WEST ORANGE, NJ – Forward Seth Crockett broke a 1-1 tie to put the Livingston Lancers ahead by a goal at the 1:25 mark of the third period, but then Liam Trampota scored with less than five minutes to go for the West Orange Mountaineers as the two Essex County rivals battled in a 2-2 tie on Monday afternoon at Codey Arena in West Orange.
After maintaining possession of the puck for most of the game, Livingston carried a 5 on 3 power play into the third period. They did not score on the man advantage, but right after the teams were back to even strength Crockett netted a goal.
The puck came to the point when defenseman Jonny Garfinkel collected the loose biscuit and fired it toward the West Orange cage. It deflected off Crockett, who was standing in front, and past West Orange goaltender Teddy Steinhart before finding the back of the net. Livingston enjoyed a 2-1 advantage early on in the final period of play.
“I thought we played well," said Livingston Head Coach David Conklin. "I think we had at least 50 shots on goal. We had some good opportunities. Positioning wise we switched some things up. We had a lot of speed. We generated a lot of offense.”
While Livingston arguably has the better of play through the first two periods, West Orange came out strong in the third. After giving up the go-ahead goal, Trampota and Mike Grabowski fired a number of shots on goal, forcing Livingston goaltender Brendan Flaherty to make some quality saves.
The team finally broke through with the game tying score after some hard fore-checking in the Livingston zone. The puck eventually wound up on the stick of Alec Hill who launched a slap shot on goal. After a few deflections, Trampota found the puck and buried it into the goal to knot things up at two a piece at the 10:13 mark of the final period.
“It was a dog fight. We just kept working hard. That’s the character that we have on our team this year. We’re not going to quit,” West Orange Head Coach Mark Janifer said.
And West Orange kept working hard right down to the wire to get the game winning goal. A few Livingston penalties gave them an extended power play with just over two minutes remaining.
Flaherty made a couple of big saves for his team when they were shorthanded and then got a little bit of luck from the hockey gods when West Orange captain Frankie Bakirtzis blasted a shot off the post at about the 2:00 mark.
Still down a man at the end of the game, Garfinkel had a semi-breakaway for Livingston with just seconds remaining. As he made his move toward the goal West Orange defenseman Luke Adelhelm took him down to prevent a quality chance with just one second left on the clock.
That play all but put an end to a hard fought, physical, tight hockey game.
“I thought the game was more or less what we expected from the beginning," Janifer said. "We’re very close in talent the way we play. They play hard and physical. We play hard and physical. We’re happy because we came back to tie it so we’re happy from that perspective.”
The beginning of the contest saw Livingston put together a number of quality chances. The top line of Crockett, Cameron Friedfertig and Tal Finberg were clicking on all cylinders. If not some good saves from Steinhart and shots that just missed the net the score could have been heavily in their favor early on.
The trio was able to come away with the game’s first goal when Friedfertig deflected Finberg’s initial shot into the net at the 13:07 mark of the opening period.
While it appeared momentum was on Livingston’s side heading into the second period, West Orange tied the score with just 24 seconds left in the opening frame. Forward Jonathon Miller was able to poke the puck into the back of the cage off an assist from Trampota and Bakirtzis.
In the second period, Livingston had another power play opportunity after Mike Grabowski of West Orange received two minutes in the sin bin for tripping. On the man advantage, they had a number of shots, including Ben Arden’s shot off the post, but failed to score.
“I thought we should have won, but… overall you’re never happy with a loss or a tie. Sometimes there’s a good tie and a bad tie. I think tonight was a bad tie, but as far as the team goes I thought we played well,” Conklin said after the game.
Livingston is now 8-5-2 after Monday afternoon’s affair. They will next play Verona High School this Saturday at 7:45 p.m. at Codey Arena.
West Orange’s record is now 9-4-1. Their next contest is against West Essex High School this Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. at Codey Arena.
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