Head coach: Rich McLaughlin, 30th year (470-198-72 career record)
Last year: Randolph rebounded from a 2-4 start to go 8-3-3 the rest of the way, finishing with a 10-7-3 overall record. It fell, 5-1 to Morristown-Beard in the Mennen Cup semifinals, before being bounced 5-1 by eventual champion Northern Highlands in the quarterfinals of the Public B state tournament.
Key losses: Nick Gaynor, F; Jordan Cross, D.
Top returners: Zach Gallo, F., Sr. (12 g., 17 a.); Jase Zangara, F, So. (19 g., 16 a.); Andrew George, F, So. (11 g., 11 a.); Ashton Feinberg, D, Jr. (3 g., 3 a.); Brian Cislo, D, So. (2 g., 5 a.); Ryan Potanovich, D, So. (3 a.); Connor Thomas, G, Sr. (.860 sv%).
Outlook: Since winning the Public B state title in 2019-20, Randolph has struggled to get back to the level of excellence it has been accustomed to over the years.
The 2020-21 season saw the Rams play just six total games in the COVID-19 shortened season due to multiple shutdowns. Last season, a young team still put together a winning season, but it failed to reach the semifinals of the state tournament for the first time in years.
This year’s team once again figures to be very young, but a lot of its key players have a year of experience playing in the Mennen Division under their belts. Sophomore Jase Zangara, who led the team in scoring last season as a freshman, is back to lead a talented group of forwards which also includes senior Zach Gallo and sophomore Andrew George. Defenders in junior Ashton Feinberg, and sophomores Brian Cislo and Ryan Potanovich are all back in front of senior goalie Connor Thomas.
Burning question for 2022-23: Can Randolph regain its place amongst the state’s elite teams?
It certainly has the potential. Randolph showed a lot of promise last season, even in a “down” season by its standards. Rich McLaughlin is one of the best coaches in the state and knows how to get the most out of his group, and he has a very young and talented core to work with this season. Zangara is as talented and dynamic of a forward as you’ll find in the area, if not the state, and the usual improvement that comes with a year of experience should give Randolph a boost on its own.
It’s a group that also figures to be battle tested come playoff time. It already will have its hands full in the Mennen Division, which figures to be much stronger than it was last season. Then, a look at its out-of-conference schedule shows a program that wants to test itself throughout the year. It will be taking on a perennial power in Summit, last year’s Public B runner-up in Middletown North, Public B semifinalist Rumson-Fair Haven, Public C champion Gov. Livingston-New Providence, and a strong Westfield program.
Dec. 9 at Morris Knolls, 7:45 (Mennen Arena)**
Dec. 14 at Madison, 5:45 (Mennen Arena)
Dec. 16 vs. Watchung Hills, 5:45 (SportsCare Arena)
Dec. 21 vs. Hunterdon Central, 5:45 (SportsCare Arena)
Dec. 23 vs. Summit, 5:45 (SportsCare Arena)
Dec. 27 vs. Middletown North, 5:30 (Ice Vault Holiday Classic at Ice Vault, Wayne)
Dec. 30 vs. St. Joseph (Montvale), 12:30 (Ice Vault Holiday Classic at Ice Vault, Wayne)
Jan. 3 vs. Morristown, 8 (Mennen Arena)**
Jan. 7 vs. Chatham, 8:15 (Mennen Arena)**
Jan. 11 vs. Morristown-Beard 5:45 (Mennen Arena)**
Jan. 14 vs. Morris Knolls-Hills, 6:15 (Mennen Arena)**
Jan. 16 at Ramsey, 6:15 (Ice Vault)
Jan. 18 vs. Chatham, 7:45 (Mennen Arena)**
Jan. 20 vs. Rumson-Fair Haven, 5:45 (SportsCare Arena)
Jan. 25 vs. Gov. Livingston-New Providence, 5:45 (SportsCare Arena)
Jan. 26 at Morristown-Beard, 4 (Mennen Arena)**
Feb. 1 vs. Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown, 6:15 (Mennen Arena)
Feb. 3 vs. Westfield, 5:45 (SportsCare Arena)
Feb. 6 at Morristown, 4:30 (Mennen Arena)**
Feb. 8 at Mendham, 4 (Mennen Arena)
**- indicates Mennen Division game
E-mail Mike Gurnis at email@example.com