Today is the first day of hockey season in New Jersey, and it’s one I’ve been looking forward to! I have moved back to the area and now live in New York City, so I’ll be getting to more games than in recent years (though likely still not a lot), and I should be able to provide better coverage.
The main NJHockey.org site is up and running for 2013-14, including the page that I always start with, the team-by-team schedules, now including a history field that lists each team’s most successful seasons. The all-important standings page got a minor facelift and will be easier to use to track the division races all year. The state-wide schedule page lets you (and, occasionally, me!) pick which game(s) to go to on any given day. We’ve also got holiday tournaments covered for when the time arrives.
If you’re on Twitter, please follow @NJ_Hockey and use it to send me scores or just talk hockey – it’s a great way to talk about the news of the moment.
A change to note this year — with the proliferation of co-op programs, I am using a new designation for full team names involving co-ops, with a slash signifying multiple schools. So you’ll see Newton / Lenape Valley and Verona / Glen Ridge as style examples for co-op schools. Abbreviations were harder to make clear (RDWW, OTHH, and PcVCG really seemed like just a little too much), so in most cases I am using the abbreviation of the school designated as primary by the NJSIAA.
While I run the website on my own, I do cover New Jersey hockey for Hockey Night in Boston. The season preview appears in the normal print issues that you can find at your local rink, but HNIB will be moving to online coverage this season, and you will be able to find New Jersey coverage at this link.
To give you a little taste, here’s my season-opening top 10:
- Delbarton (23-3-4) – After six straight titles, you get the benefit of the doubt, but Delbarton will be threatened this year after losing its top line to graduation and two other returning contributors to a move and an injury. Expect this team to make significant improvements throughout the course of the year.
December game to watch – Dec. 5 vs. Bergen Catholic
- Don Bosco Prep (18-10) – Despite losing their leading scorer to junior hockey, the Ironmen return a player among the state’s best at his position in goal and on defense, and they should have above-average depth.
December game to watch – Dec. 18 at CBA
- CBA (23-3-2) – The Colts have a very strong top two lines and a skilled but youthful defense corps. They should contend in the Gordon yet again, but who knows if they can vanquish the demons of the past two postseasons?
December game to watch – Dec. 11 vs. Bergen Catholic
- St. Joseph Metuchen (18-3-3) – This is the type of year non-Gordon schools build toward, as the Falcons could make the private semifinals for the first time in the two-tournament era. Skill and depth at every position give St. Joe the ability to tackle a daunting schedule.
December game to watch – Dec. 10 at Delbarton
- Bergen Catholic (7-13-3) – Having three coaches in less than a year is rarely a recipe for success, but the Crusaders are talented in goal and on defense and should develop as the season goes on.
December game to watch – Dec. 20 at Don Bosco Prep
- Gloucester Catholic (12-6) – Always a tough pick, but the Rams have some proven talent returning in both the senior and junior classes and should push the top three in division play.
December game to watch – Dec. 2 vs. Delbarton
- Ramsey (23-3-3) – The overwhelming favorite in the public ranks, Ramsey has standouts at each position and plenty of depth, but they’ll once again face a weak league schedule that may not be ideal preparation for the state tournament.
December game to watch – Dec. 13 at Indian Hills
- Randolph (15-9-2) – Always deep, always fast, and always just enough skill to win the state tournament. After three straight public titles, Randolph returns plenty, and it will be interesting to see if they can break through for a first Mennen Cup title since 2008.
December game to watch – Dec. 13 vs. Summit
- Summit (17-5-4) – These guys still have TEN players from the 2012 Public B championship team. Capable goaltending and an excellent top line make them a top challenger in Public B.
December game to watch – Dec. 3 vs. Brick Township
- Bridgewater-Raritan (21-5-4) – The Panthers only lost two players from last year’s team that reached the state final, and they return their entire forward corps.
December game to watch – Dec. 26 vs. Westfield
- Chatham (16-8-3) – Bonus squad here, as I got information on Chatham too late for the HNIB print deadline. The Cougars have just about everybody back from last year’s Public B title squad, so expect them to contend in the Mennen Division as well.
December game to watch – Dec. 6 vs. Randolph
There are plenty of other exciting teams and games to keep an eye on, and we’ll have coverage at NJHockey.org and the Twitter handle @NJ_Hockey all season long!