Senior forward Wayne Pai faces off against a Cranford Cougar in Blue Devil win.

97Feb10 Westfield HS Hockey
Blue Devils Beat Cranford, 7-6,

For Fourth Win in Ice Hockey Season

By Andrew Cambria

Specially Written for The Westfield Leader and The Times

The Westfield High School ice hockey team defeated the Cranford Cougars by a score of 7-6 on February 5. The Devils improved its record to 4-11-4 before a packed house at Warinanco Park.

The two rivals’ first meeting was on December 23, where Westfield also was victorious by a score of 7-4. The first game set the stage for the second round of the neighborhood rivalry

Westfield came off a difficult loss to second-ranked St. Joseph's of Montvale two nights before. Westfield proved that they can compete with the best of them by losing to St. Joseph's, 6-4.

Cranford came ready to play last Wednesday night. The Cougars came out flying as they racked four goals in the first 10 minutes of the period. Westfield woke up from their first period slumber when senior Captain Derek Fisher began to rally the troops. Fisher opened up the scoring for the Devils when he found the back of the net on a power-play goal late in the first. Sophomore Ronnie Kashlak made the game 4-2 with 45 seconds remaining in the period. Kashlak was assisted by sophomore Kevin Anton.

"We came out over confident. Cranford really took it to us in the first 10 minutes, but the first two goals helped us rise to the occasion," said Kashlak.

As the second period was underway, Westfield had junior Brian Garrison in net. Fisher broke through first for Westfield when he picked up a short-handed goal early in the period. Cranford was able to answer the goal by netting a power-play goal a minute and a half later. Midway through the third, Kashlak made it 5-4 when he tallied his second goal of the night. Assists came from Fisher and sophomore Josh Falcone. Westfield was on the comeback trail when senior Wayne Pai tied the game at 5 on an unassisted goal. Pai had the crowd roaring after his goal as chants of "we've got Wayne!" echoed in the rink.

Junior Matt Hanas assisted Dan Marer to make the score 6-5. Fagin was able to net one goal on the night, as he gave Westfield their final goal of the night. Fagin's goal was assisted by Fisher and Kashlak. Westfield came to life in the second period by out-shooting Cranford, 21-16. As the two teams headed to the locker rooms for the final period of play, Westfield had the edge at 7-5.

Defense was the name of the game for the Devils in the third period. Westfield gave up only one goal midway through the period. Solid defensive play came from the entire team. Westfield was without junior defensemen Brendan Hickey, who was out with an injured hand.

Westfield made the game a real thrill by killing two power plays in the third, while Garrison had a spectacular third period of play in goal.

"We played real well late in the game. It was a team effort that gave us the win," said Westfield Coach Brian LaFontaine following the game.

LaFontaine went on to say that the team showed great character on the comeback victory.

The team's next battle is on Monday against Brick Memorial. Then Westfield will gear up for the division playoffs.

Photograph Notes: Westfield High School senior forward Wayne Pai, No. 10, faces off against a Cranford Cougar on February 5 at the Warinanco Rink in Roselle. Juniors Eric Kolb, No. 4, and Steve Wlazlo (far right) are poised to join the fray. The Blue Devils edged out Cranford High School, 7-6. Pai, Danny Marer and Christian Fagin tallied one goal apiece, while Derek Fisher and Ronnie Kashlak each connected for two.

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