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New Jersey Top 10: Delbarton back at #1 as state tourney nears

New Jersey Top 10 Poll

RankTeamPR*WLT
1Delbarton21922
2Don Bosco Prep11842
3Christian Brothers31940
4St. Augustine Prep41191
5Middletown North51521
6Morristown82021
7Glen Rock71723
8Morristown-Beard91642
9Pope JohnNR1462
10St. Peter's PrepNR892

New Jersey’s state tournament brackets were announced on Tuesday, with 82 teams still dreaming of hoisting championship trophies at the New Jersey Devils’ Prudential Center on March 7.

* New Jersey tournament brackets * – link to http://blog.njhockey.org/2016/02/15/suggested-seedings-2016-njsiaa-private/

With league cup tournaments this week, most of the state’s top 10 teams have held serve over the last two weeks, but there is a change at the top. Delbarton (19-2-2) regained the top spot with a 3-2 win over Don Bosco Prep (18-4-2) on Feb. 2. As in Don Bosco’s 4-1 win on Jan. 24, Delbarton maintained a clear shot advantage (32-16 in this case), with Anthony Farinacci and Mark Benemerito each producing a goal and an assist, while sophomore Jalen Kaplan’s power-play goal in the second period opened up a 3-0 margin and proved decisive.

Both teams remain heavy favorites to reach the private state championship game after turning in other good wins. Having already beaten Massachusetts No. 2 Malden Catholic earlier this year, Delbarton swept Bishop Hendricken (Rhode Island No. 1) 6-3 and Pope Francis (Massachusetts No. 4) 4-0 to win the Pope Francis tournament last weekend. Farinacci (21-15-36) led the way with four goals and an assist in the two games, while junior goalie Troy Kobryn made 20 saves in Sunday’s shutout of Pope Francis. Tyler Kobryn (14-19-33), Danny Farr (7-19-26), Andrew Longo (10-12-22), Jack Chatwin (3-16-19), and Benemerito (11-7-18) continue to produce offensively for a very deep team, with Andrew Petrillo (3-16-19) leading the defense.

Don Bosco Prep, meanwhile, bounced back well from the loss, beating Morristown-Beard 6-2 on Feb. 9 and going on the road to beat Connecticut No. 1 Darien by a 5-2 margin on Feb. 11. The Ironmen then booked their spot in the Gordon Cup semifinals with a 3-2 win over Gloucester Catholic on Sunday. Don Bosco’s top line of Chris Mazzella (26-10-36), Tyler Sedlak (12-21-35), and Mickey Burns (10-24-34) continued to account for most of the scoring, with Mazzella netting five goals in those three games and Burns and Sedlak each notching two goals and seven assists.

The main threat to the top two is No. 3 CBA (19-4), which has won or shared the last two private state championships and lost only to Delbarton and Don Bosco Prep this season, including 3-1 setbacks to both in January. The Colts closed out the regular season with a 6-4 win over Middletown North behind two goals from Corey Clifton to clinch the Shore A North and a 5-0 win over Bergen Catholic; they host St. Peter’s Prep in the Gordon Cup on Wednesday.

Mid-Atlantic-Festival-Ad-300x250St. Augustine Prep (11-9-1) continues to lurk at No. 4, and could be a very dangerous opponent in both the Gordon Cup and NJSIAA private state tournaments. The Hermits beat Princeton Day 4-1 after unloading on a decent Notre Dame team on Feb. 3, routing the Irish 11-1 (Notre Dame had played three Gordon-National teams and allowed just seven goals total). Carson Brière (13-11-24), Matt Cassidy (11-12-23), and Kyle Knight (10-8-18) continue to lead the way offensively.

Defending Public B champion Middletown North (15-2-1) remains the public school to beat, losing only to CBA this year. The Lions survived three close calls down the stretch, however, edging Brick Township 2-1, rival Middletown South 7-5, and Freehold Township 8-7. Goalie Anthony Manfredi was disqualified in the rivalry game against South, perhaps leading to the high scores, but he has served his two-game suspension and is eligible for the postseason. As is Northeastern recruit Bobby Hampton, who played in 10 of 17 games before the state cutoff to reach the minimum of 50 percent, just instituted this year with Middletown North in mind. Hampton (10-25-35 in 11 games), Quinnipiac-bound Khristian Acosta (34-27-61), Kevin Felice (22-19-41), and Vince Tomasetti (17-21-38) power the Lions’ formidable attack.

At No. 6, Morristown (20-2-1) has won 13 straight games since a Dec. 30 loss to Ramsey, including a 2-1 win over Pope John on Feb. 8 that should help prepare the Colonials for the NJSIAA tournament, where they are the No. 1 seed in Public A. Sophomore Evan Szary made 18 saves in that win and will be key to the postseason hopes of Morristown and its huge senior class, many returning from the 2014 Public B state champions. Jakob DeFares (21-21-42), Kyle Beyer (12-17-29), Teddy Dolan (19-8-27), and Bradley Greik (16-6-22) lead the way offensively.

Bergen County offers most of the top small-school publics, and Glen Rock (17-2-3) appears to be the best of the bunch this year. The Panthers also knocked off local private school St. Joseph Montvale by an emphatic 4-0 margin on Feb. 11; the Green Knights had beaten Glen Rock 5-2 in December. Leo Pawlika contributed a goal and two assists in the win, with Eddie Corvelli, Justin Rosario, and Quinn Carlisle scoring and Matt Rosario making 16 saves. The win came too late to be considered for league or state-tournament seeding, but Glen Rock and St. Joseph are likely to meet in their league’s cup final for a fourth straight year.

Morristown-Beard (16-4-2) had an eventful couple of weeks. The Crimson won the independent Prep B title with nailbiting wins over Montclair Kimberley and Princeton Day, then were held to a tie by division rival Chatham, which is in the middle of a down season, and fell to No. 2 Don Bosco Prep 6-2. Alex Borowiec (20-14-34) played hero against MKA with an overtime goal in the Prep B semifinals; he then struck twice in the final, while defenseman Christian DiCesare (4-15-19) scored the Crimson’s other two goals in the tournament. Having taken eight days off, Morristown-Beard returns to action Wednesday in the Mennen Cup semifinals; a win could set up a decisive third game against rival Morristown after they split their regular-season meetings.

Richie Halevy Pope John

Richie Halevy
Pope John

No. 9 Pope John (14-6-2) earned the National Division title (and a chance to return to the American Division after a last-place finish last year) with a 5-1 win over St. Peter’s Prep on Feb. 4. The Lions went 7-1 against division opponents, avenging their only loss (Gloucester Catholic) in the teams’ second meeting. Richie Halevy (11-23-34) set up four of the five goals in the win over St. Peter’s, while Giuseppe Ippolito scored twice and Matt Schoer made 21 saves.

Despite finishing second behind Pope John, St. Peter’s Prep (8-9-2) enters the top 10 after a solid 5-2 win over St. Joseph Montvale on Feb. 8 behind two assists from Mike Zdanowicz (16-10-26). 6-2 in their last eight games, the Marauders also avenged an earlier loss to Gloucester Catholic, and their resume includes tournament wins over Maine No. 4 St. Dominic and Connecticut No. 7 Notre Dame Fairfield

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