JY20: Back to the ice and some early storylines

December 8, 2015 on 10:26 am | In analysis, JY20 | No Comments

I really meant to have more written by now. I was supposed to be doing at least two blog items per week, a mix of covering this year’s hockey season, looking at general issues throughout our game, and occasionally reflecting back on my experiences, stories, and memories from New Jersey high school hockey.

But, as if to emphasize why my days doing this may be numbered, I just haven’t found the time. Continue reading JY20: Back to the ice and some early storylines…

JY20: Opening Day!

November 28, 2015 on 11:12 am | In JY20 | No Comments

It’s opening day for the New Jersey high school ice hockey season, and I’m sitting in a hotel room in Tulsa. Very strange.

But it’s great to know there will be scores to input tonight, the first of about 1,500 that will take us to the NJSIAA championship games on March 7. Continue reading JY20: Opening Day!…

JY20: How the season is organized

November 27, 2015 on 9:32 am | In analysis, JY20 | 2 Comments

With the high school hockey season about to start, it’s important to understand how the season works. Most of you already have a good idea, of course, but it’s worth repeating anyway.

There are 433 high schools that compete in sports as members of the NJSIAA (New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association). In ice hockey, however, there are 124 teams, plus four private schools that are not NJSIAA members, for 128 total New Jersey teams. Continue reading JY20: How the season is organized…

JY20: How I got hooked on high school hockey

November 18, 2015 on 9:25 am | In history, JY20 | No Comments

So if I’m going to do this – reflect on 20 years of covering high school ice hockey in New Jersey, while looking at the 2015-16 season as landmark year No. 20 – I should probably start at the beginning. How did I, someone who has never played a game of ice hockey in my life, someone who had never even been on skates, wind up so consumed by this little corner of the sport?

Well, the credit (or blame, depending on your perspective) has to start with my parents, probably with my mother. You see, when I was 6 or 7, I got the bright idea that I wanted to go to a New Jersey Devils game. Continue reading JY20: How I got hooked on high school hockey…

JY20: One weekend away, and I miss big news

November 16, 2015 on 7:02 pm | In breaking news, JY20 | No Comments

Donovan Catholic cancelledI returned on Sunday from a weekend broadcasting soccer in North Carolina, and, once I had time on Monday, I logged in to my @NJ_Hockey twitter account to see what I had missed. After all, practices had been going for a week, scrimmages would be starting soon, and surely there would be some chatter, some news.

There turned out to be a lot more than I anticipated! Continue reading JY20: One weekend away, and I miss big news…

JY20: An introduction

November 10, 2015 on 10:50 am | In history, JY20 | 2 Comments

trophy_closeupMonday marked the first day of practice for high school ice hockey teams in my home state of New Jersey, which means, in 2015-16, that it marks the beginning of my 20th year covering those teams. The milestone is bittersweet, because it will probably be my last year covering New Jersey high school hockey for Hockey Night in Boston and maybe even the last year of my website, NJHockey.org, which I have run since I was a freshman in college in 2001-02.

Increasing professional and family responsibilities mean less free time for the ‘hobby’ role that hockey takes, and while I am thrilled about everything going on in my life, it will definitely be strange for me if and when I am absent from the New Jersey hockey scene.

Over the years, I have been asked countless times – by coaches, parents, friends, roommates – WHY I keep track of every game played by boys’ varsity ice hockey teams in New Jersey. Why I stay up almost every night for four months inputting scores into three separate spreadsheets. Why this continued when I lived in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana and I saw very few games in person. Why I’ve continued to track and monitor a fairly average group of players and teams (no offense, guys!) in a sport that does not rank among New Jersey’s or the country’s most significant.

“I can’t imagine not doing it,” has probably been my most frequent response, and it’s true. If I stopped running my website, then decided in January that I wanted to know who was in first place in the Mennen Division, or how East Side was faring this season, how would I find that information? Would it be accurate? How often would it be updated? Would it reflect game results the way I would list them?

But there’s much more to it than that. For the last 20 years, despite never having played or coached the sport, I have been welcomed and accepted into a unique community of New Jersey hockey people. They rely on me and talk the game with me, and we all enjoy that. But they also root for me and support me and ask how they can help, and there are many I consider friends. Walking into a New Jersey hockey rink — most of them, anyway — feels like coming home. It is a community I cherish and love and will never forget.

Why do I love it so much? Maybe this 20th year of coverage, in which I intend to increase my published writing at blog.njhockey.org and continue to provide Twitter updates via @NJ_Hockey, will be my way of trying to explain and document why and how New Jersey high school ice hockey has been an integral part of my life every winter since before I even reached high school.

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the season!

Practices are underway in 2014-15, so what’s new in NJ hockey?

November 11, 2014 on 7:15 pm | In analysis | 3 Comments

A reminder that New Jersey hockey coverage is available via the Hockey Night in Boston website and the NJ_Hockey twitter feed.

With practices underway and the 2014-15 New Jersey hockey season set to start on November 29, here’s a look at what’s new on the hockey scene this fall.

Teams
In: Oratory Prep
Out: DePaul Catholic, Hudson Catholic, Dumont, Hackensack, Hightstown
New Name: Donovan Catholic (formerly Monsignor Donovan)
New Division Names: Big North Patriot, Freedom, Liberty replacing Gold, Silver, Green.
New Co-Ops:

  • Old Tappan / Demarest / Hasbrouck Heights (I will be referring to them as Northern Valley / Hasbrouck Heights)
  • Paramus / Lyndhurst / Hackensack
  • West Windsor-Plainsboro North / Ewing
  • Lawrence / Hightstown
  • Red Bank Regional / Henry Hudson Regional
  • Marlboro / Holmdel
  • Mount Olive / Hopatcong

All this shuffling means there should be 99 public-school programs in 2014-15, with Scotch Plains-Fanwood (enrollment figure 1,152) now the bubble team and Morristown (enrollment figure 1,139) EDIT: now definitely in Public B, by my calculations. the bubble team that could be assigned to either Public A or Public B. The defending Public B champion Colonials have appeared in three consecutive public finals (Public A in 2012, Public B in 2013-14).

Coaches
There are surely more coaching changes, but these are the ones I’ve heard about so far:

  • Dave McKenna (Bayonne)
  • Kyle Weise (Jackson Liberty)
  • Bryan Klimchak (Johnson)
  • Jim Dowd (Manasquan / Point Pleasant Beach)
  • Tony Nemati (Middletown South)
  • Andy Gojdycz (Montgomery)
  • Bill Bredin (Rumson-Fair Haven)
  • Mick Messemer (St. John Vianney)
  • Matt Hayes (Southern Regional)
  • Anthony Zipfel (Toms River East)
  • Justin Liscio (Wayne Valley)
  • Joe Bertucci (Westfield)

Divisions
With the addition of an eighth team, Union County will split into two divisions for a 10-game league schedule (3 division opponents x2, 4 crossovers x1). One division will include Cranford, Johnson, Summit, and Westfield, while the other will consist of Dayton / Brearley, Governor Livingston, Oratory Prep, and Scotch Plains-Fanwood.

The Shore Conference’s biannual realignment resulted in three Shore A divisions (North, Central, South) and one Shore B division. Yes, CBA still plays a full Shore schedule.

Around the state, teams switching divisions include:

  • Pope John switch with Gloucester Catholic (Gordon American/National)
  • Montville switch with Sparta (MCSSIHL Halvorsen/Haas)
  • High Point / Wallkill Valley switch with Par Hills / Parsippany (MCSSIHL Haas/Charette)
  • Freehold Boro / Raritan switch with Middletown South (Shore A North/Shore B)
  • Manasquan / Point Pleasant Beach switch with Red Bank / Henry Hudson (Shore A Central/Shore B)
  • Donovan Catholic switch with Ocean Township / Shore Regional (Shore A Central/B)

Tournaments

  • Four of the top non-Gordon private schools will play an in-season tournament called the Egan Cup, named in honor of former Mercer Chiefs player Nick Egan. Notre Dame started the tournament and is joined by Montclair Kimberley, Red Bank Catholic, and St. Joseph Metuchen. The teams will play an in-season round-robin before pairing off into 1st vs. 2nd and 3rd vs. 4th matchups on Jan. 9.
  • Bergen Catholic will play in a late-December tournament in Bridgeport, Connecticut, opening against Notre Dame (Fairfield). I haven’t figured out the Day 2 matchups.
  • Delbarton will play an end-of-regular-season tournament in West Springfield, Massachusetts, opening against Rhode Island’s Bishop Hendricken. Springfield Cathedral is the host, but I haven’t figured out the fourth team yet.

NJSIAA Resources
OK, so not all of these are new. But they are always handy links to have:

What else?
What’d I miss? Plenty, I’m sure. Let me know what else is new in 2014-15 in the comments section or on Twitter.

Happy hockey season!

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