ROSELLE, NJ - Although Gov. Livingston out shot Arthur L. Johnson 5:3, the Crusaders held on for a 4-3 victory Wednesday at Warinanco Park. This marked the Crusaders sixth consecutive win in the 2016-17 season.
The Highlanders struck first, courtesy of sophomore Carson Wahlers’ fifth goal of the season, capitalizing on a chance following a turnover by the Crusaders near their net at the 10:46 mark of the first period. Governor Livingston junior Billy Alexander registered an assist on the goal from Wahlers.
With Governor Livingston junior and co-captain Brian Gray in the penalty box for interference, the Crusaders came through at the right time. Mekovetz tied the game at one with his first goal of the evening (eighth of season) at the 11:56 mark of the first period. Junior co-captain Mike Adamowitz and Schafer picked up assists on the goal.
The Johnson Crusaders and the Governor Livingston Highlanders were tied at one after the first 15 minutes of play.
When the second period got underway, the Crusaders got into position and struck to take their first lead of the night. Mekovetz scored his second goal of the game (ninth of season), assisted by sophomore Matt Alongi and senior Tom Gray at the 3:17 mark of the second period, putting Johnson ahead by a score of 2-1.
Governor Livingston applied more pressure and setups in scoring chances, spending a lot of time in the Crusaders’ zone and Johnson was subsequently called for a penalty. Freshman Nick Galatti went to the box for a hooking penalty.
The Highlanders clawed their way back with a power play goal from senior and co-captain Robert Monroy at the 7:57 mark of the second period. Alexander and Wahlers each picked up assists on Monroy’s third goal of the season.
The Crusaders went back on the power play following a Carson Wahlers holding penalty and Schafer took advantage of the power play by cashing in a shot up top to give his team the 3-2 lead. Mekovetz and sophomore Rocky Azari picked up assists on Schafer’s first goal of the evening (fourth goal of season) at the 11:58 mark of the second period.
As the third period began, Schafer struck again with his second goal of the game to give the Johnson Crusaders a two-goal cushion at the 1:24 mark of the final period of play. His second goal of the game (fifth of season) came unassisted.
His second goal would prove to be a crucial insurance goal as the game went on. With 1:26 left in the third period, the Highlanders pulled sophomore goaltender Nick Papa for the extra skater, to make it a 6-5 advantage for the team and they cashed in to give themselves a chance.
Governor Livingston junior Billy Alexander closed the gap to 4-3 with his team-leading seventh goal of the season at the 14:07 mark of the third period. Sophomore Zach Miller picked up the lone assist on the goal.
The Highlanders had six skaters on the ice for the following shift on the ice in a last-ditch effort to tie the game, but the Johnson Crusaders held their ground and secured the victory.
“I think it just shows our resiliency as a team to battle back and just compete,” Schafer added. “We can compete with anyone going into bigger games.”
Johnson junior goaltender Karol Wieczorek made 32 saves on 35 shots on net in the victory for the Johnson Crusaders.
“It says a lot about our guys, our confidence and our ability to muscle through and power through some tough times,” ALJ head coach Bryan Klimchak said. “They’re [Gov. Livingston] a very good team, they’re a well-coached team and we’ve been stressing it the entire day that they’re going to take advantage of situations. We can’t be giving these guys chances because they’re a good team and they’re eventually going to capitalize.”
In the loss, Papa made 17 saves on 21 shots for the Highlanders, who look to turn it around in their games later in the season.
“We do a really good job of keeping our composure and being patient in those moments of the games,” Governor Livingston head coach Matt Anderson said. “There have been a bunch of games where we’ve come from behind and they don’t always end with a win or a tie, but it’s nice to know when the game is on the line, they really do keep their composure. It’s a strength of ours and it’s one of those things you want to have at the end of the season when the games really start to matter a little more.”
The Governor Livingston Highlanders (2-3-1) face off against Millburn HS Friday night in a home game at 9:10 p.m.