BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- The graduation of a large senior group and the influx of a record number of freshmen into the program might lead some to consider Gov. Livingston's ice hockey team to be embarking on a rebuilding year.
But the Highlanders opened the season in "win-now" mode rather than "win later." Gov. Livingston opened the season with a 6-3 victory last Friday over Xavier of New York, then followed that up with a 4-2 decision over Nutley the next night.
Freshman Brian Kramer scored two goals in each game. Kramer's older brother, Danny, was one of those 2019 graduates.
"We graduated a large senior class, a successful, tight-knit group," Gov. Livingston head coach Mike Criscitello said. "We have the largest freshman class since I've been coaching at GL. We are looking forward to a lot of new faces in our varsity lineup and contributions from players at different grade levels."
Experienced hands who remain in the lineup include senior forwards Conor Pierce, Mat Katz and Jeremy Malave, sophomore forward Matt Darata, senior defenseman Kyle Cook and junior defenseman Drew Skotarczak.
In addition to Kramer, sophomore goalie Shane Cook (Kyle's brother) and freshman defenseman Brandon Cuccaro are other newcomers who could step in and contribute pretty early on.
Cuccaro, Katz and Jack Norton also scored goals against Xavier. Pierce scored a goal against Nutley, and sophomore Tommy Hoy scored a goal and had two assists.
"We have two brothers, Kyle and Shane Cook, who will be holding down our defense this year," Criscitello said. "Shane was a great backup last season and is excited to take over the reins, while Kyle has worked very hard to be in the position he is in with our program."
The Highlanders, whose team consists of players from Berkeley Heights, Mountainside and New Providence, will play Cranford at 6 p.m. Friday at Warinanco Rink in Roselle.
"We have a hard-working, close group, but with a lot of new faces, anything can happen," the coach said. "We are excited to see the dynamic of a young team who certainly has a different orient from last year."