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Verona-Glen Ridge outlast Glen Rock in Kelly Cup Final

It started as any other New Jersey high school hockey division cup final. There were over 20 other County/Cup tournament finals played throughout the Garden state during the past week, but none of them lasted quite as long as this one. These two teams had played twice during the regular season and Glen Rock had taken both games, but we were in for an epic Kelly Cup final at Codey Arena.

VGR, Glen Rock Get Cozy

Nobody scored in the first period as these two North Jersey Kelly division boxers 'felt each other out' as a boxing announcer might say. But there weren't just poke checks exchanged. Big, open-ice hits worthy of Scott Stevens' lore were thrown as these two teams showed the crowd at Codey Arena that they had no love for each other.

Fast forward to the second period, and the co-op high school, Verona Glen Ridge, got on the board first. Off an odd-man rush, VGR skated into Glen Rock's defensive zone and applied pressure until a rebound was poked home by one of the players wearing rather austere black jerseys reminiscent of the L.A. Kings home jersey.

Hockey coaches like Hall-of-Famer Scotty Bowman say, "The most important shift is the one after a goal," and Glen Rock answered one shift after conceding this cup final game's first goal.

Parker Dupuis (who scored 55 points in 19 games this season) carried the puck quickly into the offensive zone. The Panthers' leading scorer faked out the two defenders marking him, and one fell to the ice. Shortly after, Dupuis faked to the inside toe, dragged to the outside, and fired a wrister that blistered the left post and entered the net to tie the game at one.

A Grueling Goaltending Duel

The game was knotted at one goal a side at the end of two periods. The fact that there had been little goal-scoring made the game all the better-- neither team was giving much up defensively, and what was gained was paid for with hard falls to the ice. It truly had the feel of NHL playoff hockey, and when kids coming to watch the McInnis Cup final between Westfield and Summit started crowding around the glass to have a look, it made it all the more festive inside Codey Arena's main rink.

With about 3 minutes left in the third period, Glen Rock was awarded the game's first power play. They moved the puck with speed around their umbrella offensive zone set-up but couldn't find a way to beat VGR goaltender Jackson Soshnick and VGR killed off the penalty, sending the game into overtime.

Overtime Lasts Longer than Expected

At the end of the first overtime period, penalties were awarded to both teams: VGR, who couldn't put the puck past Glen Rock goalie Luke Brassil, and Glen Rock, whose second power play was less threatening than their first.

To make a long story short, these two Jersey high schools pushed, shoved, and clawed for another four overtime periods of 7:30 minutes each but couldn't find a winner.

With 2:30 minutes left in the fifth overtime, Brassil laid out on his back to make a save on a weak-side shot by a VGR player.

However, Glen Rock's offensive zone time waned, and VGR's legs kept churning, backchecking to stop Glen Rock's frequent odd man rushes. But it took one rush from Verona's Jack Budinick to end the game. Budinick took the puck out of his own zone, drove around a defenseman to the net, and scored his own rebound to end the game in the fifth overtime.

As Verona-Glen Ridge won this Kelly Cup final in quintuple overtime, it's important to note that this game could have easily ended with co-champions being declared instead of one champion. That's because in 2020, NJSIAA changed its overtime rules from one 15-minute overtime period and co-champions to permitting continuous sudden death overtime, just like the NHL does in its playoffs.

In the end, this writer wants to give a Conn Smythe trophy (award given to the MVP of the Stanley Cup Finals).

The Smythe winner for the Kelly Cup final is Glen Rock's goaltender Luke Brassil, who stopped 48 out of 50 shots against his team to keep his team in this game from start to finish. Honorable mention goes to Jackson Soshnick, the VGR goalie, for stopping 44 of 45 shots, which means the two goalies combined for 92 saves on 95 shots.

The game lasted from 6:00 pm to 9:48 pm. At 3:48 minutes it lasted as long as a New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox game! All kidding aside, Budinick's game-winner came at 83:00 elapsed time which surpassed the record for a boys ice hockey game in New Jersey which was 78:32, according to Brian Bobal of NJ Advance Media, which means this Kelly cup final goes down as the longest in New Jersey high school hockey history.

Anthony Paradiso
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