New Jersey Top 10 Poll
|2||Christian Brothers Academy||3||25||5||0|
|3||Don Bosco Prep||2||20||6||2|
|7||St. Augustine Prep||4||13||11||1|
Delbarton (25-3-2) returned to the top of the New Jersey hockey heap this winter after failing to win the state title in each of the last two years, and for the first time since 2012, the Green Wave can also lay claim to the No. 1 ranking in the Northeast. That claim comes courtesy of a 4-1 Dec. 19 win over Massachusetts Division I-A champion Malden Catholic, supported by wins over Pope Francis (Mass.), Rhode Island state champ Bishop Hendricken (R.I.), and Catholic Memorial (Mass.)
But the prize Delbarton spent the entire season focused on is already in hand. After blowing a three-goal lead in last year’s state final, the Green Wave got out in front early against the same opponent, CBA, in the private state final on March 7. They then closed the game out effectively, holding CBA to just 13 shots for the game while needing just eight themselves in a 3-1 win, skating off with the school’s seventh state title in nine years and its New Jersey record 11th championship.
Freshman John Farinacci (7-11-18) and senior Danny Farr (14-22-36) had the critical goals less than a minute apart in the second period, but the Green Wave were led all year by senior defenseman and Vermont commit Andrew Petrillo (3-21-24), and veteran forwards Anthony Farinacci (25-19-44), Tyler Kobryn (18-21-39), Farr, and Andrew Longo (13-14-27), all seniors. Junior Mark Benemerito (11-12-23), sophomores Jack Chatwin (4-19-23), Nick Siffringer (10-12-22), Jalen Kaplan (9-10-19), and Hunter Macy (5-12-17) and freshmen John Farinacci and Jack Malone (8-15-23) should ensure the program’s continued success under head coach Bruce Shatel.
After going 0-4 against them in the regular season, CBA (25-5) beat both second-place Don Bosco Prep (Gordon Cup and NJSIAA private semifinals) and first-place Delbarton (Gordon Cup final) before falling just short of a third consecutive private state title. Senior defenseman Ryan Bogan Jr. (11-32-43), son of head coach Ryan Bogan, led the Shore A North Division champion Colts all season, with the at times prolific offense led by seniors Cristian Winters (16-21-37) and Anthony Cucich (18-17-35), juniors Derek Contessa (19-14-33) and Corey Clifton (15-15-30), and sophomore Liam Noonan (13-17-30).
Don Bosco Prep (20-6-2) entered the postseason having only lost two games to New Jersey opponents all year, including a 1-1 series split with top-ranked Delbarton. But the Ironmen couldn’t solve CBA in the postseason, losing to the Colts in the Gordon Cup and NJSIAA private semifinals. It was still another strong year for Greg Toskos and the Ironmen, led by the state’s top goaltender, junior Alexei Masanko, and Don Bosco Prep did win its fifth consecutive Bergen County Tournament title in January. Senior forward Chris Mazzella (31-12-43) led the way offensively, but most of the other top contributors were underclassmen, including sophomore Mickey Burns (11-31-42) and freshman Tyler Sedlak (15-25-40) on the top line and junior C.J. McGee, sophomore John Campomenosi (2-12-14) and freshman Nolan Barrett (4-10-14) on the blue line.
After losing the last two Public B state championship games, Ramsey (25-2-2) entered the year without all-time leading scorer Alex Whelan and with a new coach, Justin Portas, after Bob Toy stepped down. But the Rams’ 14-player senior class meant they barely skipped a beat. Returning outstanding senior contributors in goal in Tyler Harmon (.948) and on the blue line in Brandon O’Callahan (5-35-40), forward Kyle DeBel (30-56-86) blossomed into an elite scorer. Ramsey slipped up against division foe Lakeland in a 5-2 loss on Dec. 13 (without Harmon and the Steffe twins), but the Rams recovered to tie St. Joseph Metuchen and dominate Morris Knolls and Morristown in the Ice Vault Tournament, with the win over Morristown serving as revenge of sorts for the 1-0 loss in the 2014 state title game. Seniors Anthony (19-18-37) and Frank (17-19-36) Steffe, Garrett Mast (17-18-35), and Dale Cheyne (17-4-21) were among the offensive leaders, while sophomores Daniel Halik (14-15-29) up front and Brendan Crimmins (2-10-12) on defense showed promise for the future. Ramsey went 21-1-2 after the loss to Lakeland, losing only in the Bergen County Tournament final to Don Bosco Prep. They closed the year with nine straight wins, including a 1-0 upset of offensive juggernaut Middletown North in the Public B semifinals behind especially strong performances from Harmon and O’Callahan, finishing with a 5-1 win over Glen Rock to win the state title that had eluded them the last two years.
Meanwhile, Ramsey’s one-time nemesis, Morristown (24-3-1), joined them in Prudential Center celebrations after winning the Public A state championship, the school’s enrollment having moved it up a class size last year. The Colonials had 10 seniors of their own and ran off 13 consecutive wins after losing to Ramsey in December. Having gone 1-0-1 against Morristown-Beard to win the Mennen Division regular season title for the first time since 1987, head coach Bobby Jones’ team was upset in a stunning Mennen Cup semifinal loss to Kinnelon. Morristown rebounded with a strong four-game run to the state title, including a 2-0 win over division rival Randolph in the final. Sophomore goalie Evan Szary (.935) and seniors Kyle Beyer (14-20-34), Justin Leifer (7-17-24), and Nick Swiontkowski (3-11-14) keyed the defense, while seniors Jakob DeFares (24-22-46), Teddy Dolan (23-8-31), Bradley Greik (17-8-25), and Christian Rodriguez (6-14-20) led the offense. Sophomore Nate DeFares (7-18-25) will be one of the few returnees next year, but after four trips to a state final in the last five years, nobody will be writing the Colonials off.
Gordon Conference National Division champion Pope John (16-8-2) checks in at No. 5, with six of its eight losses – including both in the postseason – coming against the top five. After winning a holiday tournament against public schools, two wins over St. Peter’s Prep in the new year gave Pope John the division title. The Lions then blew out St. Augustine Prep 5-0 in the Gordon Cup quarterfinals before falling to Delbarton, then needed overtime to beat St. Joseph Montvale in the state tournament, only to be eliminated by CBA. Seniors Richie Halevy (12-24-36) and Josh Mead (18-17-35) and sophomores John Spetz (20-13-33) and Eric Vanderhoff (12-15-27) led the way offensively for Ryan Brown’s team, with junior Mikita Volubuyev (0-11-11) one of the defensive keys in front of impressive freshman goalie Matt Schoer (.924).
Having needed overtime to beat Morristown-Beard in the NJSIAA private quarterfinals, St. Augustine Prep (13-11-1) dropped to No. 7 in the final rankings. The Hermits finished fourth in the Gordon Conference American Division but wound up on the wrong end of 5-0 scorelines in both the Gordon Cup quarterfinals (to Pope John) and the NJSIAA private semifinals (to Delbarton). The season was highlighted by a 3-0 win over Don Bosco Prep on Jan. 3 and a 6-3 win over Pope John on Jan. 12, but St. Augustine Prep went 6-7 after that. Juniors Carson Brière (16-13-29) and Matt Cassidy (14-13-27), the latter a Quinnipiac commit, led the way in front of junior goalie Giovanni Albano. Seniors Caeland Brière and Anthony Deruchie, juniors Andrew Carpenter and Max Gravenstine, and sophomore Kyle Knight were among the other key contributors for head coach Tim Fingerhut.
Morris County power Morristown-Beard (19-5-2) did win a third consecutive Mennen Cup title and another state Prep B title, but the Crimson lost the season series to Morristown and struggled against elite competition; the 2014 private state co-champions were finally eliminated in an overtime loss to St. Augustine Prep in the quarterfinals. The season was highlighted by mid-February wins over Randolph and upstart Kinnelon to take the Mennen Cup, the second time in the last eight years the Crimson have won three consecutive league championships. Head coach Randy Velischek’s team relied on two players, senior Alex Borowiec (25-15-40) and sophomore Brayden Patricia (18-22-40), for the vast majority of its offense, with seniors A.J. (8-9-17) and Christian (4-17-21) DiCesare leading the defense in front of senior Dan Porth (.912). Freshman Gavin Puskar (5-11-16) provided a spark.
Ranked as the state’s top public school all season, Middletown North (19-3-1) was thought to be vulnerable defensively. After all, they averaged 6.5 goals per game but still cut it close in an 8-6 win for the Shore Conference’s Handchen Cup title. The Lions’ ultimate demise, however, came when their offense was shut out for the first time all season in the Public B semifinals against Ramsey. It was only the second time all season Middletown North was held below three goals. Seniors Khristian Acosta (39-31-70, Quinnipiac) and Bobby Hampton (15-29-44, Northeastern) led the way all year for the defending Public B champions, but the head coach Matt Clemente developed good depth beyond the headliners. Seniors Vince Tomasetti (20-27-47) and Kevin Felice (24-23-47) and sophomore Justin Skelly (10-12-22) helped make the top two lines so dangerous, with junior Evan Hall (2-11-13) and freshman John Hallard (6-12-18) also making big contributions in front of senior goalie Anthony Manfredi.
The season also ended in frustration for Public B finalist Glen Rock (23-3-3), but the future may be even brighter for the Panthers. While head coach Sergio Fernandez loses five influential seniors, four on the defensive side of the ice, Glen Rock should return some serious firepower next year. This year’s team tied Morristown way back in November, beat Notre Dame and Howell and tied St. Joseph Metuchen and Ridge in the regular season, and took Don Bosco Prep to overtime in the Bergen County Tournament semifinals. Glen Rock then beat division rival St. Joseph Montvale twice down the stretch to win the division title, then put up 28 goals in four games in breezing to the Public B state final, only to lose to county rival Ramsey. Seniors Matt (.929 in goal) and Justin (19-25-44 up front) Rosario will both depart, as will classmates Tom LaMacchia (11-21-32), Eric Spada (8-9-17), and Luke Visconti (10-6-16). But leading scorer Jake Kinney (19-38-57) is only a junior and could set the school scoring record next year, while juniors Peter Cassidy (25-18-43), Leo Pawlika (6-25-31), and Colin Morrow (7-22-29) all made major impacts. Sophomores Matt Eddie Corvelli (30-15-45), Matt Maselli (10-19-29), and John LaMacchia (5-13-18) should help produce a bright future.