Public group changes for 2013-14

August 1, 2013 on 12:15 pm | In analysis, breaking news | 1 Comment

The NJSIAA has thoughtfully released its classifications for the 2013-14 year via its web site, and they always make for fascinating reading.

The key when considering hockey implications is the distinction between Public A and Public B. I currently expect there to be 103 102 teams on the public school side next year, so there will be 51 in Public A and 51 in Public B.

However, there are some factors to consider other than pure enrollment. Last year, the NJSIAA made the decision to place all co-op programs in the Public A field. While I disagree with that decision, I do understand its logic. However, I believe most coaches were not informed until the season was well underway (if they were informed at all), and so I hope the Public A / B split will be a little more transparent from the beginning this year.

New co-op programs are all the rage, since the NJSIAA Executive Committee now allows schools of any size to co-op for hockey and has set a precedent of allowing schools to co-op with different partners than in other sports. The text of the NJSIAA bylaw change includes the text: “A Cooperative Sports Program in the sport of ice hockey may be formed between schools of any Group, as long as the program meets all other requirements of the Bylaws and the Guidelines for Cooperative Sports Programs and the program will not diminish the playing opportunities for student-athletes of the two schools or adversely affect competitive balance.”

With those changes come at least three new co-ops in 2013-14 (and several others are allowed to stay). Here’s the story on Lyndhurst and Paramus and its story on Old Tappan and Hasbrouck Heights. And the Trentonian article on Nottingham and Hamilton. Those three co-ops will drop several teams down into the Public B ranks for 2013-14. I got a Thursday afternoon update that J.P. Stevens and Edison, both Group IV schools with struggling programs, intend to co-op in 2013-14. All lists below are assuming that co-op agreement goes through.

As a reminder, NJSIAA enrollment figures are the number of students expected in grades 10-12 for the upcoming year, NOT the school’s total enrollment.

Here are the teams I expect to move up to Public A in 2013-14:
1,833 Nottingham / Hamilton (new co-op)
1,463 Paramus / Lyndhurst (new co-op)
1,413 Old Tappan / Hasbrouck Heights (new co-op)

Co-ops whose enrollment places them in Public B but might still be placed in Public A:
1,001 Manasquan / Point Pleasant Beach
884 Verona / Glen Ridge
778 Dayton / Brearley

Teams that could drop to Public B in 2013-14 IF all co-ops are placed in Public A:
1,132 Millburn
1,120 Scotch Plains-Fanwood
1,114 Wayne Valley

Teams I expect to drop to Public B in 2013-14:
1,096 Roxbury
1,088 Toms River South
1,088 Middletown North
1,049 Steinert
1,049 Mount Olive

Suggested seedings, 2013

February 19, 2013 on 3:27 am | In analysis | 2 Comments

Every year, I try to figure out how teams should be seeded in the NJSIAA state tournaments. I’ve been in good contact with the New Jersey hockey community this year, but since I still haven’t seen any games in person, I do my best to base the seedings on conclusions drawn logically from team results. The real seeding committee is meeting Tuesday afternoon, and we should hear about the brackets that night.

A reminder: These are how I think the teams should be seeded, not how I think they will actually be placed. I am including several potential at-large teams, although I do not have any information about which teams will be selected. When possible, I tried to avoid likely intra-league matchups, but it has to happen occasionally. Read on for the full lists. Continue reading Suggested seedings, 2013…

Hockey season starts tomorrow!

November 29, 2012 on 11:24 pm | In analysis | No Comments

The New Jersey hockey season starts tomorrow with an official November face-off for the first time ever! Princeton and Hightstown play at 3 p.m. to get us started, one of 25 games on the state docket tomorrow.

I’m waist-deep in free-lance soccer and football at the moment, which is a good but exhausting feeling. So instead of original thoughts, I’m going to share the top 10 from my Hockey Night in Boston preview, which is due to hit rinks around the state on December 5! Be sure to check it out.

1. Delbarton (29-1)
2. CBA (19-5-5)
3. Don Bosco Prep (23-4-1)
4. St. Augustine Prep (7-10-4)
5. Morristown-Beard (15-8-4)
6. Gloucester Catholic (7-12-2)
7. MKA (19-5)
8. Morris Knolls (19-5-3)
9. Bergen Catholic (7-12)
10. Morristown (22-5)

St. Augustine vs. Morristown-Beard (Nos. 4 vs. 5) meet on opening day, and CBA is set to host Delbarton on December 5! I don’t think Delbarton – which is very inexperienced on defense and could see some of its record streaks threatened this year – is very happy about playing its top challenger that early in the season. We’ll see how this version of the Green Wave handles it.

Please note an addition to my standings and division by division pages – I will be attempting to track the standings of the Independence League this year, as both Hun and Pennington compete alongside six Pennsylvania prep schools.

Elsewhere, High Point has added Wallkill Valley as a co-op, which moves the Wildcats to Public A and drops Middletown North into Public B. In related news, the NJSIAA has thoughtfully (but ineptly) posted its Public A / Public B breakdown for the 2012-13 season (tournament regulations, page 10). The initial version was just ridiculous – it was based on last season’s enrollment figures and listed a mish-mash of schools that included Vineland High School. Whoops. There have been changes since then, but there are still a few mistakes:

1. The new co-op of High Point / Wallkill Valley is not listed; instead, Wallkill Valley is listed alone with its own enrollment. Likewise, Park Regional is listed under Hanover Park’s enrollment in Public B. Once those co-ops are factored in, both teams should be in Public A, and both Middletown North and Mount Olive should drop to Public B.

2. The list omits Manalapan (A), Jackson Liberty (B), Jackson Memorial (A), and Sparta (B) altogether. Having managed to miss two teams from each group, this does not affect the cutoff point.

3. Roxbury is erroneously listed with an enrollment figure of 1,172 rather than the proper 1,082, which makes Roxbury the smallest school to stay in Public A.

4. In the list of private teams, new program Gill St. Bernard’s is not included.

Mackay Park shut down for 2012-13

November 2, 2012 on 11:24 pm | In breaking news | 1 Comment

According to the Bergen Record, the rink at Mackay Park in Englewood – home to Tenafly and Old Tappan – will not open in 2012-13 after Hurricane Sandy caused damage to the recently renovated facility’s roof. The whole article, written by Rebecca Baker, is available here.

Although there had been a delay in issuing schedules for both schools, due to the offseason renovations, most games had recently been announced, with Old Tappan scheduling seven home games and Tenafly five, with another two still to come.

As far as other New Jersey rinks go, I have not heard of damages to any specific facilities. The Red Bank Armory website says it is closed until further notice but does list scheduled events as soon as Tuesday, November 6; the Ice House website says it will be closed Nov. 2-4 at a minimum.

Of course, thoughts are with everybody trying to recover from the disaster, and we hope the hockey community continues to help wherever there is a need.

Quick hit – Parsippany, ParHills go co-op

September 23, 2012 on 10:23 pm | In breaking news | No Comments

A long-suggested, long-rumored co-op agreement uniting Parsippany and Parsippany Hills for ice hockey has been approved by the NJSIAA, according to the minutes of the September 13 meeting of league and conference officers. The two schools have played independently since beginning hockey programs as independents in 1998-99 (they began MCSSIHL league play in 1999-2000).

I first noticed that scheduled games against Parsippany had been dropped on several teams’ Haas/Charette Division schedules, replaced with open dates or non-league contests. The NJSIAA minutes confirmed the rumor, although I have not yet heard what names the co-op team will go by or who will coach it.

The meeting also included approval of a waiver to allow schools to co-op with different schools in different sports, likely paving the way for Dumont and Demarest to join forces in ice hockey. Technically, I believe that co-op agreement has yet to be approved.

Parsippany and Parsippany Hills (I hope they go with a ‘Regional’ title rather than picking one of the schools – easier for both sets of fans to get behind) have always struggled to field winning programs, reaching the state tournament three times each in 14 seasons. The annual Iceman Trophy game was always heated and entertaining, but the co-op move will give them a better chance to be successful on a consistent basis. Parsippany tied for the Charette Division title last year while going 8-9-1 overall; Parsippany Hills was 5-16.

The schools’ combined NJSIAA enrollment number is 1,623 (854 ParHills, 769 Parsippany), which places the co-op team in Public A and shifts Mount Olive onto the bubble between Public A and Public B. The Parsippany schools will form the fourth-largest co-op, in terms of enrollment, trailing Freehold Boro/Raritan (1.832), Dumont/Demarest (1,647), and Lawrence/Ewing (1,631). All four co-ops are among the 15 highest hockey enrollments among public schools. Of the 14 total co-op teams, 11 will compete in Public A in 2012-13.

Parsippany and Parsippany Hills join Dumont and Demarest (assuming their arrangement is approved) as new co-ops formed by contracting two teams into one, with Lawrence and Ewing (first season 2010-11) the only other such move I can recall since Hanover Park and Whippany Park merged in 1989-90 or 1990-91.

Breaking News: Morristown, Middletown South to Public B in 2012-13

August 19, 2012 on 4:11 pm | In breaking news | No Comments

I just saw that the NJSIAA has released its 2012-13 enrollment figures, and based on those numbers, I anticipate some big changes in which public schools are classified as Public A or Public B this year.

The big shocker is that two of last year’s four Public A semifinalists will be classified as Public B for 2012-13. Morristown, which reached the Public A championship game last year, has dropped to Public B with an enrollment of 1,033, down from 1,106 last year. There are three or four schools between the Colonials and the Public A tournament, depending on the status of East Side. That is a huge power swing and establishes Morristown as a firm preseason favorite in Public B. The Colonials had been classified as Public A since the inception of the two-class system in 2007-08. Middletown South, meanwhile, saw a huge dip in listed enrollment, from 1,120 to 944, and will also be in Public B. The Eagles were classified as Public B in 2010-11, when they lost to Chatham in the final, but have otherwise been in Public A.

One of the other major swing schools is Brick Township, which has swung back up to Public A with an enrollment of 1,104 (1,099 last year). Park Regional, with the combined enrollment of Hanover Park and Whippany Park coming in at 1,083 (1,051 last year), has also gone up to Public A. A full list of the changes and bubble teams is below.

These numbers are of course provisional and based on my calculations. Including East Side and newcomer Colts Neck, listing Dumont and Demarest as a single co-op, and assuming all of last year’s co-ops stayed the same (not always a safe assumption!), I count 106 public schools. The top 53 are Public A, the bottom 53 are Public B. The NJSIAA will of course have the last word on this, but for now, it looks like Morristown and Middletown South will join Kinnelon, Ramsey, Summit, and Tenafly as some of the Public B favorites.

Here’s a look at some of the schools on either side of the dividing line, going all the way down to Middletown South. Changes in italics.

School Enroll.
TRS 1,105-A
Millburn 1,105-A (up)
Brick Township 1,104-A (up)
Colts Neck 1,091-A (new)
Park Regional (co-op) 1,083-A (up)
Roxbury 1,082-A
Middletown North 1,080-A
Mount Olive 1,073-A
Public A/Public B dividing line
Woodbridge 1,055-B (down)
Manasquan (co-op) 1,047-B (down)
West Morris Central 1,043-B
Montville 1,037-B
Morristown 1,033-B (down)
Colonia 1,028-B
Old Tappan 1,027-B
West Morris Mendham 1,019-B
JFK Memorial (Iselin) 1,008-B
Hightstown 1,007-B
Princeton 1,003-B
Wayne Hills 998-B
East Side 998-B (back?)
Vernon 997-B
Jackson Liberty 992-B
Northern Highlands 991-B
Paramus 990-B
Nutley 989-B
Passaic Valley 973-B
West Milford 949-B
Middletown South 944-B (down)

Offseason 2012: Realignment affects most leagues

August 19, 2012 on 3:11 pm | In analysis, breaking news | No Comments

If it’s August, the school year is close upon us, and that means hockey can’t be far behind. I’ve started seeing preliminary schedules for a few schools, especially those in the MCSSIHL and Big North leagues, so I thought I’d post an update on a few things I’m seeing:

In Morris County, as had been previously reported, Gill St. Bernard’s (back to varsity status) and Sparta (NJIHL West) have joined, bringing the league total to 22 teams. I’m not sure how Pingry (asked to leave the MCSSIHL ostensibly because it wasn’t a Morris County school) feels about that, but it creates three very competitive divisions, in my opinion. It will be the first season for Gill St. Bernard’s in the MCSSIHL since 1979-80 or 1980-81, back in the days of Chatham Township, Chatham Borough, Hanover Park, and Whippany Park each competing separately.

The Mennen Division will play 11 league games (five division opponents twice each, plus one crossover game), which will leave a lot of room for creative non-league scheduling.

The Halvorsen Division and Haas/Charette Division will play 14 league games (seven division opponents twice each), with six Halvorsen schools playing crossover games against the Mennen Division that won’t count in the league standings.

Six teams will qualify for each of the three postseason cup tournaments. Here’s a look at the alignment:

Mennen Halvorsen Haas/Charette
Chatham Jefferson Gill St. Bernard’s
Kinnelon Montville Madison
Morris Knolls Mountain Lakes Morris Catholic
Morristown Pequannock Morris Hills
Morristown-Beard Roxbury Mount Olive
Randolph Sparta Park Regional
West Morris Central Parsippany
West Morris Mendham Parsippany Hills

With such a large non-league schedule available to Morris County teams, I’ve been wondering if some of the top publics will need to look out of state for games. New Jersey private schools have long played their Pennsylvania counterparts (LaSalle, Malvern Prep, Holy Ghost Prep); why not the public schools? Who wouldn’t want to see Randolph face Pennsylvania Class AA state champion Council Rock South or Kinnelon take on Flyers Cup Class A champion West Chester Rustin? These would be competitive, interesting matchups.

Pennsylvania public schools, however, run their hockey teams under the auspices of USA Hockey, a club organization. Would the NJSIAA allow varsity teams to play club teams? I have to believe it’s happened before, and it already happens when private schools play their Pennsylvania counterparts, so I hope the answer is yes.

If the NJSIAA were to approve non-league games against USA Hockey high school teams from Pennsylvania, it seems to follow that it would allow games against USA Hockey high school teams from New Jersey as well, which would allow teams from the SJHSIHL, such as AA Flyers Cup runner-up Cherokee, to play NJSIAA teams in non-league games. The SJHSIHL’s seven Tier I teams are all single-school clubs, so it would be a fair fight. I bet Paul VI, St. Joseph Hammonton, and even some CVC and Shore Conference schools would be a big fan of that option! Just speculation on my part, but interesting.

Moving on, the Big North Conference also saw major realignment. I haven’t been able to confirm this yet, but it seems to have had more to do with rink location than anything else. As reported by in July, the Dumont and Demarest hockey programs were at risk of being shut down, so even though Dumont was already running a co-op with New Milford, they sought to add Demarest to the puzzle. A team known as “Dumont-Demarest” is listed in the Big North, so I don’t know if New Milford was cut out of the co-op or if another solution was found. (EDIT: Based on an August 19 NJSIAA meeting, the hold-up is Dumont’s co-op arrangement with New Milford in swimming; the NJSIAA is considering a waiver to allow multiple co-op agreements and should rule in September.)

It’s a little odd, since 24 teams are broken up 9-9-7 instead of 9-8-8, but again, it seems to mostly go by rink — the entire Green Division plays at the Ice Vault, the Gold Division is split between Floyd Hall and the Ice House (plus Bayonne), while the Silver is split between the Ice House and Sport-O-Rama (plus Mackay).

Gold Silver Green
Bayonne Glen Rock DePaul Catholic
Clifton Northern Highlands Indian Hills
Dumont-Demarest Old Tappan Lakeland
Fair Lawn Paramus Mahwah
Hackensack Pascack Valley Ramapo
Paramus Catholic St. Joseph Montvale Ramsey
Passaic Valley Tenafly Wayne Hills
Ridgewood Wayne Valley
River Dell West Milford

The most infamous realignment, of course comes in the Shore Conference, where I’ve heard a number of complaints from hockey coaches and parents over the last six months about some of the matchups we’re going to see. I have to agree that the divisions don’t make sense for hockey, and some of the games involving CBA and Red Bank Catholic really do seem like they could be dangerous to players.

These divisions are based on the normal Shore Conference alignment, with each team playing each division opponent twice (12 games for all divisions except Shore B North, which will have 10):

Shore A North Shore A South
CBA Brick Memorial
Freehold Township Brick Township
Howell Jackson Memorial
Manalapan Southern Regional
Marlboro Toms River East
Middletown North Toms River North
Middletown South Toms River South
Shore B North Shore B South
Ocean Township Colts Neck
Red Bank Catholic Freehold Boro
Red Bank Regional Jackson Liberty
Rumson-Fair Haven Manasquan
St. John Vianney Monsignor Donovan
St. Rose Point Pleasant Borough

I expect the various regional leagues – Union County, the Greater Middlesex Conference, and the Skyland Conference – to remain the same, while the NJIHL West appears set to carry on with five teams and the NJIHL Northern with its set group. No word yet on the status of East Side for 2012-13. Finally, Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic switched spots in the Gordon Conference, making the American Division a pretty good group of CBA-Delbarton-Don Bosco-Gloucester Catholic-St. Augustine. CBA will once again sign up for 25 league games (13 Gordon, 12 Shore A North), two over the listed maximum, but it wouldn’t surprise me if a few of those games never got (re)scheduled.

I’ve got my schedules started, so feel free to send them my way at jty [at], and I’ll post them publicly at some point this fall.

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