Head coach: Paul Manore, fifth season (29-37-8 career record).
Division: Haas (moved from Charette)
Last year: Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex finished 15-4-3, with a 6-0-2 mark in the Charette Division to finish in first place. It won the program’s second-straight Charette Cup title with a 4-2 win over High Point-Wallkill Valley-Kittatinny in the final. In the Public C state tournament, it defeated Brick Township-Memorial in the play-in round before falling to Morris Knolls-Hills in the first round.
Key losses: Aidan Gallagher, D (19 g., 13 a.); Aidan Brown, F (2 g., 6 a.); Chris DeRogatis, F (3 g., 5 a.); Kate Niccolai, G (transferred, 2.67 GAA).
Top returners: Tanner Clemson, F, Sr. (28 g., 27 a.); Jimmy Hathaway, F, Jr. (29 g., 17 a.); Dylan Leonard, F, Jr. (16 g., 16 a.); Ryan Leonard, F, Jr. (10 g., 18 a.); Taylor Favreau, F, Jr. (12 g., 10 a.); Stephen Parisi, F, Sr. (1 g., 7 a.); Justin Gordon, D, Sr. (10 a.); Justin Kutakoff, D, Jr. (1 g., 6 a.); Troy Cuttic, D, Sr. (6 a.); Will Rogus, D, Sr. (3 a.); Baylyn Shankman, G, Jr. (2.44 GAA, .901 sv%).
Outlook: That’s a lot of returning players, isn’t it?
Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex was one of the more exciting teams to watch in the area last winter, and the numbers prove it. It scored 127 goals last season, which was the most by any team in the MCSSIHL. The vast majority of those goals are back, along with a strong core of defenseman and one of the top netminders in the area in Baylyn Shankman.
It’s a team that didn’t need much time to take over a game. Even with the move up to the Haas Division, this team, as it continues to grow, should be an immediate contender for the Haas Cup.
Burning question: Can Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex begin to take steps towards a deep state tournament run?
To the earlier point about this group being an immediate factor in the Haas Division, it went 4-0-1 in cross-over games with Haas teams last year. This program knows it is getting better, and has even scheduled some out-of-division games against Halvorsen teams in Madison and Mendham, as well as Skyland Conference opponents Hillsborough, Watchung Hills, and Hillsborough. How it fares in those games should be a good measuring stick for this team in terms of preparation for the state tournament.
E-mail Mike Gurnis at firstname.lastname@example.org