New Jersey HS Hockey – NJIIHL Preview: McInnis Race Should Be Interesting

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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Defending Public C champion Governor Livingston starts the season with a new head coach in Greg Jensen. They expect to be in the McInnis race with Westfield and Verona/Glen Ridge, who moves to the division after winning the Kelly Cup last year. Here’s a look at some of the teams in the NJIIHL this year:

MCINNIS DIVISION

SUMMIT (11-9-3)

Coach: Ian Bell

Despite having experience throughout the lineup, the Hilltoppers still will have just four seniors on the roster. They fully expect to contend in both the division and Public B as a whole.

Nathan Steel
Summit

A profilic offense is paced by the return of seniors Dylan Goldfarb (30 pts) and Jake Lowry (28 pts) and junior Nathan Steel (29 pts). Sophomore Keegan Sears is another key returner. New junior Jack Staples and freshman Jacob Jett add to the production.

On the blue line, juniors Drew Goldfarb and Daniel Flaim, and sophomore Gus Chong will have important duties.

Summit also boasts a returning starting goaltender in sophomore Steven Louiselle.

Brandon Cuccaro Gov. Livingston

GOVERNOR LIVINGSTON (18-6-1)

Coach: Greg Jensen

The defending Public C champions go into the new season with a new head coach in Jensen.

Brian Kramer
Gov. Livingston

Senior Brian Kramer (44 pts) will be a go-to guy up front for the Highlanders. Junior Jackson Benward (19 pts) and junior Daltry Ferrigno (12 pts) are two more key returning forwards. Junior Brady Siliverman is back with the program.

Leaders on defense are senior Brandon Cuccaro (24 pts) and senior Matt Wallen (24 pts). Both also like to get involved offensively.

The goaltending job looks to go to returning sophomore Scott Capan.

WEST ESSEX/CALDWELL (9-13-0)

Coach: Marc Gregory

The Knights will be highly-skilled, but lack depth. Staying healthy will be key.

A group of five seniors – Justin Bergman, Joe Namyotov, Clay Prial, Joe Castellano and Luca Infusino – are return in the forward lines. Additional help should come from juniors John Bravette and sophomores Patrick Devaney and Connor Maniscalco.

Senior Hunter White anchors the defensive unit, that welcomes junior Mike Quinn and sophomores Jameson Oswald and Sammy O’Hern.

In goal, sophomore Evan Zieminski should have a key role.

JOHNSON (4-16-0)

Coach: Chris Enrico

The Crusaders expect a tight league race and hope to compete for the league cup and make the state tournament.

Key forwards for coach Enrico project to be Anthony Jacobs, Joe Walsh, Mikko Amores, Phil Galante and Joe Nudo, all returners.

Defensive leadership will come from Luke Texidor, Sarah Ppnik and Ryan Griffin, while E.J Serio and Steve Garbowski are back in goal.

New players looking to make an impact are Nikolas Ritli, Jack Kalikas, Kyle DeReamer, Chase Sullivan, Logan Texidor, Jimmy Janks and Brayden Severini.

WESTFIELD (19-5-0)

Coach: Joe Bertucci

Even though a good chunk of last year’s McInnis Cup championship team has graduated, coach Bertucci still feels he will have some good depth as they look to defend their crown.

Junior Alex Ebel (17 pts) will be vital to the offensive attack, while a lot will be expected of seniors Joey Tortorella and Dan Duffy, and sophomore Aidan Wilson.

Two juniors who will be mainstay on the blue line are Michael Marshall and Michael Wilson. Junior Anthony Raber is a returning varsity goaltender.

VERONA/GLEN RIDGE (21-5-3)

Coach: Ken Lilien

Last year’s Kelly Cup champions and a state Public C semifinalist, V/GR returns a strong group and will have a big say in the McInnis Division.

At forward, senior captain Rowan Brennann put up huge 54-33-87 numbers a year ago and will be tough to contain. Junior Pytor Sysak (35 pts) also had a big year, while Evan Twitchell, Andrew Eremita and James Kostas all return as well. Younger players in the fold are sophomores Jack Budinick and Yianni Yanniotis and freshman Gavin Farrell.

Senior captain Will Benson (57 pts) is back and a two-way threat on the blue line. Two more seniors – Ryan Weissman and Derek Hart – will be counted on as well. Freshman Thomas Gawley adds to the unit.

Coach Lilien will have a pair of varsity-tested senior goalies in Eli Gottlieb and Jeremy Grisafi.

KELLY DIVISION

MONTCLAIR KIMBERLEY ACADEMY (9-5-3)

Coach: Tim Cook

The Cougars should have a solid offensive game, as they look to establish themselves in the Kelly Division.

Junior Sam Rotella (47 pts) and junior Jack MacEvoy (41 pts) will be the catalysts for the offensive attack, along with junior Gary Hu (23 pts) and senior Ethan Potash. A couple of freshmen hopefuls are Finn Mac and Aiden Jia.

Defensively, senior Anthony Zhang, junior Geoff Vaiana and sophomore Henry McCann all have key varsity minutes. The group could include a trio of freshmen blue liners in Thomas Meeker, Alex Shilkrot and Ibou Conteh.

MKA has two senior goaltenders in the fold with Robert Lombardi and Aidan Meeker.

FRISCH (8-5-3)

Coach: Ralph Abacassis

This team got hit hard by graduation, losing nine seniors and over 100 points. The team is looking to stay as competitive as possible, according to coach Abacassis.

To be succesful, Frisch will need to get solid seasons out of returners like senior Aiden Sholomon (22 pts) and juniors David Rosen (12 pts) and Aaron Lieberman (11 pts).

The defense will revolve around senior Alex Jacobs, junior Max Levy and sophomre Elijah Zackai.

Starting goaltender – senior Eitan Rosenblatt – is back and looking forward to a solid year. Junior Gabriel Volodarsky is also returning between the pipes.

Colin Reis
Oratory Prep

ORATORY PREP (8-11-1)

Coach: Fred Hedengren

New head coach Hedengren takes over a club that looks to move up in the Kelly Division.

Senior Colin Reis (33 pts) is the go-to guy up front, and will be assisted in the scoring department by seniro Ciaran Kelly (16 pts) and sophomore Meade Gibbons. Newcomer Henry Zahn looks to make his presence known.

Ciara Kelly
Oratory Prep

The defensive braintrust for the Rams will be senior Marc Jacobello, and juniors Andrew Terno and Sutton Collins. Will Mazzei looks to garner some key blue line minutes.

With the starting goaltending position open, newcomer Tom LaFrance gets the opportunity to win the job.

McMULLEN DIVISION

SCOTCH PLAINS-FANWOOD (8-9-2)

Coach: Matthew Gunther

The Raiders finished first in the McMullen Division last winter and hope to compete for another championship this winter. No further information was available.

WEST ORANGE (9-9-3)

Coach: Eddie Scafidi

Coach Scafidi feels his team’s strength will be from the goalie out. If the offense can deliver, the Mountaineers could fight for the Division crown.

Senior Jack Olsen (39 pts) and sophomores Dominic Locricchio (34 pts) and Reid Tenzer (21 pts) should be able to up some decent production. A freshman to watch is Lucas Amahdi.

On defense, senior Andrew Raymon (19 pts) will be the anchor. Sophomores Ayan Flowers (13 pts) and Anthony Pondillo were both regulars a year ago as ninth graders. Marcus Chacon, a freshman, will challenge for time.

In goal, senior Jackson Pruksamukul is back after starting all but one game a year ago. Sophomore Christian Anderton returns as well to the position.

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