Devils set to host 2011 NJSIAA High School Ice Hockey tournament
On Thursday, the Devils welcomed this year’s six finalists to Prudential Center for the annual tournament luncheon: Chatham, Delbarton, Middletown South, Montgomery, Randolph and St. Augustine Prep.
The event was hosted by Matt Loughlin, the radio play-by-play voice of the Devils. Also in attendance was Chairman/Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek, along with Devils alumni Ken Daneyko, Jim Dowd and Rob Skrlac.
“What a great time it is in your lives,” Loughlin told the players. “You have an awful lot to be proud of. We congratulate you on your accomplishment, all six teams, for getting to this point. We know though that you have more on your mind now with the state championship on Sunday.”
Dowd, a Brick native, was a member of the Devils’ 1995 Stanley Cup championship. His NHL career spanned 728 games.
“If it wasn’t for New Jersey high school hockey, I would never have gotten to where I am and I wouldn’t be here today,” Dowd said.
The finalists will battle Sunday to determine the three state champions: Chatham faces Middletown South for the Public B title at 1 p.m.; Montgomery takes on Randolph for the Public A title at 3 p.m.; and Delbarton plays St. Augustine Prep at 5 p.m. for the Non-Public crown.
Admission to all three games is just $10, $5 for students, and can be purchased at the Prudential Center box office.
The Devils have proudly hosted the high school championships since 1998, when there were 80 teams. This year, more than 170 teams have competed for the chance to appear in the finals at the Rock. This is the fourth season of the current three-championship format.
Chatham (20-3-3) Chatham, N.J.
Coach: Harvey Cohen
The Cougars defeated Northern Highlands Regional, 11-1, in the second round; Ramsey, 5-2, in the quarterfinals; and Mahwah, 4-2, in the semifinals. This is their second trip to the Devils tournament.
“I’d like to thank Jim Dowd – even though he played for Brick – for showing the world that playing high school hockey in New Jersey doesn’t impede one’s ability to get into the NHL,” Cohen said at Thursday’s luncheon.
Middletown South (15-7-3) Middletown, N.J.
Coach: Stan Gutt
The Eagles’ road to the final included beating Nutley, 5-2, in the first round; Princeton, 5-2, in the second round; Mountain Lakes, 5-1, in the quarterfinals; and Brick Township, 5-3, in the semifinals. This is their second trip to the Devils tourney.
Gutt introduced senior captains Chris Malamut, Chris Marsillo and Jason Zimmel.
“When we started their freshman year, we were [1-19],” Gutt said. “This year we made it to the state finals.”
Montgomery (20-7-1) Skillman, N.J.
Coach: Robert Scarpa
The Cougars’ journey began with 8-0 wins over Southern Regional and Roxbury. They topped Hillsborough, 3-1 in the quarterfinals, then beat Morris Knolls, 4-3, in a shootout in the semifinals.
This is Montgomery’s second appearance in the Devils tournament. They lost to Randolph in the 2006 title game after a 20-win improvement during the 2005-06 season.
“We just assumed it was going to happen every year and it hasn’t since,” Scarpa said. “We just wanted to tell all the kids this may never happen again for you so enjoy every moment you have.”
Randolph (20-2-2) Randolph, N.J.
Coach: Rich McLaughlin
The Rams are a mainstay of the Devils tournament and will be making their ninth trip and third straight appearance. They have titles in three of the last five seasons and have reached the finals in five of the last six.
They topped Newton/Lenape-Valley Regional, 10-0, in the first round; Middletown North, 7-1, in the second round; Toms River South, 1-0, in the quarterfinals; and Westfield, 10-0, in the semifinals.
“It’s a great time to be here,” McLaughlin said. “The whole state’s looking at us. I hope we play real well; I hope we can hang in there this year and give Montgomery a good game.”
Delbarton (23-3-2) Morristown, N.J.
Coach: Bruce Shatel
This year’s Gordon Cup Co-Champions with fellow finalist St. Augustine, the Green Wave is making its 10th trip to the Devils tournament and seventh straight appearance.
The three-time defending champions have titles in four of the last five seasons. They were derailed in the 2007 semifinals by St. Augustine, which went on to capture the crown.
To reach the final, Delbarton beat St. Joseph (Met.), 7-1, in the second round; Pingry School, 4-0, in the quarterfinals; and Christian Brothers Academy, 4-0, in the semifinals.
“This is a great year for me in particular,” said Shatel. “I have a very young team, a very hard-working team that’s overcome some challenges throughout the way. We feel very blessed to be here playing against a very good opponent in St. Augustine.”
St. Augustine Prep (19-4-3) Richland, N.J.
Coach: Tim Fingerhut
Gordon Cup Co-Champions with Delbarton, the Hermits are making their third trip to the Devils tournament. They took the Non-Public title in 2007.
This year, St. Augustine defeated DePaul Catholic, 7-1, in the second round; Seton Hall Prep, 12-2, in the quarterfinals; and Morristown-Beard, 7-4, in the semifinals.
“Getting here today, guys, is quite an achievement,” Fingerhut said. “Don’t let these next couple of days go by without the memories because you’ll remember this for a lifetime.”