NEWARK -- Teammates and friends, coaches and adopted sons. All of them brothers in arms, forever linked by glory, together again for the first time -- and quite possibly the last time.
Three weeks had passed since Delbarton, Glen Rock and Ridge skated off as NJSIAA state champions but the New Jersey Devils saw fit to unite them again under one roof capping an extraordinary weekend of celebration as part of NHL's 100th anniversary tour at Prudential Center.
All three teams received the royal treatment, tickets to the game and first-class accommodations in one the Devils' fully furnished suites as New Jersey hosted the Dallas Stars in Newark Sunday night.
"At school getting congratulated, walking down the street wearing Delbarton and people coming up and congratulating us -- it really means a lot," Delbarton senior Jack Maguire said. "The first couple of weeks after it was over, being a senior, it didn't sink in but it's definitely sunk in now.
"It's great to be with the guys again. We all have different schedules in the spring, guys are playing different sports, so it's nice to be back together as a team," Maguire said. "It's almost like the season is just starting."
Delbarton defeated Don Bosco Prep, 2-1, to capture its 12th state title -- an unprecedented feat in NJSIAA history.
"It's a surreal experience that gets better every time," Delbarton senior captain Michael Gordon said. "To see it all work out, you're more relieved than excited but then the excitement kicks in. Since we won we haven't seen each other as much so to come back together and celebrate it again with your teammates, guys you've been around every day the entire year, you can really enjoy it. This night, to watch a Devils game and have a suite all to ourselves -- we're sincerely grateful to the Devils."
Peter Cassidy scored twice and assisted on a third in Glen Rock's 8-1 triumph over Wall Township in the Public B state finals. The victory marked the first state championship in school history.
"It's pretty crazy, pretty surreal still," Cassidy said. "I was at Bagel Gourmet in town today, had a Glen Rock hockey sweatshirt on and four or five people came up and congratulated me. The community has been really welcoming and very supportive. I just can't believe it's over. I would do anything to play another game but going out with a win my senior year and spending another game together here with the boys in the Devils' suite -- it's pretty awesome.
"The community outreach has been incredible, it's meant a lot to our town," Glen Rock senior Jake Kinney, who finished with a goal and three assists in the final, said. "We've been Devils fans all our lives so to be here with the team we won with, a team we're going to remember forever, we feel like superstars. This is a blast."
John Vilade scored the game-winning goal to secure Ridge's first state title since 2008 in a 2-1 triumph over Watchung Hills in the Public A finale.
"It was almost a month ago and we're still talking about it like it was yesterday," Vilade, who scored seven goals in the team's state title run, said. "We haven't seen each other that much since we won it so to be together again as a group has been a lot of fun. It's almost like a family reunion. We're so grateful to the Devils."
Jack Mandala netted the game-winner in Ridge's 4-2 victory over Randolph in the state semifinals.
"We're all still riding that euphoric state championship feeling," Mandala said. "It's great to have all the guys back and the Devils have just made it unbelievable -- they're awesome."
"We go to a pretty big school to it's pretty rare to see the whole team again," Ridge senior captain Brett Carey said. "It's great to be all together in the same room again. It's still an unreal feeling."