2022-23 MORRIS-SUSSEX HOCKEY REPORT PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jason Cai, Delbarton, Sr. G
Since taking the reins as Delbarton’s starting goalie as a junior last season, Jason Cai has been on another level.
Facing top competition night-in and night-out in the state’s top conference in the Gordon Conference, Cai has established himself as one of, if not the top goalie in New Jersey. He’s been an major reason why Delbarton has reached back-to-back Non-Public finals and won the Gordon Cup this year.
For that, Cai is this year’s Morris-Sussex Hockey Report Player of the Year.
He finished his Delbarton career with a .937 save percentage, which includes the last two years and two appearances during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season. He burst onto the scene as Delbarton’s starter last year with an other-worldly .952 save percentage, and followed that up with another strong season this winter.
His 2022-23 numbers: .931 save percentage, 1.5 goals allowed per game, four shutouts and an 18-3-1 record. Again, all of this came while facing the best teams in New Jersey on a nightly basis. Two of his three losses came to non-NJSIAA teams in Lawrenceville and Brunswick (Conn.), with the other coming in overtime to St. Augustine in the state final.
The senior was nothing short of outstanding during the team’s run to the Gordon Cup title, posting a .953 save percentage in three Gordon Cup games. He turned aside 24 of 26 shots in the title game to lift his team to a 4-2 win over Christian Brothers, which was the program’s first Gordon Cup title in five years.
ALSO CONSIDERED: There were almost too many big time seasons from players this year to mention in this article.
On Delbarton alone, a case could’ve been made for any member of its top line of Trip Pendy, Nick Faccone, and Duncan Stewart, which was arguably the best line in New Jersey.
For Chatham, which won the Mennen Cup and reached the Public B final, Matt Nacinovich was its leading scorer and scored the game-winner in overtime in the Mennen Cup final, before scoring twice with an assist in his team’s 4-1 upset win over Northern Highlands in the state semifinals. Nikita Konevych burst onto the scene as a dynamic two-way force on Chatham’s blue line this season.
Morristown-Beard’s Hollis Humphries was named MVP of the Mennen Division after scoring 27 goals and 26 assists this season. His 164 career points are the most in program history.
KJS United’s Rylan Gibbons posted an impressive .924 save percentage this year and was named MVP of the Halvorsen Division. Jimmy Hathaway of Bernards-Somerville-Middlesex scored 30 goals with 17 assists this season in earning Haas Division MVP honors, while Matt Trifari of Montville netted 29 goals along with 20 assists and was Charette MVP.
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