Previewing the quarterfinals

March 9, 2007 on 10:40 am | In analysis | 1 Comment

Alright, it’s quarterfinal time! All week, I’ve been telling anybody who will listen that these are my favorite games of the year. I like them better than the games at Continental because it still feels like high school hockey in the smaller rinks, and you get players and coaches from eliminated teams around the state coming to watch teams from their division.

March 9
Watchung Hills vs. Randolph
I saw the Warriors go down to Ridge in the SCT semis in December, and I saw Randolph play Delbarton in a preseason scrimmage. So this is the only game in which I can say I saw both teams play this year. Obviously, Randolph has the deeper cast of forwards and a lot more experience. WatHills has some talent and capable goaltending and owned Montgomery this year, but I don’t see it happening.

Randolph, 5-2

Fair Lawn vs. Morris Knolls
Gotta love this matchup of goaltending. Aside from Randolph, Knolls has only allowed four goals once this year. The Cutters have legit forwards in Travis Ritter and Jason Eccles and decent skaters around them. Colin Lemay was ridiculous in goal in the shootout win over Northern Highlands. Fair Lawn is the upset king and has played as many state tournament games in the last two years as Knolls has.
That said, Knolls is the favorite for a reason. Tommy Tomensky is more than a handful up front and has support in Justin Lewandowski and fresman Albert Abaunza. Steven Jones, Donnie Nichols, Scott Graham and Alex Clelland should be enough in front of the returned Ofner, who – when he’s on – is the toughest goalie to beat in the public bracket. I can’t see many ways around an all-Morris County semifinal.

Morris Knolls, 3-1

March 10
Hillsborough vs. Bridgewater-Raritan
I love this matchup as well, even though it pits teams from the same region. Hillsborough and Bridgewater tied 3-3 in the regular season. The Raiders are 10-0-3 since Jan. 16, while Bridgewater is 9-1-3 in the same span.
It’s really a tough one to call. Plus goalies on both sides, with Biggs and Visnovsky. In theory, Bridgewater has more forward depth, but Hillsborough probably has a little more skill. I say it goes to overtime, and I’m going to go with the underdog.

Hillsborough, 3-2 (OT)

Chatham vs. Ridge
Chatham went 1-7 from Jan. 16-Feb. 6 but has rebounded with the return of defenseman Jeff Tompson from injury. Since his return, Chatham has beaten Pingry (something no MCSSIHL team had done), tied Knolls and beat Westfield and Montgomery. Solid resume. But not enough to beat Ridge, which was the overwhelming favorite from day one until its slip-up against Randolph in February. Chatham was plenty competitive with Randolph, so I expect it to be a good game, but I think Andre Menard and company will be able to find the net.

Ridge, 4-1

March 11
Pope John vs. Delbarton
Delbarton beat Pope John 4-1 and 2-0 during the regular season and really should win this one. But the Green Wave has not been scoring as much lately, and Stephen Messina is pretty legit in goal for the Lions. Keep in mind that St. Augustine Prep was about 20 seconds away from ending Delbarton’s season in this round last year. That being said, Delbarton has more skill up front and should pull it out.

Delbarton, 3-0

St. Augustine Prep vs. Seton Hall Prep
Have we been looking forward to this one or what? This matchup has been the talk of the state for a long time. St. Augustine Prep is unbeaten at 20-0 and owned PDS in a 6-0 win Feb. 6. Seton Hall Prep, by contrast, edged Princeton Day 5-4 Feb. 12. It’s not all about comparative scores, obviously. Chris Preziosi is back in the house for SHP, but it just hasn’t been the Pirates’ year – they only have 11 wins. The Hermits will be tested more than they have in other games this year, but I think they get it done.

St. Augustine Prep, 4-3

March 12
Notre Dame vs. CBA
This is an intriguing matchup as well. Obviously, CBA just won the Gordon Cup with outstanding defense and has Zuppe, van Riemsdyk and Kolbenschlag in front of Gary Kondler. The Colts have given up just 11 goals in their last 11 games.
Notre Dame is legit defensively, too, and has beaten two Gordon teams already. Brandon Delibero is very good in goal, and Adam Shemansky and Mike Slowikowski are dangerous up front. The Irish have more big-game experience than in the past, and I think they have a shot. CBA is ripe for the upset. But I still can’t pick against them.

CBA, 3-1

Bergen Catholic vs. St. Peter’s Prep
I was going to pick this one as a pretty straightforward contest, but BC tied SPP 3-3 Jan. 29 and the Marauders have not been particularly impressive since beating Delbarton in early January. However, Bergen Catholic lost to Paramus Catholic. And you have to have faith in Kevin Fox and Kyle Palmieri over BC’s less accomplished cast.

St. Peter’s Prep, 5-2

1 Comment

  1. Ridge game will be closer. Chatham is dangerous, if they show up and ridge is not an over powering team.6-2 loss to Randolph was not impressive by any means. I say Ridge 3-2 in OT. St. Peters game will be closer as well. I do not think they will put up 5 goals and if Fox is on, he won’t give up more than one. I say 2-1 St.Peter’s. Overall good job all year Jon, I hope to see some upsets and tight games in all the quaterfinals!

    Comment by Frank — 9 March 2007 #

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