If the list of league tournament champions looks familiar, it should: Nine of the 13 titlists were repeat winners.
Gordon Cup – Delbarton 7, Bergen Catholic 1
Delbarton (20-4-1) rolled to its fifth outright (and share of a sixth) Gordon Cup title in 11 years in the elite Gordon Conference with a comprehensive 7-1 win over upstart Bergen Catholic (12-11-1) in Saturday’s final. The seventh-seeded Crusaders had become the lowest seed to reach the championship game (and the first to win three games to get there) with upsets of No. 2 Don Bosco Prep and No. 3 CBA, but the top-ranked Green Wave were always in control. Power-play goals from Anthony Delgaizo and Steven Agriogianis bookended the first intermission and put Delbarton in front 3-0, and three goals in a span of 2:06 late in the second put the game out of reach. Agriogianis finished with two goals, while Gordon Conference MVP Andrew Petrillo contributed two assists from the blue line and goalie Troy Kobryn needed just eight saves in the win.
Shore Conference Tournament – Red Bank Catholic 8, St. John Vianney 0
After splitting the regular-season series, Red Bank Catholic (18-5-3) tore rival St. John Vianney (16-5-2) apart in Monday’s Shore Conference Tournament championship game to the tune of an 8-0 rout, the Caseys’ second title in as many years of the tournament. Despite the regular-season split, Red Bank Catholic won the Shore A Central Division by two-and-a-half games, and they turned in a dominant effort on Monday, posting a 35-7 shot advantage. Todd Goehring poured in three goals and two assists after setting up four goals (two from Evan Hoey) in a 5-3 semifinal win over Middletown North (13-5-4). St. John Vianney had advanced with an overtime win over Howell (18-4) on a Mike Gelatt goal after Matt Kidney scored twice in regulation and Jimmy Ellis finished with 38 saves.
The tournament’s earlier rounds saw Red Bank Catholic need a shootout to get past division rival Donovan Catholic in the quarterfinals after a 5-5 tie, while Middletown North beat crosstown rival Middletown South (16-5-1) in another quarterfinal. No. 10 Freehold Township (11-8-3) and No. 11 Point Pleasant Borough (10-6-3) posted the only upsets of the 16-team tournament with their first-round wins.
Mennen Cup – Morristown-Beard 5, Chatham 0
After an up-and-down regular season, Morristown-Beard (15-6-4) brought its ‘A’ game in the postseason and brought home a second consecutive Mennen Cup championship. The defending private state co-champion Crimson were seeded third in the tournament on tiebreakers after a second-place tie but edged Kinnelon (9-10-3) 2-1 to reach the semifinals. From there, they went to work defensively, shutting out rival Randolph (14-5-3) 3-0 and top-seeded Chatham (12-3-5) 5-0 to take the title. Dan Porth made 24 saves for the win, while Chris Brunner-Grande scored twice and Alex Borowiec provided two assists.
The result, similar to last year’s 4-0 Morristown-Beard win in the final, extends Chatham’s Mennen Cup drought to all 27 years of the program’s existence since Chatham Township and Chatham Boro merged. Morristown-Beard has now won five of the last seven Mennen Cup titles and six in the 11 years since Delbarton left for the Gordon Conference.
Mercer County Tournament – Hun 4, Notre Dame 2
Princeton-based prep school Hun (18-2-5), which is not part of the NJSIAA, continued its magic season by beating Notre Dame for the Mercer County title for the second straight year, completing a hat trick of titles that include the holiday Purple Puck Tournament in Washington, D.C. and the New Jersey Independent Schools Prep B title in early February. A balanced scoring effort, including a goal from Justin Grossman in the final minute of the first period to make it 2-0, and 30 saves from tournament MVP Travis ‘Diesel’ Pelke were enough for the victors. Blake Brown (21-27-48), Jon Bendorf (17-29-46), and Frank Vitucci (13-13-26) led the way for Hun offensively on the season, with Bobby Wurster (3-22-25) and Tanner Preston (2-14-26) among the keys on the blue line. Notre Dame (20-6) was appearing in the final for the fifth consecutive year, having won back-to-back titles in 2012-13.
McInnis Cup – Montclair Kimberley 4, Livingston 1
While it was a repeat championship for Montclair Kimberley, it was anything but simple. After advancing to the semifinals, fifth-seeded MKA (9-10-4) and third-seeded Livingston (11-12-1) found out that the McInnis Cup would be their last hockey of the season; both were denied at-large bids to the NJSIAA state tournaments after finishing with sub-.500 records in the regular season against very difficult non-league schedules. With all their eggs in one basket, MKA and Livingston pulled off semifinal upsets of the regular-season co-champions Nutley (16-5) and Montclair (15-5-2), respectively.
In the final, a rematch of the 2013 edition won by Livingston in overtime, MKA’s Devin Pepe broke the deadlock 1:57 into the second period and scored again late in the third period after Livingston had closed to within 2-1. Ike Osbun needed just 13 saves for the Cougars, who took their fourth McInnis Cup championship in the last five years.
Skyland Cup – Bridgewater-Raritan 2, Ridge 1
One occasion where history did not repeat itself came in the Skyland Conference, where Bridgewater-Raritan (21-0-3) stayed unbeaten and avenged a 2-1 loss to rival Ridge (17-5-4) in last year’s final. The Panthers improved to 3-0-1 against the Red Devils this season, with Eddie Weissman and Alec Caseiro netting the goals despite a 31-save performance from Ridge’s Sean Sweeney.
Big North Liberty – Ramsey 6, Wayne Hills 0
Ramsey (21-3-1) made it three consecutive cup titles and six in eight years with a three-game shutout of its division competition, outscoring all opponents 18-0 and cruising past Wayne Hills (12-7-2) in the final. Senior forward and Quinnipiac commit Alex Whelan (40-26-66) set the tone with a goal just 20 seconds into the game, leading the way for a team rout and a personal hat trick. It also gave Whelan goals in a remarkable 13 consecutive games and 15 Ramsey’s last 16 since a pair of 1-0 defeats in late December; he had two assists in a win in the only game he did not score.
Big North Freedom – Glen Rock 2, St. Joseph Montvale 0
Glen Rock (18-3-3) also won its third consecutive postseason league title, while St. Joseph Montvale (15-6-2) was resigned to a sixth consecutive loss in a cup championship game, with five of those coming in what was formerly known as the Silver Division. Senior forward Brandon Rosario scored late in the first period, and junior goalie Matt Rosario, Brendan’s younger brother, made the goal stand up with 22 saves, most of them in the second period. Although the Panthers could not add to their lead against Green Knights goalie Robert Massimi (30 saves), the elder Rosario wrapped things up with an empty-netter at the buzzer.
Big North Patriot – Ridgewood 4, Paramus Catholic 2
Another repeat champion in Ridgewood (9-8-3), but this one was anything but routine. Not only had Paramus Catholic (13-7-3) won the regular-season title and beaten Ridgewood in the process, but the Paladins also held a 2-0 advantage with eight minutes remaining in the game. Yet the Maroons, who started the year 2-8-1 but have gone 7-0-2 since, rallied behind two goals from senior John Buckley, both assisted by classmate Thomas Aynilian, and a go-ahead goal from sophomore J.P. Kelly just 20 seconds after Buckley had tied the game. Kelly added one more goal for good measure to seal the win and a fourth playoff title in the last five years.
Union County Cup – Summit 3, Westfield 0
Summit (15-10) won its fifth county title in six years, beating Westfield (13-5-2) by the same score that separated the teams last year; they have met in five of those six finals, with the Blue Devils besting the Hilltoppers only in 2013. Just like last year, it was Riley Flynn (22-18-40) doing much of the damage for Summit. After setting up two goals in last year’s final, Flynn scored all three this year, including a shorthanded clincher in the third period. Alec Vitton made 24 saves for Summit, as did Don DoCampo for Westfield.
GMC Cup – St. Joseph Metuchen 8, Old Bridge 1
Make it four GMC titles in a row, all by multiple goals, for St. Joseph Metuchen (17-2-3) after a blowout of Old Bridge (12-8-2) in this year’s title game. The Falcons had to sweat for a 4-3 semifinal win due to 48 saves from Monroe (10-9-1) goalie Brendan Germano but had no such trouble in the final. Julien Hendrickson, Kyle Jeffers, and Alek Minishak each scored twice, with Marc Johnstone (9-34-43) striking for a goal and three assists in the rout.
Halvorsen Cup – Montville 3, West Morris Central 2
Finally a new champion, if not a surprising one. Regular-season champion Montville (12-7-2) won its first Halvorsen Cup title with a tight win over West Morris Central (13-9-1). Montville’s top line of Vincent Arlotta (25-20-45), Emerson Emery (18-22-40), and Tom Marabando (13-12-25) provided all three goals as Montville took a 3-1 lead and held on for the win behind 20 saves from Josh Beron. The Mustangs beat two-time defending champion West Morris Mendham (11-14-1) in the semifinals; their last league playoff title came in the third-tier Haas Cup in 2009.
Haas Cup – Madison 6, Jefferson 2
The team Montville beat in that 2009 final, Madison (25-1), finally won its first playoff title in more than 40 years, having come up short in three previous Haas Cup finals, including an overtime loss last year. After losing their final regular-season contest to Morristown, the Dodgers rolled to the final but got a scare from Charette Division regular-season champion Jefferson (17-2-4), which came in on a 20-game unbeaten streak.
The Falcons struck for two goals in the first 5:16, but Madison answered in less than a minute and tied the game before the end of the first period. The Dodgers took over with three goals in the third period, and Jack DeBoer (20-18-38) struck in each frame in the comprehensive win and standout sophomore goalie Kavi Sinha made 30 saves.