NEWARK, NJ - Just under two days before the ball dropped to usher in 2020, the two-time defending state champion Summit High School Boys Varsity Ice Hockey Team were in a bit of funk, having themselves dropped three consecutive games by a combined score of 11-4. The middle contest of those three setbacks was a 5-1 loss to Ramsey.
Flash forward two-plus month and, In the everything-comes-full-circle world of sports, lo and behold there were those same Hiltoppers back again in the NJSIAA Public C State Final at the Prudential Center, where they would face those same Rams with the opportunity for a historic three-peat on the line.
This, however, was a different Maroon and White team from the first matchup, with Summit having gone undefeated in 2020, winners of 14 in-a-row, and on a 16-0-2 roll since the last of the afore-mentioned three straight losses.
Make that 15 in-a-row and 17-0-2. More importantly, from a NJSIAA Public C State Championship perspective, make that three in-a-row.
Senior captain Tom Pryymak had three goals* and an assist, and senior goaltender Nikita Pryymak stropped 28 of the 30 shots he faced as top-seeded Summit completed its quest for a treble of consecutive titles with a 5-2 win over third-seeded Ramsey.
The Hiltoppers took a 2-0 first-period lead and then made it a three-goal advantage before Ramsey climbed back into the game with two straight tallies. Summit got a key goal late in the second period to provide some insurance and then an empty-netter inside the final minute to ice the contest.
The 'Top scored early and late in the opening period to take control. Tom Pryymak wristed home the opener at the 9:55 mark and then freshman Jake Lowry scored, assisted by junior Greg Spitznagel, with 31.5 seconds left in the frame.
The Hilltoppers made it 3-0 when freshman Dyan Goldfarb fed Tom Prymmak for his second of the game at 9:30 of the second period and Summit was in high gear, however Ramsey punched back with two goals from Nick Edwards and Tyler Botta three minutes apart and, suddenly, it was 3-2 with 5:36 ro go in the period.
Big games are won through winning big moments and -- tired sports cliché warning -- the next goal would be huge. It went to Summit, with Tom Pryymak and Goldfarb switching scoring roles this time putting Goldfarb on the business end with just 1:19 to go before the break. The Hilltoppers had a two-goal cushion plus a phalanx of players who have been there before.
That proved to be an unbeatable combination.
In the final period, Nikita Pryymak and his teammates blunted everything directed their way and when Tom Pryymak scored in an empty net* with 32.5 seconds left, the celebration was on big-time.
Summit, under longtime assistant and first-year Head Coach Ian Bell, finishes their championship season -- the Hilltoppers also won the Union County Championship and the McInnis Cup -- with a record of 22-3-2.
* Editor's Note: The story has been amended to note that Tom Pryymak had three goals in the game, including Summit's fifth goal into an empty net.