New Jersey HS Hockey – Shore Conference Preview: Tight Races Loom In All Three Divisions

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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The Shore Conference will again feature three divisions, with seven teams in each loop. Here is a look at most of the teams.

NORTH DIVISION

ST. JOHN VIANNEY (14-6-1)

Coach: Kyle Earley

Earley takes over as head coach this winter for the defending North Divison champions and looks to continue the success.

The offensive core for SJV returns seniors Michael Reed (26 pts) and Nicolas Viola (16 pts), along with juniors Blaise Lucosky and Daniel Greenhall. The team also picked up a pair of transfer sophomores in Nick Kasich (Toronto) and Blake Fischer (Orlando). Sophomore Zack Schlein is ready to make the jump from the JV program.

Senior Patrick Haines (12 pts), junior Dakota Vastola and sophomore James Lucosky make up the defensive braintrust.

SJV returns a pair of goalies in senior Kevin Doherty and junior Tommy Kelly. Additionally, sophomore Brendan Allen is up from the Jv squad.

Brandon Gronau Middletown South

MIDDLETOWN SOUTH (14-6-5)

Coach: Andrew Rosenbloom

The Eagles waved good-bye to 16 seniors from last year’s club, so there is plenty of opportunity for the younger guys to make the leap for substantial playing time.

With many new faces, coach Rosenbloom will count on offensive production from returning seniors Brandon Gronau (21 pts), Thomas Villano (15 pts) and Houston Nicholas, and juniors Brendan Cavendish, Justin Ferlanti and Ryan Nicholson. Marlboro transfer Mark Pellegrino, a senior, will be a plus.

Lucas Campos Middletown South

On defense, look for seniors Lucas Campos and Noah Schactman, and junior Owen Oglevee to be the braintrust.

Senior Zander Barquero returns as a goalie and will be challenged for the starting spot by newcomer Aedan Miller, a junior.

MARLBORO/HOLMDEL (9-10-4)

Coach: Ben Bugge

The Mustangs were pretty competitive within the conference a year ago and the hope is for that to continue this winter.

Junior Ryan Kapp (21 pts) projects to be a kingpin on offense for coach Bugge, leading a group that also returns seniors Gavin Jacobi, Ben Levy and Jason Hasko.

Senior David Mord (14 pts) will be a defensive anchor, and be a key in the offensive zone. Senior Matt Williams and senior Jake Nied bring their experience to the table.

Marlboro/Holmdel will have a new goaltender that will be culled from the pre-season.

RUMSON-FAIR HAVEN (14-5-2)

Coach: Eric Zullo

Another team hit hard by graduation, the Bulldogs expect to move toward more of a system-based approach this season, opposed to some of the more transition-based play of a year ago.

The team’s top three returning scorers in the forward ranks are junior Andy Croddick (13 pts), senior Beau Kemler (12 pts) and junior Nik Doumas (10 pts). They will be keys, along with senior Aidan Ban.

Defensively, senior Spencer Hobson (17 pts) will be a huge piece. Senior Ben Turoczi and sophomore Sal Iorio are back as well.

Both senior Ryan Kuras and junior Alex Baret saw solid varsity time a year ago between the pipes.

MIDDLETOWN NORTH (16-8-1)

Coach: Don Wood

In what looks to be a wide-open race in the conference, the Lions can be a factor if the younger guys from last winter can step it up.

There is some offensive production back in the fold, led by senior Andrew Gross, who put up 40 points a year ago. Juniors Joey Wall (18 pts), Ryan Cook (17 pts) and Jack Turner (11 pts) will be complimentary scorers, as will seniors Jimmy Mullarney and Thomas Baron. New faces up front include senior Cole Kroeper and junior Matthew Turrisi.

Seniors Mike Botti and Lachlan Haegar will be important pieces on the blue line. Joining the defensive crew are senior Aiden Thede and junior Shane Harrison.

In goal, senior Luke Chrzan will be vital to the team’s success. He started every game a year ago.

CATHOLIC HS CO-OP (11-10-1)

Coach: Stephen Flego

New head coach Flego feels this should be a great building year for this co-op program, and is confident the team’s younger guys can take a big step up.

Flego expects junior Ben Meyer (13 pts) and sophomore Sonny Vanesko (12 pts) to be scoring leaders. Two more key returners up front are senior Tyler Hughes and junior Connor Harms.

On defense, senior Ryan Butchko (19 pts) will be big part of any success the team has this winter and will need to be a leader of a young defensive unit. Senior Mike Herro, who played many positions last season, will be a key component as well.

With two senior goaltenders graduating, senior John Inderwies comes up from the JV program to take the reings between the pipes.

CENTRAL DIVISION

MANALAPAN (12-7-1)

Coach: Matt Inzerillo

The Braves will be in the mix for top honors in the Shore’s Central Division this winter, with the strength of the club being on the blue line.

With the graduation of top scorer Christian Pietromonaco, scoring prowess will need to come from returning junior Joshua Kushnir (24 pts) and Christian Brothers transfer Michael Schmelzer, a junior. Juniors Alfred Piscino and Jake Bender, and sophomore Nicholas Fanizza will be factors.

A solid blue line will be led by seniors Anthony Archinaco and Colin Zuidema, and juniors Daniel Yakub and James Stevens.

Two new seniors – Jared Strum and Luke Mann – will battle for time in the Manalapan nets.

OCEAN TOWNSHIP (13-8-0)

Coach: Mike Ryan

It will be a new home for the Spartans, who move over to the Shore Conference’s Central Division this season, where they do expect to compete. The team will have just three seniors and one junior, but their key players will be amongst the top in the division.

Senior Alex Haar is one of those upperclassme; he piled up 52 points a year ago. Senior Aiden Mumm (26 pts) is a key fixture, while a lot is expected from returning sophomores Liam Forster (15 pts) and Gio Tritto. Sophomore Paul Elia and freshmen Christopher Browning and Leo Labush add to the mix.

This year’s Ocean Township defense will feature junior Owen Mumm (23 pts), and sophomores Sam Strano and Kyle Katz.

With Tony Macaluso having graduated, the goaltending duties will fall on freshman Roman Leonardi.

HOWELL (9-12-4)

Coach: Bill Daley

Young, but experienced, the Rebels are optimistic they can be in the hunt in the Shore Conference, and possibly make a deep run in the post-season.

Junior captain Matt Gresko (25 pts) and junior Tony Brandl (34 pts) are both coming off solid 21-22 seasons and lead the offense with senior captains Matt Korobkoa and Tommy Vella, junior Nico Calandra and sophomore Lukas Raffauf. As many as four freshmen could see time up front.

Senior captain Jake Lieberman and juniors Will Daley, Morgan Wilkes and Billy Thurman all return on the blue line for coach Daley.

Goaltending duties will fall on senior Brendan Breschard, sophomore Jack Elias and freshman Tyler Opuszynski.

SOUTHERN REGIONAL (10-9-2)

Coach: Graham Borg

If the Rams can develop a consistent offensive attack, they should be a big factor in the division race. Defense and goaltending look solid.

The task of lighting the lamp will fall on sophomore Andrew Buda, who had 11 goals last year, as well as seniors Ben Gautier and Matthew Brock, and junior Thomas Giaccio. New senior Alexander Rosshirt and junior Patrick Koehne hope to contribute.

Senior Matthew Raylman and sophomore Aidan Ruiz will backbone a defensive unit that also has juniors Tanyon Borg and Julia Wheeler, and sophomores Jessica Smart and Brody McTague.

In goal, junior Aidan Rowlan is back. He was the starter last winter.

MANASQUAN (7-9-2)

Coach: Rick Irace

Playing its style of hockey will be key if the Warriors can achieve success this winter. “Getting the puck deep and playing smart, hard hockey will be a benefit for us,” said coach Irace. “Wins will come along the way for us by outworking our competition.

Holdovers Justin Lopes (junior) and Dylan Vowteras (sophomore) will team with newcomers Connor Kelly and Brendan Rahill-Shaughnessy to form the nucleus up front.

The defense returns three key skaters in seniors Grant Smith and Jack Moore, and sophomore Chris Carhart. Shay Jardine is looking to have a role as well.

Both senior Rory Mather and sophomore Tommy Reynolds are back in goal.

SOUTH DIVISION

TOMS RIVER NORTH (4-9-5)

Coach: Christian Cranston

With a core group of players hungry to compete, North looks to follow its game plan as it transitions to the South Division.

The forward lines will be led by senior Blaise Schoelen (30 pts), senior DJ Freed (16 pts) and senior Stevan Kapp (11 pts).

The Mariners boast a pair of offensive-minded blueliners in senior Jake Bennert (31 pts) and junior Ty Schneider (17 pts). Junior Louie Mancuso is a returning starter between the pipes.

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP (6-12-4)

Coach: Ian Fahy

The Patriots hope to be relentless on the ice, and build off the progress the team made last year.

Senior Michael Craft (18 pts) will be a leader up front. The offensive unit also returns senior Peyton Liebross, junior James Caldwell-Withrow and sophomore Giovanni Scaglia.

Strong play on the blue line will come from senior Jacob Butler, junior Tyler Palm and sophomore Valentino Scaglia.

In goal, incoming freshman Jason Maietta is primed to take over for the graduated Thomas McNamara.

LACEY TOWNSHIP (5-11-1)

Coach: Chris DiMicco

This program continues to be on the upswing, and coach DiMicco feels this club can compete for a shot at the division.

The offense will be built around senior John Fosbre and juniors Connor Simonson and Aidan Devaney, all returning varsity players. A pair of freshmen ready to contribute are Cole Sturman and Eric Connors.

A young but experienced defense features sophomore Colin Costello (13 pts), and juniors EJ Simonson and Cole Stracensky.

Senior Lucas Holland is expected to be a workhorse between the pipes for Lacey.

CENTRAL REGIONAL (8-9-6)

Coach: Joe Pellicio

The Golden Eagles will be in somewhat of a rebuilding mode this winter, with a solid core of freshmen coming into the program.

Up front, coach Pellicio expects senior Dom Wiatrowski to have a breakout season leading the Central offense. Senior Max Agnello is another solid returner. Look for freshmen Kyle Maguire and Allan O’Conner to play a role.

Senior Alex Krish leads the defense. Two freshmen hoping to contribute on the blue line are Noel Acevedo and Polly Jensen.

Mason Gancy is a returning goaltender.

BRICK SCHOOLS (8-9-2)

Coach: James Murphy

With a good group back in the fold, Brick plans on being a factor in the division race.

The club returns some offensive firepower in senior Thomas Johnston (27 pts) and juniors Jake Toye (23 pts) and Aiden Rozell (15 pts). Sophomore Donovan Iannarone, senior Belle Wurmser and junior Tyler Oliveira will provide depth. Sophomore Peter Morris is back after missing most of last season with an injury.

Seniors Nick Barroquiero (15 pts) and senior Logan Donnelly (13 pts) are veteran rearguards, along with senior Coty DeTuro. Ready to step it up is junior David Moniz.

There is experience in goal with returning senior Kevin Toye and junior Sam Stulic.

TOMS RIVER SOUTH/EAST (7-11-5)

Coach: Jason Verdon

Playing a full 200-foot game is key, coupled with hard work in all three zones. That formula could means lots of success for TRSE, who a couple of league coaches mentioned as a team to beat.

Coach Verdon is expecting his senior veterans Ryan Fortunato (31 pts), Ethan Smith (27 pts) and Michael Taliercio to elevate their games and power the offense. Sophomore Joe Taliercio (15 pts as a frosh) comes in to this season bigger and stronger. Expect freshman Brady Verdon to be an impact player right away. Nate Dany and Jack DeCaprio also join the fold.

Senior co-captains Jake Verdon (32 pts) and Jarrod Dye (14 pts) backbone the defense and both are 4-year varsity players. Sophomore Alex Fortunato returns, and freshman Liam Magovern is ready to challenge for time.

Two goalies who saw considerable playing time last season return in seniro Chase Witt and sophomore Jason Revello.

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