WEST ORANGE, NJ - After a win in their season opener against Millburn, Verona-Glen Ridge followed up with another strong performance against Park Regional to get a 3-1 victory Friday to go to 2-0.
“Everybody pitched in together,” said Verona-Glen Ridge center Stephen Wenzl. “We work hard every day in practice and it paid off today.”
Wenzl played a pivotal role in this game helping Verona-Glen Ridge get a big swing in momentum at the end of the first period. They trailed 1-0, but with 18 seconds to go Wenzl set up defenseman Kevin White for a game-tying goal.
“That goal was huge,” noted Verona-Glen Ridge head coach Ken Lilien. “We talk about key moments in a hockey game. In the last minute of the period when you send a team to the locker room and put a goal in, it really swings momentum one way.”
Verona-Glen Ridge took advantage of that momentum in the second period where Wenzl had a goal of his own to give his team the lead 2-1 with 5:42 left in the second period.
“I saw the guy coming up, took the puck from him, went around the circle and went up top, saw our guys up front, shot it up front, and it went underneath the goalie’s legs and scored,” noted Wenzl.
They did not waste time after that goal and with about 2:30 to go in the second period, Jarrod Keating snuck in front of the net with a couple of Park Regional players trying to get a hand on the puck and scored an insurance goal to make it 3-1 Verona-Glen Ridge.
Verona-Glen Ridge maintained their lead in a scoreless third period and cleaned up their game after committing several penalties in the first two periods.
“We play a physical style of hockey so when you are physical, there are going to be penalties just by the nature of the game,” noted Lilien. “We do want to dial those back a bit but I want our guys to be physical.”
With this win, Verona-Glen Ridge seems to be turning some heads and they are looking to be taken more seriously.
“People predicted us to come in last place in our division and that pissed me off,” said Wenzl. “I know our team is capable of much more and I think our team is going to come in first. That pushes us to go harder every day in practice and in the games.”
This team is in the American Conference, which was newly formed this year with some of the better teams in Essex County. Nevertheless, Verona-Glen Ridge believes they have the talent, works hard, and plays their game.
“It’s all about our fore-check, our intensity, and taking our game to them,” noted Lilien. “We’re going to continue to be physical, play a hard brand of hockey. We’re not going to change for anybody, we’re going to make people change for us.”
Verona-Glen Ridge will take on West Essex on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Codey Arena in West Orange.