New Jersey Top 10 Poll: Unbeaten Delbarton Takes Over Top

Jonathan Yardley
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.

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New Jersey Top 10 Poll

RankTeam[tooltip text="PR*" gravity="ne"]Previous Ranking[/tooltip]WLT
2Don Bosco3712
4Middletown N.4600
5St. Augustine8521
7St. Peter'sNR232
8Morristown 9711
9Pope JohnNR921
10St. Joseph's (Montvale)NR700

1. Delbarton (8-0-1)

Another year, another New Jersey Top 10 poll with Delbarton topping the rankings. Winners of a record six consecutive state championships from 2008-13, the Green Wave are favored to end a two-year title “drought” after an impressive start to the season. Delbarton has allowed only eight goals in nine games, surrendering more than one goal only in a lackluster 2-2 tie with Seton Hall Prep. They rebounded the next day with a 2-1 win over CBA on Dec. 16 and earned key out-of-state wins over Malden Catholic (4-1) and Catholic Memorial (2-0).

Senior defenseman Andrew Petrillo (2-7-9), a Vermont commit who gives Delbarton 22 consecutive seasons with at least one eventual Division I player on its roster, leads the blue line alongside talented sophomore Jalen Kaplan, while junior goalie Troy Kobryn is in his third year as a starter. Up front, physical senior Anthony Farinacci (12-4-16) and playmaker Danny Farr (3-10-13) have provided the bulk of the scoring. January brings non-league tests against prep schools Hun, Brunswick, and Albany Academy, as well as a Jan. 19 rematch with CBA.

2. Don Bosco Prep (7-1-2)

Despite a surprising 2-2 tie against county rival Bergen Catholic on Dec. 23, Don Bosco Prep remains unbeaten against New Jersey opposition this year; the Ironmen’s lone loss came 2-0 at BC High on Dec. 19. Don Bosco also has perhaps the most dramatic win of the season, rallying in the final seven minutes of the third period to take a 3-2 lead on CBA on Dec. 4, allowing the tying goal with 1:17 remaining, and getting the winner on a Graham Garlasco rebound with 1.5 seconds left on the clock.

Senior Chris Mazzella (11-6-17) and sophomore forward Mickey Burns (4-11-15) have been the offensive catalysts so far, with junior Alexei Masanko in goal and senior Luke Campomenosi (1-5-6) and junior Chris McGee (2-7-9) leading the defense. Don Bosco Prep faces an early rematch with CBA on Jan. 6 and will face Hill and the Bergen County Tournament before getting a first of two regular-season cracks at Delbarton on Jan. 24.

3. CBA (8-2)

Having won or shared the last two private-school championships, CBA is off to a relatively slow start (by their lofty expectations) this year, going just 2-2 in elite Gordon Conference play and losing tight, one-goal games to both of their top challengers, Delbarton and Don Bosco Prep. Their best win came by a 5-1 score on Dec. 22 against St. Peter’s Prep, and the Colts will hope that allows them to build momentum into a difficult week Jan. 4-8, facing Shore A North challengers Howell and Middletown North and then a second game against Don Bosco Prep.

Seniors Christian Winters (7-6-13) and Ryan Bogan (3-13-16), junior Corey Clifton (7-6-13), and sophomore Liam Noonan (7-5-12) have been among the leaders so far on a deep squad.

4. Middletown North (6-0)

The defending Public B champions only faced two half-tests in December, edging rival Middletown South 4-3 on Dec. 1 and taking care of division foe Howell, last year’s Public A runner-up, 4-1 on Dec. 11. Two Shore A North division games against CBA (Jan. 4, Feb. 2) highlight the Lions’ schedule in the new year, with no high-level non-league games currently scheduled.

Quinnipiac recruit Khristian Acosta (13-10-23) has factored in more than half his team’s goals, while Northeastern commit Bobby Hampton (1-5-6) has only played two of the team’s first six games due to USHL call-ups but is expected to return. The NJSIAA has implemented a rule that players must appear in at least 50 percent of their team’s games through the cut-off date of Feb. 8 to be eligible for the postseason, so Hampton’s appearances will be carefully watched. Based on the current schedule, he would need to appear in six of the next 10 games to become eligible. Kevin Felice (8-6-14) and Vince Tomasetti (7-5-12) are solid secondary options for the Lions.

5. St. Augustine Prep (5-2-1)

After moving up to the American Division of the state’s elite Gordon Conference, St. Augustine Prep has gotten off to a strong start, with its only in-state loss coming against No. 1 Delbarton. The Hermits beat division rival Bergen Catholic twice and tied St. Peter’s Prep in early December. They will face four tests against the top trio in January. Up front, juniors Carson Brière (5-8-13) and Matt Cassidy (6-7-13) and sophomore Kyle Knight (4-5-9) have led the way, with Caelan Brière and Max Gravenstine strong on defense.

6. Morristown-Beard (7-2)

Two-time defending Mennen Cup champion Morristown-Beard is the class of Morris County once again this year, although it remains to be seen if the Crimson can replicate their form that led to a surprising co-state championship in 2014. Morristown-Beard has beaten four of its five Mennen Division rivals so far with a pair of games coming up against chief league rival Randolph (Dec. 29, Jan. 5). Despite a win over Bergen Catholic, an 8-1 loss to Delbarton on Dec. 23 showed just how far Morristown-Beard still has to go. Senior Alex Borowiec (7-5-12) and sophomore Brayden Patricia (7-6-13) have keyed the offense, with seniors A.J. and Christian DiCesare on the blue line.

7. St. Peter’s Prep (2-3-2)

Despite opening with a tough schedule that included four of five American Division opponents in December, St. Peter’s Prep looks like a potential threat this year. The Marauders came from two goals down in the third period to tie St. Augustine Prep on Dec. 2 and came from behind to beat Bishop Eustace on Dec. 7, also tying Bergen Catholic and beating Seton Hall Prep. Junior standout Mike Zdanowicz (8-3-11) has factored in more than half of St. Peter’s Prep’s goals, while senior Scott Andreas has been stellar in goal.

8. Morristown (7-1-1)

After losing 5-2 to Morristown-Beard in both teams’ opener on Nov. 28 and tying Glen Rock the next night, the Colonials have run off seven straight wins, highlighted by a 3-0 shutout of Bergen Catholic on Dec. 20. The streak includes wins over fellow Public A teams Randolph, Morris Knolls, and Westfield, marking Morristown as the favorite among large public schools. Senior Jakob DeFares (10-9-19) and younger brother Nate (4-10-14), a sophomore, have picked up the scoring slack while Morristown waited for Bradley Greik (3-1-4) to return to the lineup following injury. Senior Kyle Beyer (5-9-14) has been among the veteran contributors on defense in front of strong sophomore goalie Evan Szary. Wednesday’s game against Ramsey, a rematch of the 2014 Public B final, will be Morristown’s biggest test until its rematch with Morristown-Beard on Jan. 11; another rematch, against Randolph, looms on Jan. 25.

9. Pope John (9-2-1)

Richie Halevy Pope John
Richie Halevy
Pope John

Don’t let the gaudy record fool you: Pope John may be much improved this year, but the Lions have a lot of work to do in Gordon Conference play, where they are 3-2 and have played just one game against the upper American Division. They have beaten Notre Dame and Red Bank Catholic in non-league play and will face Westfield in the final of the Protec Ponds holiday tournament on Tuesday. Sophomores John Spetz (16-8-24) and Eric Vanderhoff (8-11-19) have teamed well with senior Richie Halevy (8-13-21) so far, with junior Garrett LaLonde (1-7-8) among the keys on the blue line. Freshman Matt Schoer has stepped capably into the starting goaltending role, just ahead of sophomore George Bennett. They will face three of the state’s top four clubs and division foe St. Peter’s Prep in a challenging January slate.

10. St. Joseph (Montvale) (7-0)

Ryan Grieco
Ryan Grieco
St. Joseph Montvale

Once New Jersey’s top program, St. Joseph Montvale last year reached the private quarterfinals for the first time since 1999; the Green Knights have not played for a state title since 1992, when their bid for a repeat was denied in overtime. But they’re back in the Top 10 on the strength of an unbeaten start that includes wins over Seton Hall Prep and Glen Rock; another matchup against Seton Hall Prep looms on Dec. 30, as do a pair of games against county rival Paramus Catholic Jan. 3 and Jan. 7. Junior Dom Posta (13-2-15) scored all five goals in the win over Glen Rock on Dec. 18, handing the Panthers their only loss, while Ryan Grieco (5-9-14) has posted three games with multiple assists. Senior captain Ed Klein has provided a big lift just by getting on the ice after returning from illness, while Brian Quinn has helped steady the defense corps in front of goalie Pat Lynch. After the games against Paramus Catholic, the tests are few and far between for St. Joseph. January’s Bergen County Tournament, guaranteed to feature at least three of the county’s four private schools in Don Bosco Prep, St. Joseph Montvale, and Paramus Catholic, could be the Green Knights’ best chance to prove themselves against top competition.

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