LAST SEASON: Delbarton won its third-straight Non-Public state title, and also won the Gordon Cup, as it topped Don Bosco Prep in both finals. It finished with a 23-6-1 overall record and was ranked No. 1 by NJ.com.
HEAD COACH: Bruce Shatel, 18th season (406-51-36 overall record, 11 state championships)
CONFERENCE AND CLASSIFICATION: Gordon Conference-American Division; Non-Public
KEY PLAYERS GRADUATED: Delbarton graduated a 10-player senior class that won championships each season from their sophomore season through their senior year. That class included three of the team’s top scorers in Nick Siffringer (19 g., 14 a.), Andrew Bosland (8 g., 14 a.) and Hunter Macy (14 g., 12 a.). Defenseman Jalen Kaplan (7 g., 13 a.) and starting goalie Kenny Burgess (.934 sv%) will also leave major voids to fill this season.
FORWARDS: Delbarton scored more than its share of goals last year, as it averaged an impressive 3.53 goals per game pace. While a nice chunk of that offense is gone following the graduation of Siffringer, Bosland and Macy, there are still some talented returners in this group. Michael Balzarotti (Sr., 11 g., 15 a.) and James Falivene (Sr., 16 g., 12 a.) are the top two to keep an eye on. Brendan Clark (Jr., 4 g., 18 a., committed to Brown University) and Max Williams (Sr., 3 g., 11 a.) both showed the ability to make plays as evidenced by their high assist numbers last season. Ben Conrod (Jr.), Tim Royse (Sr.), James Monahan (Sr.), and Ryan Siffringer (Sr.) are also returners that will be counted on this year. Also look for contributions from a pair of freshmen in Adam Teryek and Kai Berezniak.
DEFENSE: Delbarton’s play in its own zone has been the team’s hallmark for years, and it proved to be no different in 2017-18. The Green Wave surrendered just 1.4 goals per game and posted eight shutouts. It lost most of its top defenders from a year ago, but will count on seniors J.P. Nolan, Kieran Kraus, along with sophomore Jack Benitez to take on a big role this year. Also keep an eye on junior Aarman Rigby, a transfer from Verona-Glen Ridge, who put up five goals and eight assists last season. Freshman Ray Berezniak will also be counted on as well.
GOALTENDING: After Burgess graduated, it will be up to junior Max Banoun and sophomore Brett Cleaves to fill the void. Banoun made two appearances last season and gave up just two goals on 22 shots, including a 16-save shutout (2-0) against eventual Public B champion Northern Highlands. Cleaves, on the other hand, played in four games and gave up two goals on 51 shots.
OUTLOOK: It’s hard to find a program that finds a way to play its best hockey at the right time more than Bruce Shatel’s squad. Last season was a prime example of that, as it went 16-6-1 during the regular season, and lost both regular season matchups against Don Bosco Prep. But once the Gordon Cup began, the Green Wave found another gear and went undefeated the rest of the way, as they always seem to do in February. It topped Don Bosco in overtime in the Gordon Cup final, before earning a 4-2 comeback win at the Prudential Center in the Non-Public final. This year’s squad appears to be in a fairly similar situation to last year’s team, which found itself having to replace a good majority of its roster- including its starting goalie- and will have several newcomers in the lineup on opening night.
But if there’s anything we know about this program, it’s that it always finds a way to restock itself with talent year-after-year, and there’s no reason to believe 2018-19 will be any different. It figures to be the top favorite for the Gordon Cup and Non-Public titles once again this year.