Linking my way through the state tournament

March 6, 2007 on 10:40 am | In analysis | No Comments

Obviously, I was not at any of the nine state tournament games yesterday – the last day of the hockey season with that many games – but plenty of reporters around the state were, so I’m going to link you to their excellent coverage. Thank God wrestling season is over, so maybe in a week we can stop reading after-the-fact coverage of the wrestling finals and actually see some hockey. (Seriously, what the heck do they write about? Wrestling takes up more room than any sport except basketball, and that is completely out of proportion to how many people care about it, in my very biased opinion.)

Hopewell Valley-Middletown South: The Trentonian

Seton Hall Prep-Monsignor Donovan: Ocean County Observer

Middletown North-Princeton: Asbury Park Press

Ramapo-Wall: Bergen Record | Asbury Park Press

In other games, Mitch Wien (goals, points) and Alex Toth (wins) continued to set Steinert records by the dozen in an impressive 10-3 win over Kinnelon. Wien scored four goals, Gil Schaffer had six points, and Toth made 31 saves. Steinert next faces Randolph, which recently beat Kinnelon 10-1 in the Mennen Cup quarterfinals.

Paramus Catholic edged MKA 2-1, avenging the Paladins’ first loss of the season Dec. 30. PC moves on to play Delbarton tonight.

Montgomery beat Mahwah 5-2, setting up one of the best public school second-round games against Chatham Wednesday night.

Mendham beat Pequannock 5-2, advancing to play Morris Knolls for the fourth time this year. The Golden Eagles eliminated the Minutemen from the Cron Tournament and the Mennen Cup and beat them in the regular season. Fourth time’s a charm? Seems unlikely.

Finally, St. Augustine Prep had no trouble with Morristown-Beard, winning 6-1. Nice to get an at-large bid to the tournament; not nice to face a top-five seed in the first game.

For some analysis of the remaining rounds, read on …. We’ve got a lot of the usual suspects in the Round of 16 – Morris County teams (Jefferson as the dark horse) and Central Conference teams (welcome to the party, Watchung Hills) leading the way – but NBIAL and CVC teams have really stepped up to increase their representation. Both leagues are up one team from last year at the expense of the Southern Conference, with Princeton’s win over Middletown North the surprise of the bunch. I was also a bit surprised at how much Wall apparently dominated its game, but as against Glen Rock, the Knights (is the Crimson thing official?) could not finish.

You have to think the party is, for the most part, over for CVC and NBIAL teams in the round of 16, however. Reaching the quarterfinals is a big deal – any time you get to the neutral-site rounds, you’ve done something. Here’s who’s going to get it done:

Stone-cold, lead-pipe locks (hopefully that phrase is not trademarked):

    • Randolph – no way Steinert can stay with the Rams. My boy Kyle Krannich might drop a hat trick on Alex “Ice Planet” Toth. That said, another good season from Steinert.
    • Ridge – Shane Leuck has been having nightmares about Morris Knolls since last March, and Ridge has a deeper cast of forwards. Even J.R. Ryan, who was terrific Monday, can’t help the Little Tigers here. Impressive CVC Colonial representation, however.
    • Morris Knolls – With Kovacs coaching in what is still a decent rivalry, you might have thought this would be on the upset list, and it is hard to beat the same team four times in one year, but I just can’t see it happening.

    That’s it. Only three ‘lock’ games out of eight. Most of the rest are almost “pick ’em” status, but I’ll make a choice for the sake of argument. Here are my other picks:

      • Bridgewater-Raritan – I think the Panthers will get by, but do not rule out Hopewell Valley. Rob Siris’ boys have flown under the radar because they could not match their win over Montgomery, but you know they will come to play. Bridgewater rarely dominates any decent team but usually manages to escape. If HoVal stays out of the box, it has a chance, but I thnk Bridgewater will win another one- or two-goal game.
      • Fair Lawn – I like the Cutters in this one. Not the ballsiest upset pick, but with a solid goalie (whichever one Mike Goodrich chooses) and Travis Ritter up front, I think the time is ripe for Northern Highlands’ fairy tale to end.
      • Watchung Hills – This should be a terrific game. I cannot believe it’s being played at 5 p.m. in New York, but still, it could be a terrific matchup. Ramapo has not been convincing lately, and I think Elie Klein could be the one scorer that Wall lacked. Could easily go to overtime.
      • Hillsborough – I feel pretty good about this one but cannot consider it a lock because Jefferson has obviously earned some respect and tied the Raiders 2-2 earlier in the season. I feel like Hillsborough has an edge in skill level at the back, and I think young (played against teams I managed in high school) coach Pat Verney’s competitive juices might make a difference here.
      • Montgomery – Chatham has been slipping for a while, Mennen Cup semifinal tie with Morris Knolls notwithstanding, and I think Montgomery will pull it together to win this one and get another shot at Ridge. It could come down to goalies, however – James Stolfi against Ian Healey (could a representative from his family please e-mail me to make sure I’m spelling that last name correctly?) is quite a game.

      On the non-public side, Delbarton and CBA should have no trouble getting to the quarterfinals, and I think Notre Dame will do enough to get there as well. I’ll handicap the quarterfinals at a later date.

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