MORRISTOWN, NJ – Junior Greg Spitznagel scored at 10:59 of overtime and the top-seeded Summit High School Boys Varsity Ice Hockey Team is again headed to the Prudential Center and NJSIAA Public C title game after defeating fifth-seeded Manasquan, 3-2 at Mennen Arena. The two-time defending champion Hilltoppers will take on third-seeded Ramsey in an effort to achieve a historic three-peat on Monday, March 9, at the home of the New Jersey Devils.
Face-off time has not yet been confirmed.
Spitznagel’s game-winner was assisted by senior captain Jake Puskar and sophomore Jordan Lowry, the goal coming after the Warriors has fought back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game with consecutive second-period goals from Anthony Dowd.
Manasquan outshot Summit 26-21, with Hilltopper senior netminder Nikita Pryymak stopping 24 shots.
Summit took the lead when freshman Jake Lowry set up Spitznagel at 10:02 of the first period. The ‘Top’s lead was doubled when the other half of ‘The Two Jakes’ — Puskar — scored an unassisted, shorthanded goal just over two-and-a-half minutes into the second stanza.
The Warriors used their power play to get back into the contest, Dowd scoring his own unassisted goal to cut the Summit lead in half at the 8:26 mark. Four-plus minutes later, Dowd struck again and the game was tied.
With a trip to the Final and, certainly in Summit’s case, the chance for a historic treble of titles on the line, neither team could find the decisive tally in the third period and it was left to Spitznagel — one of the biggest players on the ice, literally and figuratively, and a player who has scored more than his fair share of Summit’s biggest postseason goals during his prep career — to do it one more time.
Hilltopper Nation will hope that theme — one more time — carries over to ‘The Rock’ on March 9.
The championship game will be the second matchup between Summit and Ramsey this season, with the Rams winning the first tilt handily 5-1 last December 23, Since that defeat, the Hilltoppers — now 21-3-2 — have gone 16-1-2 and have won 14 games in a row.