Finally, a Top 20 poll

December 30, 2006 on 1:20 am | In Uncategorized | 14 Comments

so I’m headed out of town for the weekend and may or may not have internet access. So you might be without a central location for scores until January 3. Tough. Please keep sending me emails, however. To make up for the loss, I decided to publish a Top 20. This is probably a misguided decision, given that I have only seen two games, but I’m doing it anyway.

In Friday action, West Milford bombed Wayne Hills 9-1 behind Andrew Atieh’s MVP-worthy performance to take the Passaic County Tournament title. No offense to Dan Rosen, but this didn’t surprise me all that much. Other than the Lakeland game, Wayne Hills has not shown much White-Division-caliber quality this year. Of course, it’s easy for me to write that now. Takes a bigger man than me (Dan, in this case) to go out on a limb and then admit when he’s wrong. That Northern White is going to be a blast, by the way, with the top four (West Milford, Lakeland, Glen Rock, Nutley) all duking it out to see who replaces Bayonne in the Red Division next year.

Tenafly beat Park Regional in a shootout to win the Mackay Park Tournament. Gideon Porter scored the only goal of the whole darn shootout. Y’all need to start practicing those. Hats off to goalies Nick Vanderlinden (Tenafly) and Anthony White (Regional) for a job well done in the shootout. But there’s something about Mackay Park that lends itself to shootouts and overtimes. Third time in the last five years this tourney has been decided in OT or a shootout. And the game I went saw there in last year’s state tournament went to OT.

St. Rose goalie Eric Micallef recorded his 1,000th save Friday night in an 8-0 loss to Red Bank Regional. It’s been a rough run for Micallef and the Purple Roses; their career record now stands at 0-24. Maybe we can schedule a game for them with Parsippany (and call it a tournament so one team had to at least win a shootout) … I’d even pay for the ice time if I had any money. Demarest might want to get in on that, too.

Bishop Eustace apparently did not learn from last year’s loss to Ramsey; an NBIAL team with a similar name, Ramapo, went down to Pennsauken and did it again, beating the Crusaders 3-0. Northern Highlands, meanwhile, remains the team to beat in the NBIAL.

Finally, Notre Dame bombed Red Bank Catholic 8-3. I know competitive scores are sketchy, but check out some of the teams RBC has played close with. Makes you think Notre Dame could be for real. I almost slid them into my top 10, but I heeded the advice of sportswriters past: never trust a CVC school in December! So we’ll see how the Irish do against Eustace and St. Augie before we boost them that high. With that in mind, check out the rankings:

Continue reading Finally, a Top 20 poll…

Man, is it cold up here

December 28, 2006 on 2:50 am | In game recap | 2 Comments

Well, I got to see my first games of the season earlier today at the fourth annual Somerset County Tournament, and it was good to be back. I froze my butt off, of course, and struggled to hold book and notebook while leaning against the railing and peeking over heads at Bridgewater Sports Arena.

First, in other action, I have to give a shout-out to Hudson Catholic for winning its first game since December 10, 2004 with a 2-1 win over Demarest in the Ice House Tournament Wednesday. The Hawks had gone 46 games (0-43-3) without a win since beating Brick 9-3 in 2004, improving to 2-0 (believe it or not) on that young season. Congrats, fellas. I counted 15 other winless schools around the state, although somebody had to win the Bayonne-Monroe game yesterday, and we’re rooting for all of those teams to pick up a W as well.

As for my Wednesday at Bridgewater, I endured high school girls who do not understand the offside rule and a mother who yelled at her chosen team that “you’re playing like a bunch of girls!” I saw an old friend in Pingry head coach John Magadini, still using the same bucket for pucks he did with Delbarton back in 1982. No joke. And he is still as friendly and pleasant away from the bench as he is outspoken and competitive on it. I saw a terrific overtime contest between Pingry and Bridgewater-Raritan, and I saw Ridge don black jerseys as the home team, earning the first win in SCT history by a No. 1 seed. It was quite a day. Here’s how it went down (Warning: to make up for four weeks without covering a game, these are rather long):

Continue reading Man, is it cold up here…

going bowling!

December 20, 2006 on 12:40 pm | In analysis | 1 Comment

Time for my weekly post before I head to N’awlins for the R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, my school’s first bowl appearance in 45 years. I’m proud to say that my father was a student at Rice when he attended our last bowl appearance back in 1961 … he’s flying in from Jersey so he can attend two in a row! Along with several of my roommates and buddies, there will be plenty of proud alumni on hand in the Superdome, and a decent turnout of Rice fans – we sold out our 6,800-ticket allotment.

I’ve had a lot on my mind this week, but there’s been some exciting stuff on the ice as well. Tracking down holiday tournaments has been crazy, so my thanks to those who sent me the SCT and PCT seeds and information on other tournaments. I had to piece together the schedule for the Hamilton Hornet Holiday Invitational from highschoolsports.net schedules and follow prep school tournaments on their respective sites. I still need final pairings for the Bayonne and Montclair Tournaments. And if everybody knows of another St. Joseph in the area, we could have a fun tournament in which all four schools would have the same name.

Okay, on the ice … Delbarton only beat Rhode Island’s LaSalle Academy 1-0, but the Green Wave held a major (36-12) shot advantage. Delbarton will get a much stiffer test today against defending R.I. champion Bishop Hendricken. In other Gordon Conference action, Seton Hall Prep and Pope John have been very impressive of late, while tonight’s St. Peter’s Prep-CBA game is one of the games of the week.

There are a lot of teams out there that deserve some attention, but I want to highlight a few recent big wins … Governor Livingston beat West Orange for the first time since 2003 (0-4) with a 2-1 win the other day … Nottingham recently earned its first win of the year with an 8-2 demolition of Valley Division struggler Hightstown … Lawrenceville and Princeton Day both showed well in their respective tournaments last weekend … Verona finally won a close game with a 4-3 win over St. Joseph (Metuchen) … Watchung Hills has been on a roll lately and still drew a brutal first-round SCT matchup … Brick Memorial and Point Pleasant appear on a collision course atop the Southern Blue … The top two Morris County divisions and the NBIAL could easily lead the state in ties at their current clip.

Finally, in other media coverage, you can check out the Summit-Cranford game online tomorrow at SportsNet America. Hats off to the Star-Ledger for its terrific job of getting scores up on the same night they happen instead of waiting until the next morning. I get a lot of queries about scheduling rules and state tournament regulations – the NJSIAA does have an online document that settles a lot of that, so check it out. Still no official word on how the NJSIAA considers shootout results (Westfield and Old Bridge are definitely interested), but they will always be considered ties on this site. And kudos to Mike Morreale for his opening rankings – I don’t have a lot of criticisms and I don’t plan to throw out competing rankings until I have seen at least one game, so that means after Christmas at some point.

As always, I can be reached by e-mailing jty [at] njhockey.org.

Watch the Rice game Friday night on ESPN2, and go Owls!

Knolls wins the Cron (again)

December 14, 2006 on 12:38 am | In analysis | No Comments

I usually find a way to go to a Cron Tournament game. There have been 11 such tournaments since I began covering hockey in this state, and I have probably been to at least one game in maybe eight of those. From Mendham’s first-ever game back in 1996 to Morris Knolls’ first tournament title in 2002, I’ve managed to see at least one game on a regular basis – I even went directly from the airport once. I made friends with the coaches at Morris Knolls and Mendham at a young age, so I was always about seeing Morris County teams in action. And freezing my butt off.

So it was with a touch of sadness I received a phone call tonight informing me of Morris Knolls’ 3-1 win over Mendham for the Golden Eagles’ fifth consecutive tournament title. (Five in a row ties the record held by St. Joseph Metuchen from 1993-’97.) I remember when St. Joe ruled the Cron roost, beating Rob Loderstedt, Adam Dilly, and a second-year Mendham team in that ’97 final. I remember the Knolls-Mendham rivalry fueled by former Knolls coaches John Kovacs and Rob Dachisen running the show at Mendham; Knolls head coach Bob Loderstedt’s son, Rob, playing for Mendham; Dachisen’s nephew, Mike, playing at Knolls; and the innumerable Kovacs-Keiper connections. Plus, both teams were good for a while.

Knolls finally broke through, of course, to become one of the state’s leading public programs at the moment. A quick skim through my own archives shows that Knolls beat Mendham in the the ’02 semi, and the ’04 final. Of the five tournament titles, Josh Ofner won the MVP award twice, Bobby Jones once, Dennis Zak once, and now Tommy Tomensky after a 12-point performance in three games. Maybe next year I’ll be there to see if Knolls can make it six.
Round up
While Knolls won the tournament, Mendham showed very well and appears to be part of a very strong Halvorsen Division. In case you missed it, Pingry appears to be legit this year. The Big Blue have quietly been improving in numbers and skill level over the past few years, and they’ve always had the experience on the bench in the inimitable John Magadini. Pingry drilled Princeton 8-1 on Wednesday and beat Mendham 6-4 last week. Those two appear to be the class of Morris County’s ‘B’ division, ahead of Kinnelon and West Morris. Pingry and Mendham could very well beat Mountain Lakes and give the other Mennen teams a run for their money.

Elsewhere Wednesday, in scores I have received, Wall earned an emotional 3-2 win over Rumson-Fair Haven with former Bulldog coach Dave Smith behind the Wall bench as an assistant to Mike Dianora. It is the first regular-season win for Wall against RFH. The Knights are getting it done with defense, with 3-1 and 3-2 games so far.
The favorites held in the CVC and Morris County and both MKA and Sparta pulled off non-league wins.
In the Central Conference, St. Joseph (Metuchen) rallied to knock off Bridgewater-Raritan 4-3 in a game that is sure to sting for Panther head coach Patrick Alvin for quite a while. Fellow Irish namesake Pat Verney appears to have stolen Alvin’s late-game luck, as Verney’s Hillsborough squad held off South Brunswick 3-2. I’m sure that’s not how the former Hudson Catholic star drew it up.
There’s plenty more I could write about, but here’s what to watch for on Thursday: a telling non-league contest between Notre Dame and TRN; Red Bank-Old Bridge in Southern White action; Bishop Eustace-MonDon in a critical early Southern Red game; and debutant Jackson Memorial tries to go 2-0 by taking Brick Memorial.
Keep sending scores!

a big thank you

December 11, 2006 on 11:30 pm | In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I just wanted to thank everybody who sent in scores today. This weekend felt like a barren wasteland in terms of getting scores reported, but tonight was a change. When I got back from the high school basketball games I was covering, I had about 30 emails with scores. I didn’t have time or energy to write back to each one, so if you’re one of the people who sent in scores, thank you! It really makes my life a lot easier. I even caught up from the weekend.

Also, just to rub it in, we had a high of 73 degrees here in Houston today. Of course, it came with a decent amount of rain and cloud cover – that’s our idea of winter.

Enjoy the games!

falling asleep at the wheel

December 6, 2006 on 10:59 am | In analysis | No Comments

I’m more than a little tired on this morning after I got back from baseball’s winter meetings. They’re still going on, but I had to get back to work. I had a really good two-day experience, interviewing for the jobs I want and trying to help a former broadcast partner of mine land his first job. We’ll see what happens on both fronts, but we worked hard and accomplished most of our objectives (other than landing a job on the spot, obviously).

On a more local note, I hung out with Point Pleasant head coach Mike Ryan, who was really troubled about missing the Panthers’ first two games but breathed easier after their 12-2 win Monday. He said he had been the subject of an interview from a New Jersey newspaper reporter, who asked him a great but impossible to answer question: which would he rather win, a South Atlantic League championship or a Southern Blue division title? I won’t spoil the answer, but if anybody has seen the article online, please let me know so I can post a link to it. I also met, for the first time, former Paramus Catholic player Brendan Burke, now a broadcaster for the Wheeling (W.V.) Nailers in the ECHL and an aspiring baseball broadcaster as well – he worked for short-season Batavia last summer after graduating from Ithaca College in the spring.

On one more baseball note, I came across this terrific article (EDIT: link fixed) this morning. If you have ever collected baseball cards, autographs, or just been a big fan of a player, it should make you smile. I’m still waiting for an autograph from one of Walt Keiper’s younger brothers from when I was an autograph hound.

Getting back to hockey, you may have noticed I am only posting scores I get from emails or other reliable sources (aka NOT the NJO forum). We’ll see how long this lasts, but you can make life a lot easier by emailing those scores in before or after you post on the forum. Just try to include some relevant details so I know it’s not a phony score (it does happen). As of 3 pm CDT this afternoon, I am missing the following scores: Paul VI-Rumson and Parsippany-Morristown. As always, jty [at] njhockey.org will suffice. And I really do appreciate everybody who has already been sending me scores, especially other journalists and many coaches.

I also wanted to touch on the high-flyin’ Robbinsville Ravens, who won the first varsity game they ever played earlier this week with a dramatic 7-6 win over Hamilton. Head coach Dan Bergan had this to say in an email after his team killed off a six-on-four situation over the final 1:36:
“The kids hit the ice like they won the Stanley Cup. Surreal.
Best part of the game? Matt Hamilton, the Hamilton coach, showed so much class … genuinely congratulating my players because he knew it was a special, historical moment for them and that it was bigger than the W or L. Total class and what this sport is really about.”

I can’t say it much better than that, so let’s close on that note. Enjoy the games!

away message

December 3, 2006 on 5:45 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

I will be out of town for the next few days attending baseball’s winter meetings in Orlando. I will attempt to keep track of scores and update the site while there, but if it proves impossible, I will catch up some time Wednesday night.

Special thanks to everybody that has been sending me scores – I only had to really search for about four scores today.

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