WEST ORANGE, NJ - Underdog street hockey team the Blues beat team Lightning 5-4 in an exciting end-of-summer championship game that was held in West Orange on Aug.14, at O’Connor Park. The score was 5-4. The three league teams, Blues, Lightning and Coyotes, with teammates in third to fifth grade from Livingston, West Orange and Millburn, began playing one another in early June with Lightning being the victor in most games. In a surprising turn of events, the Blues beat the team that had beaten them three times prior and took home the wining trophies.
"The team played exceptionally well, caught a few breaks and pulled off an upset,” said Livingston resident Neil Goldstein, coach of the Blues. ‘It's always fun to win, but the overall picture is improvement by the players and team. That's exactly what happened, as you can see the difference from the first day of practice to the final game."
Matthew Lipp, who also coached the Blues and resides in Livingston, said, “I think the boys and girls on our team played excellent. They played hard. They had fun. They learned a lot, and in the end hard work and good timing paid off and they won the championship."
For the Blues, Max Alter scored three goals, one with an assist by Max Siegel of Millburn and one with an assist by Justin schwartz. The other goals were scored by Spencer Lipp with an assist by Max Alter for the winning goal, and by Ryan Goldstein. Mory Ashenberg was the winning goalie.
Steve Grossbard of Livingston, whose son Danny played on Lightning said, “Both teams played great in the hard-fought game and it is a shame one of the teams had to loose.”
West Orange’s Jill Green, mom of Jeremy, who played for Lightning said, “I thought it was a good competitive game.”
“Great Job by the kids,” said Stewart Ashenberg, Mory's father. “They really played hard right up to the very end and really wanted to win. I am proud of everyone.”
Johnny Lugo of West Orange, dad of Blues No. 4 Aidan Jacob “AJ” said, “The boys played phenomenally. This team has given them a hard time this season. They lost three in a row to them and just to come back and win this game and to play the way they did—I thought it was awesome on their part. The coaches did a good job and the kids wanted it in the end and I am glad they got it as they deserved it.”
Blues player Boaz Fox, 9, said, “The game was fun. It was mind-blowing and we got our revenge.”
Mom of Boaz, Shira Vickar-Fox of West Orange said, “I love town sports. It is very kid-friendly, family-oriented and everyone gets a chance to play. Someone has to come home the winner unfortunately.”
“What an exciting game,” said Blues player Dylan Schatell, 8, of West Orange. “I can’t believe we beat the team that beat us three times this summer—and in the championship game to boot."
Fourth-grader Ryan Goldstein of Livingston said, “Determination was key and if you try hard you will win.
Max Alter, a fourth-grader from Livingston with a hat trick for the Blues in the game said, “I was thinking that we may not win this game because they beat us by a lot last time, but I guess because of determination where everyone wanted to win it, we all tried our best and came back to win.”
The Street Hockey program runs from late June through early August. Games are played on weekdays and Sundays, depending on registrations. There is a Pee Wee Division for children in grades K-1, a Junior Division for grades 2- 5 and a Senior Division for children in grades 6-8. All games and practices are held at the lit O'Connor Hockey Rink.
This year, in the Pee wee Division, the Sharks beat the Bruins, 6-1, with a Bruins goal scored by Jared Levine. The Sharks, coached by Jason Blinkoff, was lead by Zach Blinkoff, Noah Blinkoff and Luke Piche.
The league has been around for many years, with children from Livingston playing for the last four years and children from Millburn playing for the last two. Other towns may join the league by contacting the West Orange Recreation Department.
The street hockey league gives children who play ice hockey a chance to hone their skills during the summer, and those who don’t skate, a chance to play competitive hockey.
For children interested in playing street hockey in the winter, a street hockey league run by Sports Universe begins in December. It is open to children from any towns. Games are played at The Kushner Academy.