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New Jersey HS Hockey: NJIIHL Preview – Strong Group Returns For Summit In McInnis Division

The New Jersey Interscholastic Hockey League will have three divisions again this winter – the McInnis Division, the Kelly Division and the McMullen Division. McInnis Division entrant Summit is the defending NJSIAA Public C state champions.

McInnis Division

MONTCLAIR KIMBERLEY ACADEMY

Home Rink: Clary Anderson

Hard work and strong defense and goaltending will be hallmarks of this season’s edition of the Cougars.

Forward leaders will be juniors Aron Dyadyuk, Justin Vasilopoulos, Danny D’Angelo and Robbie DiGeronimo and sophomore Michael Bronstein.

Returning defensemen for coach Tim Cook are juniors Matthew McCann and Max Bock.

Looking to make an impact are freshmen Ethan Potash, Adam Zidlicky, Anthony Zhang, Immanuel Pantow, Aidan Meeker and Robert Lombardi.

WESTFIELD

Home Rink: Warinanco Arena

With a veteran team that is hungry for success, the Blue Devils are looking to defend their McInnis Cup title, and making a run at a state championship.

Coach Joe Bertucci will rely heavily on returners like Dan McDonald, Nick Forno, Brendan Hiltz, Matt Beke and Brendan Kotiga for offensive production.

Trevor Tanella, Dylan Howard, Thomas Conrod and Will Gamba will be keys in the defensive zone for Westfield.

WEST ESSEX/CALDWELL

Home Rink: Codey Rink

The Knights won’t be as deep as they have been, but the group they have will be talented. They will spend this season in the McInnis Division.

Senior Jack Santoro (34 pts) and senior Dom Sedicino will be leaders in the forward ranks.

On defense, coach Marc Gregory will rely on seniors Connor Hapward (29 pts) and Dylan Huff (12 pts), while senior Jason Albrecht is a returning starter between the pipes.

Nikita Pryymak
Summit

Jake Puskar
Summit

Greg Spitznagel
Summit

Tom Pryymak
Summit

SUMMIT

Home Rink: Warinanco Arena

Former assistant Ian Bell takes over the reigns of the Hilltoppers and inherits a team that should be right in the mix, both for the division and statewide.

A strong nucleus returns at forward with veteran seniors Tom Pryymak and Jake Puskar, and junior Greg Spitznagel (a draft pick of the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks).

Senior Spencer Myers, junior Gavin Ruschmeier and junior Matt Viggliotta form a solid backline. Freshman Teddy Mallgrave hopes to have an impact.

Summit has plenty of experience in goal with returning senior Nikita Pryymak.

GLEN ROCK

Home Rink: Ice House

The Panthers are hoping to be competitive in the McInnis Division with good team defense, strong system play and scoring depth.

Coach Dean Portas will look for scoring from juniors Anthony Maurice and Ryan Leblanc. Two freshmen up front looking to chip in are Braden VanSickle and Finn Whalen.

Junior goalie Mack Alvino is back. A freshman looking for time on the blue line is Colin Redmon.

* Also competing in the McInnis Division are Livingston and Montclair

Kelly Division

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD

Home Rink: Warinanco Rink

The Raiders will look to improve this year after putting up a 2-win season a year ago.

Senior David Lenart and junior William Maurer will lead the offense for coach Matthew Gunther. Freshman Anthony Titanegro looks to have an impact.

Sophomore Zach Harmer will be a key member of the blue line crew, while senior Ryan Lamberta hopes to hold down the fort in goal.

CRANFORD

Home Rink: Warinanco Rink

Head coach Michael Ozolnieks hopes to have his Cougars right in the mix to battle for the Kelly Division crown.

Jake Icklan
Cranford

A plethora of forwards returns. The group includes seniors Luke Pachkowski, Nick Kirkikis, Jack Templeton and Anthony Massoni, juniors Jack DeSimone and Patrick Tuohy, sophomores Connor Howard and Chris Kube and freshman Matteo Wilde.

Same goes on the blue line for the Cougars.  Four seniors – Aidan Plick, Christian Wilde, Michael Schneider and Jack Devaney – all return, as do sophomores Jake Icklan, Christian Trotter and Ryan Jones.

VERONA/GLEN RIDGE

Home Rink: Codey Arena

Lots of depth could mean big things for VGR, which will be a team that his hard on the forecheck and tough to deal with every night out.

A strong senior nucleus made up of Jeff Egan (16 pts), Noat Martinez (14 pts), Aidan Brennan (13 pts) and Chandler Otterbein (injured last year) will spearhead the offensive attack. A big group of newcomers ready to contribute include senior Jack Pickett, sophomores Nolan Campbell and Domenick Pandiscia, and freshmen Will Benson, Rowan Brennan, Ryan Weissman and Andrew Eremita.

Coach Ken Lilien has some experience on the back end with guys like senior Zack Gold (19 pts), senior Alec Vecchione and junior Jack Lonsinger.

In goal, senior Chris Kostas (2.47 gaa) is primed for a big season.

Luke Jacobello
Oratory Prep

ORATORY PREP

Home Rink: Union Sports Arena

Despite having just one senior skater, the Rams feel they have a deep lineup, one that can provide a lot of different looks.

Catalysts up front for coach Sam Tafel will be senior Jeff Jarvis (40 pts) and junior Luke Jacobello (21 pts). Peter Lease and Colin Reis, a pair of freshmen, want to open some eyes.

Two juniors – Andrew Moran and Will Moran – will have key roles on defense. New sophomore Tyler Gobel hopes to see a lot of minutes.

Freshman Darren Keaveney will be in the goaltending mix.

GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON

Home Rink: Union Sports Arena

The Highlanders will have a lot players moving up into important roles and the coaching staff is excited to see how they will fit.

Key forwards for coach Mike Criscitello will be seniors Mat Katz, Conor Pierce and Jeremy Malave, junior Jack Norton and sophomore Matt Darata. Freshman Brian Kramer hopes the crack the lineup.

Senior captain Kyle Cook and junior Drew Skotarczak are book-end defensemen for the Highlanders. Keep an eye on freshman Brandon Cuccaro.

Sophomore Shane Cook is a returning varsity netminder.

NUTLEY/COLUMBIA

Home Rink: Codey Arena

A core group of players that provided a lot of offense is back, along with an experienced, veteran goaltender.

Offensive leaders for the Raiders will be senior Joe Melillo (33 pts) and sophomore Rocco Albanese (29 pts). Seniors Chase Nicolette and Justin Devlin, and sophomores Frank Matrona and C.J. Hannon also return with experience.

A  deep group of defensemen for coach Andrew Surowiec consists of senior Leo Carrillo (12 pts), juniors Zach Fagin (22 pts) and Cooper Fojas and sophomore Julian Poole.

In goal, senior Johnny Matrona was amongst the top five in New Jersey last year in shutouts.

* The Kelly Division will also include Millburn HS

McMullen Division

FRISCH SCHOOL

Home Rink: Mackay Park

The Cougars will be young having graduated eight last year, and 10 the year before. Nevertheless, they intend to be competitive.

Senior Jack Margolius (17 pts) will spearhead the offense for coach Ralph Abecassis. Three freshmen – Aiden Sholomon, Alex Jacobs and William Goldsmith – should see some time.

On defense, senior David Schenker and sophomores Judah Volodarsky (18 pts) and Jack Fischer return.

Junior Ezzy Wachstock is a returning goaltender for the Cougars, joined in the rotation by freshman Eitan Rosenblatt.

BAYONNE

Home Rink: Korpi Ice Rink

New head coach Stephen Plancey says he has a hard-working group of kids as he embarks on his first season with the Bees.

Senior Chris Moreton and sophomore Braden Dunlap will have big roles in the offensive zone.

Junior Billy Mauer and sophomore Zach Taylor are looked on heavily in the D-zone.

Newcomer Anthony O’Brien will look to chip in.

* Newark East Side, Johnson, West Orange, Dayton/Union/Brearley and Kearny/Secaucus/Arlington will also be in the McMullen Division.

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
- 5 mins ago