West Morris 2021-22 preview: Wolfpack look to bounce back from winless year

WEST MORRIS WOLFPACK

Head coach: Phil Togno, fifth year (31-66-9 record)

Division: Haas

Last year: West Morris finished 0-14-1, and lost to Mountain Lakes-Boonton 5-2 in the Haas Cup semifinals.

Key losses: Andrew Spina, F; Lucas Garrido, F.

Top returners: Dylan Babb, F, Jr.; Paul Bietka, F, Sr.; Jake Calhoun, F, Jr.; Ben Cappan, F, So.; Nick Dargel, F, So.; Michael Ferry, F, So.; Matt Healy, F, Jr.; Zach Knoph, F, So.; Will Lindquist, D, Jr.; Max Michalski, D, Sr.; Jake Salamone, D, So.; Jimmy Thompson, D, Jr.; Phil Togno, G, Jr.; Tommy Togno, F, So.; Quintin Valetto, F, Jr.

Newcomers: Karl Alstead, F, Fr.; Ben Barnhill, F, Fr.; Layton Cummings, F, Fr.; Alex Trezza, D, Fr.; Scott Van Slooten, D, Fr.; Ben Wilmont, F, Fr.

Outlook: West Morris had a very difficult 2020-21 season in which it went winless with an 0-14-1 record. The record doesn’t completely tell the story though, as it was competitive in several games with a team that was full of underclassmen.

Those underclassmen will have to take a big step forward in 2021-22 if the Wolfpack are going to break into the win column. In total, there are just two seniors on the roster in forward Paul Bietka and defenseman Max Michalski.

The forward group consists of Bietka, along with juniors Jake Calhoun, Dylan Babb, Matt Healy and Quintin Valetto. Sophomores Tommy Togno, Nick Dargel, and Ben Cappan also return, with freshmen Karl Alstead, Ben Barnhill, Layton Cummings, and Ben Wilmont all expected to contribute as well. The Wolfpack scored just 15 goals in 15 games last season, but with a year of seasoning with all of these players that is a number which should improve.

Defensively, Michalski leads the way with juniors Jimmy Thompson and Will Lindquist, along with sophomore Jake Salamone. Freshmen Scott Van Slooten and Alex Trezza should each see some time. They’ll be playing in front of a stable presence in goal in junior Phil Togno, who posted an .856 save percentage and started every game last season.

Overall, look for West Morris to bounce back this year. It’s a group that will have to learn how to win after not doing so last year, but if it can get a win in the early part of the season, its confidence should grow to the point where it can be a difference-making team late in the season.

E-mail Mike Gurnis at michaelgurnis@gmail.com

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