New Jersey Top 10 Poll
|2||Don Bosco Prep||1||5||2||1|
|4||St. Augustine Prep||4||5||1||1|
|9||Seton Hall Prep||NR||3||4||1|
Delbarton (8-0-0) The Green Wave captured their own “Elite Eight” when they garnered their eighth straight victory to open the season. The latest triumph came on Dec. 21 in a showdown with rival Christian Brothers Academy (No. 3). Jalen Kaplan scored twice and Tyler Kobryn halted 24 shots to help send Delbarton to a 3-1 win. Senior forward Mark Benemerito leads the club with six goals through those initial eight contests while Kaplan, a junior defenseman, has six goals and two assists. Kobryn, a senior, was expected to be the backbone for Delbarton and he has, yielding just six goals on 80 shots and posting three shutouts. The Green Wave will face-off against No. 4 St. Augustine Prep on Dec. 28.
Don Bosco Prep (5-2-1) After opening the season with four victories in which they outscored their opponents by a 25-6 margin, the Ironmen suffered a disappointing 3-1 setback against rival Delbarton on Dec. 13, dropping them out of the No. 1 slot in the preseason rankings. Don Bosco took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Liam McLinskey in the first period before Delbarton tied it in the second and struck for a pair of goals—including an empty net tally—in the third to pull out the decision. The Ironmen headed north and bowed to BC High of Mass. (2-0) on Dec. 17 before rebounding the following night back in New Jersey with a 2-1 victory over Morristown-Beard. Mickey Burns, a Vermont commit, and Tsubasa Konishi led the Ironmen with five goals apiece through the first seven games.
Christian Brothers (5-2-2) The Lincroft school delivered a solid 5-1-1 slate over the first three weeks of the season before dropping a 3-1 decision on Dec. 21 against Gordon Conference rival and top-ranked Delbarton. Prior to that contest, the Colts’ lone loss came in their first large test of the season when they faced then-No. 1 Don Bosco Prep on Dec. 6. Both clubs were partaking in a special evening in Military Appreciation Night at West Point, NY. CBA trailed by a slim 1-0 margin through two periods before Bosco opened a 3-0 lead early in the third. Tim Grable’s goal off an assist from Derek Contesa sliced it to 3-1 for CBA but that was close as it would come as Don Bosco goalie Alexei Masanko halted 28 shots in a 5-1 victory. The Colts held a 3-2 advantage the following night against Gordon Conference rival Bergen Catholic, before yielding a penalty shot with four seconds remaining.
St. Augustine Prep (5-1-1) Since they were edged 4-3 in their season opener by then-No. 1 Don Bosco Prep, the Hermits forged five straight victories. The lone blemish came in a 4-1 defeat against Holy Ghost of Pa. on Dec. 12. St. Augustine followed with impressive victories over Mennen Division power Morristown-Beard (5-1) and South Jersey rival Bishop Eustace (7-2). The Hermits have used a nice blend of scoring behind Tyler Booth (6 goals), Andrew Carpenter (5), Matt Boczar (4) and Bobby LaBrosse (4). The Hermits will resume after the holiday break with a key Gordon Conference showdown when they play host to No. 1 Delbarton on Dec. 28.
Pope John (6-0-2) The Lions expected to improve on last season’s 16-8-2 record and that has not changed thus far. The club has not lost yet, fashioning an impressive 6-0-2 slate. The latest came on Dec. 21 after the Lions showcased their defensive prowess in downing St. Peter’s Prep, 1-0. Junior forward Eric Vanderhoff delivered the lone goal in that game (his 8th on the year) in the second period in support of a superb 31-save effort from sophomore goalie Matt Schoer. Junior forward John Spetz has been productive as expected with 11 goals to go with six assists along with senior forward Artem Buzoverya (4-13-17). The Lions will have break until their next game on Jan. 4 against Gloucester Catholic.
Morristown-Beard (6-3-0) The Crimson skidded a bit on the ice in their recent goings, suffering three straight defeats after roaring to a 6-0 opening. Still, two of the three defeats suffered by the Crimson came against higher ranked clubs in St. Augustine Prep and Don Bosco Prep. The other loss came via a 4-3 setback against a solid squad from St. Peter’s Prep of Jersey City. In its first six victories Morristown-Beard exploded for 33 goals while allowing just six. The Crimson yielded 11 goals in the three recent losses so tightening up their defensive structure will be of paramount focus in the future. Talented senior forward Isaac Davison and junior winger Brayden Patricia have six goals each in the Crimson’s first nine games.
Morris Knolls (5-1-1) Since a 4-1 setback against Mennen Division and sixth-ranked Morristown-Beard on Dec. 7 the Golden Eagles have remained unbeaten (3-0-1). In its first meeting this season with then-unbeaten Chatham (another Mennen rival) on Dec. 20 Morris Knolls left no doubt with an impressive 6-0 victory. Sophomore goalie Tyler Franchi, who has emerged as a stalwart in the crease, notched his second straight shutout with the victory over Chatham as sophomore forward Kenny Riddett had a hat trick and senior Alex Welch scored twice.
Middletown South (4-2-0) The Eagles posted three straight wins to commence their season, outscoring those opponents by a 16-6 aggregate score in the process. But their momentum was slowed with a 3-0 loss to third-ranked Shore Conference rival Christian Brothers Academy back on Dec. 13. Four days later the Eagles battled for three periods but were edged, 6-5, by Bridgewater-Raritan, thus their dropping from seventh to eighth in the HNIB rankings. Middletown South responded and got that fourth “W” on its ledger with a hard-earned 3-2 decision over Southern Regional on Dec. 20. As expected, Gavin Gulash has propelled the Eagles’ offense. The senior forward has eight goals through six games.
Seton Hall Prep (3-4-1) (NR) It may be too early to project the Pirates returning to their glory years of the 1990s and early 2000s just yet. Still, second-year coach and former Pirate skater Mike Atkinson appears to be marshaling a revival for the program. Since dropping their first two games Seton Hall is 3-2-1 with a pair of victories over St. Peter’s Prep, one over Bergen Catholic and a tie with perennial Morris County power Randolph. The two loses in that stint came against top-ranked Delbarton (5-1) and No. 5 Pope John (2-1). This recent impressive performance has vaulted Pirates into the HNIB poll at No. 9. Seton Hall will get a good test in the upcoming holiday week as it meets Indian Hills (Dec. 28) and St. Joseph of Montvale (Dec. 30) during the Pepsi Classic tournament.
Chatham (5-2-0) The Cougars’ impressive beginning on the ice saw some thaw in the past week. Chatham’s 5-0 run, which featured well-played victories over Mennen Division opponents Kinnelon, Randolph and Morristown along with a win over then-No. 10 St. Joseph of Metuchen, was halted when it absorbed a 4-0 loss to a skilled team from the Princeton Day School. Goaltender James Boles stood strong in that contest in turning aside 27 shots for Chatham. The Cougars followed with a 6-0 setback against No. 7 Morris Knolls on Dec. 20.