MONTCLAIR, NJ -- Nutley Raiders senior Gerard LaFiura scored a goal in the last two minutes Wednesday night, breaking a 3-3 tie with the Montclair Kimberly Cougars and leading his team to their third season win.
The Raiders improved to (3-8-2, 0-5-1 NJIHL) with the 4-3 win, while the Cougars fell to (3-4-2, 0-4-2 NJIHL).
After Raiders senior Phil Woodkotch scored an assisted goal from freshman Matt Jaworski, seniors James and Matthew Buckley of the Cougars teamed up to bring the game to a 1-1 tie.
With 3:04 until the first buzzer, junior Mark Frade gave the Raiders a 2-1 advantage after netting a puck assisted by senior Andrew Spitalnik.
“We were working really hard on trying to protect our leads,” Raiders Head Coach Andrew Surowiec said in a post-game interview. “We’ve had a pretty bad string of blown leads.”
Surowiec’s team was winning at one point during six of their eight losses. In addition, five of those losses were by one point.
Less than a minute after Frade’s fourth season goal, Cougars sophomore Brian Schindler tied the game again with an assist from junior Jason Gertz.
With just more than a minute left in the first period, Raiders senior Dan Caputo broke the tie again with an unassisted goal.
“We knew we were coming out of a long loss streak,” Caputo told TAPinto Nutley. “We just had to do our job as a team to get the job done.”
After a scoreless second period for both teams, the Buckley twins worked together to assist a goal for sophomore Alan DiGeronimo.
Less than two minutes before the final buzzer, Frade and senior Ryan O’Mara rushed the puck to the net before LaFiura’s successful shot.
“It was a team effort,” LaFiura said. “I was just there to clean it up.”
Surowiec hopes the victory will make his team realize that they can win any game they want.
“These guys understand that we have what it takes to win,” the coach told TAPinto Nutley. “Every loss for the most part has been a one-goal loss and we’re just hoping that this will be the returning point.”
The Raiders will host the (3-10-4, 1-7-2 NJIHL) Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders Saturday. The two teams met last month and Scotch Plains-Fanwood walked away with a 5-4 win. They will face off at the Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange at 3:45 pm.
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