ROSELLE, NJ- The Governor Livingston High School Highlanders varsity ice hockey team took to the ice looking to build off their win on Monday. However, the fourth-seeded Highlanders were unable to generate chances in the game, as they were shut out by the top-seeded Summit High School Hilltoppers in the 2018 Union County Cup Semifinals by a final score of 5-0 Wednesday evening at Warinanco Park in Roselle.
With their Union County Cup run over, the Highlanders are looking ahead to what is to come for the rest of the season.
“We’re just going to be working on the stuff we’re the weakest on, making the best of our opportunities, capitalizing on other teams’ mistakes and really looking forward to the McInnis Cup and hoping to make a run there,” Governor Livingston senior co-captain Brian Gray said.
As the game got underway, the Hilltoppers gained possession of the puck, they spent a lot of time on the ice in the Highlanders zone and cashed in with a goal from senior John Puskar. his second of the season, at 4:51 of the first period, giving Summit the 1-0 lead.
The speed of the Summit players prevented quality scoring chances for Governor Livingston, who continued to fight back, although the score remained 1-0 as the teams reached the first intermission.
“We pushed [Summit] pretty hard today,” Governor Livingston senior co-captain Kyle Wahlers said. “It was 5-0, we let in a couple of soft goals, but if you watch the game, we were able to break the puck out nicely, we were able to keep up with them, throw hits and overall, play tough.”
Governor Livingston was able to create a few chances, they had been playing a new style of hockey they’ve been working on in practices.
“At this point of the year, we’re trying to work on a new style of hockey, which we started to see a little bit of today, of just trying to control the puck a little more and be a more all-around skilled team,” Governor Livingston head coach Matt Anderson said.
In the opening minutes of the second period, Summit added to their lead with a score from sophomore Tom Pryymak, his 13th of the season, giving his team a 2-0 lead at 3:44 of the second period, increasing Summit’s early control of the tempo. On the power play later in the period, the Hilltoppers cashed in for a power play goal from senior David Sharpe at 13:53 of the second period. Summit carried a 3-0 lead into the second intermission.
After striking again for a goal, the Hilltoppers continued to show their speed and stifled the Highlanders on most of their chances they tried to create on the offense.
“Our focus was on making hard passes and trying to be the better team,” Anderson said. “[Also] entering the zone, breakouts, cutting into lanes and making passes and they did that. We didn’t get the result that we wanted, but I think as far as the kids doing what we worked on at practice and doing it well, we did fine. I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Summit added two more goals in the third period, the first one coming from David Sharpe, his second of the game at 8:36 of the third period and the other one from freshman Aidan Wiseman at 14:52 of the third period, finishing off the scoring for the night.
Despite the final score, Governor Livingston were impressed with what they were able to implement into their game plan against Summit, after playing them once before in the season back in December.
“Usually, we struggle with breakouts and moving the puck and keeping our feet moving,” Wahlers added. “I think we’re on an upward slope despite the loss. There’s nowhere else to go but up.”
For Governor Livingston, Nick Papa made 30 saves off 35 shots for his team in the loss.
For Summit, senior Wilson Lees recorded the shutout, stopping all 16 Governor Livingston shots that came his way.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (3-10-2) will play their next game at Livingston HS on Saturday, January 27 at 3:45 p.m.
“We have a ten-day break before our next game,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of practices, so we look forward to passing the puck, making better plays up the ice [and] helping them grow a bit because we can be a new team at the end of the year.”
The Summit Hilltoppers (14-1) advance to the 2018 Union County Cup Final. They will take on second-seeded Westfield on Saturday, January 20 at 6:00 p.m.