Middletown North (14-10)
Middletown North was expected to have a strong team, but Lions head coach Matt Clemente got a welcome surprise when CBA transfer Bobby Hampton (33-40-73), who had been expected to play only club hockey this season, decided to join the squad. “It definitely changes the expectations of this team … it’s not every day the best player in the state walks into your locker room,” Clemente told the Asbury Park Press. Hampton said he had transferred for academic reasons but, after improving his grades in the first quarter, decided he wanted to play his junior season with childhood friends. He will become eligible in January due to his transfer status and instantly gives Middletown North perhaps the top line in the state when joining senior Tom Terranova (24-21-45) and junior Khristian Acosta (21-19-40), both proven scorers. Add in senior Tim Felice (5-15-20) and juniors Vince Tomasetti (16-14-30), and Kevin Felice (8-6-20), and the Lions will be hard to stop. Defensively, seniors Zack Gazette and Nick Kirch are both in their fourth seasons, joined on the blue line by junior Ryan Davidson and freshman Kyle Gowarack. In net, neither senior Mike Corella nor junior Anthony Manfredi saw time last season.
Red Bank Catholic (19-2-3)
Red Bank Catholic dominated most of its 2013-14 season, winning the first Shore Conference Tournament, but the Caseys’ only two losses saw them surrender nine goals against Gordon Conference opponents. With three lines and four defensemen returning, head coach Ken Carlson is determined to prepare his team for the postseason. So Red Bank Catholic will play a tougher non-league schedule that includes three Gordon Conference opponents, independent program Hun, two games against Mennen Division opponents, and the inaugural Egan Cup competition against three fellow private powers.
Offense is not likely to be a problem. The Caseys return 6-foot-4 junior Evan Hoey (33-20-53), one of the state’s top players, along with senior Todd Goehring (15-15-30) and junior Alec Mintz (14-22-36), among other offensive weapons. Senior defenseman Matt Chinichi is also among the state’s best, and sophomore Garrett Bade brings a physical presence in front of senior Brandon Rozzi and junior Matt Benjamin, competing for time in goal.
St. John Vianney (6-11-2)
New head coach Mick Messemer passed his first test with flying colors, convincing junior hockey standouts Matt Kidney and Mike Gelatt to re-join the program for their senior seasons after sitting out last year due to junior hockey commitments. When present, potential Division I recruits Kidney (20-17-37 in 2012-13) and Gelatt (16-20-36 in 2012-13) are two of the conference’s top forwards and will make the Lancers a threat in every contest; the duo led St. John Vianney to the Handchen Cup title two years ago. Senior forward Joe Murray (8-10-18), senior defenseman Liam Casey (2-10-12), and senior goalie Jimmy Ellis, a four-year starter, all return.
Hockey Night In Boston 2015 Mid-Atlantic Festival – June 12-14, 2015.
Northford Ice Pavilion, Northford, CT. For registration/information click here
Freehold Township (16-9-1)
Freehold will be led by senior forward Greg Russo and boasts two outstanding defenseman in junior Zach Berzolla (already drafted by the USHL and OHL) and sophomore Julian Kislon.
Howell should also be contenders, returning one of the conference’s leading scorers in senior forward Kyle Hallbauer (44-29-73) and bringing back sophomore goalie Bobby Dovonero, senior defenseman Nick Bernhardt, and junior forward Lee McCarthy.
Brick Township (17-6-3)
Township is likely to be rebuilding after losing nine influential seniors, but senior forward Brian Lange will try to lead a young team that includes forwards James Wiater (9-11-20) and Michael Mooney (5-9-14) and goalie Jake Lakatos, who all return after gaining valuable experience as freshmen.
Brick Memorial (7-14-3)
Memorial brings back senior forward Ryan Monaghan (10-5-15) and sophomore defenseman Justin Hulse (5-12-17), and the Mustangs have a potential game-changer in net in freshman Andrew Solbiski.
Other key players in the Shore Conference include senior forward Owen Herrington (25-35-60) from Point
Pleasant Borough (16-4-3), junior Brendan Ban (10-21-31), and sophomore Conor Deverin (20-10-30), both of Rumson-Fair Haven (7-9-2). At Manasquan / Point Pleasant Beach (5-11-3), there is a new face on the bench this year, and a famous one at that: Former Stanley Cup and NCAA champion Jim Dowd, the second-leading scorer in New Jersey history from his 1980s playing days at Brick Township, has taken over as head coach.