by Andrew Garda

In hockey, penalty shots during a game are momentum altering moments.

So when the Tenafly Tigers (1-3-1) were given an opportunity for one against the Montclair Mounties (7-1-1) with 7:58 left in the third period, down 4-2, it felt like the sort of moment upon which a game turns.

And it was, just not in a way the Tigers had hoped.

MHS goalie Graham Roy stonewalled the Tenafly player on that breakaway, just as he stonewalled the whole Tigers offense in the entire third period. In fact, Roy’s 26 saves were a big reason why the Mounties now face Madison in the tournament final on Friday afternoon.

“They outplayed us [in the third period and we held on for one reason, in my mind,” Mounties coach Pat Verney said after the game. “That was because of Graham [Roy], our goaltender... He stopped a penalty shot in the third, and he made four or five point blank saves late.”

It was an unusual situation which got Roy into the net this week. Roy is the third string goalie for Montclair, but both players ahead of him were unavailable this week, and so he found his way into the lineup.

“He got his moment today and he was wonderful. I’m proud of him,” Verney said.
While Roy is the third string goalie — he was backed up by Sally Solotaroff-Webber on Wednesday — Verney points out that it isn’t a knock on either he or Solotaroff-Webber. Montclair has traditionally been very strong at goaltender and that means players have to sit even though they may be starters elsewhere.

“We’re in an amazing situation. And our fourth goaltender can play, Sally [Solotaroff-Webber]. She’s phenomenal, one of the top female goalies around. To have that level of goaltending is unheard of, especially for public schools.”

Verney has always been impressed by Roy.

“What I like about Graham is, he’s a junior. Worked his butt off. Was a backup his first year behind Ondrej Smalec and last year he was involved in the guys backing up Ondrej [again],” Verney said. “And his attitude’s always been good, he’s never given up even though he’s always been in a spot where other guys have gotten an opportunity, And here he was, he gets an opportunity and he seizes the moment and he was terrific. I think his third period was fantastic today.”

For Roy, even though he was nervous, he felt confident.

“I was pretty nervous coming in,” the junior goalie said after the game,” but I knew my teammates were ready to play. They played great around me and gave me the confidence to get through the game.”

Even so, seeing the penalty shot get called only sent one thought into Roy’s mind.

“My first thought was “man, really?” he said, laughing, “But as it came down I just stayed focused, tracked it in and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.”

Clearly the penalty shot only fed Roy’s confidence, as he stonewalled the Tigers for the rest of the game including several flurries near the end of regulation.

It didn’t hurt that the Mounties jumped out to a commanding lead.

MHS defenseman Will Schiffenhaus scored two goals during the Monties 5-2 win in the Montclair Invitational on Wednesday.
MHS defenseman Will Schiffenhaus scored two goals during the Monties 5-2 win in the Montclair Invitational on Wednesday.

Defenseman Will Schiffenhaus scored to goals from the point in the first, and while Tenafly responded on a power play goal not long after, Montclair added another score off the stick of Eamon Thall. The Mounties would score again early in the second, this time courtesy of a nice shot by Miles Bylin, to build a 4-1 lead.

Tenafly once again responded, making it 4-2 with five minutes left in the second.

They never got any closer though, as Roy shut down a good Tenafly offense over the last period.

The Mounties now go on to face Madison (9-1) at Clary Anderson Arena on Friday afternoon at 2pm for the Montclair Invitational Tournament title.