spotlight on Mennen

March 23, 2007 on 10:15 am | In analysis | 1 Comment

Well, y’all, today’s the day. The state finals at Mennen Arena, just like it used to be (except for the whole two-state-finals thing). I know it is a shame the players did not get to play at Continental again and that some fans may be shut out, but I also think the atmosphere at Mennen will be second only to a Delbarton-Seton Hall Prep game, and it may even top that. With such a small venue and two large public schools on hand, the first game ought to be absolutely rocking. Also, parking is going to be a nightmare. With separate crowds totaling 4,000, there is no way all the cars will be able to fit in the parking lot toward the end of the first game. Get there way early, and you may want to park in Morris Plains and make the long walk over. Now on to the games …

5:00 pm (3) Bridgewater-Raritan vs. (1) Randolph

The third-seeded Panthers knocked off Ridge to deny a championship-game matchup between the two most talented teams, but I expect it to be close anyway. Much of the pressure will fall on BR goalie Gary Biggs, who has been up to the task all year. I remember talking to Patrick Alvin when he wasn’t sure who would take over for Dave Kababik … Biggs has come a long way.

Common thought is that Randolph will outskate and outskill Bridgewater with its deep cast of forwards. That could happen, but Bridgewater has long been similar to Randolph – lots of fast but bland forwards without overwhelming puckhandling skills – with more size. I would guess Bridgewater will need to come out hitting to really put its stamp on the game.

In the end, I think Kyle Krannich (or some unknown third-line player, it really doesn’t matter) will find the net for Randolph and Dan Swenson will be on the bottom of a pile once again. But do not count out Bridgewater.

8:00 pm (5) St. Augustine Prep vs. (2) St. Peter’s Prep

This is a tough one. I’m tempted to jump on the St. Augustine Prep bandwagon. Anybody that can beat Seton Hall Prep and Delbarton back-to-back deserves major props and is obviously capable of winning this thing. It would be a major blow for South Jersey hockey, and St. Augustine Prep could become the first non-Gordon team to win the private title since Delbarton in 02 and the lowest seed ever to win a private title. St. Peter’s Prep was a 5 seed when it lost the 2004 final; Seton Hall Prep was a 6 seed when it lost the 1997 final. Bergen Catholic was seeded third in 2001, the lowest seed to win a private title.

All that said, something tells me this will be St. Peter’s Prep’s night. Another team that has gradually risen through the ranks just to get to the Gordon Conference and was a huge underdog in this same spot three years ago. I think the experience of Kevin Fox, Tim Miller and their boys and the skill of a player like Kyle Palmieri will make the difference. Remember James van Riemsdyk scoring the winner two years ago before going to make the national team … Palmieri has a chance to follow in his footsteps tonight.

Anyway, I hate predictions, and who am I to make them anyway? Go to the games tonight, scream yourselves hoarse, and have a blast. If you’re playing, take a moment during warmups to soak up the atmosphere. Look around during the national anthem. Then lock in and compete your hardest on the biggest stage yet. Good luck.

1 Comment

  1. Jon,
    I think that the Star Ledger, Courier, and you have done a good job painting BR as the underdog and all chose Randolph. A little more fuel to BRs fire is a good thing. Big mistake!!!! Lets go BR, Lets go BR, Lets go BR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Joe Smith — 23 March 2007 #

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