WESTFIELD, NJ — The Westfield boys varsity ice hockey team is off to a strong 2-0 start, and a key piece to their success has been senior co-captain Brendan Kotiga.

After a goal and an assist in a season opening 4-1 win against rival Summit, Kotiga backed it up with two assists in an 8-1 blowout win over West Essex on Tuesday. Kotiga is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week.

“I’ve been able to put up four points in two games because the chemistry I developed with my teammates last year has carried over,” Kotiga said. “They’ve given me opportunities to make them better, and they’ve made me better at the same time, which has made it easy for me to get points.”

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The Blue Devils turned around their slump against Summit, after going 0-3 against them last year. They also took on West Essex three times, going 2-0-1, with 6-0 and 3-2 wins.

“The difference about this year’s team is that the majority of the players have at least one year of varsity experience, which has made the transition into this year very easy and has allowed us to play at a high level,” Kotiga said.

There are many big differences this season, such as getting dressed outside and not being in the locker room in between periods, but that has not slowed down Kotiga and the Blue Devils.

Eight different players have scored in their first two games, including four players with two goals.

“With COVID, the mindset is this year we have to make every time we step on the ice count, because we don’t know when it’ll be our last time,” Kotiga said. “We also have to stay committed to staying home and quarantining, so we can continue our season.”

Westfield will have a break until their Wednesday matchup against 1-0 Middletown South.

Michael Siroty is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.

The Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Agency. Located 502 East Broad St., the agency has been protecting local families and business owners for over 20 years. Call them at 908-301-0711 for a new auto, home or life insurance quote this week and if you mention the Allstate WHS Athlete of the Week they will make a $25 contribution to the Westfield Boosters Association! To learn more, visit ronbansky.com.