Lawrence hockey team moves over .500 with victory

Lawrence ice hockey

By: Jim Green
   Lawrence High School ice hockey coach Andy Borowsky said he can’t remember the last time his team was a couple games over .500 at any point of the season, let alone in the middle of January.
   But the Cardinals, currently 6-5, have a chance to do just that. Winners of five of their last six games, they will look continue their hot stretch next week, as they face a challenging stretch. Lawrence will play Pennington at 9:15 p.m. Monday at The Lawrenceville School, Hopewell Valley at 3:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at Mercer County Park and West Windsor-Plainsboro South at 6 p.m. Jan. 20 at Mercer County Park. The three opponents have a combined 12-13-2 record, and only South (5-3-2) is over .500. The Cardinals already proved they can play with the Pirates, having lost a 6-4 decision to them Jan. 2.
   "It’s exciting," Borowsky said. "We take them one game at a time, but we have to prepare for the coming weeks."
   The Cardinals have plenty of momentum on their side now, following their championship at the Nottingham Holiday Tournament and their subsequent 8-2 win over West Windsor-Plainsboro North — a team they usually have trouble with.
   "It’s nice to beat teams that we haven’t really beaten in the past," Borowsky said. "That’s the biggest thing we’re focusing on. We need to start beating teams people don’t expect us to beat. Pennington, Hopewell, South — those are the games we need to win. It’s nice to get some wins, then everybody feels good. Now we need to start proving ourselves."
   Against North on Friday, Lawrence jumped out to a big 5-2 first-period lead and never looked back. Brock Krawczun had two goals and three assists, Tim Finnerty had two goals and an assist, and Tom Guarrieri had three assists to lead the offense. Patrick Kowalczyk and Pat Jaeger added single goals, while Evan Fruscione and John Stever tallied assists. Goalie Zyon Zate made 21 saves, and Lawrence held a 28-23 advantage in shots.
   On Monday, the Cardinals won their second straight, topping Ewing 8-1 at Ice Land in Hamilton. Fruscione, as he has done all season, led the way with two goals and three assists, while Kowalczyk added a goal and three assists. Finnerty and Krawczun each added a goal and an assist, and goalie Matt Azrolan stopped 25 shots.
   "The momentum’s going," Borowsky said. "The guys are feeling good about themselves. We know we have a good squad this year. The attitude’s positive. Things are going well. We’re trying to go with the flow."
   The coach said there is one big difference between this year’s winning team and Cardinal squads of seasons past.
   "Definitely the attitude — that’s the biggest thing I’ve been working on since I started here five years ago," he said. "In the years past, we didn’t really have that mindset that they need to be dedicated and we all have that same goal. The guys who have been here for three four years understand what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s good to see, especially for the guys who have really put in their time."
   That mindset starts with Fruscione, the unquestioned leader of the team.
   "He’s been amazing — of course on the ice, which is what everybody sees, but also off the ice, he’s growing, not physically, but in his understanding of the game and what it takes to be a leader and be a captain," Borowsky said. "I think he understands the game more than he ever had, and he’s able to give back what he knows to the younger players. He’s a spark, and he also comes through for everybody. We’re going to miss him next year. He’s the heart and soul of our team."
   But it takes more than one strong contributor to make a winning team, and the Cardinals certainly have several.
   "Tom Guarrieri is also a senior and has really shown a lot of dedication the last two weeks," Borowsky said. "He’s really stepping up. He’s playing to his potential, which is what I’ve been trying to get him to do — to realize how good he can be.
   "Brock Krawczun and Tim Finnerty have been playing amazing. When Fruscione has been covered and shadowed, those guys have really stepped up, and it’s nice to see. Even though they’re freshmen, they understand their role. They’ve been working real hard and getting the job done. Also Pat Jaeger — he’s been leading our defense. He understands the game better than anybody who’s on the ice with him. He’s shown great leadership, and he’s outstanding.
   "Shawn Hancock has really been playing well the last couple weeks. He moved from forward to defense, and he’s really playing excellent, good hockey. It wasn’t an easy transition, and he makes the core of our defense solid. That helps us out a lot."
   The Cardinals still have plenty left to accomplish this season, including making a strong showing at the Mercer County Tournament. The MCT is scheduled to start Jan. 23 and likely will be seeded next week.
   "We’re looking forward to the Mercer County Tournament and to prove ourselves there, hopefully, and end the season on a good note," Borowsky said. "It’s been a great month."