Bridgewater-Raritan high school's hockey team lost its chance at a state championship with a 4-1 loss to Randolph Saturday in the Public A final at the Prudential Center in Newark.
Randolph's championship is its third straight and seventh overall.
Bridgewater came into Saturday's game with momentum, having defeated a highly regarded Livingston team Tuesday in the semifinals. But Randolph, the perennial Morris county powerhouse, would never give the Panthers a chance to get started.
Randolph drew first blood at 7:20 of the first period. That was followed up by two more in the first 10 minutes of the second. Down now 3-0, the Panthers took the next faceoff, drove down the ice and in only eight seconds, Jordan Petersen scored for Bridgewater with an assist from Dylan Gotleib. But that would be the lone goal for the Panthers.
Randolph would throw a barrage of 14 shots at Panther goalie Bobby Esposito in the final period. Randolph would add another goal in the third period.
"The toughest thing we had to deal with was their speed," said Bridgewater head coach Patrick Alvin. "When we didn't have time, we didn't make the right adjustments and when we had time, sometimes we just rushed it too much. Every time our defensemen would go back, he had a guy on him."
"We played against a few quick team this season, but these guys really came at us, and came at us hard," added Alvin. "And they came at us smart. They are probably one of the best coached teams in the state. Leading up to this game, we were calling them "machines." They have interchangeable parts: kids graduate and they put new ones in their place and they are successful year after year."
"It is an unbelievable experience, and I am real thankful we were able to take part in it," said Alvin. "But sometimes the production can get to the kids: the lights, the banquet. It was a terrific experience, but sometimes kids realize this is real heavy stuff. The kids from Randolph have been here before and they are used to the lights. And it is to their credit. "
This is something we can build on," said Alvin. "We only have two seniors, so we have a lot to look forward to next year."