Montville 2022-23 season preview

MONTVILLE MUSTANGS

Head coach: Anthony Iannone, second year (2-19-1 career record)

Division: Charette (moved from Haas)

Last year: It was a year of adjustment for Montville under a new coach in Iannone, as it finished with a 2-19-1 record, and went winless in its first 16 games before notching a 5-2 win over Gill St. Bernard’s on Jan. 20. It finished 1-9 in the Haas Division and did not qualify for any postseason tournaments.

Key losses: Chase Unice, D; Trey Baresich, D.

Top returners: Matthew Trifari, F, Jr. (16 g., 10 a.); Aidan Engle, F, Sr. (5 g., 6 a.); Joe Laino, F, Sr. (3 g., 6 a.); Matthew Crowell, D, Sr. (12 g., 8 a.); Connor Howard, D, So.; Marco Van de Graaf, D, So.; Alexis Riley, G, Jr.

Potential incoming impact players: Aidan Stepien, F/D, Fr.; Cole Riley, F/D, Fr.; Dylan Hunter, G, Fr.

Outlook: After playing in the Halvorsen Division just two short seasons ago, Montville now finds itself in the Charette after back-to-back last-place finishes in the Halvorsen and Haas, respectively.

It has won just four games in the last two seasons, but there is plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future of the program. It graduated just two players from last year’s squad in Unice and Baresich, and while those two will certainly leave a void on the blue line, it has virtually its whole roster returning in all other areas of the ice. It took its lumps last year, but that year of seasoning should only mean this program trends upward.

It has some scoring punch with forward Matt Trifari and defenseman Matthew Crowell returning, as they were two of the team’s top three scorers last winter. Add in a strong goalie in junior Alexis Riley- who faced over 500 shots last year- and Montville has some core pieces to build around.

Burning question: How big of a leap can Montville take in the Charette Division?

If it can stay healthy and continue to grow and develop, it has the talent to- at the very least- be in the mix as one of the top teams in this division. It went 1-3-1 against the Charette last season, with one of those losses coming to Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex, which will not be in this division after taking Montville’s spot in the Haas. Even in the two losses to High Point-Wallkill Valley-Kittatinny, it was competitive as it lost by a combined three goals.

E-mail Mike Gurnis at michaelgurnis@gmail.com

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