WEST ORANGE, NJ — With so many games being squeezed into a short amount of time, a fast start is imperative to a team's success in this truncated hockey season.

And the Nutley/Columbia High co-op team certainly started off its 12-game regular-season campaign in the right fashion, recording a 3-0 victory over High Point on Monday afternoon at Codey Arena in West Orange.

“It was a nice way to start things off,” said first-year head coach Dave Macri. “We played a pretty complete game from the goaline out.”

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The Maroon Raiders (1-0) received its first goal when junior Frank Matrona scored off a feed from senior Zach Fagin. Nutley/Columbia then struck for two second-period goals as junior Julian Poole registered and junior T.J. Wassman also deposited a goal off a pass from freshman Mallory Albanese.

The defense was anchored by goalies Oliver Tauscher (17 saves), a senior, and Victoria Rutnik (nine saves), a sophomore.

“Our goalies played great,” said Macri. “Oliver played the first two periods and Victoria took us home in the third.”

The Maroon Raiders were initially supposed to play Glen Rock, but the Bergen County school had to pull out because of quarantine procedures that are in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Luckily, High Point was available to fill in as a last-minute opponent.

“Glen Rock contacted us late last week to let us know they were unavailable,” said Macri. “High Point was nice enough to fill in so it all worked out.

“We ran three lines against them, and we moved the puck well. They're starting to come together and work well on offense and defense.”

Nutley/Columbia will now have two games this coming weekend, first meeting Oratory Prep on Friday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. and then Millburn on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. Both games are at Codey Arena.

“Oratory is a strong, solid team, and then we have a short turnaround,” said Macri. “It's not ideal to play back-to-back but you have to take them as they come, especially in this year.”

And despite the Maroon Raiders season-opening victory, Macri is guarding against too much optimism.

“While a win like this sets the tone and can be a nice confidence booster, too much can be a bad thing,” said Macri. “You always want to make sure you're not overly confident and taking opponents for granted.”

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