3rd Charette Cup final preview: Montville vs. Newton-Lenape Valley


1-Montville (13-3-2) vs. 3-Newton-Lenape Valley (8-11-1)
Monday, 4:15 p.m. at Mennen Arena

Previous meetings: Montville won both meetings against Newton-Lenape Valley this season, as it won 5-0 on Jan. 5 before securing a 5-2 win on Jan. 21.

— Montville has won three cups in program history. It won the Haas Cup in 2009 and 2018, and the Halvorsen Cup in 2015.

Newton-Lenape Valley
— Newton-Lenape Valley won the NJIIHL McMullen Cup in 2013, and then took the 2017 Haas Cup title. It is in the Charette Cup final for the second time in three years, after losing 4-3 to Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex in the final in 2021.

Matthew Trifari (24 g., 20 a.), Joseph Laino (11 g., 19 a.), Aidan Engle (12 g., 17 a.), Matthew Crowell (11 g., 17 a.), Aidan Stepien (12 g., 11 a.)

Goalie: Alexis Riley (12-3-1, .896 sv%)

Newton-Lenape Valley
Brayden Dabrowski (19 g., 7 a.), Maksym Pastukh (16 g., 7 a.), Aidan Urbano (4 g., 7 a.), Justin Zappe (5 g., 4 a.), Anthony Piccirillo (6 g., 3 a.)

Goalie: Ryan Salerno (5-7-1, .848 sv%)

The Mustangs, led by coach Anthony Iannone, have been one of the best turnaround stories in the area this season. It won just two games in each of the past two seasons, but has made the most of its move to the Charette Division this year, as it has gone a perfect 8-0 in division play, and at 13-3-2 finds itself in prime position to qualify for the state playoffs.

It has several players who can make things happen offensively. Most notably, junior forward Matthew Trifari has led the way this season with 44 points. It has a solid defensive core led by Crowell and Stepien, and perhaps the top goalie in the Charette Division in Alexis Riley.

Its closest margin of victory in Charette play this season was one goal in a 3-2 win over High Point-Wallkill Valley-Kittatinny. Other than that, it hasn’t just won- it has dominated. It did so once again in the semifinals, when it took down Morris Catholic-St. Elizabeth, 8-2 behind a five-goal third period.

Newton-Lenape Valley
Things looked bleak for Newton-Lenape Valley early in the season. A combination of injuries and illnesses led to it being shorthanded early on in the season, and it stumbled out of the gates to a 1-7 start- the worst start in program history.

The last couple of weeks have seen NLV turn its season around, though. It has gone 5-1-1 in its last seven, including Thursday’s 5-4 semifinal win over Sussex County rival High Point-Wallkill Valley-Kittatinny. Coach Ryan Sevean’s squad is one that always is a tough out come playoff time, and proved that in the semifinals. It lost by lopsided scores of 5-0 and 10-4 to High Point in the regular season, but all of that was thrown out the window when it won in the semifinals. It will have its sights set on doing the same thing here after being swept in the regular season by Montville.

Junior Brayden Dabrowski leads NLV’s offense, and had a big game in the semifinals with two goals and an assist. Sophomore Maksym Pastukh- a late-season addition- has burst onto the scene with 16 goals and seven assists in NLV’s last 12 games. Aidan Urbano has helped lead the way on defense, while goalie Ryan Salerno has come on strong as of late.

It is extremely difficult to pick against Newton-Lenape Valley, especially after what it did in the semifinals. If they’re able to win this game, it would come as absolutely zero surprise to anyone, just because it plays a brand of hockey that is conducive to success in the postseason. Coach Sevean will always have his kids ready to go for a game of this magnitude. Expect a very tight game between these teams, but in the end, I believe Montville, with the firepower it has at both ends of the ice, will find a way to pull through.

Montville over Newton-Lenape Valley

E-mail Mike Gurnis at michaelgurnis@gmail.com

Donate to the Morris-Sussex Hockey Report via GoFundMe: https://gofund.me/7478f834

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