Columbia HS enters second year of co-op ice hockey with Nutley

Photo courtesy of Eric Gonon.
Nutley/Columbia ice hockey team captains Eli Verdun and Isabel Fontanals.

MAPLEWOOD, NJ – This season marks the second year that Columbia High School will co-op with Nutley High School for a varsity ice hockey team.

Nutley/Columbia will begin its season Sunday, November 25 against Dayton at Richard J. Codey Arena in West Orange at 6 p.m.

Last season, Columbia had a strong group of players on the team. This season, Columbia has four players – one senior, one junior and two sophomores – who are all returnees.

Senior Eli Verdun will serve as a co-captain and is one of two seniors on the team. The other is Nutley senior Isabel Fontanels.

The other Columbia players are forward Zach Fagin, defenseman James Gonon and forward Alex David.

Fagin also plays club hockey for the AAA NJ Devils. Gonon’s father, Eric Gonon, is the Vice President of the Nutley/Columbia Hockey Booster Club.

Hockey is the only CHS varsity sport that does not receive funding from the Maplewood-South Orange school district. They are completely self-funded and have conducted various fundraising events such as bake sales.

One big fundraising event will be Columbia Hockey Night at The Cassidy, a restaurant located on Maplewood Avenue. It will take place December 10 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. A portion of the night’s proceeds will go towards offsetting financial costs for the Columbia players. In addition, a silent auction will take place and tickets for their 50-50 raffle will be sold during the event. The team also is accepting donations at its GoFundMe page to pay for ice time, coaches and officials:

Nutley/Columba, under second-year head coach Andy Surowiec, finished 4-16-1 last season, but had several close losses and gave competitive efforts. This season, the team will be moving down a division.

“We’re really looking forward to a strong season,” said Eric Gonon, who coaches a spring team for the Nutley/Columbia program. “I think we have a chance to do very well this year. We’re a young, strong team, which I think we’re going to do well this year and do better next year. We only have two seniors; and we have a ton of sophomores and freshmen.”

Moreover, there are several talented eighth-grade hockey players at the Maplewood and South Orange middle schools, which makes the future even more bright.


Nov. 25, vs. Dayton, at Codey Arena, 6 p.m.

Dec. 3, vs. East Side, at Codey Arena, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 7, vs. Johnson Regional, at Codey Arena, 8:45 p.m.

Dec. 12, vs. Frisch Yeshiva, at Codey Arena, 6:15 p.m.

Dec. 15, vs. West Orange, at Codey Arena, 5:45 p.m.

Dec. 18, vs. Tenafly, at Mackay Ice Rink, Englewood, 8 p.m.

Dec. 21, vs. Montville, at Codey Arena, 6 p.m.

Dec. 26, vs. West Morris Central, at Codey Arena, 2 p.m.

Dec. 27, vs. Pascack Valley, at Codey Arena, 7 p.m.

Jan. 4, vs. Dayton, at Union Sports Arena, 9:10 p.m.

Jan. 5, vs. Verona/Glen Ridge, at Codey Arena, 5:45 p.m.

Jan. 11, vs. West Orange, at Codey Arena, 6:45 p.m.

Jan. 20, vs. Hillsborough, at Flemington Ice Arena, 6:15 p.m.

Jan. 21, vs. East Side, at RWJ Barnabas Health Hockey House, 3 p.m.

Jan. 26, vs. Ridgewood, at Codey Arena, 3:45 p.m.

Feb. 1, vs. West Essex, at Codey Arena, 6:45 p.m.

Feb. 2, vs. Whippany Park, at Codey Arena, 7:45 p.m.