GLEN RIDGE, NJ – As the head hockey coach at Verona/Glen Ridge, the top thrill for Ken Lilien came in the winter of 2016 when the team captured the McInnis Cup in the N.J. Interscholastic League.
This winter, Verona/Glen Ridge is a top contender for the Kelly Cup. The team is fairly young, but Lilien has a group which seems to have a lot of talent.
“We really think we can win a Cup this winter,” said Lilien, who at one time was involved in the sport of boxing. “Our division is pretty tough, but we can certainly compete with anyone.”
Verona/Glen Ridge opened the campaign against division favorite Millburn on Nov. 28. Milburn prevailed, 4-1. The two squads will clash again on Jan. 12 at Codey Arena in West Orange.
Some other key games for the team this season includes tilts against Livingston on Dec. 7, Montclair on Dec. 12 and Nutley/Columbia on Jan. 5.
Lilien is particularly pleased that he has two very capable goalies. Junior Chris Kostas and sophomore Keith Juros are solid performers between the pipes.
“They support one another,” said the coach, “and that’s nice to see. Chris will probably see a bit more time because he was our back-up a year ago.”
On defense, senior Harrison Keating will be the leader. He’s been on the varsity for four years and is a physical presence on the ice.
Supporting Keating in the back will be sophomore Jack Lonsinger, junior Alec Vecchione and freshman Zach Gold.
“Zach will be an exciting player to watch,” commented Lilien. “He has nice size, and he knows how to play the position.”
Up front, Jarrod Keating, Harrison’s twin brother, will be the leader at center. Other top forwards for the squad include senior left wing Andrew Martell, junior center Aidan Brennan, junior right wing Jeff Egan and senior right wing Noah Martinez.
Martell, who is a very good forechecker, is a grinder on the ice, something that every team needs. Brennan is very intelligent on the ice, while Egan works as hard as anyone. Martinez can frustrate opposing goalies because he’s a pest in front of the net, and can always gobble up loose pucks.
“We were 15-6-7 last winter,” remarked Lilien, “so that effort certainly gives us some confidence for this season. We’ll work as hard as we can, and hopefully that will pay off at the end of the winter. It would be nice to make a run in the states, but a league title is our primary objective. I’m looking forward to a very exciting winter campaign. This will be a fun group to coach.”
ICE CHIPS – League play in N.J. began in the winter of 1958-59, and the state tournament in 1976…
The original teams in the North Jersey Scholastic League were West Orange, Montclair, Livingston, Morris Hills and Morristown-Beard…
The Keatings are team captains.