With less than 34 seconds left in regulation and a 0-0 tie, Cam Szary stole the puck back from Ramsey forward Alex Whelan. Szary left a drop pass for Brian Begley, who took the shot.
“[I thought] just fire it away because I knew there were guys coming right behind me,” Begley said.
The puck went in.
“We’re gonna win, we can do this,” the senior captain thought at the time. “It’s going to be the first state title of Morristown.”
The Prudential Center and Morristown fans erupted while Begley’s teammates jumped on him in celebration, bringing the senior captain down to the ice.
Morristown’s netminder, Shane Brown, wasn’t thinking the same thing.
“Where’s [Alex] Whelan going to be on the next shift,” Brown said. “We knew that he was going to be the guy that they were going to get it to.”
The Rams called a timeout right after the goal and pulled Tyler Harmon for an extra attacker. During that time, the Colonials talked about shutting down Ramsey’s leading scorer Whelan in the closing seconds.
“He’s a very special player and he was going to try and get that shot off,” Brown said. “In all the excitement, it was very controlled though. Our coach brought us in, he did a great job of calming everybody down and just setting the tone for what’s going to happen in the next  seconds and this is what we need to win this.”
But Colonial coach Bobby Jones said he was never worried.
“These guys, they’re like machines at this point with the D zone,” Jones said “I wasn’t even worried at all. I knew 33 seconds left, they’re not scoring.”
Ramsey didn’t score, and Morristown won 1-0 to claim its first state championship on Sunday. The past two seasons, Morristown waited on the ice and watched another team celebrate a Public A Championship. In 2013 the Colonials lost to Chatham, in 2012 they lost to Randolph.
“I could not be more excited for everybody in that locker room, especially the seniors,” Brown said.
“I think everybody in there played their butts off and everyone deserves it. These rings are going to be really nice to finally hold one that belongs to us.”
Begley was on the last two teams that lost in finals, and he also lost in the lacrosse state championship as a sophomore.
“I wanted this win more than anything in the world,” Begley said.
“It’s the best I’ve ever felt. We knew it was a group of special guys coming in the beginning of the season and we made this our goal from day one. We wanted to win a state championship. The last two, it was the most disappointing thing in the world because we knew those seniors worked their tails off just to get that special moment.
“Morristown, coming up we were never like a great team but we were just a bunch of blue collar guys. With the group of seniors we knew we could do something special with this team.”
Jones credited the team’s ability to win with a switch to the Mennen Division, which allowed the team to grow through a tougher schedule.
“I think that when you’re getting better as a program you’re going through some growing pains,” Jones said.
“I’ve said in the past we will not a championship unless we get in the Mennen Division and we battle, battle, battle every single game, game in and game out. And we got the results.”
The Colonials shut down a Rams offense that had scored 30 goals in the tournament this year. Ramsey also had three players on its roster who scored 40 or more points this season.
“We focused on defense. Defense has been our strong point,” Jones said. “And letting the other team work around the perimeter and then around shots from the perimeter. As long as Shane can see it, he can save it.”
Brown finished with 22 saves, including a stop with less than eight minutes left on Nick Boatta, who’d picked up a rebound.
Morristown also kept Ramsey’s leading scorer, Alex Whelan, from finding the back of the net. Whelan entered the game with 80 points (43g, 37a). Jones said the team spent the past few days watching film on Whelan.
“We had a third guy high, extra high all the time, we always knew where he was around the ice, very rarely did he really take control the way I’ve seen him in other games,” Jones said.
“He’s a fantastic player and good luck to him and the rest of the team over there. It was an incredibly tough game and either team would’ve been deserving of a W today.”
Morristown’s goal came on one of two shots the team took in the third frame after being dominated in the second. The Colonials controlled possession in the first period, but Harmon stopped all 11 shots he faced. He finished with 15 saves.
“This is a hard, hard working team,” Jones said. “We’re not the prettiest team, we’re not the most skilled team but we’re a hardworking team and they’re very deserving of what they got tonight.”
In the semifinals, Morristown took down Chatham 2-1 in the semifinals. Begley said the recent loses to Chatham fueled the team.
“We always knew we had a chance,” Brown said. “Coach Jones said he had more faith in this team than anybody else and as long as we bought into what he was saying, the systems that he was providing us with, we trusted him all the way.
“And I think we’re a very talented playoff team. I think that no matter what happens in the season we always seem to find our way back here. It’s just a way of closing out the season. I’m overwhelmed with emotion right now for everybody.”