MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ — A mainstay of the Halvorsen Division, Mendham has adjusted nicely to is relegation to the Haas Division after experiencing some struggles over the last few seasons.
With three Halvorsen Cups to its credit, the Minutemen handled their demotion to the Haas the best way that they could by winning that division’s championship and earned its first Haas Cup with an 8-1 victory over Park Regional at Mennen Arena in Morris Township..
Senior Jake Marszalek set the tone for Mendham (21-3) with three of his four goals in the first period and freshman Connor McDonough made 33 saves as Mendham, the No. 1 seed, extend its winning streak to 12. Park Regional (14-7-3) the seventh-seed, had its 11-game unbeaten streak snapped.
Ryan Bruin contributed to Mendham’s winning effort with three goals, Liam Lloyd scored once, Tristan Aikenhead picked up an assist and Marszalek assisted three times.
Marszalek hit paydirt on the game’s first shot on goal, a wrister from the left faceoff circle just 22 seconds in that found the back of the net. Then Marszalek, who has notched 46 goals this season, struck 3:34 later and gave Mendham a 3-0 with 3:47 left in the first period. All three goals were unassisted.
“We had some challenges over the last couple of years,” Mendham coach John Kovacs said. “Coming in last in the Halvorsen (last season), there’s no hiding from that. So, we made the decision to move down. We’re a young team on paper with only one senior (Marszalek), so we’ll be moving back (to the Halvorsen) next year.”
Mendham improved on its 3-0 lead when Lloyd connected on a power play with assists from Aikenhead and Marszalek with 1:31 left in the first period and Bruin made the score 5-0 just 22 seconds later, assisted by Marszalek.
Goals in the second period from Bruin and Marszalek extended Mendham’s lead to 7-0 and Bruin added an unassisted tally 3:13 into the third period.
Park Regional netminder Chris Schneider turned aside 26 shots for Park Regional.
“We came into this game and everyone was pumped up,” Marszalek said. “The first shift we all came out strong and we scored. Our coach focused on in the locker room that we had to do all the little things. We got that done and we put the puck in the back of the net.
“This year was a step back for us, but we proved everyone wrong. Everyone thought it (moving to Haas) would be a step down, but we brought it back up. And we’re going to go back to the Halvorsen.”
Second-period goals from Bruin and Marszalak gave Mendham a 7-0 lead and Bruin’s unassisted score 3:13 into the third period gave the Minutemen an 8-0 lead.
Ryan Breen scored with an assist from Mike Shauger with 4:10 left in the game for Park Regional.
“I think that you have to tip your hat to Mendham,” Park Regional coach Tom Levis said. “Obviously, it makes it harder when you’re playing from behind and chasing a game. They were getting to the loose pucks with a lot of speed and showed speed through the neutral zone. I don’t think there were many teams in the state that would have beaten them tonight.”
Mendham will look to continue the ball rolling in the NJSIAA Public C tournament. The Minutemen were seeded 15th and will take on 18th-seeded Jackson Liberty in the first round. If Mendham prevails, it will meet a familiar foe in second-seeded Madison in the Sweet-16.
Park Regional is aiming to rebound when it goes up against 17th-seeded Passaic Valley-Cedar Grove as the 16th-seed in Public B. The winner awaits top-seeded Randolph Rams.
Related: Montville Captures 2018 Haas Cup
Haas Cup Champions
2018-Montville GAME STORY
2017-Newton-Lenape Valley GAME STORY
2016-Park Regional GAME STORY
2015-Madison GAME STORY
2014-Mount Olive GAME STORY
2013-Park Regional GAME STORY
2011-Park Regional, West Morris Co-Champs
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