UNION, NJ- The Governor Livingston Highlanders varsity ice hockey team took to the ice looking to get back on the winning, as they faced off against the Summit Hilltoppers for the third time this season. The end result, the Highlanders couldn’t get anything going, losing by a final score of 8-1 Friday afternoon at Union Sports Arena in Union.
As the game started, the Highlanders were able to generate early pressure, going on the power play just 44 seconds into the game, after Summit’s Johnny Puskar was called for a high-sticking penalty. Governor Livingston moved the puck around at a fair manner, but Summit was able to kill the penalty off.
“At moments, I thought, throughout the game, we moved the puck pretty well,” Governor Livingston senior co-captain Brian Gray said. “We were making crisp passes across the ice and we were looking pretty good. We had chances, but we didn’t capitalize on most of them.”
The Hilltoppers got a major rush into the Highlanders zone and senior J.P. Jacobello cashed in for the game’s opening goal at 3:51 of the first period, as Summit took the 1-0 lead.
Despite the early pressure from Governor Livingston, Summit was able to withstand it and keep them off the board. Summit got rewarded a power play a few minutes later, with Governor Livingston junior Cole Wahlers called off for a hooking penalty.
On the special teams opportunity, the Hilltoppers connected, with sophomore Jake Pushar making it 2-0 Summit with a power play goal at 7:22 of the first period. Summit went into the first intermission with the 2-0 lead.
The second period would be where Summit would put the game out of reach, as they went on an offensive tear.
The Hilltoppers got a goal from senior Will Vitton at 4:00 of the second period to make the game 3-0 with Summit in front. Less than three minutes later, senior Johnny Puskar gave Summit a 4-0 lead at 6:59 of the second period.
They would add their third goal of the period from senior David Sharpe, giving his team a 5-0 lead at 14:33 of the second period, the score between the two teams at the second intermission.
Summit prevented Governor Livingston from several quality chances to get on the board.
The Hilltoppers tacked on three more goals in the third period. Sophomore Tom Pryymak made it 6-0 with a goal at 1:13 of the third period.
Governor Livingston went on the power play at about the halfway mark of the period, with Summit’s Luc Radice in the penalty box for cross-checking. The Highlanders broke up the shutout bid late in the period.
Senior Michael Stewart cashed in for his team’s lone goal at 8:05 of the third period, cutting the lead down to 6-1.
“I think we know we can play with [Summit]. We lost 1-0 earlier in the season [on December 15],” Governor Livingston head coach Matt Anderson said. “It’s just a matter of playing the game the right way.”
It didn’t take long for the Hilltoppers to respond, with Sharpe striking for his second goal of the game just 44 seconds after Stewart’s goal, making the game 7-1 Summit. Sharpe completed the hat trick with his third goal of the game with 39 seconds left, the last goal on the night, making it 8-1 Summit.
“As soon as we keep throwing the body, separating the puck from their sticks, I think we start generating more offensive opportunities and ultimately should lead to a closer game, if not a win, in the McInnis Cup,” Governor Livingston senior co-captain Kyle Wahlers said.
For Governor Livingston, Nick Papa made 19 saves off 27 shots for his team in the loss.
For Summit, senior Wilson Lees stopped 19 of 20 Governor Livingston shots that came his way.
“We need to be a lot more physical when you’re playing a talented team,” Anderson said. “We have the speed and dynamics to play a game with a team like this. We just need to play with a lot of heart, so that’s what it’s going to take.”
“Hopefully, the end of the season and playoffs maybe brings that out,” he added.
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (4-13-2) will play their next game against Livingston HS on Monday, February 5 at 8:30 p.m.
The Summit Hilltoppers (17-2-1) play their next game against Ridge HS Tuesday night at 6 p.m.