CRANFORD, NJ – The Cranford hockey team hit the ice on Wednesday, following 10 days of what would be considered frustrating and extremely emotional. Games and practices canceled due to the weather, and the untimely death of fellow student Justin Juzefyk.
It was a game meant to honor the seniors on the team: Nick Colucci, Mark Christiano, Mark Pawlick, Ryan Shupp, Robert Echevarria, Anthony Conte and Mark Koellman. The team, in turn, took a moment to honor the memory of Juzefyk. The players lined up on the blue line, helmets and sticks in hand and observed a moment of silence in his memory.
The Cougars then turned their attention to the game at hand. After a scoreless first period, Montville went up, 1-0. Cranford then took advantage with a Montville player in the box, freshman Ryan Malko, assisted by Richie Hurley, scored on a power play to tie the game with 5:15 remaining in the second period.
The Cougars entered the third period down by a goal when junior Richie Hurley, assisted by Spencer Reiber and Ryan Shupp, tied the game at two. Just over a minute later freshman Ryan Faraone, assisted by Liam Lysaght and Marc Colucci, put the Cougars up 3-2, when he found the back of the net. With their goalie pulled, Montville scored with: 22 left to tie the game. In net, Robert Echevarria had 11 saves.
Coach Rich Hurley commented on how his team has rebounded, “I was really proud of the way our guys handled playing today, it was obviously a very difficult week for many of our players. The weather has been playing havoc with our schedule. We just needed to get back on the ice for our first game in over a week and try to focus on the county and state tournaments, which start soon. I think we accomplished that today.”
The Cougars begin their run for a county championship on Monday, Feb. 16 at Warinanco, details will follow.