ROSELLE, NJ - The Governor Livingston Highlanders (No 5 seed) continue with their winnning ways defeating Arthur L. Johnson (No. 4 seed), 6-2, Monday night during the first round of the Union County Tournament at Warinanco Skating Center. GL will faceoff against No. 1 seed Summit in the semifinals on Wednesday.
A deeper roster was a catalyst in the Highlander win. “I think we’re finally getting all of our players healthy, so playing with some more depth is definitely helpful,” said head coach Matt Anderson. “I think the other team had a lot of injuries; we had guys coming off injuries, so that gave us a big advantage.”
The puck dropped, and for the first few minutes, play was back and forth between the two teams. In the first quarter, GL goaltender Nick Papa made two huge saves -- blocking a distance shot from a Crusader by snatching the puck out of the air and next, stopping a “line drive” to the stomach.
Zach Miller was first to attack the net at 8:12 and flicked the puck under Johnson goaltender Karol Wieczorek. Carson Wahlers and Robert Monroy assisted. Gov. Livingston added another goal to the scoreboard with two minutes remaining in the first period. Assisted by Kyle Wahlers, Ryan Monroy effortlessly slid the puck into the back of the net, giving the Highlanders a 2-0 lead.
The second period started with a tripping penalty issued to Robert Monroy. Johnson’s Ty Schafer scored with a wrist shot on the power play, aided by Mike Adamowitz and Jack Lomelli.
Minutes later, after countless attempts on the Johnson goal by the GL front line, Danny Kramer scored, assisted by Cole Wahlers and Carson Wahlers. Shortly after, Schafer answered by netting his second goal, assisted by Matt Alongi.
With 2:52 left in the second period, Papa thwarted a goal attempt. As the clock ticked down, Schafer was charged with cross checking, and a power play ensued.
With the clock running down in the second period, Billy Alexander scored back to back goals. Carson Wahlers and Kramer were credited with the assists on the first goal. Kramer grabbled the assist on the second goal as he sent the puck back to Alexander while splayed out on his stomach. The period finished with Kramer in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct.
As the third period began, Gov. Livingston was down a man, but was able to defend their 5-2 lead. Back-and-forth play consumed most of the period. As frustration set in, penalties ensued when GL's Greg Fetter and Johnson's Matt Boho were both charged with roughing. Robert Monroy received a holding penalty, and Zach Miller spent time in the box for cross checking. Johnson had the advantage multiple times, but was not able to connect with the back of the net.
The Governor Livingston boys, on the other hand, couldn’t help themselves -- with 0:30 left on the clock, Carson Wahlers sent a puck into the Johnson net, aided by Alexander for the 6-2 final score.
Governor Livingston advances in the tournament to play Summit [who had a first round bye] this Wednesday. The two teams have yet to play each other this season. “I think that makes us a little more dangerous because they haven’t seen us yet," said Anderson. "We haven’t seen them yet, so it could really go either way. Like I said, we’re getting healthy and we’re getting hot at the right time, so I don’t see any reason why we couldn’t beat them.”
Johnson goaltender Karol Wieczorek made 28 saves on 34 shots for the Crusaders.
Governor Livingston goaltender Nick Papa made 19 saves on 21 shots for the Highlanders.
“I think they’re excited for Wednesday at this point," said Anderson. "They’ve been looking forward to playing Summit this year. They earned the chance to do that, so we’ll see how it goes.”
The Crusaders (12-6-1) return to the ice against West Essex on Saturday, February 4 at 3:45 p.m. at Warinanco Skating Center.
The Highlanders (11-8-1) continue their Union County Tournament run on Wednesday, February 1 against Summit at 6:30 p.m. at Warinanco Skating Center.