WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Livingston varsity ice hockey team beat Paramus High School, 9-6, in a wild game on Monday to advance to the second round in the state playoffs.
The sixth-seeded Lancers got by their 27th-seeded opponent with two goals each from Jake Crockett, Tal Finberg, Josh Delsini, and Cole Friedfertig and a goal from Joe Lillien. Goalie Brian Lillien made 31 saves.
Crockett and Finberg scored goals within the first five minutes of the first period to give the Lancers the lead. However, Paramus answered right back with two of their own, halfway through the period. But with goals 30 seconds apart with three minutes left, Friedfertig and Finberg gave the Lancers a lead going into the intermission.
The Lancers seemed to sure up defensive deficiencies in the second period, outscoring Paramus 3-1 and taking a 7-3 lead into the second intermission. Delsini scored two goals within a minute to widen the lead from 5-3 to 7-3.
The game seemed all but won when Lancer forward Jared Appelbaum drew a slashing penalty with eleven minutes to go. On the ensuing power play, the Lancers buzzed around the goal, but were unable to score. With a minute left on the power play, Paramus got a breakaway goal. Thirty seconds later, on the identical power play, the same exact result occurred. The subsequent faceoff saw Lancer center David Reiter take a penalty himself. Thirty seconds later, it was a 7-6 game.
With the Lancer home crowd stunned, coach Dave Conklin took a much-needed timeout. After scolding his players for their lack of effort, the Lancers responded. They outplayed Paramus and were finally rewarded for this play when Joe Lillien put a rebound through the legs of the Paramus goalie. Friedfertig added an empty net goal for insurance with a minute to go.
Conklin was disgusted after the game and said, “I thought we were horrible from the drop of the puck. There was no effort. We gave away three goals on the power play.”
Delsini concurred with his coach and said, “We need to communicate better on the ice and limit the offensive zone turnovers on our power play. We cannot expect to win any more games with this kind of effort.”
Delsini said he still knows what his team is capable of doing and claimed, “If we can correct what went wrong here, there is nothing stopping us from getting to The Rock [Prudential Center, where the state finals are played].”
The Lancers await the winner of Ridgewood-Montclair. The date is set for Friday, Feb. 28. Time and location are to be determined.