New Jersey HS Hockey: New Jersey Interscholastic Ice Hockey League (NJIIHL) Preview

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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The NJIIHL will be broken down into three divisions – Kelly, McInnis and McMullen

KELLY DIVISION

CRANFORD

Coach: Michael Ozolnieks

A nice combination of returning players and a bunch of newcomers should give the Cougars the depth needed to compete in the Kelly Division.

Up front, seniors Chris Kube and Connor Howard, juniors Matteo Wilde and Will Troiano and sophomores Colin Coakley, Patrick Gosselin, Kiran Davis and Evan Shuster are returning varsity players for coach Ozolnieks, entering his third year behind the bench.

Senior Jake Icklan will backbone a blue line group that also includes returners Christian Trotter (senior), Ryan Jones (senior), Sam Tipton (junior) and Ethan Richardson (sophomore). Junior Luke Pitts is a returning goaltender for Cranford.

As many as 10 freshmen could dot the roster.

Brandon Cuccaro
Gov. Livingston

GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON

Coach: Michael Criscitello

The defending Kelly Cup champions, who were 12-1-0 last winter, hope to duplicate last year’s success and again be a major contender in the division.

In senior Matthew Darata (31 pts) and junior Brian Kramer (50 pts), the Highlanders will have two of the loop’s top offensive players up front.

The defense will be anchored by junior Brandon Cuccaro and junior Matt Wallen. Senior Shane Cook is a returning starter in goal.

ORATORY PREP

Coach: Sam Tafel

The Rams will feature a veteran group, loaded with experience, and that will be a plus as they vie for league supremacy.

Gerard Fargiano
Oratory Prep

What should be a productive offense will feature the likes of senior Gerard Fargiano, senior Tyler Gobel, senior Jack Wilson and junior Colin Reis.

Seniors Matthew Deangelis and Matthew Clark will be mainstays on the Oratory Prep blue line. New sophomores Andrew Temo and Sutton Collins should be contributors.

MONTCLAIR KIMBERLEY

Coach: Tim Cook

The Cougars could be a factor in the league race will some decent numbers returning.

Senior Michael Bronstein, junior Ethan Potash and sophomores Gary Hu, Sam Rotella and Henry Sun are all back in the forward lines. Two freshmen to watch are Evan Koserowski and Nicholas Sykora.

Defensively, junior Anthony Zhang and sophomores Geoff Vaiana and Jack MacEvoy (could also see time at forward) will all have key roles. Adding to the mix are freshmen Miles Bronson and Henry McCann.

juniors – Immanuel Pantow, Robert Lombardi and Aidan Meeker – will battle for time between the pipes.

FRISCH

Coach: Ralph Abecassis

The Cougars move up to the Kelly Division this season and look to make an immediate splash.

A balanced scoring attack will be spearheaded by senior Max Petak (16 pts), senior Ezra Csillag (12 pts) and senior Aiden Sholomon (10 pts). Two new sophomores ready to contribute are David Rosen and Aaron Leiberman.

Senior Judah Volodarsky and senior Jack Fischer are defensive cornerstones for coach Abecassis. New sophomore Max Levy and freshman Elijah Zackai will press for time.

Frisch goaltending duties will fall on junior Eitan Rosenblatt and sophomore Gabriel Volodarsky.

** Millburn, Nutley and Johnson are aloso expected to participate in the Kelly Division.

McINNIS DIVISION

WESTFIELD

Coach: Joe Bertucci

The senior-laden Blue Devils, who grabbed the McInnis title last season, fully expect to battle for a repeat crown this winter.

Key forwards to watch are seniors Matt Beke, Greg Oliveri and Spencer Brown, and junior Matteo Mancheno.

Defensive leaders project as senior Thomas Conrod and sophomore Michael Wilson. Senior Jake Watson is a returning goaltender.

WEST ESSEX/JCHS

Coach: Marc Gregory

Depth will be a huge key for the Knights this winter, who look to work hard, focus and be disciplined.

A big group returns at forward for veteran coach Gregory, with seniors Rocco Garcia (11 pts), Michael Coyle and Liam Hanley, juniors Justin Bergman (8 pts), Clay Prial, Joe Castellano and Joe Namyotov and sophomore Luca Infusino (9 pts).

On defense, senior Ty Vastola (+13) and senior Gil Prial (+6) will be keys. Senior Alex Kierepka, senior Tommy O’Hern and junior Hunter White bring experience as well.

In goal, senior Zach Jewett is a returning starter for West Essex.

LIVINGSTON

Coach: David Conklin

Solid defensive play will keep the Lancers in the mix this season.

Catalysts up front for coach Conklin, now in his 15th season, are senior Austin Vecchio and senior Danny Grossbard.

Seniors Jace Dockx and Andrew Qian, and junior Brett Conklin will be mainstays on the blue line. In goal, Livingston returns a pair of varsity-testy netminders in senior Zach Turbin and juinor Justinas Sanders.

A freshman to keep an eye on is Egor Tarasyuk.

SUMMIT

Coach: Ian Bell

The Hilltoppers expect to challenge in what they expect to be a tight league this winter.

Seniors Chris MaGovern and Pat Lumelleau and juniors Dylan Goldfarb and Jake Lowry will drive the offense for coach Bell.

Defensive leaders will be seniors Jorday Lowry and Andy Lumelleau and sophomore Daniel Flaim. Freshman goalie Steven Louiselle will be in the hunt for the starting netminder’s job.

VERONA/GLEN RIDGE

Coach: Ken Lilien

VGR is looking forward to a full 26-game schedule this winter and should have a well-rounded club solid in all three areas.

Offensively, junior Rowan Brennan (15 pts) and junior Will Benson (15 pts) will put up points, along with senior Dominic Pandiscia (5 goals) and sophomore Pyotr Sysak (11 pts). New junior Andrew Eremita and freshman Jack Budinick look for roles.

Senior rock Zach Gold (12 pts), a captain, will spearhead things defensively. Senior Nolan Campbell and junior Ryan Weissman will be vital to the success.

A starting goalie will emerge from the group of Eli Gottlieb, Jeremy Grisafi and Tyler Benjamin, all juniors and all returning.

GLEN ROCK

Coach: Dean Portas

Andrew Brassil
Glen Rock

The Panthers are coming off a solid 7-2-1 campaign and look for a similar type campaign this winter.

Two key holdovers at forward are junior Finn Whalen and junior Braden VanSickle. Sophomore Parker Dupuis and Brady Peck, and senior Eric Braz will bring their experience. Two new freshmen hoping to get on the scoresheet are Mason Parisi and Tommy Corazza.

Senior Andrew Brassil will be a defensive anchor for a unit that also returns junior Colin Redmond and senior Quinn Visckey.

Two new goaltenders looking to challenge for minutes are junior Jay Fairchild and freshman Luke Brassil.

MCMULLEN DIVISION

BAYONNE

Coach: Steve Plancey

With 10 seniors on the roster, the Bees are looking for some improvement this season.

Seniors Anthony O’Brien and Zach Taylor will be offensive leaders who also could skate some time on the Bayonne blue line. Senior Braden Dunlap will be a factor.

Junior Rob Bernardo will be key on defense. Goaltending chores will fall on senior returner Shawn Agosto and upcoming freshman Sydney Fogu.

WEST ORANGE

Coach: Eddie Scafidi

The Mountaineers expect to be strong defensively, so the focus will be how to generate more scoring opportunities, and capitalize on them.

Junior Jack Olsen (20 pts) will be a catalyst on offense. Freshmen Dominic Locricchio and Reid Tezner hope to have immediate impact.

On the blue line, juniors Eitan Nativ and Andrew Raymon will be relied on heavily. Added to the mix are freshmen Ayan Flowers and Anthon Pondillo.

In goal, returning junior Jackson Pruksamukul is back and ready for a full season. New freshman Christian Anderton will press for time.

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