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New Jersey HS Hockey – Preseason Top 10: Defending Private Champ CBA Starts In Familiar Spot

New Jersey Top 10

1Christian Brothers Academy2043
2Don Bosco Prep2072
3Bergen Catholic1850
6Gloucester Catholic1174
7Seton Hall Prep11132
8Morris Knolls/Hills1863
10St. Augustine Prep10102

1-Christian Brothers Academy (20-4-3) The Colts entered last season with a bountiful stable of somewhat untested underclassmen, leading coach Andy Gojdycz to hedge some expectations in his first season directing his alma mater. Not the case this season though, after the Lincroft school won the 62nd Gordon Cup along with the NJSIAA Non-Public championship last winter. Junior Zach Wagnon (19-24-43) returns to bolster the scoring while senior defenseman Colin Grable (6-15-21) secures the blue for junior  goalie and State Player of the Year John Donohoe (.927 save-percentage).

2-Don Bosco Prep (20-7-2) The Ironmen were a finalist in the Bergen County Tournament, Gordon Cup, and NJSIAA Non-Public tournament, falling short in all three. There will be no state or BCT this winter, but they want to change the outcome in the 63rd Gordon Cup. Coach Greg Toskos will rely again on senior All-State forward Connor Sedaka, who finished with 20 goals and 22 assists. Sophomores Sal Guzzo (10-15-25) and Ryan Fine (10-13-23) and juniors Lukas Klemm and Matt Imbriano should bolster the offense even more this season. In goal are senior Kevin Rose and sophomore Ethan Mariah.

3-Bergen Catholic (18-5-0) Coming off their best campaign since 2004, which included the Bergen County Tournament championship, the Crusaders are seeking loftier heights in 2021. They have their eyes on the Gordon Cup this time around. Supporting that effort is offensive firepower with the return forwards Aram Minnetian (22-11-33), Antonio Arcaroli (10-7-17), Mick Thompson (4-8-12), Steve Saxton and Matthew Hughes. The blue line is mobile and dependable with Bryceon Lago, Brendan Kelly, Shane Carr, Matthew Desiedrio and Tim Kelly. The goaltending trio features Ryan Henry, Gavin Schornstein and Frank Smith.

4-Morristown-Beard (20-5-1) The Crimson won their 11th Mennen Cup – and fifth in seven years – last season before bowing to eventual champion CBA in the NJSIAA Non-Public quarterfinal. Forward Tommy Matthews (60 points in 2020) has graduated but there is plenty of scoring returning with seniors Cam Fernandez (15-27-42) and Seth Kaplan (17-24-41) along with juniors Hollis Humphries (18-23-41), Nick Vantassell (16-19-35) and Andrew Low (15-20-35). Juniors Jake Ochab, Noah Jones and Kareem Alazem are impressive defensemen. Returning seniors Luke McManus (10-3) and Chili Connell (5-0-1) form a strong goaltending duo.

5-Delbarton (10-10-3) There was a steep learning curve last year when the Green Wave skated nine freshmen on their roster, the youngest ever for the perennial state power. Veteran coach Bruce Shatel, who enters with a 435-68-41 record in 20 seasons, is confident that experience will pay some dividends in this Covid-shortened campaign. Sophomore forwards Trip Pendy (7-10) and Chase Pirtle (7-9) debuted nicely and should be even better this season. Delbarton looks strong in its own end behind senior goalie Brett Cleaves (.919 save-percentage) and senior defensemen Grady Burke and Jack Benitez.

6-Gloucester Catholic (11-7-4)  The Rams suited up eight freshmen last season but opened many eyes with a pair of victories over Delbarton and advancing to the semifinal round of the Gordon Cup and Non-Public tournament. The offense appears deep with senior forwards Zack Johnson, Tyler Carter, Dylan Koski, juniors Ryan Talorico and Matt Klinewski and sophomores Billy Sheridan, Ryan Bunting and Casey Johnson. Senior Jack Grace (7-8-15) secures the blue line for junior Zack McErlain, who l posted a .925 save-percentage in 2020. Freshman defenseman Cole Longacre has impressed.

7-Seton Hall Prep (11-13-2) The Pirates impressed last winter after moving up to the elite National Division of the Gordon Conference. Sixth-year coach Mike Atkinson will utilize speed in an up-tempo attack featuring seniors Ryan Rodrigues and Brendan Waivada and junior Patrick Zincone, who combined for 21 goals. Holding down the fort is solid junior goalie Jake Schunke — 9-12-1 last season with a 2.96 goals against average and one shutout. He’ll be ably supported by senior defensemen Harrison Rocheville, Oliver Grinkin, Benjamin Colucci and Sam Rojas.

8-Morris Knolls/Morris Hills (18-6-3)  The Golden Eagles captured the NJSIAA Public A crown for the third straight season with a 3-2 overtime victory over Montclair and have a large portion of that squad back. Senior forward Jason Kwestel (26-23-49) will fuel a skilled a deep offense along with classmates Andrew Ryan (19-28-47), Gehrig Eckoff (13-13-26), Dylan Idland (5-10-15), Jake Quinn (8-6-14) and Jeffrey Quinn (2-4-6). Seniors Timmy Kepler (2-14-16) and J.D. Florio and sophomore Bryan McCarter lead the blue line for goalie Aidan Marvin (2.75 GAA).

9-Lakeland (21-4-2) The Lancers, who captured the Passaic County Tournament title last season, are shooting for the Big North Cup championship this winter. Enabling that effort is an outstanding offense bolstered by an experienced stable of forwards with Joey Cole (19-11-30), Hunter Quinn (14-10-24), Joey Wogisch (11-22-32) and Scott Martin (9-4-13). Senior defensemen Shane Straubinger (5-23-28) and Brenden Davison (5-16-21) are reliable on the blue line while moving the puck smartly. The goal is secure with standout senior goalie Ben Kopacki (1.30 GAA, .940 save-percentage).

10-St. Augustine Prep (10-10-2) The Hermits opened last season at 1-2-1 and that is the kind of start they want to avoid this time. Coach Tim Fingerhut always stresses speed and aggressive, physical play and this season will be no different. Senior Alex Scimeca (30 points) will be the primary go-to guy on offense, but he’ll have help with classmates Nick King (18 pts) and Bobby Murden (22 points) and junior Jacob Smith (14 pts). Colin Osborn, who finished with 14 points, is the key defenseman and sophomore Ryan Vaites has impressed thus far. Anchoring the defense is senior goalie Matt Lynch.

Paul Bruno

Paul Bruno

Paul Bruno covered college and high school ice hockey for The Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger from 1988-2012. A 1984 graduate of Seton Hall University, he played collegiate hockey for The Hall in the Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference. He also served as an intern in the New Jersey Devils public relations department during the 1983-84 season. Bruno later coached the Seton Hall University ice hockey team (1985-1987) and has covered the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils training camps as well as the ECAC ice hockey championships in Lake Placid, NY, for the Ledger. Bruno, who has been a contributing hockey writer to New Jersey Monthly Magazine, has covered hockey for Sideline Chatter for the past three seasons.
Paul Bruno
- 5 hours ago