Kinnelon-Jefferson-Sparta 2021-22 preview: 2nd-year tri-op looking for growth

KINNELON-JEFFERSON-SPARTA (KJS UNITED)

Head coach: Jeff Myhren, 16th season (169-148-37 career record).

Division: Halvorsen

Last year: Despite being competitive in several games, KJS United finished with a 4-9-1 record and a 2-5-1 record in the Halvorsen Division. It lost, 6-0 to Madison in the first round of the Halvorsen Cup.

Key losses: Brett Lewis, G; Kyle Sutton, F; Matt Francescutto, F; Matthew Espinosa, D.

Top returners: Dillon Fleksher, F, Jr.; Adam Stefancik, F, So.; Joey Kopec, F, So.; Anthony Pandiscia, F, So.; Tyler Parisi, F, Jr.; Aiden Ferguson, D, Jr.; Connor O’Neill, D, Jr.; Mitch Fradkin, D, Sr.

Newcomers: Rylan Gibbons, G.

Outlook: This second-year tri-op program is going to be one of the more intriguing teams in the area. It went through its share of growing pains with a very young roster a year ago, and graduated the team’s top two scorers in Sutton (5 g., 8 a.) and Francescutto (6 g., 8 a.), along with one of the best goalies in the area in Brett Lewis, who was a First Team All-Halvorsen selection.

While those are definitely going to be important pieces to replace, the players who are returning are all very young players who showed some promise last season- especially Stefancik, who posted one goal and seven assists as a freshman. These are all players who gained valuable experience during a tough season last year, so now the question is, how much of a jump will these players- especially the forwards- make this year? Scoring was a major achilles heel for this team last year as it was, and with a new starter in goal it will be important for this team to spend as much time in the offensive zone as possible.

Overall, it should be another year of building for this program. But with as much young experience as it has coming back, expect this team to be competitive and pull an upset or two later on in the season.

E-mail Mike Gurnis at michaelgurnis@gmail.com

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