ROSELLE, NJ - The Summit High School Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Team was caught late and passed even later, as Kent Place School's Aynsley Kaufman scored to tie the game with just over three minutes left and then got the game-winner after a little more than five minutes had been played in overtime, the latter tally giving the Dragons a 4-3 victory in the Morris Union Girls Ice Hockey League (MUGIHL) Tournament semifinals at the Warinanco Skating Center.
The loss eliminates the second-seeded Hilltoppers from the MUGIHL tournament and send third-seeded Kent Place to the final, where they will take on the number-one seed, Chatham-Madison, on February 14.
Seniors Morgen Shung and Sara Graham, along with junior Lily Neilan, had the Summit goals. Kaufman had a Hat Trick to lead the Dragons. Hilltopper senior goaltender Julia Oppici had 39 saves, while KPS netminder Isla Okkinga stopped 26 shots as the Dragons outshot Summit 43-29.
The Maroon and White took a 1-0 lead at 10:07 of the first period on a goal by Shung, assisted by sophomore Caroline Sharpe, at the 10:07 mark. Kent Place tied the game when Skylar Sim scored shorthanded less than four minutes later.
Kaufman's first goal of the night arrived at 6:16 of the second period and gave the Dragons a 2-1 lead. The 'Top responded with 2:39 mark when freshman Leah Rubinshteyn set up Neilan who found the net to level things, then dramatically took the lead when senor Sara Graham scored unassisted with just 4.1 seconds left in the stanza.
Summit nearly got the train to the station but Kaufman scored on the power play with 3:37 remaining in regulation and then notched the decider 5:31 into the extra session. Catherine Torres assisted on both Kaufman goals.
After the game, Summit Head Coach Matthew Stanbro told TAPinto Summit, "Clearly, we're disappointed. We know we are a skilled team, and we expected to compete for a championship. We played a strong game, but not a perfect game. We played with skill and speed. It came down to small mistakes leading to big chances for Kent Place. Kent Place capitalized on those chances."
Stanbro added, "In the coming days, we'll reflect on this experience and learn how to get even better. We're proud of the growth we made in only one season, though. We plan to continue our success going forward. Summit Girls Hockey has earned a place in the upper echelon of teams. Now it's a matter of developing our game so we remain a competitive team each and every year."
Summit, 12-6-1 on the season, will play its final game of the season when it takes on Randolph February 12 at Warinanco. Face-off for the 'Senior Night' game is set for 4:45 p.m.