2021 season preview: Experienced Morristown-Beard ready for another big year
Head coach: Scott Greene, third season. 30-18-4 career record.
Last year: The Crimson experienced a resurgence last season after a below .500 year in 2018-19. It featured one of the top offenses around and rode that to a 20-5-1 record after starting the year 0-2. It claimed the Mennen Division title before knocking off Randolph for the Mennen Cup title, before reaching the Non-Public quarterfinals as the eighth seed, where it dropped a 3-1 decision to eventual state champion Christian Brothers.
Key losses: Tommy Matthews, F. D.J. Layden, D. Evan Sanford, F. Paul Detre, G. Tom Polaski, D. Ryan Brown, F. Caden Strauss, F. Billy Moloney, D (transfer).
Who's back?: Even with the graduation of its leading scorer in Tommy Matthews, Morristown-Beard has a ton of offense returning from what was one of the more dynamic forward groups in the area, if not the state. Seniors Cam Fernandez (15 g., 27 a.) and Seth Kaplan (17 g., 24 a.), will lead the charge up front, with juniors Hollis Humphries (18 g., 23 a.), Nick Vantassell (16 g., 19 a.), and Andrew Low (15 g., 20 a.). Sophomore Roman Berger, senior Manu Verpoucke, senior Logan Jaeger, and junior Dylan Strauss are all players that Green expects to have an impact this season with their two-way play. Freshman Henry Fernandez also figures to contribute right away.
Defense is probably where the team's biggest question marks lie after the graduation of Layden as well as Moloney's transfer to Salisbury. But juniors Noah Jones (5 g., 16 a.), and Jake Ochab (3 g., 14 a.) are more than capable of leading the way on the blue line, and the addition of Division I commit Kareem Alazem (RPI) should also be a major boost. Senior Tristan Long and junior Charlie Guida are expected to play big minutes as well.
In goal, seniors Luke McManus (10-3, .910 sv%) and Chili Connell (5-0-1, .882 sv%) are back after strong years in 2019-20. Sophomore Julian Melendez should be a factor as well.
Outlook: It's unfortunate that there will be no state tournament this season, because with the lineup Morristown-Beard has coming back, this is a team that very well could have competed for its first Non-Public title since 2014. All you have to do is take a look at the teams it has on its non-conference schedule to understand the level of play this program expects from itself. It is slated to take on perennial Top 20 teams in Seton Hall Prep, Bergen Catholic, Delbarton, and Don Bosco Prep, as well as a strong Princeton Day squad- in addition to an already-challenging Mennen Division schedule. This roster has all of the components to be one of the best in the area as well as the state, and it will be interesting to see how it fares out of conference. The Mennen Division certainly won't be a cakewalk either, with two defending state champions in Randolph and Morris Knolls-Hills, as well as strong programs in Chatham and Morristown- but right now, the Crimson appear to be the favorite to finish at the top.
Jan. 18 -- vs. Seton Hall Prep at Mennen Arena, 6:30 p.m.
Jan. 19 -- vs. Chatham at Mennen Arena, 8 p.m.
Jan. 22 -- vs. Morristown at Mennen Arena, 5:45 p.m.
Jan. 25 -- at Bergen Catholic (Ice House in Hackensack), 2:45 p.m.
Jan. 28 -- at Randolph (Mennen Arena), 6:15 p.m.
Feb. 1 -- at Morris Knolls-Hills (Mennen Arena), 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 6 -- at Chatham (Mennen Arena), 6:15 p.m.
Feb. 9 -- vs. Don Bosco at Twin Oaks Ice Rink, 4:45 p.m.
Feb. 11 -- vs. Princeton Day, 3:45 p.m.
Feb. 17 -- at Randolph (Mennen Arena), 7:45 p.m.
Feb. 20 -- at Morris Knolls (Mennen Arena), 8:15 p.m.
Feb. 23 -- at Delbarton (Aspen Ice), 4:40 p.m.
Feb. 24 -- vs. Morristown (Mennen Arena), 5:45 p.m.