NUTLEY, NJ--The Nutley/Columbia co-op ice hockey team earned a much-needed result when it earned a 1-1 tie with Gov. Livingston on Monday evening at Warinanco Park in Roselle.
The tie snapped a four-game losing streak for Nutley, which improved to 6-7-3 overall this winter.
"We've had a tough January," said Nutley head coach Andy Surowiec. "So it was a relief to get the tie. We're getting back to basics and made some big chances on offense so I think that will help."
After a 5-1-2 start, Nutley had gone just 1-6 since entering Monday's New Jersey Interscholastic Ice Hockey League Kelly Divsion game against Gov. Livingston.
Gov. Livingston had defeated Nutley, 4-2, on Nov. 30 in the first meeting this season between the teams.
On Monday, sophomore Rocco Albanese scored Nutley's only goal of the night with 5:47 remaining in the second period off of assists by Joey Melillo and Justin Devlin. Governor Livingston (8-8-2) tied the game with 1:29 left in the period with a power-play goal.
Senior goalie Johnny Matrona was excellent in goal, halting 40 of 41 shots.
"Johnny was definitely in the zone and when he is hyper-focused he's very tough to get a puck past him," said Surowiec. "He goes out there and gives his all every game which is a testament to his character. The offense just needs to get him more goal support."
One of the moves Surowiec has made to generate more offense has been to move junior Zach Fagin from defense back to forward.
Nutley is now 4-5-2 in Kelly Division play just a half game behind Oratory (4-4-2). The two schools will meet in Nutley's regular season finale on Feb. 9.
Oratory defeated Nutley, 7-2, in the initial meeting between the schools on Jan. 4.
Up next, however, for Nutley will be a non-conference game against Montville (11-4-2) on Saturday, Feb. 1 at Codey Arena in West Orange at 3:45 p.m.
That contest will also be Senior Night for Nutley as the team honors its seven seniors including Melillo (five goals, 13 assists), Devlin (five goals, seven assists), Leo Carrillo (one goal, five assists), Alex David, Dennis Maguire, Chase Nicolette (two goals, two assists) and Matrona.
"We'll have a team meal beforehand and also acknowledge the players at the game with their parents," said Suroweic. "Montville is a very good team and will be a test for us."
Nutley will then play Scotch Plains-Fanwood on Tuesday, Feb. 4 before meeting Madison on Friday, Feb. 7.
"If we can go 2-2 or 3-1 in our last four games that will go a long way for us," said Surowiec. "We are looking to position ourselves for the Kelly Cup and also qualify for the state tournament."