DUNELLEN, NJ - Junior Danny Kramer fired the opening goal with an exceptional upper shelf snipe and recorded three assists in the 5-3 hockey victory over Scotch Plains-Fanwood Sunday night at Rock Ice in Dunellen.

“Getting the first goal is essential in our game plan since our younger team tends to play better when we are relaxed,” said Kramer. “Our line has been working hard and going to the net which is helping the team tremendously.”

Kramer was among five Highlanders that found the back of the net: sophomore Ed Sot, sophomore Greg Fetter, junior Robert Monroy (and three assists) and freshman Carson Wahlers (and one assist).

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With this win, GL improves to 6-5 and SPF drops to 1-5.

Coach Matt Anderson attributes much of GL’s success to the Highlanders' difficult schedule. “The key has been playing a strong schedule,” said Anderson. “We've played three very strong teams in the Montclair Holiday Tournament, and came with two wins in tight games against out of conference opponents (Pascack Valley and Jackson Liberty). We also played to a tight 2-0 loss to Montclair, who is one of the hottest teams in the state right now,” he added.

“We are learning how to win in different ways and getting contributions from everyone in the line up,” Anderson said. 

Although SPF came out strong, dominating face offs -- they couldn’t find the net in the first. They were plagued with penalties throughout the game.

The Highlanders were disciplined and capitalized on power play minutes. Late in the first, Kramer skated the puck coast to coast on a power play with sophomore Ed Sot positioned to bat the rebound past goalie Tim Mitchell for a 2-0 lead. Kramer and Robert Monroy recorded the assist.

“We rely on each other to put forth 100 percent on each shift and that's where our success comes from. Our chemistry is great since we know where each linemate is on the ice,” said Kramer.

This chemistry and skill has not gone unnoticed. "Our seniors and juniors are taking their games to a new level lately,” said Anderson, “which so nice to see after coaching those upperclassmen for three seasons now.”

Will White and Jared Figueroa  brought the Raiders back from a 2-0 deficit by scoring twice in a minute of each other. White scored off a rebound and Figueroa received a breakthrough pass.

Sophomore Greg Fetter answered by striking from nearly an impossible angle to find the back of the net for the go-ahead-goal for the Highlanders off an assist by Carson Wahlers.

The Raiders continued with their physical game, spending time in the box, while GL continued to show they were the more disciplined team.

Kramer sent the puck to senior Ryan Nieves at the point who found Robert Monroy who blasted a one-timer to the back of the net for the 4-2 lead.

GL senior goalie Matt Altomare [recorded 19 saves] denied Figueroa’s  attempt at a breakaway late in the period and made a strong save to end the second with a two goal lead.

Nicholas Cassara converted a two man-up opportunity for the Raiders early in the third to come within one. But, penalties would continue to hurt SPF as Carson Wahlers sealed the win for GL finding the back of the net with another power play goal off a rebound by Kramer for the 5-3 victory.

“It's always a proud moment for a coach when your players reap the rewards of persisent hard work towards long term development,” said Anderson. “To think about where we were as a hockey program three years ago, and to watch the way we play now is such a treat. The speed, skill and hockey sense were all earned the hard way by these players through persistence and determination. It wasn't easy for them (or me sometimes) to see the light at the end of the tunnel when we were playing games with 8 skaters three years ago and losing 10-0.”
 
The Highlanders will be back on the ice Friday, Jan. 8 against Jonathon Dayton at 9:10 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 9 for the Highlander Booster Club's Super Saturday game against Arthur L. Johnson at 6:20 p.m. Both games to be played at Union Sports Arena.

The Raiders face West Orange on Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 4:45 p.m. at Rock Ice in Dunellen.