New Jersey HS Hockey – Big North Conference Preview: Can Northern Highlands Repeat Solid Year?; High Expectations For Ramapo

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopouloshttp://www.hnibnews.com
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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Expects some great action in the Big North Conference this winter. Defending Public B state champion Northern Highlands is ready for another big year. Pascack Valley has a strong core returning.

LIBERTY STARS DIVISION

WAYNE VALLEY CO-OP (14-9-3)

Coach: Justin Liscio

This young team will be ready to put up a fight against all opponents and compete hard in the Big North Conference.

Wayne Valley should be able to put the puck in the net, thanks to the return of juniors Michael Brogna (47 pts), senior Joshua Shpungin (49 pts) and senior Chris Wofsohn (26 pts). A key addition could be freshman Braden O’Loughlin.

Senior Alex Scheuplein and sophomores Michael Balinski will patrol the blue line in front of returning senior Kareem Rifai in the pipes. Two freshmen blueliners to watch are Brady Driesse and Tyler Jason.

RAMAPO (18-9-1)

Coach: Michael McLachlan

High expectations are in the cards for the Raiders, who are coming off a year where they reached the Big North Conference final, and the semifinals of the Public B state tournament. Offensive production should be a team strength.

Up front, seniors Braeden Guiterman (62 pts), Jake Rosaolanko (55 pts) and Danny Mauriber (54 pts) all had big-time seasons a year ago and will spark the offense, which also returns junior Jonathan Kalpagian and junior Jackson Lont. Throw into the mix the arrival of senior Tommy Scully (Seacoast Performance Academy) and sophomore Cooper Snee (Don Bosco transfer).

The defensive core is led by senior Aidan Patton (29 pts), senior Sean McLachlan and junior Pat Hogan. New sophomore Max Simpson (Don Bosco transfer) is a key addition.

And in goal, Ramapo can turn to senior Matt Carlson, an All County selection a year ago.

PASSAIC COUNTY TECH (13-12-1)

Coach: Andrew Frey

The Bulldogs graduated no one from a historic year that saw them qualify for the post-season in their first year of eligibility. “We have a lot of depth throughout the lineup so many will be asked to contribute,” said coach Frey. “It’s a solid group who work hard and pay attention to detail.”

Leaders up front will be senior Brian Gaboda, junior Christian Martinez, and sophomores Carrick Lawrence, Angelo LaCognata, Sebastian Nayda and Ryan Ross.

Juniors Joe Kwiecinski and Scott Nayda, and sophomores Kevin Kensicki and Carter Bernice form the defensive nucleus. New freshman Ian Burke will fight for a role.

Passaic County Tech returns a pair of sophomore goalies in Mason Katz and Jack Bernice.

PATRIOT DIVISION

RIVER DELL (14-5-3)

Coach: Kyle Scancerella

The defending division champs return the bulk of their scoring, and solid goaltending. If they can stay disciplined and play within their systems, a repeat isn’t out of the cards.

Offensive catalysts will be a trio of veteran seniors in Roman Kirilytchev (30 pts), Riley Ehrenfeis (28 pts) and Kristian Bush (26 pts).

A pair of juniors – Matteo Marinic (12 pts) and D.J. Terwilliger (13 pts) will be mainstays on the River Dell blue line. Two new freshmen defensemen are Max Silberstein and Nathan Lenc.

In junior goalie Liam Freel, who started every game a year ago, coach Scancerella feels he has one of the top netminders in the state.

FAIR LAWN (8-10-3)

Coach: Kevin Geist

The Cutters will have a new leader in coach Geist, who will have his troops ready to play their hockey.

Junior Anthony Edson and sophomores Sam Platsmen and Michael Ferrante will be asked to produce in the forward ranks. A newcomer hoping to contribute right away is freshman Dylan Ferlani.

On defense, senior Ethan DeLibero, junior Ivan Patapovich and sophomore Luc Rocco will have key roles.

Junior Zach Londono is a returning goaltender.

TENAFLY (14-9-1)

Coach: Andy Escala

Newly placed in the Patriot Division for this season, the Tigers should be able to compete for top honors.

Scoring prowess will come from senior Michael Crosby (34 pts), a second team All League selection a year ago, junior Aidan Marom (22 pts) and sophomore Ben Garth (27 pts). Coach Escala hopes to get contributions from senior Ethan Coskay and freshmen Troy Knause and Caleb Kim.

A rock-sold defenseman for Tenafly will be junior Devin Nause (30 pts), second team All League a year ago. Junior Won-Hee Cho will be an important cog.

NORTHERN VALLEY REGIONAL (7-13-0)

Coach: Mike Henry/Donnie Quarles

The Golden Knights lost only two impact players to graduation, so they fully expect to be competitive.

Most of the team’s scoring production is back, led by junior captain Oliver Berenbroick (27 pts) and sophomore Brenden Field (18 pts), both Honorable Mention All League choices. Other keys are sophomores Joey Legato (17 pts) and Mitchell Brodsky (14 pts), junior Sam Vilkin (13 pts), and senior captain Drew Rosenblum.

On defense, senior captain Anthony White (21 pts) was a second team All League choice a year ago and leads a group that includes sophomores Tyler Gaspin and Evan Ryu and Neil Bernhaut. Freshman Jett Geraci adds depth.

With their starting goaltender having graduated, the job could go go returning senior Eamon Doran, last year’s back-up.

LIBERTY STRIPES DIVISION

INDIAN HILLS (5-18-2)

Coach: Bill Katinsky

Short on numbers, the Braves expect a tight league race and expect to be in the middle of the pack.

The Indian Hills offense will run through seniors Brady Vella and Joe Amoruso, and juniors Jake Willis, Adam Moskal and Tim Downes.

The defense returns five in senior Evan Copchanack, senior Dylan Phillips, senior Will Kilpatrick, sophomore Will Miles and sophomore Zack Fassett.

Two new sophomores – Brett Matyiku and Jack Wurst – will be tasked to handle the goaltending duties.

MAHWAH (16-10-0)

Coach: Brad Segall

A strong senior class will dictate how far the Thunderbirds go this winter. “Our team just needs to play hard night in and night out,” said coach Segall.

Strength up front will come from returning seniors Anthony Miller (45 pts), Johnny Russenberger (31 pts) and Jack Kunisch (16 pts).

Seniors Eddie Kane and Zach Norton anchor the defense, while both senior John Dreger and junior Leanna Kolb are back in the nets.

Segall expects to have newcomers Preston Mattesich, Landon Oiley and Matt Olear contribute on offense, and Reid Cusack, Nick Crames and Nick Baracciodieta on the blue

LAKELAND (13-9-0)

Coach: Nick Crouch

Playing solid team defense, while capitalizing on scoring chances will be the mantra for the Lancers as they do battle in the tough Big North Conference.

Coach Crouch will rely heavily on the scoring talents of seniors Tristan Davison (60 pts), Charlie Wogisch (48 pts) and Brian Cole (40 pts), who combined for 148 points last winter.

Sophomore Ryan Giordano (14 pts) is a key rearguard while senior Nate Bailey returns between the pipes.

WEST MILFORD/PEQUANNOCK (8-16-1)

Coach: Chris Scarpa

If this club can continue to build on the foundation put together last winter, the feeling is they can compete for a division title.

Up front, coach Scarpa will lean on junior Aidan Lindgren (29 pts), junior John Biegel (17 pts) and sophomore Kyle Gregory (11 pts). Newcomer Joe Barroqueiro will help out.

Junior rearguard Jake Pedicone (14 pts) will be a huge asset on defense, while junior Nick Lombardo is a returning starter in goal.

FREEDOM DIVISION

NORTHERN HIGHLANDS (22-3-3)

Coach: Jason Beswick

Vincenzo Capano Northern Highlands

Strong up front and in the cage, the Highlanders, the defending state Public B champs, will be quite formidable again. They also are ready to navigate a challenging non-league schedule.

Coach Beswick has plenty of options up front for production, notably senior Will Brown (33 pts), junior Vincenzo Capano (31 pts) and sophomores Brent Beswick (37 pts), Jake Baratta (31 pts) and JT Gandara (30 pts).

Constantine Manos Northern Highlands

Defensive leaders are senior Constantine Manos (15 pgs) and Peirson DeBruyn (16 pts). Look for new junior Daniel Kulbanskiy (a transfer from Fair Lawn) to fit right in.

There will be no issues in goaltending with the return of junior Daniel Moor, a third team all state selection last year, and new sophomore Quinn DeBruyn, a transfer from Bishop Kearney Selects.

RIDGEWOOD (14-7-1)

Coach: Michael Lucchesi

The Maroons will have their depth tested this winter, with the graduation of several key players from last year’s squad.

Senior Jacob Kaliberda (28 pts) and senior Carson Kopff (27 goals) will need to duplicate their production from last winter. Also returningn are seniors Michael St. John and Nick Ostrowe. New freshman A.J. LoSouro hopes ot crack the lineup.

Sophomores Finn Doherty and Joseph Foglia are back and will team with new junior Cameron Brown to lead the defense for coach Lucchesi.

In goal, sophomore Jack Scali should get the nod.

PARAMUS/LYNDHURST (8-11-2)

Coach: Jake Rizer

A senior-laden squad, the Spartans will need to increase scoring output if they hope to put up some more W’s.

Hoping to up their production this winter are seniors Jake Renzi, Parker Lillo and Kai Barbera, and sophomore Tommy Greco. A youngster looking to chime in is freshman Ethan Chen.

Defensive cornerstones for coach Rizer are seniors Alex Sendecki and Michael Piccinich. Senior Matt Novotny should get the call in goal for the Spartans.

Nathan Klak
Paramus Catholic

PARAMUS CATHOLIC (8-7-3)

Coach: Alex Fleischmann

The Paladins fiinshed second in the regular season in the Patriot Division and have a good nucleus that should help keep the team in contention.

Allen Magie
Paramus Catholic

Two seniors – Nathan Klak (31 pts) and Michael Gugliotta (16 pts) – are slated to power the offensive attack. A newcomer to watch up front is Jonathan Sliwa.

Juniors Chris Kobayashi (14 pts) and Allen Magie (17 pts) anchor the defense in front of junior netminder Jonathan Hager.

PASCACK VALLEY (14-5-1)

Coach: Sean Cosgrove

A strong core returns from a team that had one of the most successful seasons in PV history. The team will look to build off that success.

In junior Zach Groves (39 pts) and sophomore Erik Wynn (40 pts), coach Cosgrove has a solid 1-2 scoring punch. Junior Daniel Epstein and sophomore Joey Dargan should have increased offensive roles. Two new freshmen to the program up front are Austin Groves and Jack Sheehan.

Leaders on the blue line are sophomore Tyler Rothstein (27 pts) and junior Kevin McNamara (12 pts). New sophomores Hunter Goodman and Jake Kovach will battle for quality minutes.

Four-year starter Aidan Ryback returns for what should be a big senior season in goal for Pascack Valley.

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