GLEN RIDGE – Glen Ridge senior assistant captain Owen Gleeson scored two goals and Verona senior Kevin White had one goal and one assist to lead the fourth-seeded Verona/Glen Ridge High School varsity ice hockey team to a 4-2 win over second-seeded and two-time defending champion Montclair Kimberley Academy in the NJIHL-American Division McInnis Cup championship game at Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange on Feb. 20.
Verona sophomore Sean DeCandia had one goal and Glen Ridge freshman Jake Kuhn had an assist. Verona/Glen Ridge won its third straight game, all in the McInnis Cup playoffs, to move to a 14-8-4 record. MKA fell to 14-9-2.
Verona/Glen Ridge lost to MKA in both regular-season games in decisive fashion. MKA beat Verona/Glen Ridge, 9-3, Dec. 16, and 6-0, Jan. 6.
This time, Verona/Glen Ridge made it a game, and came out on top. White opened the scoring in the first period with 4:28 left. Gleeson made it 2-0 on an assist by Kuhn with 14:03 left in the second period.
Devin Pepe cut it to 2-1 for MKA with 9:57 left in the second. DeCandia made it 3-1 with 34 seconds left in the period. Gleeson scored to make it 4-1 on an assist by White with 9:59 left in the third period. Pepe scored his second goal of the game, 46 seconds later, but Verona/Glen Ridge held on the rest of the way to win the championship. Verona goalie/assistant captain Liam Blaney made 26 saves.
Verona/Glen Ridge won a Cup title for the first time since 2009 when it won the McMullen Cup.
In the semifinals, Verona/Glen Ridge defeated top-seeded and previously-unbeaten Montclair, 3-2, in overtime on Feb. 18 at Clary Anderson Arena in Montclair. Gleeson scored his second goal of the game for the game-winner.
Montclair took a 1-0 lead on a short-handed goal by Remy Parker with 2:02 left in the first period.
Gleeson tied it on a power-play goal on an assist by Glen Ridge senior captain Steven Wenzl with 1:20 left in the first period. Wenzl scored a power-play goal with 5:04 left in the second period to give Verona/Glen Ridge a 2-1 lead. Mike Gerne tied it 2-2 for Montclair with 1:45 remaining in the second period.
Gleeson converted a pass from Verona sophomore Sean DeCandia with 6:37 left in overtime.
Verona/Glen Ridge handed Montclair its first loss of the season. Montclair moved to a 17-1-3 record. Verona/Glen Ridge avenged both divisional losses to Montclair this season, 4-1 on Jan. 9 and 5-0 on Jan. 30.
Verona/Glen Ridge is seeded 13th in the state Public B tournament and will host No. 20 seed Woodbridge in the first round on Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. at Codey Arena. The winner will face the winner between No. 4 seed Ramsey and No. 29 seed Jefferson in the second round on or by Feb. 26.