Morristown-Beard girls 2021 preview: Reigning champs look to continue tradition
Updated: Jan 4
Head coach: Bruce Driver, 21st season. 303-78-19 career record.
Division: Morristown-Beard normally competes in the WIHLMA (Women's Interscholastic Hockey League of the Mid-Atlantic) which includes teams from Pennsylvania and New York, but with interstate competition shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league has taken a one-year pause. In its place, it will compete in the NJ Interscholastic Girls Ice Hockey League this season.
Last year: Morristown-Beard made history in 2019-20, as it won the inaugural New Jersey state championship with a 3-0 win over Summit in the title game at Prudential Center. It finished with an 18-8-1 overall record, and also claimed its fourth-straight Prep title.
Key losses: Anna Bajak, D. Kaitlin Skorzewski, D/F. Abby Russell, D. Sasha Berniker, G. Sam Grant, F. Frankie Becchi, F.
This year's squad: Morristown-Beard certainly lost some important pieces from last year's state championship team, but Bruce Driver's program is always one that finds a way to reload, and this year should be no exception.
It all starts up front with the return of junior Leah Stecker, who was named the state player of the year by NJ.com last season after putting up 16 goals and 20 assists. She's joined by a group of forwards which produced nicely a year ago in sophomore Lilli Warnock (13 g., 12 a.), senior Faith Facchini (7 g., 12 a.), junior Logan Sutera (8 g., 10 a.), junior Katie Ewig (5 g., 5 a.), senior Annabel Plante (2 g., 3 a.), and sophomore Emma Hughes (1 g., 2 a.). On defense, it will look to sophomore Alexa Degan to play most of the big minutes after posting four goals and 17 assists last year. Stecker, Facchini, and Sutera are all versatile players who can play on defense as well, if needed.
It will have a talented freshman class coming in this season as well, beginning with Brooklyn Chen who can play both defense and forward, and is a player that Driver expects to have an immediate and major impact. Defenseman Kailin Kane should also help along with forward Jessica Sperling and forward/defenseman Kiera Redmond.
In goal, it will have to replace Sasha Berniker, who provided a solid presence all of last season, but sophomore Gracie Meyers saw a good amount of time last year and appears to be ready to stop in after posting a .934 save percentage in 11 games.
Outlook: Morristown-Beard has proven year-in and year-out that it is the gold standard of girls ice hockey in New Jersey, so it was only fitting that it took home the inaugural state championship last March. Some important pieces from that team are gone- specifically on defense and in goal- but the hallmark of this program is that there are always players ready to step up, and this year should be no exception. Led by the state's top player in Stecker, Morristown-Beard has all of the pieces in place for yet another strong season.
Jan. 15 -- vs. Randolph (Twin Oaks Ice Rink), 5 p.m.
Jan. 19 -- vs. Westfield (Twin Oaks Ice Rink), 5 p.m.
Jan. 22 -- vs. Madison (Twin Oaks Ice Rink), 5 p.m.
Jan. 27 -- vs. Chatham (Twin Oaks Ice Rink), 5 p.m.
Feb. 1 -- vs. Princeton (Twin Oaks Ice Rink), 5 p.m.
Feb. 2 -- at Trinity Hall (Red Bank Armory), 3:15 p.m.
Feb. 8 -- at Kent Place (Barnabas Health Hockey House), 4 p.m.
Feb. 9 -- at Oak Knoll (Rock Ice, Dunellen), 4 p.m.
Feb. 11 -- at Princeton Day, 5:15 p.m.
Feb. 17 -- vs. Pingry (Twin Oaks Ice Rink), 5 p.m.