By Art Chill
MAHWAH, NJ – The 2018-19 season begins the fourth year of the resurrected ice hockey program. Even with the success of the first three season: 7-9-0 (Not too shabby for a first-year team that was formed from unrecruited students who attended a meeting); 26-1-0 (Won the MCHC league championship in just its second year); and 18-8-0 (Just missed out on The ACHA Atlantic Region playoffs). However, the 51-18 record is somewhat misleading. There is one thing that these teams had in common – they all lacked depth? Goal scoring was limited to one strong line which placed a large burden on the players and coaches. Hats off to the players and coaches who overcame a great deal of adversity to create the foundation of an up-and-coming powerhouse.
But things have changed come the 2018-19 season. Ramapo not only added a second lethal scoring line but a third line that can skate with opponent’s top lines, play sound defense, and put the puck in the net. Opponents can no longer take advantage of the Roadrunners lack of depth. How did this come to pass? Sound recruitment and maturing of returning players are the reasons! Adding top players from the junior ranks is the platform upon which the program will grow exponentially.
The current team has added 8 freshmen. “Bringing in quality freshman is the formula for success,” says second year Head Coach Greg Jensen. The freshman line of Chris Dressler (West Milford), Gary Ragusa (Wayne). and Bobby Mulligan (Fords) add another powerful scoring punch. Eric Frieman (Livingston) and Jakub Ciberej (Clifton) round out the core of freshman forwards. Defenseman Nick Routé (Fanwood) and Tom Stapleton (Pearl River, NY) and Matt Ajello (Washington Township) in net add more depth to the defense.
The returning players have matured bringing another dimension to the team. The prolific scoring line of Kyle DeBel (Ramsey, Bobby Spetz (Sparta) and Keith Doherty (Washington Township) continue to be a dominate force. All three are juniors. In the past two years, teams keyed on this line attempting to shut off Ramapo scoring. With the addition of the high-powered scoring line of Dressler-Ragusa-Mulligan and a third line of Derek Sabato-David Sabato (Lyndhurst) – Frieman, teams can no longer focus their strategy on the first line. Jason Musselman (Freehold) and Jakub Ciberej are key forwards that can fill-in on any line when needed.
The defensive core comprises Luke Campomenosi (Wayne), Keith Henning (Lyndhurst) (the only senior on the team), Zack Toy (Mahwah), Tom Stapleton and Nick Routé. The low goals against this season is as a result of strong defensive play and reliable goaltending.
In goal, the Roadrunners have three goaltenders to shut down opponents’ scoring. Although the three goalies rotate, Sophomore Sean Gordon (Westwood) has played the majority of the games. Freshman Matt Ajello and Sophomore Pete Petrozza (Wayne) have chalked up wins in their starting appearances. Strong goaltending has always been the trademark of successful Ramapo teams.
With the graduating of Matt Rose, Kyle DeBel and Luke Campomenosi were named team captains; Keith Henning and Chris Dressler were named Assistant Captains.
Head Coach Greg Jensen and first season Assistant Coach Bob Toy bring a wealth of hockey knowledge, leadership, and stability to the team.
The sky’s the limit as to how far this program can go. Right now, the team is focusing on one game at a time, with a trip to regionals, then nationals their ultimate goal.