POPE JOHN LIONS
Head coach: Ryan Brown, 16th year (183-120-42 career record)
Division: Gordon Conference- National Division
Last year: Pope John finished 7-10-7, with a 3-2-4 mark in the Gordon-National. It did not qualify for the Gordon Cup, but fell, 2-0 to St. Augustine in the Non-Public state tournament first round.
Key losses: Jake Stevens, D (transferred to Canterbury School in Connecticut)
Top returners: Nathan Meola, F, Sr. (10 g., 22 a.); Matt Hughes, F, Jr. (6 g., 17 a.); Robbie Myshkoff, F, Jr. (7 g., 2 a.); Emporio Ienciu, F, Sr. (7 g., 13 a.); Luke Jarosiewicz, F, So.; Jack Jarosiewicz, F, So.; Owen Lapinski, F, Sr.; Davis Koptyra, F, Jr.; Jack Kelmer, D, Sr. (6 g., 6 a.); Declan Murphy, D, Jr. (1 g., 9 a.); Johans Bars, D, Jr.; Muggy Bars, D, So.; Tyler Paluzzi, G, Sr. (.888 sv%); Soren Torlucci, G, Jr. (.991 sv%).
Potential incoming impact players: Gavin O’Hara, D, Sr.; Hunter Parrillo, F, Fr.; Nick Colatrella, F, Fr.
Burning question: Can Pope John turn those ties into wins?
Pope John finished with an astounding seven ties last year, including four in the Gordon Conference. That can be viewed in one of two ways. One, it showed that the Lions took a step forward last year and were competitive all year with a very young team. Two, that inability to finish and get that second point on those nights likely cost this team a spot in the Gordon Cup.
Last season, the Lions were knocking on the door in a lot of games. Now, with an experienced roster that has gone through the rigors of the Gordon Conference, it will be interesting to see if it can break down that door and return to being one of the state’s top teams.
Outlook: Pope John only graduated two seniors from last year, but also lost standout defenseman Jake Stevens via transfer.
That said, this is a very experienced roster, as most of it has played the last two to three seasons in the Gordon Conference and has learned what it takes to win. It has depth, with a solid group of forwards that can score by committee. Even with the loss of Stevens, its defense is strong with Kelmer, Murphy, and O’Hara, playing in front of a solid goaltending tandem in Paluzzi and Torlucci.
Coach Ryan Brown has run a perennially solid program over the years that has represented Sussex County well in the Gordon Conference. This year’s team has the looks of one that should be a serious contender for the Gordon-National title after finishing third last season.
E-mail Mike Gurnis at email@example.com
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