The 2012-13 Delbarton team celebrates on the ice after their title win last season. (Photo/Prudential Center)
New Jersey high school ice hockey has become a hotbed of talent in recent years, with alumni finding success at higher levels. At the pinnacle of that talent development remains the Delbarton Green Wave.
Last season, Delbarton won its sixth consecutive NJSIAA non-public championship title and tenth state championship overall. The Green Wave was named top team of the season by the Star-Ledger and graduating senior, John Baiocco was awarded Star-Ledger Hockey Player of the Year (Baiocco will be joining former teammates Kenny Agostino, Matt Killian and Charles Orzetti at Yale in New Haven, Conn.).
Accompanying that type of repeated success is a winning reputation, national recognition, and the title of “team to beat.” Head Coach Bruce Shatel and his team understand that there are a lot of eyes on them and they have essentially become the matchup that other squads circle on their schedule.
If you want to be successful, you need to handle pressure. We try to focus on getting better one day at a time. We don’t talk about championships unless we are fortunate enough to play for one. Bruce Shatel
“Dealing with the pressure comes with the territory. If you want to be successful, you need to handle pressure. We try to focus on getting better one day at a time. We don’t talk about championships unless we are fortunate enough to play for one,” Shatel said.
Delbarton struggled in their league championship last season, coming up short for the Gordon Cup, losing to Christian Brothers Academy 5-2 and Coach Shatel credits the loss as his team’s wakeup call for the eventual title run.
The departure of seniors such as defensive anchors, Michael Pesce and Trevor Incledon as well as solid offensive contributors, Baiocco, Alex Hagerty, Kevin Delaney, Josh Melnick, J.C. Maclean, Kevin Lewis and number one netminder Brian Forness, left a hole in the roster. This is a change that happens every year at both the high school and collegiate levels. After the 2011-2012 season, Delbarton was facing a 14-player void and still skated away with a title.
This year’s spaces leave room for the younger student-athletes to step up and make an impact on the team.
|Head Coach Bruce Shatel is still helping his team establish a new identity after losing so many players to graduation. (Photo/Prudential Center) |
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Shatel. “We lost our top six forwards from a year ago who provided a majority of our scoring. We need to concentrate on the things we do well. We are big and fast and are capable of playing good defense. We hope our special teams can be strong once the season starts.”
So far practices have been up and down as the new players begin to fuse with the veterans and fit within the system. With new players comes a new identity, one that Shatel is still trying to help his team establish.
“Some practices have been very good and others have been not so good. Our scrimmages have been competitive. We have scrimmaged two very strong New England prep schools … [and] both scrimmages were a good test for us … We need to find ways to score and to establish a new identity. We are not going to be and east-west team, but need to focus on being a north-south team who is physical.”
So to begin the season what games does the team to beat circle on its own schedule?
According to Shatel, the Green Wave will look forward to key matchups against Fairfield Prep, Lawrenceville, Dexter, Malden Catholic and Hotchkiss. They will also rematch Christian Brothers Academy during Gordon Conference play. This goes to show that no matter how successful the past has been a team can never be too comfortable.
“My goals for this team are to get better every day and to make sure we peak at the right time. If that happens, then maybe we will be able to play for something in March.”
Delbarton opened the season with a 5-2 win over Gloucester Catholic and will continue on against Bergen Catholic, at home on December 5.
For more, head to NJ Youth Hockey Central.