I’m back!

High school hockey practice in New Jersey began this week, which kicks off my favorite time of the year.

When I left NJ.com and The Star-Ledger back in September to begin a different full-time job, I knew one thing: that even though I was going to have a regular, 9-to-5 life, I still wanted to have some role in high school sports coverage.

I love sports, and I really enjoy writing about sports. I’m a big hockey fan as it is, and during the last four years at my previous job, I really developed a passion for high school hockey. So for the past two months, I’ve been thinking about what the best way is for me to stay involved with coverage of high school hockey in New Jersey.

That brings me to where I am now.

I came up with the idea of starting up a blog, which specifically will focus on ice hockey in Morris and Sussex County. I haven’t fully decided where I want to go with this as a whole just yet, but we’ll start with the basics. Here, you can expect game stories from me on some of the top games in the area, and I’m hoping to do that a couple of times a week, or however much as my regular work schedule allows. I’m going to do the best I can to give as much coverage as I can to the many teams in the MCSSIHL, as well as the area’s two teams in the Gordon Conference- Delbarton and Pope John.

It figures to be a fun and interesting season in this area. Just last season, the area was well represented at Prudential Center for the state finals. Rich McLaughlin’s Randolph team made it to yet another state title game, where it lost a heartbreaker to Northern Highlands in the Public B final. Chatham asserted itself as one of the best in the state, as it reached the Public C final but came up just short of the title in a 2-0 loss to Summit.

And of course, there’s always Delbarton. Bruce Shatel’s squad had yet another season to remember, as it won both the Gordon Cup and the Non-Public state title, beating Don Bosco Prep in both games.

We also plan to cover girls hockey in the area. Morristown-Beard, led by former NJ Devil Bruce Driver, won its second straight Prep title over Princeton Day last year. The Morris-Union Girls Ice Hockey League started up last year, and Chatham-Madison (a second-year program) went 9-0 in that league during the regular season before losing to Kent Place in the inaugural title game. Randolph, which also finished up its second season last year, also is in that league, as girls hockey continues to grow throughout the state and in this area.

Opening day for the 2018-19 NJ ice hockey season is set for Saturday, Nov. 24. In the meantime, I plan to put together previews on each area team during the next two weeks. Coaches can expect an e-mail from me at some point this weekend, and if any would like to reach out to me directly, I can be reached at michaelgurnis@gmail.com.

Best of luck to all players and coaches, and I look forward to seeing many of you this winter at Mennen Arena, Aspen Ice, and Skylands Ice World!

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