Goalies set to shine


Kevin Lebron can’t wait until it is his turn to step into the nets as one of the Ocean County goalies in the 13th Shoot for the Stars Foundation Monmouth vs. Ocean All-Star ice hockey game, although he will share time like he did during he high school season with his Jackson Memorial High School teammate Anthony Stolarz.

A third goalie also was selected for the Ocean County team — Pat Kerney from Toms River South High School. The game will be played at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Red Bank Armory in Red Bank.

Because he shared playing time during the 2009-10 high school season, Lebron admitted he was surprised to be selected for the allstar game, although he was the regular goalie for Jackson Memorial as a sophomore.

“I only played in 12 games last season, but part of the reason was that I was injured for a couple,” said Lebron, who will be a senior this fall. “Once I got healthy again, I was back in goal.”

Lebron notched his only shutout of the season when Jackson Memorial clinched a state tournament berth with a 2-0 victory over St. Rose High School of Belmar.

Lebron said he is ready and eager to play his part in the all-star game.

“I feel pretty confident,” said Lebron. “We have a bunch of good players, but it will be pretty tough. Ocean has mostly public school players, but Monmouth has a lot of private school players (six of the 21 Monmouth players selected are from state power Christian Brothers Academy and another is from St. John Vianney). It should be a good game.”

Lebron said he has been working out to stay in good condition for the game. Using a stand-up butterfly style, Lebron said he is working to improve all elements of his game, particularly cutting down on goals allowed on shots taken high.

Lebron said he has been playing as a goalie since he was 7 years old, starting off with the Brick Hockey Club and then moving over to the Toms River Blackhawks program, where he played in the Bantam through Midget Minor age levels.

Currently, he has joined the Philadelphia Revolution that will begin training on Aug. 23 for its season in the Empire League, a Junior B level. Lebron saw some action in goal late last month when the Revolution played in a showcase in Marlboro, Mass., losing in overtime in the finals.

Stolarz, entering his junior year this fall, is excited about getting back on the ice and agreed with Lebron that he was surprised to be selected.

“In high school it’s usually one goalie per team, but to have two very good goalies playing well on the same team is great,” said Stolarz. “I’ve been trying to get my foot speed quicker. So far, it’s going pretty good for me.”

Stolarz said his strength is clearing the puck out to get his team going on a quick counter-attack.

“I like playing the puck. People say I’m like a third defenseman,” said Stolarz, who, like Lebron, also uses the butterfly style.

Stolarz also plays goalie for the New JerseyHitmen, a North Jersey Junior B team that will start training at the end of August but which participated in some tune-up tournaments, winning the Chowder Cup in Boston in late July.

He said he is upbeat about the Jaguars’ chances to return to the state tournament, where they lost in the opening round to Middletown South in March, with only four seniors graduated from last year’s team.

“Actually, we’ll be pretty good,” he said enthusiastically, but his first concern is the Aug. 8 showdown that looms as another thriller that could go down to the final minute.