2022-23 MORRIS-SUSSEX HOCKEY REPORT TEAM OF THE YEAR: Delbarton
Delbarton has long been the gold standard for ice hockey in New Jersey. And for most of the season, it found itself ranked as the state’s No. 1 team by NJ.com.
That run came to an end when it suffered a heart-breaking 3-2 loss in overtime to St. Augustine in the Non-Public final. Still, that doesn’t diminish the tremendous season Delbarton had this year.
The Green Wave picked up the Gordon Cup trophy for the first time in five years as it took down Christian Brothers, 4-2 in the final. It finished the season 21-3-1 with an unbeaten 9-0-1 record in the Gordon Conference-American Division, and a 12-0-1 record in the Gordon Conference altogether. Of its three losses this season, two of them came to non-NJSIAA schools in Brunswick (Conn.) and Lawrenceville, with the other loss coming to St. Augustine in the state final. Each of its three losses came by just one goal.
This team was dominant throughout the season. In its 21 wins, it won by an average of 3.52 goals per game. It had a perfect combination of offensive firepower, led by the best line in the state which was composed of Duncan Stewart (24 g., 30 a.), Trip Pendy (17 g., 30 a.), and Nick Faccone (18 g., 24 a.). It was led on defense by Timmy Galvin (6 g., 22 a.), which helped the Green Wave catch teams in transition which was a hallmark of the team all season long.
And when all else failed, Jason Cai was there to make saves. A First Team All-Gordon Conference pick, Cai finished with an impressive .931 save percentage, gave up 1.5 goals per game, and finished with an 18-3-1 record.
Bruce Shatel’s squad will have the tough task of replacing 11 seniors going into next year, including Cai, Faccone, Stewart, Pendy, and Galvin, among others. But this program always finds itself in the mix as one of the top teams in the state under Shatel’s watch.
While it didn’t finish the way it had hoped, it still had a season to remember.
ALSO CONSIDERED: How about the only state champion to come out of Morris/Sussex? That would be the Morristown-Beard girls team. The Crimson went 15-6-3 and captured their third-straight state title after defeating Pingry, 2-1 in the championship game on Monday. It was their fourth win over Pingry this season, after it had just knocked them off just a couple of weeks ago to win the inaugural Librera Cup title. While girls ice hockey continues to grow in New Jersey and teams around the Crimson are getting stronger, the future still remains bright for this program. The losses of its four seniors- especially forward Lilli Warnock and goalie Gracie Meyers- will certainly have an impact, but it will have plenty of talent returning next year led by current juniors Kailin Kane, Jessica Sperling, and current sophomore Julie Jasaitis, among others. Freshman Hannah Mortazavi showed her potential when she had to step into the state final for the first period due to an equipment issue for Meyers, and stopped all nine shots she faced.
Chatham was another boys state finalist this season, which snapped a 42-year Mennen Cup drought with an overtime win over Randolph on a goal from Matt Nacinovich. It reached the Public B final, where it lost, 3-2 to Middletown North. Just to get to that game though, it took down the state’s top public school team in Northern Highlands with an impressive 4-1 win. It will lose some key seniors in brothers Ronan and Doyle Curry as well as Ryan Burke, but should have the bulk of its roster back, led by Nacinovich and Nikita Konevych, next winter to make another run at it.
E-mail Mike Gurnis at firstname.lastname@example.org
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