WEST ORANGE – The Parsippany Regional hockey team decided to ring in the New Year a few days early.
Heading into their final game of 2019 against West Orange in the Essex County Holiday Tournament on Friday, Parsippany was still searching for its first victory of the season.
And while there were some tense moments down the stretch while killing off a penalty, Parsippany was able to skate off with a 3-1 win behind a pair of goals by sophomore defenseman David Zislinkis and 38 saves from senior goaltender Justin Wellman.
“This gives us a lot of momentum and confidence heading into the New Year,” said Wellman, who stopped all 13 shots he saw in the third period with his team protecting a one-goal lead. “We just tried to keep our focus in the third period and not allow them a lot of shots. And in the final minute down 6-on-4 we just tried to stay calm and play our game.”
Wellman, who had played every game between the pipes since his freshman year, recently recorded his 2,000th career save and added 38 more to his total in posting the victory over West Orange.
Following a scoreless opening period that saw the Parsippany outshot 8-7, it was the Mountaineers (2-5) who jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 3:38 of the second period when David Ward pounced on the rebound of a Andrew Raymon point shot and slipped the rebound under Wellman.
But just two minutes later, Parsippany pulled even when Zislinkis scored the first of his two goals on the evening, snapping a quick wrist shot past West Orange netminder Julian Melendez after a solo rush up the ice.
Parsippany took the lead for good with just 3:09 remaining in the second period when defenseman Suveer Singh scored what proved to be the game-winning goal. The senior took a feed from Michael Hammer in the low slot and shoveled a shot past Melendez.
“We felt good and pretty strong going into the third period with the lead,” said Zislinkis, who leads Parsippany on the season with 6 goals. “It was all about puck control and not panicking with the puck. I was freaking out in the penalty box in the final minute, but Justin came up big and we were able to hold on.”
With his team clinging to a 2-1 lead, Zislinkis was sent to the penalty box with 2:44 remaining in the game. West Orange peppered Wellman early in the man-advantage and then pulled Melendez with 1:34 remaining to gain a 6-on-4 skating advantage. But outstanding penalty-killing by Singh, freshman Kyle Kirk, senior captain Jake Weiss, and senior Tim Coppinger and Wellman denied the Mountaineers the equalizer.
Zislinkis then sealed the victory when he jumped out of the penalty box, picked up a loose puck at center ice, and netted an empty-net goal with just 32 seconds remaining.