GLEN RIDGE, NJ – In the game of hockey, a team will certainly find success if it clicks in all three areas – good goaltending, solid play by the defenseman, and production from the guys up front.
This winter, that formula enabled Verona/Glen Ridge to be one of the most competitive high school squads in the New Jersey Interscholastic League. Ken Lilien’s team fashioned a fine record of 15-6-7, and held its own against the stronger clubs in the Kelly Division of the NJIHL.
“It was a very satisfying season for us,” said Lilien, who has been the head coach for five years. “A year ago we had a lot of injuries and suffered through a losing campaign. But it was a much different story this winter.
“We’ll lose a few key players due to graduation, but I think in 2019 we’ll have a very good chance of winning the Kelly Cup, and making a run in the state tournament.”
Perhaps the key player for Verona/Glen Ridge was senior goalie Colin Gilmore, a youngster from Glen Ridge. Gilmore, who was a fierce competitor on the ice, had a save percentage just under 92 percent.
“Colin came up big for us, game after game,” remarked Lilien, who at one time was involved in the sport of boxing. “He played particularly well in the Essex County holiday tournament at Codey Arena.”
In that late December event, Verona/Glen Ridge chalked up three impressive wins and allowed but four goals. Lilien’s crew tied Millburn for the B Division title. Millburn would go on to win the Kelly Cup in mid-February.
Along with Gilmore, who plans to play club hockey next winter at New Hampshire, other top performers from Glen Ridge High on the team were senior defenseman and captain Anton Martino, junior forward Jake Kuhn, and sophomore forward Chandler Otterbein.
Martino, always a presense on the ice, had nine goals and 11 assists. Kuhn, who also excels in lacrosse, had 14 goals and six assists, while Otterbein collected nine goals and six assists.
“Jake is a big, tough kid and we’ll really be counting on him next season,” said Lilien. “Chandler is successful because he’s a very hard worker, and shows great quickness.”
From Verona High, the standouts included senior co-captain Sean DeCandia, a top forward, and junior twins Jarrod and Harrison Keating.
DeCandia, who showed “great leadership” according to his coach, netted 17 goals and had 15 assists. Jarrod Keating, who was very strong on face-offs, came up with 15 goals and 11 assists, while his fraternal twin brother Harrison, had five assists.
“Harrison is a stay-at-home type defenseman, and you have to have that kind of player on your team,” said Lilien.
“We had contributions from all of our kids,” added Lilien. “Since I’ve been here, our program has 66 wins, and I think we’ll continue to improve. Heck, I wish next season was already here.”
ICE CHIPS – The team will only graduate four seniors… In the holiday event, Scotch Plains earned the A Division title… In 2016, Lilien’s team won the McInnis Cup in the NJIHL… Gilmore’s favorite NHL goalie was Martin Brodeur.