It’s playoff time and the Old Bridge High School ice hockey team is playing its best hockey of the season.
The Knights, who are the No. 13 seed, skated into their NJSIAA Public A preliminary-round game against 20th-seeded Dayton High School of Springfield on Feb. 25 on a surge. The Knights had won six of their last eight games.
Old Bridge continued its strong play on the ice, when five players scored to guide the Knights to a 6-0 victory over Dayton at the Old Bridge Ice Arena.
“Everybody came together and the guys showed a lot of heart and effort as a team to get the win,” said Old Bridge coach John Hughes. “Everybody worked together as well as they possibly could. It was fantastic.”
Scoring a game-high two goals in the contest for Old Bridge was Alex Sech, who has had a very productive junior season.
Sech has recorded a team-leading 34 goals and 36 assists this season, giving him 70 points.
“Having this many goals as a junior is a big accomplishment for me,” Sech said.
The junior knocked home his 34th goal of the season to put Old Bridge up 2-0 over Dayton with 5:22 to go in the first period.
Old Bridge took a 3-0 lead into the second period.
With a little under three minutes to play in the contest, Sech was “johnny on the spot” to tap in the loose puck in front of the net for his second goal of the game to give Old Bridge a five-goal lead.
Sech scored a team-high 22 goals last winter as a sophomore.
Fellow classmate David Kish is second on the team with 19 goals this season for the Knights.
Kish was one of the five players that scored a goal against Dayton, firing a shot into the back of the net off the face-off in the Bulldogs’ zone that extended the Old Bridge lead to 4-0 midway through the second period.
Senior Matt Kravets is third on the team in goals with 18 red lights this winter. Kravets got Old Bridge off to a fast start against Dayton, knocking home the game’s first goal just a little over two minutes into the contest.
The senior went on to record a game-high three assists in the victory, giving him 31 for the season.
Junior Lukas Careny and senior Nick Skliarenko both recorded a goal in the victory for Old Bridge.
“Our offense can score more goals than what most people realize,” Sech said. “People think we only have one line or one person that can score, but we have a wide variety of players that can score.”
The Knights controlled the entire action of the contest, limiting Dayton to only five shots on goal for the entire game for their first shutout of the season.
Old Bridge now stands at 12-7-1 on the season and will finish with its first winning season in four years.
Next up for Old Bridge in the first round of the state tournament is No. 4 Hillsborough High School, who the Knights will play on Feb. 27 at Flemington Ice Arena.
As the Knights shift their focus to trying to upset Hillsborough, Hughes is very happy about how his team has come together during the second half of the season and believes his club has a chance to make a run in the tournament.
“We’re starting to come together and play the game we want to play,” Hughes said. “The energy level after beating Dayton will help us move forward into Hillsborough. We just have to keep moving forward and take things one day at a time.”
Follow Steven Bassin on Twitter @SBassin_Sports