Division/Classification: Class A South, Public A
Record last year: 13-7-2, 8-3-1
Home rink: Jersey Shore Arena
Opening night: Wednesday, Nov. 25 at Point Boro, 6 p.m.
The scenario: A season ago the Jaguars battled for a Class A South championship with fellow divisional powers Southern Regional and Brick Township, falling just shy of the crown due to a second half skid, when normally stout goalie and defensive play fell by the wayside.
Strength in the crease and on the blue line will be pivotal for the Jaguars – who graduated its two leading point producers from last year in Austin Boyle (13g, 22a) and Kyle Sampson (18g, 11a) – and two points of emphasis for coach Larry Clayton, who enters the 2015-16 campaign with a burgeoning goaltending talent in Matt Pousson and one of the conference’s top returning defensemen in Trevor Cear.
“We have to be fundamentally sound in front of the goalie,” Clayton said. “I don’t think it’s all on the goaltender’s shoulders. The guys in front have to play well. If they do their job, it makes the whole thing a lot easier…and as former goalie, I hope to make sure our guys keep the lanes clear.”
The defensive end: Captain of a nationally ranked 16UAA Brick Hockey Club team, junior pivot Trevor Cear (6g, 7a) returns to the Jaguars blue line as one of Jackson’s top two-way players and with a new leadership role placed upon him, a responsibility he’ll share with seniors Justin Mayer (7g, 9a) and Mike Termine (4g, 7a). The trio will also be joined by juniors Joseph Jablonski (6g, 3a) and Spencer Swain (1g, 1a), who Clayton is counting upon to log significant minutes, while sophomores Cody Jablonski and Connor Lowrey, and freshman James Termine continue to develop.
“Trevor and the rest of these guys have considerable varsity experience,” Clayton said. “Now they have to step up and take over the work load. It’s a challenge, because if you make a mistake back there it often ends up in the net. But they’ll be able to handle it.”
In the crease: Sophomore net-minder and fellow Brick Hockey Club 16UAA competitor Matt Pousson is the leading candidate to lay claim to the vacancy left by Jackson graduate Josh Lindo, while freshman Justin Brito compete for starts.
“Matt is a big, athletic kid, who has had some quality travel experience, but goaltending is whole lot different in high school,” Clayton said. “You’re dealing with bigger, older kids who have all the travel credentials you do but are 18-years old. But I think he’ll be able to do the job, by we need to be fundamentally sound in front of him and help him out.”
The offensive zone: Making up the 64 points from lost to Boyle and Sampson’s graduation will be tough, but Clayton is confident that a more balanced attack will ultimately make his team tougher to defend.
“Ideally, we hope to make up those points from the nine or so guys who will be out there, consistently,” Clayton said. “Chris Petrone is a senior who will be back after missing last season. Trevor (Cear) should figure on the score sheet. Mayer, Termine, Jablonski, junior Kyle Lalley (8g, 6a)…We’re trying to get that production out of a bunch of guys rather than two…and I think I’ve got some kids who can put the puck in the net.”