by Andrew Garda
The No. 4-seeded Montclair Mounties hockey team advanced to the semifinal round of the 2019 McInnis Cup with a 4-1 win over 5-seeded Livingtson Monday, Feb. 11.
So why did it feel so hollow?
Maybe it was because the victory ended up costing the Mounties the services of Kellum Foster-Palmer.
During the third period, Foster-Palmer delivered a check to Lancers’ center Max Solomon near center-ice. Solomon fell to the ice in a heap, and Livingston head coach Dave Conklin was yelling at the officials while he shuffled off the bench to check on his player.
After a brief huddle, the officials sent Foster-Palmer off the ice with a five-minute major and a game disqualification.
Solomon ended up being fine — he returned to the ice less than a shift change later — but that didn’t ease the frustration of MHS head coach Mark Janifer, who had to face top-seeded Summit on the road Wednesday night without a key rotation player. That game was scheduled to take place after press time, with the winner advancing to Saturday’s McInnis Cup final, a 5 p.m. face-off at Codey Arena.
The suspension is for two games, so Foster-Palmer could miss the first game of the state tournament if the Mounties lost last night’s game and the appeal is denied.
“There were a lot of calls they didn’t make this game, and I’m fine with that,” a visibly angry Janifer said after the game. “There’s a lot that they could have called. They could have called two and tens, or five and tens, but they didn’t call them, and all of a sudden on that one, they decide to call it. [Foster-Palmer] hit the kid straight. The kid’s coming into the end, [Foster-Palmer] stepped up on him and hit him. I think it was a bad call, we’re going to appeal it and see what happens.”
‘Two-and-ten’ and ‘five-and-ten’ refer to a call when an official penalizes a player for a misconduct penalty and adds another penalty (either two or five minutes) to take a man off the ice for the offending team. Sometimes a misconduct penalty will mean a player leaves the ice for five minutes, but his team does not have to skate with just four players and kill a penalty. They merely have to do without the services of the penalized player.
Adding a two or five minute penalty takes a player off the ice for that time period, creating a power play.
The officials never used either of those options, instead ejecting Foster-Palmer.
The Lancers, who were left out of the state tournament, set the tone early with chippy play, clearly attempting to antagonize the Mounties, who rarely took the bait. The resulting play by the Lancers was ugly hockey, and resulted in several penalties the Mounties managed to turn into goals.
Janifer had raised the issue to the officials as well.
“They were trying to get guys off their game,” Janifer said. “They were hitting, they were trying to get guys riled up, and I thought our guys kept their heads pretty well, given the hits that were going on out there. I thought that tactic was fairly obvious, and again that’s another reason I just think this call was not a good call.”
Back on the ice, the Mounties had to kill a five-minute penalty.
Luckily they had goalie Lucas Podvey in net.
‘He’s been a huge strength for our team all year. I think the other coaches in the league realize that, which is why he was voted first team all conference, And he showed again tonight why he deserves that,” Janifer said. “They had a five-minute power play where he was getting peppered, and he stood in there and made some great saves for us.”
Livingston tried to keep a lot of clutter in the crease, posting tall Jacob Fuhrman in front of Podvey much of the game. The senior is used to it.
“Obviously I’m small,” Podvey said. “Sometimes I can see through the legs if they’re really tall, like [Fuhrman] was, but if I can’t see [the puck] I get my hands out and go down and hope for the best and react.”
While Podvey saw almost a dozen shots directed at him during that five minutes, and turned aside all but one.
“I like to get a shutout, but I’m fine with the result,” he said.
Podvey had some wiggle room due to four goals scored over the course of the first two periods of the game. While Foster-Palmer was ejected, that wasn’t before he opened things up with a goal at 8:43 in the first period off a nice pass by defender Will Schiffenhaus. Then Ben Wakefield added to the tally with just 36 seconds left in the same period when he converted a nice pass by Eamon Thall.
The second period saw Brett Janifer score early with an assist from George Osterberg and Thall, with Harry Bylin scoring on a pass from Foster-Palmer.