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New Jersey Public B Final: Third time the charm for Ramsey

AFTER LOSING in the state finals the past two seasons, Ramsey finally reached the top, defeating Glen Rock, 5-1, for the New Jersey Public B state title. (Photo courtesy New Jersey Devils)

AFTER LOSING in the state finals the past two seasons, Ramsey finally reached the top, defeating Glen Rock, 5-1, for the New Jersey Public B state title. (Photo courtesy New Jersey Devils)

The third time was the charm for Ramsey (25-2-2) and its determined senior class, as the Rams returned to the Prudential Center – after losing each of the last two championship games by a single goal – and produced a signature win, 5-1 over county rival Glen Rock (23-3-3), to claim their second state title.

Despite graduating all-time leading scorer, three-time North Jersey Player of the Year, and Quinnipiac commit Alex Whelan, a veteran Ramsey team under first-year head coach Dean Portas recovered from an early-season stumble against Lakeland to essentially run the table, losing only in the Bergen County Tournament final in January to No. 3 Don Bosco Prep.

Mid-Atlantic-Festival-Ad-300x250Top-ranked public school Middletown North, which had beaten Ramsey in such agonizing fashion a year ago, wound up as part of the revenge tour, falling 1-0 in a tension-packed semifinal last week.

Monday’s game needed no such drama, as Kyle DeBel (30-56-86) – part of a 13-member senior class that finally tasted success on New Jersey hockey’s biggest stage – struck for two goals and two assists in the dominating win.

Glen Rock’s consistently contending program playing in its first state final and coming in on a 13-game winning streak, made it a 2-1 game early in the second period on an Eric Spada goal, but Ramsey answered just 28 seconds later when DeBel set up senior Greg Botz for a momentum-killing goal.

Anthony Steffe (19-18-37) scored twice down the stretch, while outstanding goalie Tyler Harmon, so influential in the semifinal win over Middletown North, needed just 16 saves as the Rams reclaimed the Public B title they first won in 2009. Other seniors who were regulars throughout their careers included standout defenseman Brandon O’Callahan (5-35-40), center Garrett Mast (17-18-35), wing Frank Steffe (17-19-36), defenseman Will Danz, and forward Dale Cheyne (17-4-21).

The second state title made Ramsey the eighth public school (Morristown would become the ninth later Monday night) to win multiple NJSIAA titles.

Jonathan Yardley
Jonathan Yardley has been covering high school ice hockey in New Jersey since 1996. A native of Morristown and a Delbarton alumnus, he graduated from Rice University in Houston, Texas in 2005. A radio and television broadcaster, he has called games for the 2003 NCAA championship Rice baseball team (2002-05), the 2011 Major League Soccer Eastern Conference champion Houston Dynamo (2008-11), and ESPN3 (2012-13), among other teams and outlets. He grew up watching hockey at Mennen Arena and for five seasons (1996-97 to 2000-01) wrote a weekly newsletter and ran the webpage for the MCSSIHL, the Morris County high school league. He now writes for Hockey Night in Boston in addition to website and blog maintenance.
Jonathan Yardley