ROSELLE, NJ - Gov. Livingston hockey (5-13-2) finished their regular season with the "win of the season" -- so far. The 3-2 victory over Livingston (NJ.com ranked No. 17) on Monday night at Warinanco couldn't have come at a better time, said Gov. Livingston head coach Matt Anderson, as the team enters into post season cup play.
The Highlanders came out to avenge their recent 8-2 loss to the Lancers, and brought an elevated level of toughness to the ice. They turned it up at the end -- and the team came together and fought until the final buzzer.
This aggressive play saw the Highlanders down a man early and Livingston capitalized when Greg Rocheville was first to light the lamp on a power play goal four minutes into the game. Senior Billy Alexander immediately answered for GL off an assist by senior Ryan Monroy and junior Carson Wahlers, who was taken down on an "awkward hit."
Wahlers would grit through the injury to play out the first period, "somehow finding enough power to wrist home a long range shot to give us the 2-1 lead," said Anderson. Senior Brian Gray and Drew Skotarczak recorded the assist.
Wahlers is the playmaker -- not only leading GL with 113 career points, he is "especially adept at controlling the puck for long stretches of game time -- which means that even when he is not scoring, he is at least not allowing the opposition to get a scoring chance," said Anderson.
"At the intermission we made the decision to shut him down for the game and passed on the reigns to the rest of the team," said Anderson. So, when Wahlers' first period injury kept him from returning to the ice, the team came through with what can arguably be their best effort of the season.
Anderson credits junior goalie Nick Papa with a career moment in the second period with 16 saves on 17 shots in a lopsided second period keeping the game at 2-2 headed into the third.
Lancer's Jacob Fuhrman tied the game two minutes into the second period. Junior defender Zach Miller was tasked with shutting down Livingston senior forward Chace Friedfertig, who scored four goals in the recent 8-2 loss. "Miller shadowed Friedfertig for the entirety of the game, never letting him loose and in turn stifling the entire Livingston offense," said Anderson. "We knew Friedfertig was the key to their game and if we were able shut him down with a simple 'box and one' defense, we would give ourselves a chance to win."
The upperclassmen combined muscle and desire in the third period and senior Kyle Wahlers scored the winning goal five minutes into the period, assisted by Max Mele and Monroy. This marks his second game winner of the year.
Papa recorded 31 saves in the win; and Livingston goalie Matthew Delseni recorded 13 saves.
"It wasn’t a pretty win but it’s the one we’ve worked all season toward," said Anderson. "Our record is admittedly not impressive, but when you look closer, 8 of those 13 losses are against teams that were ranked top 20 in the state this year. --- Don't be fooled by the record -- this is still the deepest and most talented GL Hockey team to date. The win over Livingston is the first ever for GL against a top 20 ranked team."
Next, GL will play Westfield in the first round of the McInnis Cup Tournament at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10 at Protech Arena, 15 Worlds Fair Drive, Somerset.