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NorthJersey.com

WAYNE ­– Jin Lee and James Cerepak had no problem using the word “revenge” after Tuesday night’s Big North Gold Cup hockey game at Ice Vault.

The Northern Highlands line mates teamed up for the game-winning goal with 7:10 to play against Mahwah. Cerepak fed a pass to Lee, whose score lifted the top-seeded Highlanders to a 2-1 victory and a spot in Friday’s championship final against either Glen Rock or St. Joseph.

The other semifinal ended late Tuesday at Ice Vault.

The No. 4 Thunderbirds had a 20-13 shot advantage through two periods, but Northern Highlands (18-4-1) out-shot them, 14-6, in the third.

“In between [the second and third] periods, we had a little discussion in the locker room and decided to come out with a little bit more fire,” Lee said. “We didn’t like the way we were playing, so we came out hard and decided to turn it around.”

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The Highlanders had beaten Mahwah in the Bergen County quarterfinals last month, but memories of how 2017 ended are still fresh. They fell to Glen Rock in the Gold Cup final, and the very next game, they were upset by the Thunderbirds in the state playoffs.

“Our coaches really motivated us by talking about, these could be our final two games,” Cerepak said.

Knowing that, the idea of saying something that might motivate potential opponents was of little consequence.

“We’re looking forward to going into the final with a little chip on our shoulders and playing our hearts out,” Lee said….