Montclair High School ice hockey en fuego with recent three-game winning streak
The Montclair High School ice hockey team last won back-to-back games in January 2021, when it defeated Verona and Montclair Kimberley.
Montclair matched that on Dec. 28, when it dominated Newton/Lenape Valley, 5-0, at Clary Anderson Arena. The Mounties defeated Kearny, 6-4, on Dec. 19 to start the victory string. The team was 2-3 after the Dec. 28 win.
Against Newton/Lenape Valley, the Mounties put it all together, from scoring to defense to goaltending, with junior goalie Sam Korenbaum registering his first shutout of the season.
Head coach Connor Smith said that his young team is finally coming out of its shell.
"In the beginning of the year they were sort of timid," Smith said, adding that seniors like Miles Fletcher and Luc Callanan have set the tone.
"For a lot of them, this was their first varsity minutes this season. Miles Fletcher and Luc Callanan play aggressively, and it has become contagious."
The Mounties were attacking from the opening puck drop and kept the heat on Newton/Lenape Valley in the independent contest.
Sophomore Benjamin Rohrs, who was moved up to forward from defense in the game, scored twice to lead the offense. His first goal, with 12:18 remaining in the second period, was the first of his career and handed the Mounties a 3-0 lead.
"He's been playing defense for us, but he's really an offensive player," Smith said.
Rohrs’ second goal came with a little less than three minutes left in the second period, and it would finish the scoring at 5-0.
Smith said that he moved junior Gavin Parma to help bolster the defense.
In addition to the Rohrs goals, another sophomore, winger Anders Jenkins, tallied two assists.
On defense, Korenbaum was not really challenged that much. Montclair outshot Newton/Lenape Valley, 34-13, in the game.
The biggest threat to the shutout came late in the first period, when the Mounties committed two penalties and were down two men for a minute. But the trio of Fletcher, Callanan and Parma killed off both power plays.
"You just have to get the puck out of the zone," Fletcher said about the penalty kill.
As it turned out, a wrist shot at the blue line by Fletcher with 8:35 left in the first period over the shoulder of Newton/Lenape Valley goalie Patrick Boden was all that was needed for the Mounties.
"I skated around the circle, and I saw a lane wide open," Fletcher said. "We work on this in practice."
The only negative for Montclair was the penalties, as the Mounties registered five to Newton/Lenape Valley's three. "They are still learning to hit without getting a penalty," Smith said.
In the victory over Kearny, Callanan registered a hat trick to lead Montclair while Fletcher added three assists.
It was a four-goal second period that keyed the Mounties in the New Jersey Interscholastic Ice Hockey League (NJIIHL) Kelly Division contest.
With the victory over Newton/Lenape Valley, Montclair already has half the number of victories that it collected for the entire 2021-22 season.
For Smith, the goal this season is to reach the state playoffs. The Mounties last qualified for them in 2019-20, when they lost to Morris Knolls in the Public A finals.
Montclair ice hockey schedule
(Home games at Clary Anderson Arena, Montclair)
Jan. 4 Cranford, 4:15 p.m.
Jan. 6 at Kearny, 5:15 p.m.
Jan. 7 at Oratory, 7:45 p.m.
Jan. 11 at Montclair Kimberley, 4:10 p.m., Clary Anderson
Jan. 18 at Tenafly, 4:10 p.m.
Jan. 23 at Cranford, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 Frisch, 7:40 p.m.
Jan. 27 Nutley/Bloomfield, 5:45 p.m.
Feb. 1 Oratory, 4:15 p.m.
Feb. 2 Mountain Lakes, 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 6 Montclair Kimberley, 4 p.m.
Feb. 7 Madison, 4 p.m.