Toms River East
Division/Classification: Class A South, Public A
Record last year: 5-12-1
Home rink: Winding River (Toms River)
Opening night: Tuesday, Dec. 8 vs Toms River South, 4 p.m.
The 2014-15 season proved to be a grind for Toms River East, as the club was hamstrung by a scarce number of skaters, forcing coach Anthony Zipfel to rely heavily on a rotation of seven players. Though fatigue played a major factor and led to a large amount of leads lost in the third period, the roster undoubtedly possessed talent, as the Raiders had one of the top scoring lines in the Shore Conference with Zach Noble, Pat Hoffman, and Adam Greengrove.
Zipfel is set to enter this forthcoming campaign with a bolstered roster of 20 players, including the return of Noble and Hoffman, though the second-year coach still expects to lean on a select group.
“This is a much stronger team physically, and a more consistent group defensively and in goal,” Zipfel said. “I’m expecting to have a season similar to what we had last year. I’m going to look to certain guys to play a lot of minutes, and because many of those guys are seniors who had a taste of it last year, they’ll know what to expect and how to handle it.”
The offensive zone: Toms River East will be led by the dynamic scoring tandem of seniors Pat Hoffman (27g, 21a) and Zach Noble (31g, 36a) – the latter of which finished fourth in conference scoring a season ago with 67 points in a mere 17 games – and the pair will be joined as often as possible by another burgeoning offensive force in Colby Dineen (5g, 13a), a junior who spent the majority of his time on defense in 2014-15 and, much like last year, will see his role dictated by the appearance of Philadelphia Revolution U19 Elite defenseman Patrick Romano.
“Those three playing together depends on how often Romano will be in the lineup,” Zipfel said. “Whenever Romano is available, Dineen can move up with Noble and Hoffman, and honestly, aside from Middletown North, I don’t think there is another line in the Shore that can match them.”
Aside from his offensive prowess, Noble – a USA Hockey Developmental Camp invitee this past summer and NJ Junior Titans NAPHL player – will be counted on for his leadership abilities.
The big three will be joined by a pair of impact freshmen and Toms River Blackhawks products Dylan Barfield and Brandon Coyle, who Zipfel will “throw into the fire right away” but believes they’re ready to compete at the varsity level. Seniors Ryan Garcia and Mike Reeves, juniors Drew Ugaro and Mike Gibson, sophomores Matt Toohey, Owen Donovan, and Vincent Polanco, and freshmen Anthony Golden and Josh Burkhard will also be up front.
The defensive end: The defense will be shaped by the presence of Romano, which will either allow the offensive-minded Dineen to play his natural forward position, or keep him back on the blue line in a more reserved role. Either way, the pair will continue to groom sophomores Alex Waldron and Zander Taaffe (Toms River Blackhawks), who will play big minutes this year.
In the crease: Toms River had some instability a season ago in net, but Zipfel is confident that the Raiders goalie-play will be much improved with the insertion of junior Nick Price, who, due to a lack of man power, was forced to skate as a defenseman last year.
Special event: On Feb. 5 Winding River Rink will host a Toms River hockey showcase as Toms River East will host Red Bank at 4 p.m., while Toms River North will welcome Brick Township at 6 p.m. Those conference games will be followed by a collegiate matchup featuring Pittsburgh and Rowan. Zipfel is an acting assistant coach at the latter.
TOMS RIVER EAST HOCKEY ROSTER
17 Zach Noble 12 -F
91 Pat Hoffman 12-F
15 Pat Romano 12-D
3 Ryan Garcia 12-F
21 Mike Reeves 12-F
35 Nick Price 11-G
61 Colby Dineen 11-F/D
9 Drew Ugaro 11-F
88 Mike Gibson 11-F
16 Alex Waldron 10-D
11 Zander Taaffe 10-D
12 Owen Donovan 10-F
24 Matthew Tooey 10-F
7 Vincent Polanco 10-F
14 Sean Tursi 10-F
6 Dylan Barnfield 9-F
64 Brandon Coyle 9-F
2 Anthony Golden 9-F
1 Devin Pullham 9-G
10 Josh Burkhard 9-F