WEST ORANGE, NJ — The Westfield Blue Devils boys ice hockey team was eliminated from state championship contention on Wednesday, in a loss to third ranked Ridge 5-1.
Captain Marcus Fabiunke got the start in net for Ridge, and senior Jack Ruckman for Westfield.
Reese Judson put Ridge on top just four minutes in, which had the Ridge bench up and ready to go early on, and the momentum only grew from there.
“This goal was huge for us,” Judson said. “It really kickstarted our offensive drive for the entire game.”
Just one minute later, the Red Devils gave themselves a two-goal lead, when Matt Balzarotti went top right and scored.
Reese Judson scored his second of the game to put his team up 3-0 late in the opening period.
Four minutes into the second period, Westfield’s Kyle Azzaretto finally put a stop to the growing Ridge momentum, which had his teammate Andrew Principato loud and excited.
“Last year’s loss to Ridge had the whole team ready to play in this one,” Azzaretto said when discussing the Blue Devils’ overtime loss to Ridge in last year’s state semifinals. “We had a mindset all game long, which was to return the favor.”
Westfield’s student section was amped up after the team finally got one on the board, but Jimmy McNally scored his first of two goals to silence the crowd.
With two minutes 30 seconds to go, Judson had a chance at a hat trick, after making multiple dekes in his offensive zone, but the puck was batted away.
McNally scored his second on a power play with just over two minutes remaining, which put the icing on the cake for Ridge.
Ridge advanced to the finals, where they will face the winner of Randolph-Middletown South on Monday at Prudential Center
Michael Siroty is a freshman at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.