• Mike Gurnis

Roxbury 2021 preview: Seniors key for Gaels' cup hopes

ROXBURY GAELS


Head coach: Jon Benbow, 17th year


Division: Halvorsen


Last year: Roxbury experienced a resurgence in 2019-20 after a couple of down years, and took home the regular season Halvorsen title. It reached the Halvorsen Cup final, where it was upset by Mendham in the final. It finished with a 13-10-2 overall record and lost in the first round of the NJSIAA Public C state tournament to Indian Hills.


Key losses: Nick Hefferle, F. Joseph Carey, F. Ethan Barooah, D/F. Kevin Keane, F. Chris Catania, G.


This year's squad: Roxbury will have a lot of offense to replace after graduating its top scorer in Nick Hefferle as well as key scorers in Joseph Carey, Kevin Keane, and defenseman/forward Ethan Barooah.


But it will look to a nine-player senior class to lead the way this season, highlighted by forward Nick Thomas (15 g., 16 a.), who figures to be the focal point of the forward group. Brian Westergaard (7 g., 7 a.), Jake Kooyenga, Joe Eible, Randy DePalma, Tristan Tantillo, and Anthony Diana all figure to have larger roles up front. Junior Steven Keane and sophomore Jack Calanni round out the forward group.


On defense, senior Kyle Jenkins (3 g., 2 a.) will be joined by juniors Joe DiDomenico and Chase McGowan, along with sophomore Gavin Woudenberg.


The Gaels should remain strong in goal this year with the return of last year's starter in Ryan Callahan (.875 sv%).


Outlook: Roxbury made its return to the top of the Halvorsen Division standings last season, and despite losing some key pieces to graduation, it should be right in the mix to do so once again with a very strong senior class. It will certainly have some extra motivation to reclaim the Halvorsen Cup after losing in the final to Mendham last season. While the division as a whole figures to be very competitive, the games against Mendham and Madison, specifically, will be measuring-stick games.


2021 SCHEDULE

Jan. 21 -- Montville (Mennen Arena), 8 p.m.

Jan. 22 -- Kinnelon-Sparta-Jefferson (Skylands Ice World), 4:40 p.m.

Jan. 25 -- TBA (Mennen Arena), 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 29 -- Mendham (Mennen Arena), 5:45 p.m.

Jan. 31 -- Mountain Lakes-Boonton (Mennen Arena), 8:30 p.m.

Feb. 3 -- Madison (Mennen Arena), 4 p.m.

Feb. 8 -- Kinnelon-Sparta-Jefferson (Mennen Arena), 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 15 -- Montville (Mennen Arena), 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 19 -- Madison (Mennen Arena), 5:45 p.m.

Feb. 23 -- Mendham (Mennen Arena), 8 p.m.

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