ROSELLE, NJ -- The evening started on a high note with Scotch Plains-Fanwood's honoring the six senior members of the varsity hockey team, as well as their parents. Each player's number hung along the east side of the rink, as players escorted their moms and dads for on-ice pictures.
The Raiders got off to a fast start with a first period goal by Kyle Remo. Jonny Scheer lit the lamp in the second period, as did West Essex's Patrick Coyle. Scotch Plains-Fanwood seemed to have the game in hand for much of the contest.
It changed very quickly late with 2:03 left in the third period when the game stopped for a few seconds as a referee gave a lecture accentuated with finger-pointing to the usually mild mannered Nick Route. The session seemed to stun the entire team and gave the opportunity to West Essex to jump on a faceoff and put the puck past goalie Ryan Lamberta on a shot by Sammy Friedman.
The Raiders clung to a one-goal lead until West Essex pulled goalie Hannah Podvey for an extra attacker with 1:03 left in the game. The Raiders had trouble clearing the puck, which wound up on the stick of Alex Laglia, who buried it on the right side of the net with 43 seconds left in the game for the tie.
"It was disappointing to end up with a tie when we were up 3-1 with only a few minutes left in the third period. I think it was a wake up call to show our kids that the logo on their jersey is a target," said head coach Matt Gunther in an interview with TAPintoSPF.
"Every team in the league is trying to take us out and knock us down from winning the division title. I think it was eye opening for us, and I know they will bounce back and take it to Cranford with full force at Friday's game.
The Raiders are now 12-2-4 on the season and will next play Cranford at 4:10 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 26