ROSELLE, NJ — The stage was set for the most crucial game of the season on Monday night, and the Gov. Livingston/New Providence hockey team gave a commanding performance on the ice.
Freshman forward Brady Silverman continued his scoring exploits by registering a natural hat trick and junior Shane Cook halted all 17 shots he faced to send the Highlanders to a convincing 6-0 victory over Oratory Prep at Warinanco Rink.
Gov. Livingston improved to 10-1 overall with the triumph, which more importantly should assure it of the top slot for the Msgr. Kelly Cup, which will be seeded today.
With the Highlanders’ impressive 4-1 victory over Summit on Sunday in the inaugural George Bell Classic at Beacon Hill Club ice rink, it remained to be seen how the squad would respond the following evening against Oratory with the division’s top seed up for grabs.
“We all knew we had to come out hard and fast (tonight) against a really fast-paced opponent,” said Highlanders’ senior defenseman and captain Drew Skotarczak, who was a dominant force on the blue line. “The story of the year thus far for us in really competitive games had been coming out slow, and we wanted to really show them what we’re made of early.”
Gov. Livingston left no doubt about that concern right from the opening face-off.
Silverman scored on assists from linemates Matt Darata and Brian Kramer for a 1-0 lead before adding two more goals before the first period ended, giving Gov. Livingston a 3-0 advantage.
“Brady obviously helped us get going with the hatty in the first,” Skotarczak said, “but overall it was a great team win. Every player on the roster contributed, and I think we played some of the best hockey we have all season.”
There was no letdown over the final 30 minutes, either, as the Highlanders poured 44 shots on the Oratory Prep (4-2-1) goal.
The lead was extended to 4-0 after Daltry Ferrigno connected on assists from Brandon Fowlis and Matthew Wallen. Then it was 5-0, this time on a tally from Jack Norton, assisted by Wallen.
Possession was king this night for the Highlanders, who were coming in waves off the rush for most of the second and third periods.
Even Gov. Livingston coach Michael Criscitello was impressed with his club’s intensity.
“I was taken by surprise a little on how ready we were for this game,” said the coach. “On Sunday against Summit we had a memorable experience in the outdoor game that maybe we didn’t come down from the high of that win. But from the first puck drop the boys knew what was on the table, and they took care of business.”
Especially Cook, who in six previous games had held opponents to just one goal, boasts a .930 save-percentage in his 11 starts.
“Shane has battled all year,” Criscitello said, “holding teams to just one or two goals so many times. He’s been joking about not being able to earn a shutout, but tonight he did in the biggest game of the year.”
In the third Phillip Koutsaftes closed out the scoring to boost the lead to 6-0, assists going to Tommy Hoy and Jack Norton.
Silverman boosted his team-leading goal total to 20, while linemate Kramer leads the club with 28 assists.