MORRISTOWN – After opening its season with back-to-back games against Haas Division contenders Roxbury and Montville, it's understandable if the Madison High School ice hockey team might have taken Saturday night's game against first-year varsity program Morris Catholic lightly.
So even though the Dodgers earned their first victory of the season, a 6-1 thrashing at Mennen Arena, their coaches weren't thrilled with the effort.
"I think because we underestimated them, some players took their liberties and played their own game," said Madison assistant coach Joe Swanson.
Brett Perry scored a pair of goals and an assist for Madison, while Bobby Yutcko and Erik Andersen added three assists each. Yutcko, a defenseman who played at forward last season, drew rave reviews from Swanson.
"We love the leadership of a kid playing where we need him to play," Swanson said. "You can have all the goalscorers in the world, but if you have no one to pass them the puck, it doesn't matter."
Despite occasional ragged play and an inability to finish – the Dodgers peppered Morris Catholic goalie Willie Creapault with 35 shots – the game was Madison's from the start.
Greg Maxwell opened the scoring six minutes in, following an early flurry of chances around the Morris Catholic goal. Four minutes later, Nick Rogers won a face-off in the Crusader zone and immediately found Charlie Olendorp, who blasted a slapshot past Crepault from just inside the blue line.
The first period saw the Dodgers have their pick of chances on goal, outshooting the Crusaders 10-1, and keeping the puck in the Morris Catholic end for a majority of the time. The two-goal lead was well-deserved, though Swanson saw missed opportunities.
"We've got to work on our positioning, and not deviating from our gameplan," he said. "Deviating hurts our team in the long term."
Leading 2-0 after one period, Madison wasted little time putting the game out of reach - it took Perry 28 seconds to make it 3-0. Brett Cibischino pulled Morris Catholic within two goals with 11:52 left in the period, beating Ryan Wilsea on a breakaway. But less than two minutes after that, Lou Cecala converted Madison's only power play of the night to make it 4-1.
Brett Anton and Perry – both assisted by Andersen, the freshman – rounded out the scoring for the Dodgers, who outshot the Crusaders, 35-10.
Grant Perry started in goal for Madison and stopped the only shot he faced, and Ryan Wilsea relieved him for the final two frames.
The Dodgers next face Morris Hills at Mennen Arena Tuesday night. After that game, and a non-conference matchup with Sparta Thursday at Mennen, Madison is off until Jan. 4.
MADISON (1-1-1) 2 3 1 - 6
MORRIS CATHOLIC (0-5-0) 0 1 0 - 1
MAD- Greg Maxwell (Bobby Yutcko, Brett Perry), 5:59
MAD- Charlie Olendorp (Nick Rogers), 9:54
MAD- Perry (Yutcko, Lou Cecala), 0:28
MC- Brett Cibischino (unassisted), 3:08
MAD- Cecala (PP; Erik Andersen, Yutcko), 4:55
MAD- Brett Anton (Andersen), 13:36
MAD- Perry (SH; Andersen), 14:27
MAD- Grant Perry 1, Ryan Wilsea 8
MC- Willie Creapault 29