ROSELLE, NJ- The Governor Livingston High School Highlanders continued their outstanding style of play as they defeated the Arthur L. Johnson High School Crusaders by a final score of 8-1 in the Kelly Cup Division Semifinals Wednesday afternoon at Warinanco Park.
Since January 2, the Highlanders have a 11-3-1 record and they immediately took control of the game once the puck dropped in the opening faceoff.
In the first period, the Highlanders would score first, as junior Ryan Monroy connected for his 15th goal of the season at 1:31 of the first period. The assist went to sophomore Cole Wahlers. They buzzed right around the Crusaders net to continue and seek scoring opportunities and added to their early lead.
With Johnson senior co-captain Jack Lomeli in the box for a tripping penalty, senior and co-captain Robert Monroy struck with his seventh goal of the season 48 seconds into the power play to give his team a 2-0 lead.
Johnson wouldn’t back down quietly and Lomeli cut the Highlanders lead to 2-1, with the hopes that could be a spark for the team.
Governor Livingston sophomore Carson Wahlers scored two goals in the period, coming at the 10:07 and 12:26 marks of the first period respectively, opening a comfortable 4-1 lead going into the first intermission.
“I think we’re finally starting to play with structure,” Governor Livingston head coach Matt Anderson said. “I think we’re playing with guys in the right spot now. They understand their roles, the responsibilities within our structure and that just allowed everybody to play a little faster, little bit smarter [and] make a little better decisions.”
The Highlanders clicked in all aspects in the game, outshooting the Crusaders 19-5 in the opening period.
“That really set the tone for us,” Governor Livingston sophomore Zach Miller said. “We came out strong, built up the intensity" -- and finishing at the net led the team to victory.
They were still hungry for more goals as the second period began, as sophomore Zach Miller got into the scoring mix. He beat Johnson junior goaltender Karol Wiercozek at the 2:01 mark of the second period, for a 5-1 lead.
The Highlanders kept creating chances all around, shutting the Crusaders down in all aspects of the second period. Ryan Monroy scored his second goal of the game to make it 6-1 Governor Livingston at the 6:11 mark of the second period.
Senior and co-captain Danny Kramer kept the explosive offense going with his 14th goal of the season at the 10:12 mark of the second period, as the Highlanders made it a 7-1 lead going into the second intermission.
“It’s awesome, we finally clicked,” Kramer said. “In the beginning of the year, we started out slow, but halfway through the year, we clicked and it’s awesome to get everyone going together.”
The third period would feature the teams going at each other, before Miller scored his second goal of the game at the 14:25 mark of the third period, as the Highlanders now look ahead to the Kelly Cup Final matchup Saturday afternoon.
“It feels great, we’re doing it as a team,” Carson Wahlers said. “Next game, we’ve got to come out strong against Millburn.”
The Highlanders finished the series 3-1 against the Crusaders this season, defeating them on January 11 by a score of 5-2, when they handed Johnson their first loss of the season. Governor Livingston also defeated Johnson 6-1 on January 30 in the Union County Cup First Round matchup.
The Johnson Crusaders (13-8-1) are back in action for the first round of the NJSIAA Public A Tournament at Wall Township HS Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (14-9-2) punch their ticket to the Kelly Cup final Saturday afternoon against No. 1 seeded Millburn HS at 3:45 p.m. in Codey Arena in West Orange. They travel to play Sparta HS in the NJSIAA Public A Tournament First Round matchup Tuesday night at 8 p.m.