NEWARK — The biggest obstacle standing between the Morristown Beards and a third consecutive state girls ice hockey title may be a 3/16-inch-thick piece of metal.
Crimson senior goaltender Gracie Meyers’ skate blade “exploded” as she walked from the locker room onto the Prudential Center ice Monday afternoon, according to coach Bruce Driver. He broke free from his bonds, and he could not bring him back.
Driver, who won the 1995 Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils, texted for reinforcements. Equipment crews from the Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs arrived to fix Meyers’ skate in time for the second period.
By then, new goalkeeper Hannah Murtazawi had stopped nine Pingree shots and the Morristown Beards were on their way to a 2–1 victory.
The Crimson are the only girls state hockey champions.
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Murtazawi “started to get a little scared” when he didn’t see Meyers warm up. As Meyers stood with his teammates for the national anthem, the drivers were debating who should start the final.
They chose Murtazawi. his response? “Oh my god, I have to do this.”
“I was definitely a little nervous, but I knew the team had my back and they would be there to support me no matter what,” said Mortzawi, a Morristown resident who played in eight games this winter. appeared.
“It’s amazing. I love this team. It’s definitely different, especially with the crowd, the setting. Everything about it was so different. It was a great experience, so I think I’ll be back for the next few years.” Ready for.
raising girls game
Although the Morristown Beards (15-6-3) remain the only team to win the New Jersey girls’ title, the number and level of opponents is on the rise.
The first reference to the National Federation of State High School Associations for girls’ hockey is in a 1973–74 participation survey, with 96 players from 26 schools. The first New Jersey team is listed two years later: just one, with 25 players.
That number has grown to 8,983 players on 699 girls’ teams in 16 states in the 2021-22 school year. However, girls’ ice hockey does not rank in the top 10 in schools or participants, lagging behind better established sports such as volleyball, soccer, and swimming.
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New Jersey had 527 players in that NFHS survey, behind only Minnesota (3,232), Massachusetts and Wisconsin. However, as of the 2002–03 school year statistics, the number of girls’ teams in New Jersey has increased from six to 18.
Thirteen of those are in the New Jersey Interscholastic Ice Hockey League, which has two divisions — and a third will be added next winter, according to Driver.
Driver helped found the Morristown Beards program in the 2000–01 season, joining Pingree and Princeton High Schools as well as the independent Lawrenceville, Stuart Country Day and Princeton Day.
“Every single game we played was competitive,” said Driver, who wore only her Stanley Cup ring on Monday — no mementos from the girls’ past two titles.
“It feels like things are evening out for a while. We’re seeing a little bit more equality within the teams. (I’m) fortunate to be standing here as champion for the third time.”
More for Morristown Beard?
This is the fourth time the Morristown Beard and Pingree have played. The Crimson came out on top in all four, including a return to the Librera Cup final on 16 February.
The Big Blue (13–5) ended the season winning 12 of their last 14 games – with both losses coming to the Morristown Beards.
Senior Lily Warnock and junior Kailyn Kane scored for the Crimson. Warnock kept the girls’ championship jersey autographed by the Devils after the game, joking that since it was her number 23 – the same as the year of the title – she wanted to keep it.
Junior Charlotte Diemer was the first to score in the state finals against the Morristown Beards, hitting a goal in front of the net with 8.6 seconds left. The Crimson shut out Summit 3-0 in 2020 and beat Princeton Day 7-0 last winter.
Still clutching the NJSIAA trophy to her chest, Gracie Meyers was satisfied with the result. In a matter of hours, she went from helping her father, Brad Meyers, and Crimson goalie coach Rob Massimi through equipment repairs in the back hallways of the Prudential Center, unable to even look at her teammates on the ice, to another state. for the championship.
“When I got back on the ice and could skate again, it was like something clicked. I knew I would play well,” Meyers said. “Our team can play well together. We really like each other. The fact that we’re winning all these titles, we’re together. We’re just a team, a family.
Jane Heavy is a sports reporter for the Daily Record. Read more about her work here.
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