Diehard fans storm the locker room where they all celebrated the victory together. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
Seniors Ben Arden and Adam Lanel hold the McInnis trophy after winning the Essex County Championship. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
Assistant coach Ken Lilien holds onto the McInnis Cup after watching his sons win Livingston's first McInnis Cup in it's existence. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
Seth Crockett scores the game-winning goal and skates to the boards, where he meets his entire team jumping on him after their 4-3 victory over MKA. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
The players give their fans a touch of the McInnis Cup. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
Tal Finberg, who had two goals and two assists against MKA, celebrates Livingston's victory with the fans, jumping into the boards with the fans around the glass. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
Senior Cameron Friedfertig, who scored the first goal of the game, and his brother Cole Friedfertig, who's a junior hold the McInnis Cup together after becoming Essex County Champions. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
Junior twins Joe Lilien and Brian Lilien hold the McInnis Trophy together after Brian's clutch performance. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
Coach Dave Conklin holding the McInnis Cup high in the air after winning the first McInnis Cup in Livingston's history. Justin Russo (16) and Cole Friedfertig (2) and assistant coach Ken Lilien look on. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
The Lancers' fans clogged up all of Livingston's fan section after senior forward Seth Crockett burried the game winning goal to give the Lancers a 4-3 victory over MKA and win the McInnis Cup. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
Senior Captain Ben Arden holds the McInnis Cup along side the rest of the Lancers after winning the Essex County Conference Finals. Credits: Andrew Mordzynski Photography
Livingston Lancers Stun No. 16 Montclair Kimblerley Academy in McInnis Cup Final
Sunday, February 24, 2013 • 9:31am
WEST ORANGE, NJ - The Livingston Lancers Hockey team upset number 16 Montclair Kimberley Academy 4-3 in the McInnis Cup (Essex County Conference) final as senior forward Seth Crockett scored the game winning goal in overtime with 7:46 remaining.
Leads changed multiple times throughout the game, however, Livingston got on the board first when Tal Finberg found Cameron Friedfertig in the middle of the zone, where he sniped it to the left side of the net for the goal.
In the second period, forward Tal Finberg skated between two defenders and was able to sneak the second goal for the Lancers through MKA's Ike Osbun with 7:39 remaining in the second.
Livingston knew they had no breathing room, even up two goals in the second period. MKA came storming back, and within a little over a minute, the game was tied at two.
The score remained tied at 2-2 going into the third period. When the Lancers were given a power play, the worst possible outcome the Lancers could have hoped for occurred. MKA's John Buckley went down the left side of the ice, and was given a nice window to shoot from, and it went right by Livingston's goalie Brian Lilien to make the score 3-2 with 9:51 remaining in the game.
All year the Lancers have been able keep their heads in the game, and make plays when the game was on the line. With 5:20 left to go in the third period, Tal Finberg added another goal, his second of the night, to tie the game at three a piece.
Livingston had to fight off a double-minor penalty in the third period and eventually in overtime for a minute and 55 seconds more.
Brian Lilien saved every shot attempt by MKA, and finally Livingston was able to get control of the game.
Seth Crockett led the way with eight minutes remaining as defenseman Jonny Garfinkel got possession. He passed to Finberg and then Finberg found Crockett. Crockett put a shot on Osbun with two defenseman in his way, which was saved. However, Crockett crashed the net, put his stick on the puck while Osbun was still recovering from his first save, and then Crockett easily shot the puck in the almost empty net, in front of Osbun to give the Lancers a 4-3 victory over MKA.
"I was just trying to get a shot on net," Crockett explained about his first shot. "I thought I would pick up the rebound and score because the goalie was a little shaky. So I just went after my own rebound and banged it in."
Crockett's goal was history-making for the Lancers, who had never before won the McInnis Cup. Livingston had trouble defeating MKA last time they met each other during the season, losing in Montclair 6-2.
"We felt like we could play with them," Crockett said. "We thought if we just played our system, played hard, and played hockey like how we've been playing like this entire year, that we could beat (MKA)."
The Lancers had to play in sudden-death overtime in the final two games of the McInnis Cup, pulling out victories in both of those games. They couldn't have done it without the brilliant play of Livingston's goalie Brian Lilien, who saved 34 of the 37 shots on goal (11 in overtime) against MKA.
"It's so much pressure," Lilien admitted. "We were shorthanded to start and we knew we had to kill off that (double-minor) penalty. They have a good powerplay. They were all over us the first minutes of that overtime. Then I made some saves, our defense really kept us in it. They were blocking shots. And then I think they started wearing down. And then you could really see, after the first five to six minutes of overtime, we started outplaying them. And that's just huge for us."
The senior-heavy Lancers squad is determined to make 2013 a special year for Livingston and its hockey program.
"We have an awesome group of guys on this team," Arden said. "I've never seen anything like this. The resiliency. We win two overtime games. They had three goals in a row in this game and we just come back every time stronger than before. I'm telling you, it's unbelievable. It's special to be apart of and I'm sure it's special to watch."
Tal Finberg, who scored at least two points in each game of the McInnis Cup, closed the Conference Playoffs with 11 points in three games, leading all of Essex County in points during the playoffs. He, along with senior assistant captain Jonny Garfinkel and junior goalie Brian Lilien won All-Essex Team honors before the game.
Finberg couldn't have put up the numbers he has without his teammates backing him up.
"It's the boys," the animated Finberg credited. "The boys get me pumped. I'm so happy right now. The boys get me pumped! That's where the energy comes from. It's the boys!"
Not only do the "boys" get the Lancers pumped, their fan base is also one of the largest in New Jersey, with diehard fans looking to cheer on Livingston as they continue their quest to a state title.
David Strumeyer and Jesse Francione are the leaders of the hundreds of Livingston supporters that come to the games. They create their own student section, chanting, screaming, and yelling throughout the game. While they may lose their voices by the end of the night, it's worth it to them, as this will be their final year at Livingston High School, along with nine of the seniors from the team.
"I've always believed that teamwork makes the dream work and we clearly saw that here tonight," Strumeyer said. "Although we may not have been the more talented team, we came together as a team and pulled through and brought that cup to L-Town. There's no other school I'd rather be screaming for than the Livingston Lancers. All I have to say is States, here we come."
This is the first McInnis Cup the Lancers have achieved, but Coach Dave Conklin gave credit to everyone that has been apart of the Livingston Hockey program when he began coaching.
"(The Championship) means a lot to the program," Conklin said. "I took over six or seven years ago and we had 12 kids try out for the team. And I told those 12 kids, 'you guys are the start of something big. You guys are the start of bringing back hockey in Livingston'. All those kids worked so hard to make the next kid come in and work even harder to get ice time. We have a great group of kids. They continue to work hard and they show a lot of heart. All these kids in the program in the last six or seven years are a part of this Championship. And it feels good to be the first team in Livingston to win the McInnis Cup, and we're not done here."
Winning the McInnis Cup was no surprise to the Lancers. They expected it before the season began.
"We had a goal at the beginning of the year," Garfinkel said. "And that was to win the conference and the states. We're one-for-one right now."
Livingston will look to become two-for-two and begin the State Tournament as a nine seed, facing number 24 Howell on Tuesday at 6:45pm at the Codey Arena at South Mountain.