ROSELLE, NJ- The week and a half break from the ice during Christmas recess didn't seem to faze the Arthur L. Johnson HS Crusaders varsity ice hockey team when they returned to play on January 3.
Senior and co-captain Mike Adamowitz and junior Matt Alongi each scored two goals as the Crusaders defeated the Nutley High School Raiders by a final score of 5-3 Wednesday night at Warinanco Park in Roselle.
“The boys looked fresh [on Tuesday] at practice,” Johnson head coach Bryan Klimchak said. “We had a really good practice [and] had a fast practice. We were moving the puck real well and taking care of business there.”
After a first period which featured little action, Johnson went on a power play. Following a hooking penalty to Nutley senior Ryan O’Mara, Adamowitz fired a shot on net that turned into a goal, assisted by junior Jason Applin and sophomore Nick Galati, which gave his team a 1-0 lead at 13:23 of the first period. Johnson would take the 1-0 lead into the locker room at the first intermission.
The Crusaders were rewarded a power play after another Nutley penalty and on the man-advantage, Alongi tallied his first goal of the evening with a shot that beat Nutley sophomore goaltender Johnny Matrona to give his team a 2-0 lead at 2:30 of the second period. Galati picked up his second assist of the evening.
“We were smart with the puck on offense, especially on the power play,” Klimchak said of the power play. “We were working at the point. We were taking smart shots [and] we weren’t shooting at bodies, or trying to shoot around guys.”
Nutley responded with a goal from sophomore Matt Jaworski to cut the lead down to 2-1 at 5:01 of the second period.
Alongi put Johnson ahead by a score of 3-1 with his second goal of the game, also assisted by Applin, at 9:04 of the second period. He now has four goals on the season. Applin and Galati each tallied two assists in the win.
“We have to work hard in practice and keep up the good work in the offensive zone,” Galati said. “The goals come together when we work together and use our chemistry.”
The Raiders continued to answer in the back-and-forth contest, as senior Mark Farde scored a goal 29 seconds later to cut the lead to 3-2 heading into the second intermission.
Adamowitz gave his team a two-goal lead with a goal at 3:31 of the third period, assisted by senior Dan Zatko, putting Johnson ahead by a score of 4-2. Adamowitz now has five goals on the season and credits his teammates’ hard work, especially after being away from the ice for the entire winter break.
“I thought the guys were great. They responded great to the break and it seemed like they rested,” Adamowitz said. “Yesterday at practice, we were flying [up the ice] and it showed tonight.”
Johnson took a 5-2 lead on a goal from sophomore Mike Midrano at 12:26 of the third period. Although Nutley tallied one more goal on the power play from O’Mara, the Crusaders closed it out to capture their second straight win and improve their total on the season.
“Tonight’s offense was amazing. Everyone really played together tonight and left it all out on the ice,” Johnson senior Dylan Ringwood said. “We have to just keep going, focus on our next opponent and hopefully ride this into our next game.”
In the win, Johnson senior goaltender and co-captain Karol Wiercozek made 30 saves on 33 shots.
Nutley sophomore goaltender Johnny Matrona made 36 saves on 41 shots in the loss for his team.
The two teams played on December 22, with Johnson defeating Nutley at the Codey Arena in West Orange by a final score of 4-1, the last game the Crusaders payed before the winter break.
“It felt great, the guys were flying out there [on the ice],” Adamowitz said. “It’s tough to beat [a team twice] in a season. Hopefully, the momentum keeps going and we can turn this into a good winning streak.”
The Johnson Crusaders (3-5) are back in action on Sunday night when they travel to take on Verona HS at 5:00 p.m.
The Nutley Raiders (1-11) face off against Bayonne HS Saturday night at 7:45 p.m.