BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -  Gov. Livingston ice hockey opens against  Morris Hills on Saturday, Nov. 29 at 6:20 p.m. at Union Sports Arena.

"This is a great opportunity for everyone to see how much this program has grown in just one year," said Coach Matt Anderson, looking for his team to improve on their (5-16) 2013-14 record.

"We will have a really exciting team on the ice, but most importantly, fans will get the chance to witness a special moment as senior Kyle Kramer plays his first high school hockey game --  6 years after a long battle with leukemia and other complications."

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The entire team has their focus on qualifying for the State Tournament. This goal has been six years in the making for Kyle Kramer. Kramer skates as a Highlander for the first time since being diagnosed in fifth grade with AML Leukemia and then suffered through complications of Graph vs Host disease.  

"His perseverance is an inspiration to everyone around him, and you can see how positively his hard work effects everyone around him, " said Anderson. "It has pushed all our players to constantly improve, and has pushed me to become a better coach every day."

Anderson, in his second year as head coach, is looking for a "breakout season" with a deep roster -- adding 11 freshman and one senior --  building the Highlander ice hockey program to be a competitive contender in the county.

"If we can stay healthy and focused, I fully expect the team to qualify for the State Tournament and to win quite a few County Games up through the County Playoffs," said Anderson. " I have seen a huge improvement from all our returning players, and this new class of freshmen has shown a lot of potential."

"We will be a fast, skilled, and offensively creative team backstopped by a goalie who has faced a lot of shots over his first two seasons," said Anderson.

"However, our youth translates to inexperience and likely some costly mistakes at times in transition and most importantly the defensive zone. If junior goalie Matt Altomare can bail out his young teammates when these mistakes happen, he should be able to take us pretty far this year."

Returning sophomore Danny Kramer, who finished second in Union County with 26 goals last year, should only improve reuniting with his brother, senior Kyle Kramer, on an offensive unit, said Anderson.

Junior defenseman Ryan Nieves returns from a sophomore season slowed by knee problems. "He looks faster, stronger and ready to take on a big role on the blue line for our power play," said Anderson.

Of the many talented incoming freshmen, Kyle Wahlers has been a standout, showing a willingness to learn and play any position he is needed to play this year, said Anderson. "His flexibility will go a long way towards stabilizing both ends of the rink and adds depth in all positions in case we face another injury plagued season."

"Needless to say, the future is bright for ice hockey in our community," said Anderson. "We have tons of new players starting at all ages, and many travel hockey players from all our local schools who continue to compete at higher and higher levels each year." 

The Highlander Middle School team is out to a 2-0 start with wins over Watchung Hills and North Hunterdon, and  the U10 and U8 Developmental Junior Highlanders Teams seem to grow each week, said Anderson.

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