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New Jersey HS Hockey: Big North Conference Preview – League Features 4 Divisions Again This Winter

The Big North Conference will have four divisions again this winter – Patriot Division, Freedom Division, Liberty Stars Division and Liberty Stripes Division. Here is a look at some Big North Conference clubs.

Patriot Division

RIVER DELL

Home Rink: Ice House

New head coach Steve Jaskot hopes to establish some great team chemistry in the early going, and want his squad playing from the defensive zone on out.

Scoring will need to come from senior Jed Morone, junior Tommy Gruja and sophomore Alex Guerrero.

The Golden Hawks will also rely on their two goalies – senior Jason Proot and junior Michael Bussanich.

PARAMUS CATHOLIC

Home Rink: Ice House

The Paladins will field a young club this winter, one that will gain experience as the season goes along.

Offensive production will come from senior Brendan Carroll and sophomores James Golembiski and Max Salazar. Mike Gugliotta and Nathan Klak are two freshmen who add some depth to the lineup.

Sophomore Alex Kanter will be a key blueliner for coach Keith Bland. Freshman Ryan Maceri could see some key minutes. Sophomore Frank Smith will be in the goaltending mix.

FAIR LAWN/DUMONT/BERGENFIELD

Home Rink: Floyd Hall Arena

A goal for this new tri-op will be first to create strong team chemistry and then qualify for a post-season berth.

Senior Ethan Childs and sophomore Nick Shteynberg will be catalysts up front for coach Joe Bonafede.

The Cutters will have a pair of solid blueliners in senior Mark Barry and junior Sam Skripko. Michael Natenzon is a junior goaltender.

Players from Dumont looking to contribute are Zach Levitski, Eddie McElroy, Zack Lizzi, Paul Reissner, Ethan DeLibero and Jake Parisi. Bergenfield will bring in goalie Max Rocco, Anthony Lindis and Eric Cacdac.

* Clifton and Passaic Valley/Cedar Grove will also be in the Patriot Division this winter

Freedom Division

PASCACK VALLEY/HILLS/PARK RIDGE

Home Rink: Sport-O-Rama

This team will look to be competitive is what looks like a tough Freedom Division.

Up front, seniors Neven Grubic, Mike Adler and Ryan Sheehan will have key roles offensively for coach Sean Cosgrove.

On the back end, senior Tim Lonergan, senior Jake Zuzeck and junior Mike Donofrio will be important.

A newcomer is freshman goalie Aidan Rybacki.

NORTHERN HIGHLANDS

Home Rink: Sport-O-Rama

Coach Jason Beswick is banking that this crew will have another great season. A big key will be to find a replacement in the nets for the graduated John Werber.

Jack Sparago and Cormac Cindrich, both seniors, will be vital to any offensive success for the Highlanders. Senior Aidan Connolly anchors the defense.

Justin Rauch
St. Joseph Montvale

ST. JOSEPH MONTVALE

Home Rink: Sport-O-Rama

With a good balance at all positions, the Green Knights will have plenty of depth.

There is a lot of talent up front, paced by senior Justin Rauch (17 pts) and juniors Justin Hughes (18 pts) and Thor Hansen (19 pts). Seniors James Devito (14 pts), Aiden Garabed (11 pts) and Joseph Iannuzzi, and sophomore Logan May add to the deep forward group. New senior Victor Diaz and sophomores T.J. Bayer and Thomas Hilliard are newcomers.

Defensively, coach Larry Mahurter has senior Dean Tobin and juniors Ricky De Mario, Dom Mas and Michael Angeletti at his disposal. Sophomore Dylan Stiles adds to the mix.

Junior Tomas Spero and senior Jacob Serey will both see time in goal for the Golden Knights.

TENAFLY

Home Rink: Mackay Park

Sixteen players return for the Tigers. On the other hand, the team did lose its top four scorers from a year ago.

Coach Andy Escala will look for increased production from a returning group that features seniors William Schreer and Sam Bunis and juniors Bryan Messinger (12 pts), Andrew Brown, Garrett Escala and Gabe Reis.

The defensive unit will have seniors Tommy Cohen, Jack Naidrich and Mason Paulen and sophomore standout Tinos Raftis (19 pts).

Junior Charlie Goldman is back between the pipes.

* Northern Valley and Paramus/Lyndhurst/Hackensack are also competing in the Freedom Division

Liberty Stars Division

RAMSEY

Home Rink: Ice Vault

Only two players have moved on from a club that reached the state semifinals a year ago. So, it stands to reason that the Rams should have a pretty solid campaign.

Seniors Tyler Botta (39 pts) and Chris Kourgelis (25 pts) will be instrumental to offensive success. Two more key returners for coach Jeffrey Mills are seniors Nick Edwards and Ryan Matzelle.

Experienced seniors also highlight the Rams blueline with the return of Joe Koons, Nick Pedulla and Vincent Pedulla. Junior Dane Beltramini is back in the cage.

Mark Johnston
Mahwah

MAHWAH

Home Rink: Ice Vault

The Thunderbirds hope to be a pain in the neck to their opponents this winter.

Forwards back for coach Brad Segall include Alex Gutierrez, Nik Liva, Jonathan Smolensky, Robert Richter and Mark Johnston.

On the blue line, look for Jack Kastens, Aidan Roberts and Brody Boucher to have key roles.

Dan McCarthy
Ridgewood

RIDGEWOOD

Home Rink: Ice House

The Maroons have a decent number of returning players, but very few seniors on the roster. It will be important for the new guys to make the transition to the speed of the game.

Senior Davis Flusche, juniors Tyler Kopff, Mason Schick and Dan Bergman, and sophomores John Dunphey and Chris Canone form the offensive nucleus for coach Michael Lucchesi. Freshman looking to get noticed are Carson Kopff, Jacob Kaliberda and Michael St. John.

On defense, senior Luke Botti, junior Luke Wong and sophomore Dan McCarthy will keep opposing offenses honest. Add to the mix new juniors Mason Klarin and Jason Clark.

A new goalie to the club is junior John English.

WAYNE HILLS/WAYNE VALLEY

Home Rink: Ice Vault

This will be the third season for this co-op program, which has advanced to the semifinals of the state tournament each of the past two seasons.

The leader on offense for the Knights will be senior captain Anthony Mazzerina (38 pts). Sophomore Luke Hulbert is primed for a big season. Freshman Chris Wolfsohn expects to have a role.

Sophomore Ben Friedman (9 pts) will log a ton of minutes on defense for coach Joe Belger. Senior goaltender Dan Riina will be huge between the pipes.

* The Liberty Stripes Division will feature Lakeland, Indian Hills, West Milford/Pequannock and Ramapo

Gary Demopoulos
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.
Gary Demopoulos
- 7 mins ago