December 17, 2013

From NYHJ: Chatham primed for another title run

By Phil Shore


Chatham is hoping to be the first Public B back-to-back champion after winning last year's title. (Photo courtesy New Jersey Devils)

While both the Non-Public and Public A divisions have repeat champions, Public B once again has a new team starting the season as the king.

Since the Public B tournament was created in 2008, no team has won back-to-back championships. Now, it is Chatham’s turn to try to successfully defend the title.

Last year, despite starting the season 1-4, Chatham went 9-1 in its final 10 games and earned the No. 5 seed in the Public B tournament. It eventually defeated Morristown, 3-0, for the championship in head coach Frank Gilberti’s first season behind the bench.

The team returns a large portion of last year’s roster, including starting goaltender C.J. Albanese and his brother, defender A.J. Albanese.

Summit returns 14 varsity players from last year and 10 from its Public B championship-winning team in 2012, including senior Liam McLaughlin, who has 159 career points.

Despite losing its starting goalie, Ramsey returns many players from last year, including forward Alex Whalen, who scored 36 goals last year and tallied 22 assists. The Rams figure to make a strong run for the championship.

Morristown, Brick Township and Kinnelon are a few other teams that could find their way into the title picture.

Public A

Randolph is the proud winner of three consecutive state championships. It will be in the running for four.

Last year, Randolph coach Rich McLaughlin was concerned his inexperienced team wouldn’t be able to make it back to the title game. It earned a No. 2 seed in the playoffs, however, and defeated Bridgewater-Raritan, 4-1, in the championship game.

This year, the team will have to find goals from new sources, with senior forward and leading scorer Stef Tamminga out until January, according to McLaughlin, but Randolph has always been strong defensively. This year the unit and team will be led by senior defenders and captains Brenden Siegel and Luke Wright.

Bridgewater-Raritan, last year’s runner-up, lost only two players to graduation and should benefit from the experience last year’s run provided the team.

Livingstone knocked off No. 1 seed Morris Knolls last year and should be competitive again with goalie Brian Lilian returning between the pipes.

Morris Knolls should be back with a vengeance, as will last year’s No. 3 seed, Ridge.

Non-Public

Could the longest active championship streak in New Jersey ice hockey be in jeopardy this season?

Delbarton has won an impressive six consecutive NJSIAA championships, the latest coming after a 4-0 victory over Don Bosco Prep last season.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone else taking the crown, but Delbarton seems to be vulnerable this season after a number of high-profile graduations.

Moving on from Delbarton are three All-State forwards, an All-State defender and the team’s starting goalie. But when you win six straight state titles, you tend to reload rather than rebuild. Still, there are a lot of teams capable of knocking them off.

Don Bosco lost in the semifinals last season but returns a lot of talent. It will be a deep and well-rounded squad, but the defense will be the cornerstone. That unit is led by second-team All-State goalie Jarred Liscio and first-team All-North Jersey defender Cody Calcagano.

Christian Brothers Academy will be led by forward Brendan van Riemsdyk, who will be following older brothers James and Trevor to the University of New Hampshire next year. Like Don Bosco, CBA returns a core of last year’s team. On defense it returns four regulars.

Other teams that will be in the discussion are Morristown-Beard, Gloucester Catholic and Paramus Catholic.

According to CBA head coach Ryan Bogan, the championship is anybody’s to win. “I think the Gordon Conference is more balanced than it has been in years,” he said. “CBA, Bosco and Delbarton are still favorites, in my opinion, but they still have to play the games and you just never know.”