UNION, NJ - The defending NJSIAA Public C Champion, and current number-four seed, Summit High School Boys Varsity Hockey Team are moving on to the 2019 tournament semifinals after dispatching 12th-seeded Middletown North 5-1 at the Union Sports Arena. Junior Tom Pryymak had two goals and classmate Nikita Pryymak made 20 saves as the Maroon and White improved to 18-6-1 on the season.
Summit will next face the winner of the February 25 game between number-one seeded Indian Hills and ninth-seeded Ramsay who will play for the right to take on the Hilltoppers two days later at Richard J. Codey Ice Arena in West Orange.
The semifinal will be played on February 27, with puck drop set for 8:30 p.m.
Against the Lions, Summit got off to a rough start but responded quickly and then took control for the remainder of the contest. A giveaway in their own zone allowed point blank chance for Middletown North's Anthony Tavares just 150 seconds into the game, and the Hilltoppers found themselves trailing very early, 1-0.
It would, however, take just over a minute for Summit to level the score, as senior alternate captain Charlie Collins collected a loose puck just outside the crease and fired the puck over Lions goaltender Matt Corella, who was semi-sprawled out on the ice, and the game was tied 1-1 at the 11:12 mark.
Less than two minutes later, The 'Top got what would turn out to be the game-winning goal when, on the power play, senior captain Greg Moller carried the puck wide along the right wing boards and zip-lined a pass across the ice to Tom Pryymak on the left post for a 'slam dunk'. The goal came at the 9:31 mark and Summit led, 2-1.
It was 3-1 with 1:05 left in the opening period when sophomore Greg Spitznagel was sent in on a partial breakaway. Spitznagel deked to his left and them slammed on the brakes as he got to the crease wile pulling the puck back to his forehand and stuffing home past Corella.
Shots on goal in the first period favored the Hilltoppers 14-7.
Summit made it 4-1 when junior Jake Puskar jammed home the rebound of a Moller point shot at the 9:07 mark of he second period, the goal awarded despite the protestations of the Lions players who thought that Corella had frozen the puck.
From that point until, essentially, the end of the game, Summit played smart to protect their three-goal lead, pressing opportunities when they presented themselves, but not taking chances -- unnecessary or otherwise.
Summit again had the edge in shots in period two, 9-4, for a two periods total of 23-11.
While the Hilltoppers conceded some territory in the third period, Middletown North was not able to create much in terms of scoring chances, and when there was a Lions threat Nikita Pryymak was there. The only goal in the period went to Tom Pryymak with just 8.6 seconds remaining and the outcome already decided.
Shots on goal in the third shaded Middletown North 14-11, with final game totals favoring Summit, 34-25.
"When we got scored on early it was an 'Aha' moment for us," said Summit Head Coach Keith Nixon. "We settled down and, once we got the lead, we want to continue to attack, take away their time and space and not give them any opportunity to get back into the game."