2018-19 Mt. Olive-Hopatcong-Hackettstown preview
LAST SEASON: The tri-op between the three schools finished with an 11-11-2 overall record in 2017-18. It fell to Mountain Lakes-Boonton in the first round of the Haas Cup, before eventually losing to Montclair in the first round of the Public A state tournament.
HEAD COACH: Mike Behre, 10th season. 99-97-15 overall record.
CONFERENCE AND CLASSIFICATION: MCSSIHL-Haas Division; NJSIAA Public A.
KEY PLAYERS GRADUATED: This program graduated five seniors from last year's team, most notably forward Matt Tillery (12 g., 2 a.) and goalie Brendan Wakefoose (.881 sv%).
FORWARDS: The forward group will be led by a dynamic scorer in senior Blake Corbett (24 g., 20 a.), who can also play from the blue line as well. Senior John Salvia (14 g., 8 a.) along with sophomore Evan Parr (10 g., 9 a.) will be the leaders of what looks to be a very promising offensive unit. Also look for contributions from forwards Thomas Cioce and Sean Pederson, who are both freshmen.
DEFENSE: Senior Kevin Murphy is the squad's best offensive threat from the blue line, after posting 10 goals and 12 assists last season. Junior Ian Deiling is also a solid defender who posted a goal and three assists last year. Defense will be key for this team, which surrendered nearly four goals per game last year.
GOALTENDING: Senior Michael Veronda saw some time last year as Wakefoose's backup, as he posted an .859 save percentage in eight appearances last year. Sophomore Jason Bonante could also see some time in goal, but could be counted on on the blue line as well.
OUTLOOK: A year after finishing in the middle of the pack in the Haas Division, Mount Olive figures to be in line for a step forward this year with a lot of talented players returning to the ice, led by one of the top players in the division in Corbett. The team should be able to score goals at a nice clip, but the question is can the team's defense improve? If Murphy and Deiling can have strong years locking things down on the blue line, and if the team can receive some solid goaltending from Veronda and Bonante, Mount Olive should be a team on the rise in the Haas Division.