There are several overused clichés in hockey that stress the importance of strong team defense. "Defense wins championships” and "The best offense is a good defense" are a few that immediately come to mind. While that "defense first" mentality is typical of many successful professional teams, rarely is defensive play of any great concern during high school all-star games. Though Monday's DHI Cup Final, in which New Jersey Central defeated New Jersey North (7-3), was hardly a defensive struggle, it was a rugged defenseman who made a big difference.
Mike Clarke, a 6'2" blueliner from the Lawrenceville School, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player for his steady defensive play throughout the two DHI Cup games. The smooth-skating Clarke chipped in with an assist and several big hits, while using his 205 pound frame to remove opposing forwards from the front of the NJ Central net. During a postgame award ceremony on the Wachovia Spectrum ice, Clarke was presented with a $4,000 college scholarship, compliments of the Keith and Lisa Primeau Hockey Scholarship Fund. While the senior hasn’t yet decided where he's going to attend school next year, Clarke's DHI Cup performance certainly raised some eyebrows among the scouts in attendance.
On the offensive side, NJ Central was paced by Corey Lunney (Red Bank H.S.) who recorded two goals and an assist. Also finding the back of the net were Erik Talty (Brick H.S. – 1g, 1a), John Frost (Christian Brothers Academy), Tony Valentino (Red Bank Catholic), Kevin Carmichael (Christian Brothers Academy), and Brandon Person (Brick H.S.). Kyle McAteer (Christian Brother Academy) contributed two assists.
NJ Central goaltenders Brandon DiLibero (Notre Dame H.S.) and Eric Zagorski (Lawrenceville) combined to stop 22 of 25 NJ North shots.
NJ North goal scorers included Brian Purcell (Montclair Kimberly H.S.), John Phillips (Montclair Kimberly H.S.) and Brandon Vigorito (Don Bosco Prep). Anthony Matrisciano (Randolph H.S.) tallied two assists.
The 2008 DHI Cup provided a great opportunity for New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware high school seniors to showcase their skills in front of more than 20 college and junior hockey scouts. Special thanks to Keith Primeau and Mike Green from the Durham Hockey Institute, as well as all the tournament volunteers, for their hard work making this a successful event. The Philadelphia Flyers wish all DHI Cup participants the best of luck in their future hockey endeavors.DHI Cup Finals Photo Gallery