State finals tripleheader – live blog

March 9, 2012 on 5:25 pm | In breaking news | 1 Comment

I kept a running blog of Friday’s state championship games. It’s a little long, but hopefully it gives you some idea of the evening and perhaps some perspectives you might not get from newspaper recaps. Check it out after the jump: Continue reading State finals tripleheader – live blog…

State semifinal key moments

March 7, 2012 on 12:54 am | In analysis, game recap | Comments Off on State semifinal key moments

I was able to trek up to Mennen Arena for Tuesday’s state semifinal tripleheader (unfortunately I won’t be able to make Wednesday’s games, but I will see the finals on Friday for the first time since I was in high school), and while the final scores weren’t all that close, each game was intriguing in its own way. The biggest storyline across all three games, however, was the favored teams producing an immediate response to the underdogs’ big chance at a comeback. Remarkably, each of the three winning teams scored within 35 seconds of the opponent scoring what could have been a momentum-gaining goal. Read on for the details. Continue reading State semifinal key moments…

Historic underdogs

March 2, 2012 on 4:23 pm | In analysis | 1 Comment

I’m in the middle of soccer work in Florida – you can catch me on ESPN3 Saturday night at 6 and 8 p.m.! – but had to write a quick post about some of the amazing underdogs still going in this year’s public tournaments.

Of 15 games on Thursday, four went to overtime and another five were upsets, so it was quite a night. In the end, four double-digit seeds (No. 13 Pascack Valley in Public A, No. 15 Glen Rock in Public B, No. 21 Point Pleasant Borough in Public B, and No. 27 Montville in Public B) reached the group quarterfinals.

This is not unprecedented; the 2010 public tournaments saw six of the 16 combined quarterfinalists be double-digit seeds, including Public A champion Toms River South (No. 16), Public B runner-up Hopewell Valley (No. 10), and Public B semifinalist Madison (No. 21). But we’ve never seen two seeds ranked 20th or lower reach the quarterfinals as we have this year with No. 27 Montville and No. 21 Point Pleasant Borough.

For my money, Montville should not have even been in the tournament. Its staff was unable to avoid a scheduling situation that kept both Montville and Parsippany from qualifying automatically, and its team failed to deliver in a win-and-in game against Mountain Lakes. The Mustangs’ best result was a tie against Princeton. But Montville did play a tough schedule – including seven non-league games against teams still playing and two more against teams that lost on Thursday – and got the bid. Montville has certainly made the most of its chance, stunning sixth-seeded Ramapo (highest-seeded team ever to lose in the preliminary round) and Indian Hills in a four-day span. To put it in perspective, they probably would’ve been seeded around No. 50 in the old, single-public-tournament format, while Ramapo would have been around 17.

Point Pleasant, meanwhile, had a great season but struggled head-to-head against Marlboro and was hard to rank due to its schedule. The Panthers have certainly proved themselves now, edging streaky Lakeland 2-1 and taking down Big North Silver champion Paramus, seeded fifth, 4-3. Now the common thread here? Four teams from the Big North – Silver frontrunners, Green contenders – failing to perform on the big stage. Something to keep in mind and a reason to schedule more non-league games during the regular season!

At any rate, in the five years of the Public A/B split, only one other 20+ seed has reached the quarterfinals, and that was upstart Madison in 2010, a team that ultimately reached the semifinals before losing to eventual champion West Essex. Two other underdogs for the ages reached the quarterfinals as 20+ seeds in 2003 and 2005. Fair Lawn, seeded 25th, stunned No. 8 Montclair en route to the quarters in 03, while a No. 22 seed surprised teams seeded 11th and 6th before falling in overtime to No. 1 Randolph in 2005. That team? Montville’s opponent on Sunday, Tenafly.

Overall, in the five years of split tournaments, 18 teams have reached the quarterfinals as a double-digit seed, and those teams have a 4-10 record (with four games to be played this weekend) in the quarterfinals. In the 13 years of one public tournament, 19 double-digit seeds reached the quarterfinals, amassing a 3-16 record in the quarters. Despite the numbers, I hope the underdogs come out firing this weekend, because they certainly have a shot at things. If I had to pick one of the four double-digit seeds to advance, it would be Point Pleasant, although Tenafly certainly looked vulnerable against Park Regional.

Hit the rinks this weekend and let me know how the games are – I’ll be back in Jersey to see some of the semifinals and all of the finals next week!

Suggested seedings, 2012

February 20, 2012 on 9:08 pm | In Uncategorized | 9 Comments

You all know I love trying to figure out how teams should be seeded in the NJSIAA state tournaments. It’s a virtually impossible task (and a thankless one for those who actually have to do it) that lends itself to much debate, especially with the regionalized schedules of recent years.

I haven’t seen a lot of games or teams this year, but I’ve tried to stay on top of the goings-on, so here’s my attempt at seedings. A reminder: These are how I think the teams should be seeded, not how I think they will actually be placed. I am not including potential at-large teams. These took a while and got really complicated in the middle of the public brackets because of the lack of inter-regional play. When possible, I tried to avoid likely intra-league matchups, but it has to happen occasionally.

Post comments and suggestions below, and please use logic based in results or standings if you want to sway my opinion!

* somebody did sway my opinion, providing some additional information about the Cranford-Wall game, which was used to rank different regions. Feel free to write in with your thoughts below.

PRIVATE
1. Delbarton (22-1) – An easy one. Unbeaten against N.J. teams since the 2010 Gordon Cup
2. Don Bosco Prep (21-2-1) – Another easy one, despite late-season slip-up against CBA
3. CBA (15-3-5) – Thought long and hard, but they just seem more dangerous than anybody else after rebounding from a rough January
4. Morristown-Beard (13-5-4) – Almost ranked them No. 3, but CBA’s February win over DBP tipped the tables
5. St. Augustine Prep (6-8-4) – Picking the mid-Gordon teams over the top non-Gordons was a tough call. Hermits’ loss to PDS came early in season, and it makes for better matchups
6. Gloucester Catholic (6-10-1) – Playing best hockey now but lost season series to St. Augustine
7. Montclair Kimberley (17-4) – Beat Pin, BE, SHP handily, lost to MB handily
8. Pingry (14-10) – Best win was against PDS, benefitted from Mtgry wins over SJMet, RBC
9. Notre Dame (20-2-2) – Lost to PDS but beat SJMet, SHP, PJ head-to-head
10. St. Joseph Metuchen (17-3-1) – Losses to ND, Mtgry, PDS; beat Rwood, SJV, PJ, StR
11. St. Joseph Montvale (16-4-2) – Lost to Rwood, 1-0-1 vs. PC
12. Paramus Catholic (18-3-3) – 0-1-1 vs. SJMont, beat MsgrF-NY
13. Red Bank Catholic (9-9-6) – Inconsistent but lost to Rid, PDS, Mtgry, PJ; tied MsgrF-NY
14. St. Peter’s Prep (6-14-2) – Lost to Lville, RBC in only games vs. NJ non-Gordon teams
15. St. Rose (17-4-2) – Lost to SJMet and three Shore C/D tms but wins vs. SJV and SHP
16. Seton Hall Prep (7-15-2) – Lost to StR, finished 3rd in National Div., beat BC head-to-head
17. Bergen Catholic (6-10) – 1-1 vs. BE/PJ but had (early) wins over SA, GC, SPP
18. Bishop Eustace (5-14-2) – Split with PJ but beat SHP, SPP
19. Pope John (7-14-2) – Beat SJV and RBC but went 0-1-1 vs. ND, struggled in Gordon
20. St. John Vianney (7-15-2) – Lost to SJMet, PJ, StR; best results came in Shore B
21. Paul VI (8-9-2) – Tied SJHam but stronger strength of schedule
22. St. Joseph Hammonton (7-4-6) – Got in via weak schedule

PUBLIC A
1. Randolph (17-1-4) – An easy choice as Mennen Division champions with non-league win over Rid
2. Morris Knolls (15-4-3) – Finished second in Mennen, beat Mtgry, Rmpo, Ten, GR
3. Morristown (18-3) – Went 3-2 vs. Mennen Div., beat Rid, Hboro
4. Ridge (15-6-2) – Went 7-0-1 down stretch in Skyland, beat MidS, RBC
5. Middletown South (15-5-2) – Best public-private result with win vs. CBA but inconsistent in losing to Rid, How, SJV
6. Montgomery (19-5) – Went 2-1 vs. Rid, 1-1 vs. BR, beat SB, Mboro, SJMet, RBC, lost to MK
7. Bridgewater-Raritan (17-5-1) – Beat West, Mnroe, OB but went just 4-3 down stretch
8. Hillsborough (11-10-2) – Good wins over BR, Cha make up for tie with OB (which lost to SJMet 0-9), but it was close
9. Ridgewood (17-5-2) – Limited good wins; lost 7-5 to SJMet
10. Westfield (11-9-3) – Beat Rbville, tied Rwood
11. Robbinsville (14-7-3) – lost to West but beat How 4-3
12. Howell (11-10-3) – lost to Rbville but beat GR, split with MidS, tied Para
13. Pascack Valley (13-7-1) – Fell behind How due to tie w. GR; beat Liv
14. South Brunswick (14-3-1) – Best of the rest despite losses to Mtgry, HV
15. Roxbury (14-7-4) – Good in Bridgewater tournament, including win vs. Hboro, but 2-3-1 record down stretch hurt chances
16. Old Bridge (13-4-5) – Finished behind SB, but tied Hboro, dropping below Rox
17. Wayne Valley (11-8-4) – Beat Rmpo for best win, tied NH; lost to Kin 1-3
18. Marlboro (13-8) – With lack of common opponents, loss to Kin 1-6 proves decisive
19. Manasquan (11-10) – Technically, playoff loss to Marlboro shouldn’t factor in, but knowing that it happened, I just couldn’t rank them in a different order
20. Livingston (12-9-2) – Beat Spa but lost to MtO
21. Montclair (10-9-3) – tied NLV head-to-head and played decent schedule but struggled in weak division
22. West Orange (14-8-2) – Head-to-head win over NLV ranked its entire division higher
23. Newton-Lenape Valley (17-4-1) – loss to WO erased wins over Lak, MtO and tie w. Mclr
24. Bernards (13-9-1) – lost to Vero, Mad but stays ahead of FL by virtue of wins over WayH, WM
25. Mount Olive (12-11-1) – beat Liv but tied Spa and lost to Ber, NLV head-to-head
26. Fair Lawn (10-12-1) – losses to Mclr, WayH, WM
27. WWPN (10-9-1) – lost to MtO, best win MidN
28. Woodbridge (10-9-1) – lost to SPF, Dem, Bay

PUBLIC B

1. Kinnelon (16-6) – The only team to beat Public A top seed Ran also split with Public A No. 2 MK and beat Rmsy, Spa, and several respectable private schools
2. Chatham (14-9-1) – Split with Kin, lost to MK twice by one goal, beat Sum, Spa, Pin, Rbville
3. Summit (17-4-2) – Beat Rid, Mah 9-1, tied BR, MidS
4. Tenafly (19-2-1) – Lost to MK 5-1, no wins outside of Big North
5. Paramus (15-5-2) – Big North Silver reg. season champion stays high despite non-league losses to Mah, Rox and tie w. How
6. Ramapo (11-3-2) – Its 4-0 win over BM and OT loss to MK helped entire region rise in seeding
7. Northern Highlands (14-6-3) – Beat Rmsy, 1-2 vs. Rmpo, and had two close losses vs. Ten
8. Ramsey (14-6-1) – Beat BM in OT, respectable in close losses to Kin (3-4) and Ran (0-3)
9. Brick Township (11-5-4) – Now you see why we highlighted others’ wins over BM; Bri 1-0-1 (1-0-2 after deadline) vs. BM with win by one goal; only significant wins were 3-1 record vs. Shore B. Went 0-1-1 vs. MidS, tied RBC.
10. Mendham (12-10-1) – Lost just 1-0 to Sum, beat John twice
11. Indian Hills (13-7-3) – Beat NLV, Ber but lost to Vero; bailed out by solid record of division teams
12. Lakeland (16-7-1) – Went 2-0 (3-0 after deadline) vs. GR to get higher seed but lost to NLV
13. Glen Rock (12-9-2) – Beat Vero, Pri; tied Ran, PkV and lost to MK only 2-1
14. Mahwah (11-8-3) – Beat Para, Reg, but lost to Sum 9-1, hurting other division teams based on comparative score vs. Men
15. Rumson-Fair Haven (15-2) – Did not play outside the Shore but went 1-1 vs. Wall, Point Pleasant
16. Wall (16-5-3) – One of top teams in tight Shore B race; loss to Cra an outlier that came without five starters
17. Nutley (13-9) – Beat John, Reg, ML and gets edge over Verona based on winning most recent head-to-head game
18. Verona (14-7-3) – Loss to GR, lack of other big results trumps win over IH
19. Point Pleasant Borough (16-3-2) – Went 1-1 against RFH, Wall, but remaining schedule was weak
20. Princeton (14-5-2) – Lost to GR, HV but beat Cra and split with Rbville
21. Hopewell Valley (11-8) – Beat SB, Pri but struggled otherwise
22. Johnson (12-8-2) – Did well enough to finish third in Union Cty but lost to Nut, Men, MidN
23. Cranford (11-8-2) – Wins over Wall, OB crucial in seeding process; lost to Pri
24. Park Regional (12-8-1) – Won Haas Division but lost to Nut, Mah
25. Wayne Hills (10-12-1) – Split with SJMont but had few other good wins; lost to Ber
26. Pequannock (13-6-4) – Lost to FrT and tied Vero but beat Spa
27. Madison (10-11) – Beat Ber, Spa but lost to John
28. Sparta (13-9-1) – Best win vs. WE; lost to Kin, Cha, Mad, Peq

State tournament qualifiers

February 14, 2012 on 12:41 pm | In breaking news | Comments Off on State tournament qualifiers

I hope to update the main part of the site when I get access to an appropriate computer some time this week, but for now here are the qualifying teams for the state tournament.

Before I present the lists, a few notes:

1. There are very few deserving at-large teams this year. I love the at-large rule but believe it should be used for teams punished by their strength of schedule, which makes Brick  Memorial and maybe WWPS the only viable candidates in my opinion. Even those are a bit shaky.

2. Toms River North is not included due to exceeding the state limit on player disqualifications.

3. Morris County missed out on a huge chance to get two extra teams in the tournament by scheduling Parsippany (likely loss) to play Monday in the Haas Cup and Montville (likely win) to play Tuesday. Had those games been switched, both teams would have qualified; as it stands, neither will. I’m a fan of scheduling playoff games in advance, but this is one where a little switch would have made a huge difference. I’m also surprised Montville played its non-league game against Mendham on Saturday; a simple postponement also would have gotten the Mustangs into the tournament.

Private (22 tms)
Delbarton 19-1
Don Bosco Prep 20-2-1
Notre Dame 18-2-2
St. Joseph Metuchen 16-3-1
Montclair Kimberley 16-4
Paramus Catholic 16-3-3
St. Rose 17-4-2
CBA 15-3-5
St. Joseph Montvale 14-4-2
Morristown-Beard 12-5-4
St. John Vianney 12-6-3
St. Joseph Hammonton 7-4-6
Pingry 13-10
Red Bank Catholic 9-7-6
Paul VI 8-8-2
St. Augustine Prep 5-8-4 (automatic)
Gloucester Catholic 6-9-1 (automatic)
Bergen Catholic 5-10 (automatic)
Pope John 6-13-2 (automatic)
St. Peter’s Prep 6-13-2 (automatic)
Seton Hall Prep 6-14-2 (automatic)
Bishop Eustace 5-13-2 (automatic)

Public A (28 tms)
Randolph 16-1-4
Morristown 17-3
South Brunswick 13-3-1
Newton-Lenape Valley 16-4-1
Morris Knolls 15-3-3
Montgomery 17-5
Bridgewater-Raritan 15-5-1
Ridge 15-5-2
Ridgewood 15-5-2
Middletown South 14-5-2
Old Bridge 13-4-5
West Orange 14-6-2
Robbinsville 13-6-3
Roxbury 14-7-3
Pascack Valley 13-7-1
Marlboro 11-7
Wayne Valley 11-7-4
Bernards 13-9
Manasquan 11-8
Montclair 10-7-3
Westfield 10-8-3
Hillsborough 11-9-2
Livingston 11-9-2
WWPN 9-8-1
Woodbridge 10-9-1
Howell 10-9-3
Mount Olive 12-11-1
Fair Lawn 10-10-1

Public B (28 tms)
Rumson-Fair Haven 15-2
Tenafly 18-2-1
Point Pleasant Borough 15-2-2
Summit 16-3-2
Paramus 15-4-2
Wall 15-5-3
Lakeland 15-6-1
Kinnelon 14-6
Princeton 12-5-2
Ramsey 13-6-1
Northern Highlands 13-6-2
Brick Township 11-5-3
Ramapo 12-6-3
Verona 13-7-3
Chatham 14-8-1
Pequannock 11-6-4
Indian Hills 12-7-3
Hopewell Valley 11-7
Park Regional 12-8
Johnson 11-7-2
Mendham 12-8-1
Glen Rock 12-8-2
Cranford 11-8-2
Sparta 12-9-1
Nutley 11-9
Mahwah 10-8-3
Wayne Hills 10-10-1
Madison 10-10

A few numbers as tourney time approaches

February 7, 2012 on 5:08 pm | In analysis | 2 Comments

With the state tournament cutoff date approaching on Monday, everybody’s trying to figure out what the tournament fields will look like. It’s surprisingly clear-cut at the moment, with my projections finding 78 teams likely to qualify (21 private, 28 Public A, 29 Public B). There could be some surprises, and there could be some at-large bids, but let’s take a look at some numbers about the projected qualifiers.

Public A – top 5 overall win %

Randolph .850 (15-1-4)
Morristown .842 (16-3)
South Brunswick .833 (12-2-1)
Newton-Len. Val. .816 (15-3-1)
Morris Knolls .775 (14-3-3)

Public A – top 5 win % vs. projected qualifiers, all groups

Randolph .813 (11-1-4)
Morris Knolls .719 (10-3-3)
Morristown .700 (7-3)
Montgomery .667 (10-5)
Ridge .643 (9-5)

Public A – top 5 win % vs. all Public A tms

Roxbury 1.000 (5-0)
Ridgewood .950 (9-0-1)
Randolph .900 (4-0-1)
South Brunswick .850 (8-1-1)
Pascack Valey .833 (10-2)

Public B – top 5 overall win %

Tenafly .875 (17-2-1)
Rumson-Fair Haven .867 (13-2)
Point Pleasant Boro .853 (14-2-1)
Summit .778 (13-3-2)
Paramus .750 (13-4-1)

Public B – top 5 win % vs. projected qualifiers, all groups

Point Pleasant Boro .833 (5-1)
Tenafly .818 (9-2)
Kinnelon .688 (11-5)
Summit .667 (7-3-2)
Wall .615 (7-4-2)

Public B – top 10 win % vs. all Public B tms

Kinnelon 1.000 (7-0)
Hopewell Valley 1.000 (4-0)
Tenafly 1.000 (2-0)
Brick Township 1.000 (1-0)
Chatham .889 (8-1)
Point Pleasant Boro .857 (6-1)
Summit .818 (9-2)
Verona .786 (5-1-1)
Nutley .778 (7-2)
Ramapo .769 (9-2-2)

Private – top 5 win % vs. NJ teams

Delbarton 1.000 (14-0)
Don Bosco Prep .941 (16-1)
Montclair Kimberley .875 (14-2)
Notre Dame .850 (16-2-2)
St. Joseph Metuchen .844 (13-2-1)

Private – top 10 win % vs. all NJ privates

Delbarton 1.000 (14-0)
Don Bosco Prep .923 (12-1)
St. Joseph Mont. .875 (3-0-1)
Montclair-Kimberley .800 (4-1)
St. Joseph Met. .700 (3-1-1)
St. Rose .667 (2-1)
CBA .654 (6-2-5)
Notre Dame .625 (4-2-2)
Red Bank Catholic .500 (2-2-2)
Morristown-Beard .500 (2-2)
Paramus Catholic .500 (1-1-1)
St. Joseph Hamm. .500 (0-0-3)

Big games this week; possible update delay

January 25, 2012 on 3:09 pm | In analysis | 1 Comment

My next report for Hockey Night in Boston is due next week, which has me looking at state-wide rankings. It’s a very interesting picture and, as always, tough to figure out.

KEY GAMES
Here are some key games over the weekend that could have big effects on the Top 20 rankings:

Wed, Jan. 25:
Bergen Catholic-Kinnelon – A Kinnelon win would uphold the status quo, while a BC win would strengthen all Gordon Conference teams vs. Morris County teams.
Randolph-Ridge – Potentially a battle for the state’s top Public A ranking, when combined with one of Friday’s games.
St. Joseph Metuchen-St. Rose – Lower-weight privates meet in a game that will affect a lot of common opponents (St. John Vianney, Notre Dame, Pope John, etc.)
Ridgewood-Westfield – Perhaps Westfield’s best chance to climb into the Public A race.

Fri, Jan. 27:
Morris Knolls-Randolph – Combined with Wednesday’s game, a battle for the Public A top seed and potentially a top-3 overall ranking behind this year’s big two private schools.
Glen Rock-Ramsey – Key game for Big North Green standings and Public B seeding.
Bergen Catholic-CBA – Will CBA continue its regression or separate itself from the struggling Gordon teams?

Sat, Jan. 28:
Morristown-Ridge – Potentially a chance for the upstart Colonials to jump into the state’s top 5-10.
Paramus Catholic-Tenafly – Winner will claim chance at Top 20 as Big North’s top team.
Lakeland-Ramsey – Another key Big North Green / Public B game.
MKA-Seton Hall Prep – MKA needs to hold serve to stay in the Top 20, while Seton Hall Prep tries to improve its seeding.
Northern Highlands-Ramapo – Big North Silver title and Public B seeding on the line.

Sun, Jan. 29:
Brick Township-Red Bank Catholic – Both teams will likely make the Top 20, but one can strengthen its case in this matchup.

MORRIS COUNTY RULES
When the rankings do come out – HNIB runs a Top 10, but I hope to post a full Top 20 and break down top 10s in each state tourney category – people are going to cry foul. Morris County teams are going to dominate the list – there will probably be more MCSSIHL teams than Gordon or Shore A teams.

Why, you might ask? Try this stat on: The MCSSIHL’s top six teams (Mennen Div. + Morristown) are 30-4-2 in non-league play, with three of those four losses coming to Delbarton/Don Bosco Prep. The only loss to a lower-ranked team was Chatham’s 2-1 loss to Hillsborough in the Jefferson Tournament. Teams vanquished include: MKA, Montgomery, Pingry (x4), Ramapo, Ramsey, St. Augustine Prep, Seton Hall Prep, Summit (x2).

You’ll notice none of those teams, however, is from Shore A. The only Shore A-Mennen game was Red Bank Catholic tying Morris Knolls early in the year. However, the top four Shore A teams (CBA, Middletown South, Brick Township, and RBC) are a combined 2-3-4 against non-Shore teams, including two losses to Ridge. That is one thing that makes Ridge’s games this week against Randolph and Morristown so important – Ridge wins could lump Mennen teams closer to Shore A, while a Randolph win would condemn Shore A teams to fall in the rankings.

SITE UPDATE DELAY
I had to take my laptop into a shop today for some hardware repairs, and since these things have a tendency to drag on, I may not get it back until next week. Additionally, I will be out of town for the weekend, so the main site may not see a lot of updates until next week. My apologies – please keep sending scores, reschedules, added games, and information to jty [at] njhockey.org.

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