Believe it or not, we’re just over two weeks away from the start of the cup playoffs.
This season has flown by so far, and battles for division titles and positioning in the cup playoffs are ramping up in intensity by the day.
We’ll start in the Mennen Division. The battle for the division title and top seed is essentially a two-horse race between Randolph (11 points) and Chatham (9 points). The teams each have two divisional games left, and Randolph is in the driver’s seat at this point. Two more points will guarantee the Rams will finish no worse than a tie for first place, and three points will give it the outright title with no tiebreakers necessary.
Randolph, however, will not resume Mennen action until Feb. 1 when it takes on Morristown-Beard. Chatham is set to face Morristown on Wednesday, before facing Morris Knolls-Hills next Wednesday.
The Halvorsen Division at the moment appears to be between Kinnelon-Jefferson-Sparta and Mendham. KJS has 10 points, Mendham has eight, each with five games played. Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown also has eight points, but has only one divisional game left, so the best it can hope for is a tie for the division lead.
KJS United and Mendham are set to battle on Tuesday night, which should give a good glimpse as to who will take the division title.
In the Haas Division, currently West Morris (5-1-2) holds first place with 12 points, with two divisional games left against Roxbury and Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex. BSM is now in second place with 10 points (5-1) but with four divisional games left. Roxbury is in third with six points and five games left (3-2), so the Haas title is still very much up for grabs heading into the final weeks of the season.
The Charette Division appears to be the closest to being settled at this point. Montville, with 14 points and just one game remaining, has guaranteed that it will finish no worse than tied for first place. It will take on second place High Point-Wallkill Valley-Kittatinny on Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. at Mennen, and a tie or a win for Montville will give it the outright title. High Point needs to win its final two games against Montville and Parsippany Regional in order to secure a tie for the division title.
THREE STARS OF THE WEEK
Matt Nacinovich, Chatham, F, So.
Nacinovich recorded two goals and two assists to help Chatham rally from a 4-1 deficit to earn a 4-4 tie with Randolph.
Brendon Eigner, Mendham, G, Fr.
Eigner has taken on a huge workload this season as a freshman, and his level of play is a big reason for Mendham’s now eight-game unbeaten streak. This week alone, he stopped all 11 shots in a 3-0 win over Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown, before stopping 23 of 25 shots in a 2-2 tie with Morris Knolls-Hills. He has a sparkling .941 save percentage in eight games this season.
Gordon Shindelman, High Point-Wallkill Valley-Kittatinny, F, Jr.
Shindelman had a hat trick and an assist to lead High Point-Wallkill Valley-Kittatinny to its fifth win in six games, a 10-4 win over Newton-Lenape Valley on Monday.
MORRIS-SUSSEX HOCKEY REPORT TOP 10
1- Delbarton (10-0)
2- Randolph (8-1-4)
3- Chatham (9-1-4)
4- Pope John (8-7-1)
5- Morris Knolls-Hills (7-4-2)
6- Morristown-Beard (6-9)
7- Kinnelon-Jefferson-Sparta (8-3-1)
8- Mendham (8-4-1)
9- Morristown (5-9-1)
10- Mount Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown (6-6-1)