ROSELLE, NJ - The Arthur L. Johnson (ALJ) Crusaders ice hockey team was 4-0 on the season going into Monday night’s matchup against the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders. They faced off for the second time this season and behind a stellar defensive effort all evening, the Crusaders prevailed by a final score of 3-2 at Warinanco Park to remain undefeated on the season.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood had lost to ALJ, 8-4, on opening day.
The Crusaders were in full control of the first period, winning the battles for the puck on the ice and cashing in on two major scoring chances. Johnson senior Ty Schafer opened the scoring at the 5:00 mark of the first period to give the Crusaders the 1-0 lead.
ALJ would double the lead a few minutes later of the period when sophomore Matt Alongi beat goalie Ryan Lamberta for his fourth goal of the season at the 11:08 mark of the first period, increasing the Johnson lead to 2-0 after the first 15 minutes of play. On the evening, Lamberta made 18 saves on 21 shots in the loss for the Raiders.
Johnson junior and co-captain Mike Adamowitz registered two assists in the victory for the Crusaders, who are off to their best start since the 2008-09 season, when they started out with a 4-1 record through the first five games of that season.
Scotch Plains-Fanwood would take advantage of a Crusaders penalty to get back in the game. With Johnson's Jack Lomeli in the box for cross-checking, the Raiders would cash in on the special teams opportunity. Captain Jared Figueroa banked home the puck for his 10th goal of the season to get his team on the board with a power-play goal at the 5:00 mark of the second period, making the score 2-1.
Almost immediately, ALJ responded. Lomeli would make up for his penalty after his slap-shot on net beat Lamberta for his second goal of the season at the 5:45 mark to give Johnson a 3-1 lead, just 45 seconds after Figueroa’s goal.
The Raiders had a golden opportunity to get back in the game after Adamowitz was assessed a five-minute major penalty for hitting a player from behind into the boards. Although ALJ kept clearing the puck and skating forward for a few scoring chances while shorthanded, the Raiders continued building pressure and sophomore Will White scored with 1:06 left on the major penalty to cut the lead to 3-2 following the second period.
It was White’s third goal of the season at the 13:20 mark of the second period. Junior Thomas Bruckman registered two assists in the loss, while White also had an assist of his own in the loss.
The third period would be a battle of the two defenses, with only seven shots on net in the last 15 minutes of play. As the game reached the final minutes, the Raiders kept pounding on net. Many of those chances came after the Raiders took their timeout with 1:32 left to discuss how to go about searching for the game-tying goal. However, goalkeeper Karol Wieczorek kept the puck from reaching the back of the net as he made 19 saves in the victory.
The Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders (1-5-1) face off against Nutley on Wednesday night in a home game at 8:45 p.m.