|3||Don Bosco Prep||16||5||3|
|8||St. Peter's Prep||11||9||3|
For the first time since 2007, the New Jersey high school hockey season begins with a new defending private-school champion after CBA and Morristown-Beard tied for the 2014 title, breaking Delbarton’s unprecedented run of six consecutive titles.
The top three teams in the state, however, are nothing new: CBA, Don Bosco Prep, and Delbarton have combined to win the last eight Gordon Cup championships. They have monopolized the last three Gordon title games, with each winning once.
No. 1 – CBA (20-4-4)
CBA (20-4-4) starts the year at No. 1 despite losing last year’s Shore Conference MVP, Bobby Hampton, who transferred for academic reasons. The Colts still have the impressive senior forward trio of Greg Malafronte, Austen Tieri, and Conor Tierney and return plenty of experience on the defensive side as well.
No. 2 – Delbarton (20-5-3)
Ten-time state champion Delbarton (20-5-3) saw a five-year, 78-game regular-season unbeaten streak against in-state opponents snapped last January, then saw its 26-game state-tournament winning streak come to an end with a semifinal loss to eventual co-champion Morristown-Beard. The Green Wave return strong sophomore Troy Kobryn in goal and older brother Tyler up front, while Sean Petrie and Andrew Petrillo lead the defense.
No. 3 – Don Bosco Prep (16-5-3)
At No. 3, Don Bosco Prep (16-5-3) won its first Gordon Cup championship but was upset in the quarterfinals of the private state tournament. The Ironmen lost plenty of talent, but senior forward Hunter Garlasco returns up front, and sophomore goalie Alexei Masanko, who thrived as a freshman, should settle a relatively inexperienced defense.
No. 4 – Ramsey (28-3)
In New Jersey, public schools hardly ever rank among the state’s top five. But Ramsey (28-3) boasts perhaps the state’s top player in forward Alex Whelan, who signed a national letter-of-intent in November to attend Quinnipiac in the fall of 2016. Whelan has plenty of support, too, with junior defenseman Brandon O’Callahan and sophomore goalie Tyler Harmon leading the defense.
No. 5 – Pope John (17-6-2)
No. 5 Pope John (17-6-2) won the National Division of the Gordon Conference last year, earning the right to compete in the American Division this year, and they have the team to do it. Senior forward Donny Flynn and senior defensemen Charlie Spetz both return, and if one of the Lions’ three goaltenders can make the starting position his own, Pope John could be a threat to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2007.
No. 6 – Morristown-Beard (20-5-3)
After a postseason run that included a fortuitous (and erroneous) officiating call in a Round-of-16 shootout, No. 6 Morristown-Beard (20-5-3) won a share of its first state championship last year after a 4-4 tie with CBA in the private state final. Senior defenseman James Callahan and junior goalie Dan Porth will make the Crimson tough to score on this year, while sophomore Alex Borowiec leads a balanced offense, making Morristown-Beard the favorite to win a fifth Mennen Cup title in the last seven years.
No. 7 – Bishop Eustace (2-11-2)
No. 7 Bishop Eustace (2-11-2) has not posted more than six wins since a 22-6 campaign in 2009, but the Crusaders have enough firepower to be favored in the National Division this year. Senior forward Chayse Primeau and his brother, sophomore goalie Cayden, headline an experienced group with more depth than Bishop Eustace has had in years.
No. 8 – St. Peter’s Prep (11-9-3)
Another National Division team hoping for a revival is No. 8 St. Peter’s Prep (11-9-3). The Marauders bring back talented junior Augie Burkhardt and senior Sean Crowley at forward, with junior Chris Picnic on the blue line and senior Jonathan Labella in goal.
No. 9 – Middletown North (14-10)
No. 9 brings a surprise in Shore public school Middletown North (14-10). The Lions will have what one opposing coach called “the top line in the state” when CBA transfer Bobby Hampton (30-43-73) becomes eligible in January and joins Tom Terranova (24-21-45) and Khristian Acosta (21-19-40). If Middletown North can get solid goaltending, that kind of firepower will make them one of the favorites in the highly competitive Public B bracket.
No. 10 – Randolph (14-7-3)
No. 10 Randolph (14-7-3) has seven state championships in the last 12 years and starts the year as the favorite in Public A. Always deep and capable of wearing down public-school opponents, the Rams this year return plenty of scoring firepower, led by Noah Leinwand and Mike Slavin, and a starter in goal in Garrett Stenberg. The key will be how fast a young defense corps can get up to the speed of play in the highly competitive Mennen Division.