ROSELLE, NJ- The Governor Livingston High School Highlanders varsity ice hockey team took to the ice, looking to rebound from their season opener loss to Scotch Plains-Fanwood, but in a span of seven minutes in the second period, they fell behind and couldn’t recover, losing to the Westfield High School Blue Devils by a final score of 3-0 Wednesday night at Warinanco Park in Roselle.
In the second period, junior Anthony Oliveri and senior Trevor Tanella each tallied a goal within that seven-minute span to secure the game for the Blue Devils.
On a long pass, Oliveri collected the puck on a breakaway attempt. He fired on goal and the puck dribbled in the back of the net at the 4:40-mark of the second period to give Westfield the 1-0 lead.
“Trevor [Tanella] was behind the goal line in our zone and he managed to fire the puck down to me,” Oliveri said. “I was just hopping off the bench, so I was behind a [Governor Livingston] defenseman and I was able to get behind him.”
Following a few chances on net for both teams, the Blue Devils struck again, with Tanella firing a shot on net that found the back of the net and Westfield led 2-0 going into the second intermission.
Westfield had 13 shots through the first two periods, while Governor Livingston had 12 shots through the first 30 minutes of play.
“At first, we took a few penalties we had to kill off and that gained some momentum there,” Westfield head coach Joe Betrucci said. “Once we were able to play 5-on-5, I think we were able to put pucks on net and crash the net. We were fortunate to get a breakaway for the first goal and that kind of opened things up for us and for more offense that we were able to create.”
Governor Livingston fought throughout the period, especially after receiving two power plays on Westfield penalties, but couldn’t quite find the back of the net. Some of their chances were turned away by the Blue Devils defense.
“We spent a lot of time in the offensive zone in the second period,” Governor Livingston head coach Matt Anderson said. “We got a lot of momentum after our second power play at the beginning of the period.”
On the evening, Westfield killed off three Governor Livingston power plays early on, preventing the Highlanders from getting close to quality chances on the man-advantage.
“I think we got a little too focused on offense in the second period for a while,” Anderson said. “The defenders were caught out of position. They snuck someone behind us on a line change and got a lucky bounce and got a little momentum after it.”
The Blue Devils were encouraged by the work on the penalty kill and then the scoring chances that came about the momentum built from special teams work.
“We were prepared for [Governor Livingston’s] power play,” Betrucci said. “The boys played the correct system and we were able to shut down and block any quality shots they had. Your goalie is going to make the saves from the outside as long as we limit second chances there.”
Senior Leo Warsh tallied Westfield’s third goal of the evening with a shot on net at the 7:51-mark of the third period.
Westfield senior goaltender C.J. Duffy recorded a shutout in the Blue Devils season opener, adding it was the one game they had marked on their calendars as the start of the season approached.
“We spent all summer preparing,” Duffy said. “We took a trip up to Boston. We just prepared for the first game. A couple of big goals from [Anthony Oliveri] and [Trevor Tanella] and we kept the ball rolling and never stopped.”
“C.J. [Duffy] played really well between the pipes,” Tanella said. “He lucked us out a few times. But [Kenneth Meyer], my partner [on the lines] was playing well. Luckily, I was able to score a goal for the second [one] on the evening.”
In the loss, Governor Livingston junior goaltender Nick Papa made 15 saves on 18 shots. The Highlanders have their minds on capturing their first win of the season despite the loss.
“We’re all just motivated to get our first win of the season,” Governor Livingston junior co-captain Carson Wahlers said. “We have to come back next week stronger and harder.”
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (0-2) will aim to capture their first win of the season when they travel to play at Middletown North HS Friday evening at 5:40 p.m.
The Westfield Blue Devils (1-0) head out on the road to play at Montclair Kimberley Academy HS Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m.