Head coach: Paul Manore, fourth season. 16-32-5 career record.
Last year: In its first season in the MCSSIHL-Charette Division, Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex won the inaugural Charette Cup title, defeating Newton-Lenape Valley in the final on a last-minute goal by Dylan Leonard. It finished 8-3-1 overall, with a 5-2-1 divisional record.
Key losses: Maggie Smith, G. Paul Wendling, D. Eddie Berman, F.
Top returners: Jimmy Hathaway, F., So.; Dylan Leonard, F., So.; Ryan Leonard, F., So.; Taylor Favreau, F., So.; Aiden Gallagher, D., Sr.; Troy Cuttic, D., Jr.; Baylyn Shankman, G., So.; Stephen Parisi, F, Jr.
Newcomers: Tanner Clemson, F., Jr.; Justin Gordon, D., Jr.
Outlook: After winning the Charette Cup title last winter, Bernards is a program that appears to be on the rise, behind a strong core of sophomores. Any time that you have players who step in and contribute immediately like Hathaway, Dylan and Ryan Leonard, and Taylor Favreau did last winter, that’s a sign of good things to come. Combined with strong goaltending and solid defensemen, this may very well be the best team on paper in the Charette Division.
Bernards will be led by a talented core of sophomores in First Team All-Charette pick Jimmy Hathaway (13 g., 5 a.), along with Dylan Leonard (6 g., 9 a.), Ryan Leonard, (7 g., 8 a.), and Taylor Favreau (4 g., 4 a.). Junior Stephen Parisi (7 g. 4 a.) is also a key contributor. New to the team is junior Tanner Clemson, who plays for the New Jersey Rockets U18 Premier team, and should have a big role.
On defense, senior Aiden Gallagher (3 g., 4 a.) and junior Troy Cuttic (6 a.) will make up the team’s top pairing. Junior Justin Gordon also figures to see heavy minutes this year.
In goal, sophomore Baylyn Shankman (.901 sv%) will take over as the full-time starter after splitting duties with Maggie Smith last year.
One interesting aspect to keep an eye on this winter is this team’s out of conference schedule. After leaving the Skyland Conference prior to last season, Bernards has taken it upon itself to schedule some of its old foes from that conference, which include the likes of Bridgewater-Raritan, Hillsborough, and Watchung Hills. That, plus its cross-over schedule with Haas teams such as Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown, Montville, West Morris, and Vernon, should be a good measuring stick for where this program is.
E-mail Mike Gurnis at email@example.com