Toms River North
Division/Classification: Class A South, Public A
Record last year: 11-9-4 (5-5-2)
Home rink: Winding River
Opening night: Monday, Nov. 30 vs Toms River South, 7:30 p.m.
The scenario: Replacing a second leading point producer and assistant captain in Colton Shan, a top pair defenseman and captain in Wayne Jackson, and one of the conference’s top goaltenders in Julian Coto will be no easy feat, but Toms River North has the right pieces in place to do just that, not to mention a pair of burgeoning offensive stars in Nick Pica and Brett Schneider waiting to breakout, and a talented keeper in Noah Maikisch primed for his senior campaign.
The offensive zone: One of the top young scoring tandems in the Shore Conference call Toms River North’s top line home as junior Nick Pica (Brick Hockey Club) and sophomore Brett Schneider (New Jersey Jr. Titans) are set to return after combining for 88 points last year. The former led the Mariners in scoring with 20 goals and 33 assists, garnering APP All-Sophomore honors, while the latter notched 17 goals and 18 assists, earning an APP All-Freshman team selection.
The pair will be joined by seniors Matt Heagen (11g, 7a) and Eamon Bontempo (13a), while sophomores Shea Bontempo (1g, 4a) and Luke Heagen (1g) will be expected to shoulder larger offensive roles.
“Both Nick and Brett are natural goal scorers who can make plays on every shift,” Mariners coach Christian Cranston said. “Matt and Eamon are senior leaders and carry that leadership and physical play into every single game.”
The defensive end: The mariners blue line will be led by junior Jeff Fischer (1g, 4a) and sophomore Ryan Dineen (3a), who skates with the Toms River Blackhawks 16U EJEPL outfit.
In the crease: Noah Maikish made six starts a season ago behind Coto, and allowed three goals or less in five of those outings, including a 25-save victory over Toms River South on opening night, and his best game of the year on Jan. 12 when stopped 28 of 29 to beat Jackson Memorial 2-1. In those five games Miakish posted a .901 save percentage and 2.00 goals against average. If the Senior can put up those numbers while competing for time with sophomore Ryan Dowds (who in one start on Jan. 20 stopped 46 of 51 shots in a loss to Southern Regional), the Mariners could make a run this season.