Gill St. Bernard’s 2021 preview: Knights look to continue upward trend

GILL ST. BERNARD’S KNIGHTS

Head coach: Co-coaches Greg DaSilva and Chris Wiggins are entering their fifth season of leading this program, with a record of 23-43-9.

Division: Haas

Last season: The Knights experienced their best season in program history last winter, as it finished with a 13-6-3 overall record. It reached the Haas Cup final for the first time ever, where it lost a heart-breaker in the final minutes to Mountain Lakes-Boonton. It reached the Non-Public state tournament, where it lost an 8-7 shootout to Notre Dame in the preliminary round.

Key losses: Eddie McCarthy, D.

This year’s squad: While the Knights only graduated one player from last year’s team, it was an important one as McCarthy anchored the defense and tallied up 18 goals and 21 assists.

But there is plenty of reason for optimism with the group of players that are set to return this winter. Senior captain Brenen Lavoie (33 g., 16 a.) was the team’s leading scorer last year, while juniors Christian and Logan Mote (19 g., 12 a. and 10g., 19 a., respectively) are also back and figure to be even better this season. While there isn’t a whole lot of depth, there certainly is talent, and that will be supplemented with two freshmen forwards in Michael Scarpati and Robert Kirsh.

On defense, senior captain Liam Jones (6 g., 18 a.) will be joined by junior Matt Bloomenthal (8 g., 14 a.) and will handle most of the minutes. Freshmen Porter Clark, Brad Matthews, and Henry Smith all figure to see significant time as well.

In goal, senior Matt Cooper and junior Alex Steinberg are back this season after seeing a roughly 50-50 split of playing time between the two.

Outlook: The turnaround at Gill St. Bernard’s over the past couple of seasons has been nothing short of remarkable. When DaSilva and Wiggins took over this program four years ago, they took over a program that was mired in a losing streak that spanned multiple years, and had never had a winning season- let alone qualified for back-to-back state tournaments as it has for the past two years. They’re building a program that has consistently gotten better year-to-year since their arrival, and while they struggle with depth and numbers, the players they do have continue to get better. While McCarthy is a major loss, the returning talent on this team is certainly very exciting, and if it can stay healthy- a run at the division title and return to the Haas Cup final could be in the cards.

2021 SCHEDULE

Jan. 16 — Vernon (Skylands Ice World), 6 p.m.

Jan. 21 — West Morris (Mennen Arena), 8:15 p.m.

Jan. 23 — Park Regional (Mennen Arena), 4:15 p.m.

Jan. 27 — Mountain Lakes-Boonton (Mennen Arena), 5:45 p.m.

Jan. 30 — Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown (Mennen Arena), 4:15 p.m.

Feb. 3 — Mountain Lakes-Boonton (Mennen Arena), 5:45 p.m.

Feb. 8 — Vernon (Mennen Arena), 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 18 — Park Regional (Mennen Arena), 6:15 p.m.

Feb. 22 — Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown (Mennen Arena), 8:30 p.m.

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