Last season, the Monroe Township High School ice hockey team started 0-3 but did not lose consecutive games for the rest of the winter and ended up 11-9-1.
The Falcons will have to fashion a similar turnaround this season if they are to finish with a respectable record. Two games into the campaign, Monroe was 0-2 before meeting Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) opponent Old Bridge High School Dec. 9 and Shore Conference foe Manalapan High School Dec. 11.
Head coach Jerry Minter has always believed that success runs in circles, and 2015-16 appears to be one of those seasons where his team will be in a rebuilding mode. “Our program numbers are the lowest we’ve had here in five years,” he said. “We graduated two large classes, and this year we didn’t get as many to come out for the team.”
Still, the goals are the same regardless of how many wear Falcons uniforms.
“We will continue to work hard as a team and improve individually every day,” he said. “Making the GMC and state playoffs is always on our list. We have a good group of returning and new players, and we’re looking to build on our [season-ending success] of last year.”
Up front, Monroe will rely on returning players Gerald Marrett and Jason Gizzi to provide the bulk of the scoring. Additionally, a strong sophomore class consisting of Kyle Lange, Michael Benedetti, Michael Conover, Dominic Micalizzi, Anthony
Lane and Austen Poye looks to step up and contribute to the offense. A freshman, Samuel Fishteyn, could also see action.
Defensively, the Falcons return the majority of their regulars. Nicholas Petri, Joseph Minerva and Kevin Broskie, along with freshman Matthew Skobelev, make up the backliners who will protect goaltenders Matthew Freitas and Brian Nichols.
Minter said St. Joe’s continues to be the top team in the conference but will receive competition from Old Bridge, Woodbridge High School, Colonia High School and South Brunswick High School.
“I believe high school ice hockey, in general, continues to grow in New Jersey,” Minter said. “Over the course of the 10 years we have had a team, I’ve seen the quality increase. We’re hoping we can keep pace, too.”