NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The West Essex ice hockey team opened the season with a solid 5-3 victory over Bayonne on Friday.

“It’s nice to start off the season with a win like that,” said Knights head coach Marc Gregory.

After taking a 4-1 lead, the Knights were able to avoid a near opening-night disaster when Bayonne battled back to a 4-3 game early in the third. For his second goal and third point of the game, sophomore Alex Laglia connected on a wrist shot with 8:14 left to give West Essex a key insurance goal.

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“I think me and my line mates mesh really well together,” said Laglia, who was one of two players to connect with three points for West Essex.

Jack Santoro was equally impressive with two goals and an assist of his own for the Knights. His second-period goal with 9:41 remaining was the eventual game-winning goal for West Essex.  

“Santoro and Laglia had big days,” said Gregory.

West Essex’s top line of Santoro, Laglia and Sammy Friedman was dominant in the contest. The trio combined for eight points on the evening for the squad to set the tone.

“Their line was good today,” said Gregory. “They moved the puck well at times and I think the other lines get to see that and it gets to be contagious.”

Although the Knights outshot Bayonne 34-15 for the evening, the Knights’ near loss of a 4-1 lead will be a point of emphasis for their coach as the season progresses.

“You’ve got to play consistent and that’s the challenge,” said Gregory. “You’ve got to play consistent at a high level and we’ll get there.”

West Essex, now 1-0, will look to build upon this victory as the team moves forward into game two against Ramapo (1-2) on Saturday.

“We have to continue to work hard,” said Gregory. “Every game is a new game and we put it behind us win or lose and try to play the next game the best we can to try and keep that consistent high level every time we go out.”