West Orange HS hockey program is on the rise; looks to be major contender

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Ed Scafidi, the head hockey coach at West Orange High School, readily admits that the Mountaineer ice program hasn’t been all that strong over the years.

But Scafidi, who hails from the Bronx, feels things are about to change. West Orange has a good feeder program going, and interest in the community has certainly picked up.

“I see no reason why we can’t be at least a .500 team this winter,” said Scafidi, who has great respect for Mike Atkinson, the youthful head coach at town neighbor Seton Hall Prep. “And down the road, we’re going to be one of the more competitive teams in the New Jersey Interscholastic League.”

West Orange, which has been competing in league play since 1958-59, lost its first two games by identical 6-4 scores. But in those losses to Oratory Prep and Pascack Valley, WOHS spotlighted a rising star – junior left wing Davey Campbell. In those two tilts, all Campbell did was score seven goals and assist on another.

“Davey is successful because he’s so dedicated to the game,” said Scafidi, who is a graduate of Neumann Prep and Caldwell University. “He’s not very big, but he plays a very aggressive game on the ice. He skates very well and does a real nice job of controlling the puck.”

A couple of other good forwards for the team are senior center Charles Aborisade and sophomore Matt Esquerre.

Aborisade is a tough player on the ice to contain because he’s big and strong, while Esquerre shows great quickness and has a dangerous slap shot.

On the defensive end, West Orange looks to the play of senior netminder Matt Guedes, a first-year starter. According to his coach, the youngster is “very athletic and a great competitor.”

His backup is sophomore Ella Tranquada.

“If we need her, Ella can certainly contribute,” remarked Scafidi. “Girls have competed on boys’ teams, and our guys have no problems with her being on the squad.”

West Orange, which will be vying in the Essex County Holiday Tournament, also is good in the back with junior defenseman Chris Spagnuolo and freshman defenseman Cameron Murphy.

Spagnuolo does a good job of moving the puck up ice, while Murphy is a very smart player who doesn’t shy away from contact.

“Cameron doesn’t mind the hits,” said Scafidi with a smile. “He can give and take, believe me.”

West Orange, which gained a share of the 1961 Gordon Cup with Montclair, will open up in the holiday event against Pequannock on Dec. 26 in a 2:15 tilt at Codey Arena. Some big games on the schedule include contests against East Side on Saturday, Dec. 16; Robbinsville on Monday, Dec. 18 (the eve of the NHL’s 100th anniversary); Oratory on Jan. 19; Dayton on Jan. 20; and East Side on Jan. 25.

“I think we have a chance to compete for the McMullen Cup this winter,” said Scafidi, who is a big New York Yankees fan. “Our team is fairly young, but we have the potential to do well. Heck, Campbell is a rink rat, and I think that will help to inspire the rest of the team.”

ICE CHIPS – Aborisade, the captain, is self-taught in the game… The coach has great respect for Sidney Crosby of the Penguins… Bayonne won the 2017 McMullen Cup.