Morristown-Beard 2021-22 preview: Crimson look to continue dominant Mennen run

MORRISTOWN-BEARD CRIMSON

Head coach: Scott Greene, fourth year (39-19-5 career record).

Division: Mennen

Last year: Morristown-Beard finished 9-1-1 with a perfect 6-0 mark in the Mennen Division. Its only loss came to Prep power Princeton Day, and it also earned a tie with a Top 10 team in the state in Seton Hall Prep. It won the program’s second-straight Mennen Cup title, taking down Morris Knolls-Hills, 3-1 in the final.

Key losses: Cam Fernandez, F.; Seth Kaplan, F.; Luke McManus, G; Nick Vantassell, F (Green Bay Gamblers-USHL); Roman Berger, F (Northwood Prep); Kareem Alazem, D (Kimball Union Academy).

Top returners: Noah Jones, D, Sr.; Andrew Low, F, Sr.; Hollis Humphries, F, Jr.; Dylan Strauss, F, Sr.; Charlie Guida, F, Sr.; Henry Fernandez, F, So.; Billy Moloney, D, Sr.; Jake Ochab, D, Sr.; Julian Melendez, G, Jr.

Newcomers: Nick Squashic, F, Fr.; Evan Jones, D, Fr.; Lucas Krzanowski, D, Fr.; Casey Connor, G, Fr.

Outlook: It’s fair to wonder what could have been for Morristown-Beard if the 2020-21 season was a normal year with a state tournament. It went unbeaten in the Mennen Division and made it look easy, with its closest contest being a 3-1 win over Morris Knolls-Hills in the Mennen Cup final.

While this year’s team figures to be very talented as well, there will be significant holes to fill. It graduated First Team All-Mennen picks in forwards Seth Kaplan and Cam Fernandez along with goalie Luke McManus. Kaplan (13 g., 7 a.) and Fernandez (7 g., 16 a.) were the team’s two leading scorers. In addition to the graduations, it has to deal with some early departures, with standout forward Nick Vantassell (who missed last season due to an injury) heading to the USHL. Roman Berger, who netted two goals in the Cup final last year, transferred to Northwood Prep in N.Y., while standout defender Kareem Alazem is off to Kimball Union Academy.

But there is still a very talented returning core, led by First Team All-Mennen pick Noah Jones (5 g., 4 a.) on defense. He’ll be joined by seniors Billy Moloney and Jake Ochab (1 g., 12 a.), with freshman Evan Jones also expected to contribute on what should be a very solid blue line.

Up front, senior Andrew Low (5 g., 13 a.), junior Hollis Humphries (9 g., 7 a.), senior Dylan Strauss (2 g., 9 a.), along with Mennen Division Rookie of the Year Henry Fernandez (1 g., 5 a.) will be counted on. Freshman Nick Squashic will also likely see some time.

Replacing McManus in goal will be junior Julian Melendez (.905 sv%) who played in multiple games last season. Freshman Casey Connor also may get some starts.

Overall, look for Morristown-Beard to once again be the favorite in the Mennen Division. There’s a lot of talent to replace, but the combination of its current core along with an influx of new talent should mean it is in store for another big season. In the last two seasons, Morristown-Beard has won back-to-back Mennen Cup titles and has gone a combined 14-2 in one of the best divisions in the state. Like the past couple of years, expect a very balanced roster that will get better as the season goes along.

E-mail Mike Gurnis at michaelgurnis@gmail.com

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