MORRIS TOWNSHIP — As James Boles watched the final seconds tick off the clock, he could barely contain his excitement. Fortunately, his teammates helped keep his emotions in check.
Clinging to a one-goal lead late in the second period, Jeff O’Neil doubled it with 58.6 seconds left in the middle frame and Boles took over from there, turning aside all 29 shots he faced as Chatham, No. 7 in the New Jersey Hockey Public Top 10, fashioned a 3-0 upset over Morristown-Beard at Mennen Arena in Morris Township.
Anytime a prep school takes on a public school there is a certain level of animosity, especially between two teams as familiar as Chatham and Morristown-Beard, No. 6 in The Private Top 10 state rankings. Familiar foes in the Morris County Schools Ice Hockey League’s Mennen Division there is no love lost, so when Alex Laferriere put Chatham on the board first 11:56 into the second period you could feel the tide slowly turn. But when O’Neil made it 2-0 just 2:06 later, and in the final minute before the intermission, a real sense of a possible upset-in-the-making crept in.
“We were all just working our tails off. We were going out there and winning shifts. It was awesome,” O’Neil said.
“There were too many guys on the wall and I came away with the puck,” O’Neil described his goal. “There was a hippopotamus in front me so I just cranked that shot top shelf (through the screen).”
Blessed with a two-goal lead after two periods of play, Boles tried to settle in.
“The feeling in the locker room was excitement but I really had to channel that out,” Boles said. “I knew I had to be quick. I knew this team is really fast and silky with their hands so I knew there was going to be some big plays so I tried to think ahead. I tried to imagine a guy there and eventually there was, more than once. But I was prepared to make the outstanding save.
“The third period they came out hard but I tried to stay focused. I knew if I let the excitement get to me I’d make a mistake and I couldn’t afford to let that happen,” Boles, who recorded his second shutout of the season, said. “I just tried to stay a step ahead of them.”
Morristown-Beard was given a chance to crack Boles psyche when it was given a power-play chance to begin the third period but the Chatham penalty killing unit continued to shine.
“Our PK has been very good for us this year,” Chatham coach Brendon Herr said. “We were confident with them but against a good team like this you never know.
“Anytime you can get the first goal against a good team like Morristown-Beard — a team that’s well-coached and plays a structured game — it goes a long way toward momentum,” Herr continued. “After that first goal we got a little more confidence. We’re a young team so the biggest thing with us this year is confidence and getting that first goal showed we can play with a team like that.”
Tanner Acone put the icing on the cake when he converted the rebound off of Dave Andreychuk’s initial shot to put Chatham ahead by three with 9:27 remaining in regulation. After the game O’Neil, Herr and the rest of the Chatham regulars deflected all the credit to Boles.
“He won that game for us. ‘Bolesy’ got the win this game — it was all him,” O’Neil said. “It was a great feeling because we have a big rivalry against them so it’s great to get the win.”
“It was his best game this year,” Herr added. “He was sound. He made all the right decisions and when we got caught up in some jams he was there. He gave the rest of the team in front of him confidence to get it done.”
The upset is a statement for Chatham, which improves to 5-2 in the division and 8-3-2 overall. For Morristown-Beard, which out-shot its opponent 29-28, it was their first inter-divisional loss of the season. Coach Randy Velischek’s team stands 4-1 in the Mennen Division and 10-4 overall.
“It was a pretty hard fought game. We battled, they battled, honestly it just came down to who finished their scoring chances and we just didn’t bury it today,” Morristown-Beard goalie Anthony DelTufo, who finished with 25 saves, said. “This game was about getting to loose pucks first. We need to make sure we don’t get beat to them and we aren’t out-worked in any zone.
“We just need to keep battling and get back to our game,” DelTufo said. “All the Mennen teams in this division are pretty similar, highly-skilled. It’s very physical.”
Watch Chatham Celebrate their Victory!
Post Game Interview with Chatham Goalie James Boles
John Christian Hageny