The Montclair Kimberly Academy Cougars topped the Montclair High School Mounties 4-2 at Clary Anderson Arena in The Montclair Cup, the annual ice hockey match-up between the inter-town rivals. Extra measures were taken to ensure this year’s game wouldn’t be a repeat of last year’s fiasco, including an increased police and security force. They were able to control the crowd, but couldn’t stop the physical play and tension between the two squads.
The game was moved to a school night to help subdue the raucous crowd, but It wasn’t hard to tell that this year’s game would have a similar exuberant atmosphere when tickets went on sale this Monday at MHS. The announcement that they would be available 5th period resonated through the school and teachers even allowed students out of class early to get on the line, which stretched down the hall. A two-ticket per person limit was in effect, and they were only available to seniors. Many students paid 10 or 20 dollars for tickets from seniors, and even tried to bribe teachers for their tickets.
Clary Anderson Arena was packed and the chants from both schools could be heard from outside the rink. Inside, the battle cries were deafening. Police officers outside and within the arena teamed up with MHS security guards to maintain a family-friendly atmosphere. The crowd never get out of hand, but classic profane chants were still present.
MHS came out strong, dominating play and keeping the puck in their offensive zone for the majority of the first period. The MHS faithful helped fuel their squad with loud cheering, including chants of “Da-vid Ty-ree,” the Superbowl hero and MHS alum. MHS struck first when senior Ryan Smith tapped the puck past MKA goalie Dwight Jackson with 7:29 remaining to give MHS a 1-0 lead. However, MKA would counter with John Ciardi’s shot past MHS Freshman goaltender Brendan Gaetjens, who Coach Verney opted for over Senior Matt Foley. The goal came with 6:45 remaining and evened the score at one.
The second period was filled with MHS opportunities, including multiple power plays and open shots, but no goals. Gaetjens made multiple fantastic saves, which drew chants of “he’s a Freshman!” from the crowd. MHS came out flat for the third period, which led to MKA taking a convincing 3-1 lead on goals from Robert DeVita and John Phillips within minutes of each other. The MHS crowd, which had pumped up their team, had been silenced. However, on the opening face off after MKA’s 3rd goal, Ryan Smith sniped a shot from around center ice that found its way through Jackson’s pads for his second goal of the game, and the crowd went wild again. The score was now 3-2, and with more than 10 minutes remaining, there was hope for MHS. But they never took advantage of their opportunities, and MKA would tag on an empty net goal from DeVita. As time expired, the Cougars mobbed their goalie at their net. The MKA crowd went wild, as the MHS crowd was silent. MKA had won the Montclair Cup, 4-2.
In the closing minutes of the game, a skirmish did break out near the MKA goal, and board-shaking hits were commonplace throughout the game. Neither can be unexpected in what has become such a fierce rivalry. But even when things were tense, players from both sides were able to playfully tap opponents with their sticks after impressive plays and help each other off the ice. Security and police did a good job of avoiding the problems faced last year, and all in all, the biggest event in Montclair sports went off without a hitch.