Hockey team makes final for first time BY WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Middletown South hockey coach Stanley Gutt was hoping his team could continue its late-season surge in the NJSIAA Public School B championship against Chatham at the Prudential Center in Newark on March 13 but instead got stuck into something resembling a track meet.“We hadn’t seen anything like this all year,” said Gutt, whose team was moved from the Public School A Division before this season. “They came out and played their style. … They used a stretch pass where the defensemen would feed the puck up to the forwards breaking out and spreading out instead of all of them coming out together. It was like in basketball in the ’80s when the Celtics played the Lakers and when the Lakers came out in their fast break, they couldn’t be beat.”Likewise could be said that day for Chatham, which raced out in numbers and scored off odd man rushes for a 7-3 victory in the first state championship game appearance for both teams. Chatham (21-3) moved out to a 6-0 lead off a fourgoal burst in the second period despite many fine saves by goalkeeper Chris Marsillo and Middletown South (15-8-3) could not catch up. Chris Connor and Tyler Ralph chipped into the lead with goals but it was the closest the Eagles would get. Jason Zimmel scored the Eagles’ final goal.“Their adjustments after the first period were better than ours,” said Gutt, whose team came in with five straight state tournament victories. It was a turnaround for Middletown South, which had lost before that stretch to Howell, 6-4, in the opening round of the Handchen Cup that it had won the two previous years.Chatham’s scoring, which included one power play and one shorthanded goal, tied for the most goals allowed by the Eagles all season (they lost 7- 2 to Red Bank Catholic on Jan. 2). And it was the fewest goals scored by Middletown South going back nine games to a 3-2 victory over Middletown North in the Mayor’s Cup game at the same arena on Feb. 11.“This team was a little faster,” Gutt said. “They had the best line we faced all season. They worked well together.”But Gutt credited his team for battling back in the third period as its trip to the state finals redeemed what looked for a short while like a lost season a month ago when the Eagles, who went on a scoring blitz at the start of the season, had trouble finding the back of the net.Gutt said Marsillo could not be faulted for his play in the net against Chatham. He is one of the five departing seniors off this team, including Zimmel, a forward. The other three are forwards Chris Malamut, Cole Samuels and Nikko Dulli.“I thought he (Marsillo) played well,” said Gutt. “He was peppered with a lot of shots, including 17 in the second period. He did not get the support the way we wanted it.”But there is an expectation for another solid season with the return of junior Connor, the MVP last season who led the team with 47 points and fellow juniors Ralph and Zach England. Juniors NickArcomano, Steve Sangermano and Bill Murphy and sophomoresAdam Gold and Tom Phelan got playing time. As for the goalie next season, junior Shubhro Bose was a solid backup, said Gutt.“I told the players afterward, ‘Remember this place. Remember the hard work and what got you here,’” Gutt said.The defense has been solid throughout the season, allowing 60 goals in 25 games before the championship game and is intact for next season with juniors Jimmy Burns, Matt Littenberg, Brian Walsh and Matt Himmelberg and sophomore Cole Ditzel.