While the doors have been locked on NHL arenas and Congress has entertained us with the fiscal cliff, the Madison Dodger Hockey team has been providing a less taxing and more compelling outlet than the shenanigans in DC and the NHL.
Lead by 4-year varsity captains Erik Andersson and Grant Perry, the 9 – 5 Dodgers are off to their best start in recent memory. Madison earned 2 wins this weekend with a 4 – 3 win over Parsippany and a 9 – 2 shellacking of Pequannock.
Saturday night might be date night for some high school students but for hockey players it is “just-another-day”. The excitement started early when the Dodgers jumped out to a 1st period 2 – 0 lead against league opponent Parsippany. Alex Williams notched his 9th and Michael Gleason scored his 3rd goal of the season off an assist from Ryan Hoover. Parsippany clawed back in the 2nd period with 2 goals but the Dodgers took the lead back on Williams’ 2nd goal of the game. Madison carried the slim 3 – 2 lead into the 3rd period and Parsippany, determined to close the gap, came out flying but the outstanding goaltending of Peter Andersson and the strong grinding play of Tommy Meehan and Ryan Willsea kept Parsippany from crossing Madison’s blue line.
During one save sequence, Andersson moved from goalpost-to-goalpost and flung himself across the crease to make an incredible skate save. Andersson’s big save drew great recognition from the Madison faithful and, more importantly, turned momentum in favor of the Dodgers. Four minutes later, Harrison Meyer and Jake Nittolo cleared the puck out of Madison’s zone and Peter Cleaves passed to Williams on a breakaway. Williams found the back of the net for his 3rd goal of the game to seal the Dodger victory. Interestingly, Cleaves’ assist came right after he (and the entire Madison bench) thought he had scored but the officials waived off his apparent goal.
Upon further video review by former hockey official Sandi Sweeney, she declared Cleaves’ shot a goal and submitted the video to league officials. Outcome of her petition is still under review.
In the Sunday matinee game, Madison jumped out to an early 2 – 1 lead on goals
from Matt Sweeney and Erik Andersson. Sweeney’s goal was the kind of effort on the ice that was reminiscent of old-time hockey heroes Toe Blake and Phil Perone. Madison center Michael Gleason carried into the zone and unleashed a shot on goal that Pequannock goalie Robert Conte could not control and Sweeney banged home the rebound for his 2nd goal of the season.
While the game was close into the middle of the 2nd period, Madison pulled away in the 2nd period. Erik Anderson picked up 2 more goals on assists from Reily Gardner and Alex Gleason and Erik’s younger brother, Peter, proved that goalies can skate and score when he notched his 3rd goal of the season to go along with an assist on the 1st of Ryan Hoover’s 2 goals. The 2nd period came to a climatic conclusion when Alex Williams took a feed from Kyle Midlige with 8 seconds to go in the period and raced against the Pequannock defense and the clock to score his 2nd goal of the game. The timing of the goal was so close the officials had to consult with the video reply officials to see if William’s goal beat the buzzer – it did and the Dodgers carried a comfortable 6 – 1 lead into the 3rd period.
In the 3rd period, the Dodger offense registered 3 more goals. Williams assisted Hoover and Dan Nisivoccia returned the favor by assisting on William’s 2nd goal of the game. Erik Andersson closed out the scoring with an unassisted goal power play goal at 13:06 of the 3rd period. On the defensive side of the ice, Grant Perry made 26 saves and “stoned” high scoring Pequannock forward Cary Galant repeatedly. Frustrated by Perry’s strong play in goal, Galant found himself in the penalty box for instigating and boarding in the 3rd period. Adding to Pequannock’s frustration was Madison’s young defensive unit. Lead by senior associate captain Reilly Gardner, Madison’s defense is gaining more confidence with each contest. Joining Gardner on the blue line is junior Patrick Zimmerman, sophomore Kyle Midlige and freshman Jimmy Piechnik. Piechnik has made an immediate impact with the Dodgers and has earned the nickname “Putzen” – the cleaner - for his aggressive play in the corners and in front of the net.
The Dodgers return to action at Mennen Arena on Saturday, January 12th @ 4:15. According to athletic supporter, Mel Blount, “one of the best venues and values for date night, come on out and support the Dodgers"!