December 8, 2004
Coach Mike Green believes his hockey team has what it takes to reach new heights this season.
Inquirer Suburban Staff
Bishop Eustace belongs among the top ice hockey programs in the state.
That's the opinion of Crusaders coach Mike Green, who figures last season's run to the Elite Eight of the New Jersey Interscholastic Hockey League's parochial tournament was a prelude to even bigger and better things.
Although the 2003-04 campaign ended with a 5-0 quarterfinal loss to perennial power Christian Brothers Academy, the season was a high-water mark for Eustace. The school captured the Southern Conference Red Division championship, finished with a 17-3-1 record and was ranked No. 7 in the state.
"We would like to build on last season and defend our [division] title," Green said. "We feel we have a nice competitive team that can play with anybody in the state, so, hopefully, we can get another opportunity in the tournament."
There are 107 school-sanctioned ice hockey teams competing in the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association this season, but just three in the area. St. Joseph of Hammonton joins Eustace and St. Augustine in the highly competitive Southern Conference Red Division, which also includes Middletown North, Middletown South, Montgomery, and Brick Memorial.
Eustace, which plays its home games at the Flyers Skate Zone in Pennsauken, opened the season with a 5-0 victory over Brick Memorial on Friday and pulled out a 3-2 decision over Middletown South on Sunday.
The Crusaders are led by a strong core of seniors.
The top returning player is Tim Purwin, an all-conference defenseman last season who is expected to use his fast skating and strong puck-handling abilities in making the transition to center. Other standouts include Michael Mirmanesh at center, Todd Kostka on defense, and Lou Tumulo and the very physical Dan Dwier on the wings.
Backstopping behind the legion of 12th graders will be goaltender Colin Saltiel, an experienced and mature sophomore who broke into the lineup last year and turned in a 20-save effort in the season-opening shutout of Brick.
"It was unusual to have a freshman starting in goal, but Colin was terrific," Green said.
Saltiel describes his style of goaltending as "Quebec butterfly," which means he tries to "show a little five hole and then take it away." But you won't find him flopping around on the ice like Dominik Hasek.
"He's more of a traditional-style goaltender," Green said. "He stays square to the shooter and controls his rebounds. He is excellent."
Saltiel said starting as a freshman was "challenging, but I became completely relaxed because there was a great team chemistry. This year, the attitude is even better, the team's completely united, and Coach Green does a great job with our defense. We may have one of the best defenses in the state."
But while Green preaches defense as the key when he's coaching the Haddon Township boys' soccer team, he doesn't believe you can play hockey in a defensive shell.
"In ice hockey, you've really got to go after it, you want to be on the attack," he said. "We feel we bring a fast, skilled style at other teams and try to overpower them."
The Crusaders hope that up-tempo pace, aided by senior leadership and contributions from a talented group of underclassmen, will deliver even more success.
"I think what we're doing, getting better each year and solidifying our defense, getting good breaks like early goals and things like that," Green said, "will enable us to join the level of top programs" such as defending state champion Seton Hall Prep, Delbarton and Christian Brothers Academy.
St. Augustine (18-3-2) was ranked 12th in the state as it finished atop the Southern Red Division regular season standings last year. It is banking on a group of sophomores to keep the program's stock on the rise.
Center Dominic Morone and defenseman Chris Ferry will suit up for coach Ralph Triboletti's Hermits, along with senior stalwarts Chris Kappeler (wing) and Ryan Macey (defense). Mike Petrongolo had 18 saves for the shutout in St. Augustine's 6-0 season-opening romp past Montgomery on Friday.
St. Joseph is making the move from club-level competition under the guidance of coach Jeff Lotierzo. The Wildcats, who suffered a 9-0 loss to Middletown North on Sunday, are young, with the coach's son, C.J. Lotierzo, on defense and fellow sophomore Colin Davis sparking the front line.
On Monday night, St. Augustine topped St. Joseph, 4-1.
Two crowns: The NJSIAA will recognize separate state champions for public and parochial schools for the first time. The semifinals and finals will be held at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford in March.
Contact suburban staff writer Pete Schnatz at 215-854-5817 or email@example.com.