WOODBRIDGE – Anthony Oliveri of Westfield appears to have the proper scoring touch when his club skates against Montclair.
The senior forward finished with two goals and an assist and C.J. Duffy halted 22 shots to help Westfield forge a 4-1 victory over Montclair at the Woodbridge Community Center.
Oliveri also hit for a pair of goals for Westfield in the last meeting between the two clubs on Dec. 19, which also ended in an identical 4-1 verdict for the Blue Devils.
The triumph extended Westfield’s winning streak to three games and overall record to 5-2-3.
“We have a lot of scoring power up front,” said Oliveri, who has five goals and two assists this season. “Our defensemen can shoot, too. We’re always looking to put pucks to the net and bury what we can in front. We try to get those gritty goals.”
Oliveri netted one of those when he struck through a bunch of players in the slot with 9:26 left in the first period to give Westfield a 1-0 lead. Dan McDonald and Alex Park each assisted on the goal.
Tim Rosa came out of the penalty box and took a stretch pass from Oliveri with 6:41 left on the first period clock – seconds after a Montclair power play had expired – and sped up ice to score blocker-side and extend the lead to 2-0.
It was a clean game but one marked by a slew of minor penalties, seven through the first two periods; and it disrupted much of the five-on-five skating. Both clubs appeared to have difficulty settling into a consistent flow.
“I feel like the entire game we couldn’t get a flow of things,” said Westfield coach Joe Bertucci, “and that was for both teams. Our penalty kill stepped up when we needed to and our goalie stepped up big when we needed him; and when you can kill off penalties that can give you momentum.”
Montclair, which out-shot Westfield 23-17 overall, swung some momentum back its way when it capitalized for its lone goal of the game by Kellum Foster-Palmer, who wired a rising wrist shot from the left circle with 32 seconds left in the first to cut it to 2-1. Brett Janifer and Will Schiffenhaus each assisted on the goal.
But it was Oliveri who dampened some of that momentum when he drove to the net and slammed home a rebound with 8:20 left in the second period, restoring Westfield’s two-goal lead at 3-1.
Montclair (7-4-2), which saw its four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) stopped, didn’t falter and carried much of the play after the first period.
Heading into the third the Mounties held an 18-14 shot advantage and then had three power plays in the final 15 minutes. Despite sustained pressure-and a Foster-Palmer shot that rang off the post-throughout much of the three extra-man advantages Westfield and Duffy were able to hold on to the 3-1 lead.
“We had chances but we weren’t able to convert,” said Montclair coach Mark Janifer. “I thought we outplayed them the last two periods and over the course of the game we hit five or six posts. The puck didn’t bounce our way. We ran our power play very well today. We were patient with the puck and did everything right except score. We got good shots. Westfield is very explosive but I thought we were able to control the play at times five-on-five. They converted on their best chances.”
McDonald ended any doubt and closed out the scoring when he connected with 21 seconds left on the game clock for Westfield.
Written by Paul Bruno / @PaulBrunoHS
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