ROSELLE, NJ — Relentless.
That is perhaps the most concise adjective to apply to the hockey that Summit showcased at Warinanco Rink in Roselle on Tuesday.
Three days after absorbing a loss in the McCinnis Cup championship, Summit left no doubt as to its intentions of holding on to another crown – the NJSIAA Public C title.
Greg Spitznagel and his line mates Charlie Collins and Tom Pryymak supplied the jolt to the Summit offense as the trio combined for 11 points when the fourth-seeded Hilltoppers forged an impressive 8-1 victory over 13th-seeded Kinnelon on Tuesday in the NJSIAA Public C Round of 16.
Summit is looking to secure its third state championship — the Hilltoppers won Public C last year and claimed their first state crown in winning Public B in 2012.
Pryymak finished with a goal and three assists while Collins collected a goal and two helpers. Nikita Pryymak stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced in goal for Summit. Michael Bonomo and Remi Vidal also hit net for the Hilltoppers.
Defending champion Summit (17-6-1) will continue its quest for a second straight Public C title in the quarterfinal round when it takes on 12th-seeded Middletown North, which upset fifth-seed and previously-undefeated Manasquan-Point Pleasant Beach, 2-1, on Monday.
Summit, now 7-2-1 in its last 10 matches, was coming off a disappointing 6-5 loss to rival Westfield in the McInnis Cup final on Saturday. But there was no emotional hangover when the Hilltoppers took the ice against Kinnelon (12-7-4).
“We wanted to get the puck deep, that’s usually what we like to do,” said Summit’s Greg Spitznagel, a sophomore forward who finished with a hat trick and an assist. “We wanted to work the puck down low and against Kinnelon it would be a good idea to do that. Coach (Keith Nixon) told us that they like to use the stretch pass so we took that away from them and were able to shut them down in the neutral zone. I that turned the game around for us.
“The loss to Westfield was tough for our seniors, so hopefully that will be our last loss. We came out tonight wanting to get another win and we got it done.”
So they did.
Kinnelon, looking for its first state title since claiming the Public B championship in 2008, was riding a three-game winning streak that included a 6-1 decision over Vernon in the Halvorsen Cup final. But the Colts and their talented top line of Joseph Arnold, Everest Schneider and Tim Hausler found very little open ice to maneuver.
“Summit shut us down everywhere,” said Kinnelon coach Jeff Myhren. “There’s not much else to say. We didn’t get any second chance opportunities and we really couldn’t get the puck in their zone much. They seemed to beat us to everything, but our guys played as hard as they possibly could.
“They ran three lines to our two and there is no real gap between their lines. Summit was the better team today.”
Summit, which out-shot Kinnelon 38-16, sent wave after wave on a hard fore-check that overwhelmed Kinnelon’s defensemen, who rarely had time to initiate much of a rush.
Spitznagel gave Summit a 1-0 lead 1:30 into the first, but the Colts answered by capitalizing on their first power play as Arnold buried a rebound with 4:39 left in the opening period.
But that was all Kinnelon could muster offensively as Summit was all over the ice in the second, opening a 4-1 advantage on goals by Collins, Vidal and Pryymak. Seconds after Summit killed off a Kinnelon power play, Collins followed up with a rebound snap from between the dots on a delayed penalty to give Summit a 2-1 lead 9:40 into the second. Summit finished the second period with a 17-5 shot advantage.
“I thought it was our best period all season,” said Summit coach Keith Nixon of that dominant second stanza. “Our game plan was to pressure their D. We know they like to stretch and we didn’t want to give their defensemen any time or space, and I think our guys did a great job. All three lines were just relentless on the puck. We kept them from playing to their strength. I think we wore them down and started finding the back of the net.”
In the third period Summit kept the pressure on and got two goals from Spitznagel as well as one each from Michael Bonomo (his first varsity goal) and Kyle Graham.
“We played with a lot of emotion out there,” said Collins, a senior who has 28 points on 15 goals and 13 assists. “We talked about this being the last playoff run for the seniors and we played with a lot of heart. We focused on a disciplined forecheck and it really worked out for us. Now we are just playing every game as it could be our last; and I think in winning the state championship last year, we know what kind of effort it takes.”
For Summit, the McInnis Cup setback has already faded from the club’s view.
“It’s not like we lost a bad game,” said Nixon. “Westfield played really, really well the other night. They deserved to win. We recognize that we did not play our A-game on Saturday, but Westfield did. We’re are focused on the now. It’s a four-game win streak now. That’s what takes, and we got the first one.”
Related: Summit Takes Back Union County Cup
Written by Paul Bruno / @PaulBrunoHS
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