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Road to the Rock: NJSIAA Championship Contenders Have Been Finalized

by Brittany Burke / New Jersey Devils

Championship games will be played this Sunday, March 9 at Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils. (Photo / Prudential Center)

NJSIAA Championship seeds have been set. Games have been won and lost, top contenders have been sent home and newcomers are making their way to Championship glory.

“To all the players out there do not take anything for granted play every game like it is your last, every practice because you never know when it’s going to be,” said former New Jersey Devils and product of the NJSIAA. Dowd was a key speaker at the weekend's kickoff luncheon at the Rock. “…Give it your best, leave it all out on the table and there’s no pressure. Pressure is when you’re trying to put food on your table every month and pay the rent. This is your time to have some fun and go out and enjoy it.”

Championship teams will be crowned at Prudential Center on Sunday, March 9.

Public A Bracket

(4) Morris Knolls vs (2) Bridgewater-Raritan

Sunday will be Morris Knolls’ first championship appearance since their 2005 overall victory. Head Coach Walt Keiper will return with his the Morris Knolls team after beating the reigning Public A Champions, the Randolph Rams. Last season the Rams beat Bridgewater-Raritan 4-1 for their third consecutive title.

"I think the coaches especially the returning coaches knows how hard it is to get back here, me in particular. We’ve been to the semifinals, but to get back to the finals this season is a testament to the hard work that my team’s put forth this year, so I want to congratulate them,” said Head Coach Walt Keiper. “… This team we battled all year and hovered around that 500 mark all season we played a very tough schedule out of league schedule as well and it’s been up and down, and the boys came together in the tournament and I am very proud of them."

Bridgewater-Raritan will get a chance at redemption as the number two team takes on the fourth seeded Morris Knolls. Last season Bridgewater-Raritan defeated Westfield in order to make a championship appearance and history repeated itself this season. With a score of 1-0, Bridgewater-Raritan once again defeated the third seed to advance for a chance at the title. After falling in the finals last year, the team will get another chance at the Championship victory.

“For us this season it’s truly a gift to be back here,” said Bridgewater Raritan Head Coach Patrick Alvin. “We were here last year and I’ve heard NFL coaches [and] college coaches talk about just [how] getting back the second time is tougher than it is the first time and our team definitely experienced that it was a very difficult road along the way.”

The Public A Championship game is scheduled for 1 PM at The Rock on Sunday, March 9.

For a full Public A Bracket, click here.

Non-Public Bracket

(4) Morristown-Beard vs (3) CBA

In a high school upset for the ages, the number four seed, Morristown-Beard defeated the number one seeded Delbarton 4-2. Delbarton took home its sixth consecutive NJSIAA Championship last season by defeating Don Bosco Prep and was in the hunt for its seventh straight title. However, the school’s run was ended early by a confident Morristown-Beard team. Former New Jersey Devil and Head Coach Randy Velischek knows what it’s like to play on a stage this large and this weekend he will be coaching his team through their school’s first ice hockey Championship.

"To all the players, beating Delbarton … these young men here on Wednesday night did something we’ve never done and beat Delbarton,” Velischek said. “It's been 44 games in 20 years and it seemed like it was an impossible hurdle."

On the other side of the bracket is the third seed team, Christian Brothers Academy. Though the team did not make the championship game last season, this will be their second finals appearance in three years. CBA was defeated by the Delbarton Green Wave in 2012 by a 3-2 score, but with the championship favorites eliminated it has turned into anybody’s game.

"Every year we make this our season goal sometimes we fall short and sometimes we make it,” Head Coach Ryan Bogan commented. “It’s just an experience that our players and players around the state will never forget [and] as a coach I cherish every minute of it."

The Non-Public Championship game has a scheduled puck drop of 3 PM, following the Public A Championship.

For a complete Non-Public Tournament Bracket, click here.

Public B Bracket

(4) Morristown vs (2) Ramsey

After falling to the Chatham Cougars in the Public B finals last season, Morristown was given a chance at redemption heading into the semi-finals game on March 6. In a repeat match-up of the Championship game from 2013, the reigning title-holders were eliminated and Morristown was given another chance to fight for the trophy. The trip to the Rock this Sunday will mark the third consecutive championship appearance for Morristown.

“This season has been a little different than the past two years making it,” declared Morristown Head Coach Bobby Jones. “I know it’s our third trip back, but this is a little more gratifying. I think we put in a little bit more work than in the past years and that’s a testament to the kids and their commitment and dedication.

Battling against Morristown for the Public B title will be the second seeded, Ramsey. The team heads into the finals after a strong offensive showing against Mendham in the semi-finals round. En route to the finals, the higher seeded Ramsey defeated Mendham seven goals to none. This will be Ramsey’s first appearance in the NJSIAA finals since 2009.

“They’re happy they got past the semi finals, they had a few sticking points over the past few years, but I don’t think just being here is going to be enough for them,” said Ramsey’s Bob Toy. “I think over the past few years we worked real hard to get here and now that they’re here, they want to make the best of it and the job will be done if and when we’re able to be successful.”

The Public B Championship is the last on deck for the night and is scheduled for a 5 PM start.

For a complete Public B Tournament bracket, click here.

For more, head to NJ Youth Hockey Central.

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