UNION, NJ — It was a battle of attrition from start to finish, but the Millburn Millers defeated the Governor Livingston Highlanders by a 4-1 final score on Friday night at Union Sports Arena.
The Millers were able to silence the rowdy crowd there for Governor Livingston's senior night celebration when Ryan Potechin scored his first of the game with 5:22 left in period one. The score would remain 1-0 through almost the rest of the second period, before Governor Livingston would tie it up with :39 seconds to go.
Prior to that point, Millburn had played almost the entire second period short-handed, and the exertion finally caught up to them. However, it would be the last goal Governor Livingston would score.
In the third period, Millburn broke it open. Potechin found the back of the net again on a short side deflection just second into a power play, as Millburn took the lead for good at 7:41 left in the third period. Goals from Ben Hayum at 3:13 left in the period and Stewart Duncan with 1:10 to go iced the lead and sent the small but passionate Millburn contingent home happy.
Millburn head coach Brandon Doria spoke with assembled media members after the game. The win was his 100th with the program, a milestone achievement.
In the last game, Millburn had conceded a late shorthanded goal to finish with a 3-3 tie against Livingston. Doria said that he was nervous, but his players were able to take the redemption opportunity and run with it to put the game away.
"It was deja vu," Doria said. "I kinda got a little bit nervous because the power play didn't start off very strong either. So to be able to put one in and ice it there felt good. But they kept coming. A lot of penalties, I think we spent the whole second period shorthanded. But th team did a good job of killing it and taking the momentum back."
Doria also spoke about the leadership of Ryan Potechin, who provides a senior presence for some of the newer players on the ice after the loss of key talents to graduation the past few years.
"He works hard continuously," Doria said. "He battles in front of the net. Every game he usually gets a point [and] he's usually getting an ice pack. That's the way we've got to play now, gritty hockey, so for him to kind of capitalize and get some goals was great."
Millburn returns to the ice today at 3:45 p.m. against Nutley High School at Codey Arena.