For a coach who preaches hard work and commitment, it seemed only fitting that the 300-win milestone would come in a hard-fought, 3-1 win over a division foe.
“It’s really special,” said Randolph hockey coach Rich McLaughlin following the historic victory over Chatham on Wednesday. “It’s about everyone, not just me. So many people have contributed to making the program what it is.”
For the better part of the last decade the Rams have been the team to beat on the public side of New Jersey high school hockey. Winners of four of the last five state championships, Randolph rolled into its meeting with Chatham undefeated in 2011 and looking to take home another state crown in 2012.
Nick Holowko opened the scoring for Randolph on the power play after Chatham failed to convert on multiple chances of its own with the man advantage, including a five-on-three that lasted 1:21.
Randolph’s special teams was the difference in the tough win as Brad Lindquist would add another tally with the extra man in the second to make the score 2-0. Chatham would get five chances with its power play unit but just could not beat senior goalie Mike Pollio.
“Mike was great again tonight, he’s been solid all season and it’s huge for us,” McLaughlin said of the lanky netminder who came only 81 seconds from his fourth shutout of the season. “I thought he was really strong when we were on the kill and that whole unit just did a tremendous job working off the power plays.”
Team leader Connor Ryan would get goal number 16 on the season to cap the scoring for Randolph before Chatham fired home a cautionary warning for the next time these two teams play with 1:21 left in the game to make it a 3-1 final.
“I think it’s been like that for a little while now,” McLaughlin said of the bulls-eye his team has on its back. “People see what we have done here and there’s no doubt they come prepared to play. We knew Chatham would be tough tonight but in the end it’s just another game, another win.”
“I think we can be more consistent,” McLaughlin went on to say. “There are times when we are flying around hitting people and then sometimes we come out and we don’t want to hit anybody. I’d like us to be more consistent.”
That commitment to excellence is why Randolph hockey is where it is, 7-0-3 and looking down at the rest of the brutally tough Mennen Division. It’s that passion that makes young people want to play hockey for McLaughlin and the Rams.
“He’s such a great coach,” Ryan said following the win. “It’s awesome to be a part of his 300th victory. He means so much to all of us and to this program. It’s really a privilege to play for coach McLaughlin.”
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