence,” Chatham coach Brendon Herr said of Olnowich, who also skates as a defenseman on the Chatham girls’ team. “Her rebound control is excellent and she’s been really good for us this year. The first 90 seconds we get a couple of goals and then Jenn took over. That could have easily been a 2-2 game at the end of the first period with the way Verona came back. She was really good in the first and then we were able to settle down a bit. That fast start was good for us, especially with such a young team.
“We knew they were going to come with a big push-back but when you play a physical team like Verona you have to simplify your game. We graduated 14 seniors and if you told me we’d be 4-1-2 at this point I’d surely take it. Each game we’ve been getting progressively better, especially in our D-zone play.”
Ronan Curry, a freshman and Declan’s younger brother, finished off a 2-on-1 with a scoring shot with 4:51 remaining for a 4-0 lead.
Chatham will faceoff against Oratory Prep in the Holiday Tournament on Friday while Verona takes on Madison on Thursday.
— HockeyClan (@Hockey_Clan) December 23, 2019
— HockeyClan (@Hockey_Clan) December 23, 2019
1-0 CHA Declan Curry (Danny Mahoney) 14:18-1st
2-0 CHA Declan Curry (Timothy Triano) 12:35-1st PPG
3-0 CHA Danny Mahoney (Ryan Sordillo) 1:13-2nd PPG
4-0 CHA Declan Curry (unassisted) 4:51-3rd
Shots: 34-15 Verona-Glen Ridge
Written by Paul Bruno / @PaulBrunoHS
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