Morristown-Beard 2018-19 girls hockey preview

LAST SEASON: The Crimson finished 13-4-2, and managed to win the NJISAA Prep Tournament for the second year in a row as it downed Princeton Day, 4-1 in the final. It finished third in the WIHLMA Tournament.

HEAD COACH: Bruce Driver, 19th season. 273-59-17 career record.

CONFERENCE: WIHLMA-Hengerer Division.

KEY PLAYERS GRADUATED: Morristown-Beard graduated several key players from last year’s team, most notably three-time Player of the Year Ally Detre. Detre finished off her high school career with 101 career goals and 200 career points, which makes her the all-time leading scorer in program history. The Crimson won’t just have to replace her, but they’ll have to also replace a talented group which included Keegan Heher, Emily Kitchin, Ali Palazzetti, along with Jenna and Lindsay Pych.

FORWARDS: With all of the graduation losses, the Crimson will have much to replace offensively. One player who will be counted on to lead the way will be senior Jenna Kurz, who comes into 2018-19 with 117 career points after posting eight goals and 16 assists a year ago. Senior Leslie Phillips had five assists last year and should also play a key role. Outside of those two, look for some contributions from freshmen, including Leah Stecker, who can play both forward as well as on the blue line and is expected to have a big role right off the bat. Logan Sutera and Katie Ewig should also be able to make an impact this year as well.

DEFENSE: The squad’s defensive unit is by far the most experienced part of the team. Junior Anna Bajak (25 career points) and senior Grace Urbano (24 career points) will once again be playing big minutes. It also includes senior Sam Hutchinson, junior Abby Russell, along with sophomores Faith Facchini and Annabel Plante. Also look for junior Kaitlin Skorzewski to step in and contribute this year as well.

GOALTENDING: Starting goalie Lindsay Pych, who posted a .920 save percentage last year, was lost to graduation. Based on the team’s first two games, it appears that both juniors Sasha Berniker and Frankie Becchi will see time in net. Becchi posted a six-save shutout against Westfield for the team’s first win of the year this past Friday.

OUTLOOK: The expectations are always high at Morristown-Beard, which has long been one of the preeminent girls ice hockey programs in New Jersey under the direction of former New Jersey Devils defenseman Bruce Driver. While it certainly was hit hard by graduation up front from last year’s team, the goals remain the same as it will look to compete for its first WIHLMA championship since 2014 (it has won seven WIHLMA titles overall), as well as earn a three-peat in the NJISAA Prep Tournament, which was re-instituted in 2017. So far, it is off to a 1-1 start this year with a season-opening 8-0 loss to the Hill School (Pa.), before it rebounded with a resounding 12-0 win over Westfield.

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