Montclair Kimberley (15-7-2)
Overwhelming favorites in Essex County, Montclair Kimberley has a young team but will still be aiming to improve on its 2-13 record in the state tournament since 1995. Senior goalie Ike Osbun (.902) and explosive junior forward Devin Pepe (21-25-46) are the Cougars’ standouts, with junior Conor Nolan and sophomore James Buckley also expected to provide offense. Sophomore Zach Schaller and senior Casey Hunter will key the defense.
Livingston will rely on senior forward Josh Delsani, who has one of the conference’s top shots.
Nutley will count on senior forward Mike Frade to pick up much of the offensive slack, aided by junior Zach Vaughn, while senior Angelo Gaeta leads the defense in front of goalies Tim Spitalnik and Joe Hoarle.
With only two senior contributors, Montclair could be one year away from a breakthrough, led by juniors Remy Parker (15-8-23) and Brock Bowers (11-9-20) up front and Shane Duffy on the blue line, with sophomore Ondrej Smalec back for a second year in goal. Freshman Conrad Sarbek could contribute right away either up front or on defense.
Verona/Glen Ridge (17-6-3)
A young team will be led by senior forward Stephen Wenzl (23-9-32), junior defenseman Kevin White, and senior goalie Cam Giulianelli. Freshman defensemen Sean DeCandia and Anton Martino provide hope for the future. Others to watch in Essex County include West Essex forward Henry Mead and Millburn goalie Gabe Nadell, who takes over in net for graduated older brother Corey.