Jack Monahan scored a pair of goals and Ryan Feemer’s fourth tally of the season added the insurance as round one of the Randolph Morris Knolls rivalry went the way of the Golden Eagles, 5-3, Wednesday night.
After falling behind 1-0 on an early goal by Liam Finneran, Knolls would rally for a quick answer when Monahan’s first came in spectacular fashion. While losing his balance the senior managed to roof a shot over goalie Andrew Holowko.
“Honestly, I was just trying to keep my balance and throw it somewhere near the net,” last year’s 20-goal scorer said. “Our line has really been playing well together, which is a good sign early.”
Randolph regained the lead just three minutes later, however, when freshman Dan Janson was the beneficiary of a loose puck in front and made it count. Morris Knolls answered by making its chance with the extra man count shortly after when a deflection by Reed Pelliconi off a point shot by Dan Dafonseca evened things back up at 2-2.
“That was a big goal there, you could feel them starting to gain momentum and it was crucial to stop it,” explained Monaghan. “We felt like as a line we had to step it up.”
It’s Monahan’s second year as a top threat for Walt Keiper’s squad, but this season the big centerman is split between a new pair of wingers, fellow senior Ryan Feemer and junior Matt Mezik. For the second game in a row the line accounted for all of the Golden Eagles’ offense.
“We have jelled really well and we needed to, these were two big games for us,” said Mezik after the game. “It’s awesome to be playing with two guys who know how to both pass and finish, I think we can have a really big year if we stay healthy.”
Keiper and the rest of the coaching staff have benefitted from good leadership out of Monaghan and the rest of the upper class, and it's something -- along with the great production of the top line -- that they attribute to the team’s fast start.
“It’s nice to have guys who have been there before. You could see we came out a bit jittery with a few guys who haven’t played in this atmosphere before, but we shook that off and after we talked about it with the coaches at intermission and we were able to come out more poised and turned it around,” said Monahan.
The Golden Eagles looked like they might run away and hide after Zach Simmons hit Mezik back door for a beautiful tap in goal, and then just minutes later a great individual effort by Monaghan on his second made it 4-2. As spectacular as Monahan’s first was the second may have been better as No. 43 walked his way through two defenders and somehow kept the puck long enough to fire a low shot home.
But as has been the Achilles heel thus far this season for Morris Knolls, the team found its way to the box twice more and let the Rams creep back in the game.
“It’s something we’re not happy with and something we definitely have to fix,” said Monaghan about his team’s propensity for the sin bin. “We won’t last trying to beat good teams when we are beating up on ourselves.”
Finneran cashed in on the power play late in the second to set up an exciting third period that didn’t need to be for the Golden Eagles. Despite several quality chances, Randolph could just not solve Mike Goffredo, who played well for a second-straight game by making 22 saves. Mezik’s second added the insurance for Morris Knolls, which remains undefeated now atop the Mennen Conference.
“It’s early, but it’s two good wins with a chance at another on Friday,” Mezik said of the future game against Morristown. “They are a really good team and obviously a big rival. If we can start the year 3-0 against these three teams, it will give us a ton of confidence and get us going where we want to, for sure.”
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