By Wayne Witkowski
Dan Bergan, who built the Robbinsville/Allentown Ravens ice hockey team into a perennial contender in his 11 years as head coach, is retiring.
“After 11 seasons, it has been a great run,” said Bergan, who early in his tenure worked with Allentown’s players as a co-op team and got the two sets of athletes to blend well in a 143-99-19 career. “I cherish the memory of every single [season].”
Bergan finalized his decision last weekend.
“It has been my absolute privilege and honor to work with absolutely great kids, great parents and two awesome school administrations,” he said. “I fell into the perfect group and ran with it for 11 seasons. I couldn’t have asked for more.”
After a 4-20 inaugural season, the Ravens went 113-62-14 the next eight seasons, winning two Patriot, two Colonial and one Valley Division championship and suited up three Colonial Valley Conference Players of the Year, including Allentown’s Logan Fredericks. The Ravens’ defining moment came in the 2012-13 New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Tournament quarterfinals when they took perennial power Randolph High School into overtime before losing, 3-2.
“There have been some great moments: our first win in our first game, our first divisional title, big wins over Chatham (4-2) and Notre Dame (4-3) this year. And there was the awesome second-round [state tournament] overtime win over Roxbury in 2012,” Bergan said. “But the most fun moment may have been our third-round quarterfinals overtime loss to three-time champion Randolph that year and the full-house crowd at Mennen Arena chanting our name. That was pretty cool for an unknown little school back then.”
In the past two seasons, the Ravens went 30-37-5, including 14-8-1 last year competing in the Colonial Division, beating Montgomery High School in the first round of the NJSIAA Public A tournament before losing convincingly to Morris Knolls High School.
Seniors Shawn Camisa and Josh Rosenbaum led the scoring with 34 and 31 goals, respectively, and Nick Koch spent most of the time in goal on a young team. Sophomore Justin Cooper saw significant time in goal, and junior Brian Eider was the third leading goal scorer with 18.
None of that had any bearing on Bergan’s decision.
“I’m expected to be a grandfather this October, God willing. I need to spend some time at my son’s home in Dallas this winter and spend some time with the next generation of skaters,” said Bergan, who also runs an insurance agency. “My wife said, ‘It’s time to come home from playing hockey,’ after 11 winters of putting up with my schedule.”
Bergan said there is no indication who the next coach of the Ravens will be.
“It is my hope and expectation that the Robbinsville and Allentown admins will combine their efforts to get an excellent coach to move the program to the next level,” Bergan said. “They are in good shape for an excellent 2017-18 campaign.”
As for his future, he said lightheartedly, “I have always tooled around with guitar and over the past few months, I’ve picked up the pace with that a bit. You can learn any song you want online nowadays.”
Rain forced the postponement of Allentown’s Mercer County Tournament semifinals game May 13 against Nottingham High School to 3:30 p.m. May 15 at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton.
“We need to keep pitching and playing good defense and start to get some big hits,” coach Brian Nice said of the Redbirds (17-1). “We have had a ton of baserunners lately but have not been good enough at driving them in when we’ve had chances. That has to change.”
Allentown, which is seeded No. 2, also has a regular-season game with No. 3-seed Nottingham (17-6) for first place in the division that was scheduled for May 15 and is moved to an undetermined date because of the county tournament. Both are 4-1 in the Colonial Valley Conference Valley Division.
Nice declined to name a starter for either game against Nottingham, but it’s likely Jordan Winston will start one of them.
Allentown advanced to the semifinals with a 2-1 victory over The Pennington School in 12 innings May 9. Austin Ferrieri had two hits and an RBI.
Giuseppe Arcuri smashed two hits for two RBIs, as Allentown beat Monroe Township High School, 5-2, May 10. Jake Nitti scattered seven hits and Jackson Fogarty drove in a run in Allentown’s 2-1 victory over the Hun School the following day for its eighth straight victory. Ryan Huth had two hits.
Hopewell Valley Central High School rallied from a 4-1 deficit to deal Allentown its first loss of the season, 8-6, May 9 in the semifinals of the Mercer County Tournament at Notre Dame High School in Lawrenceville.
Colonial Valley Conference Valley Divison champion Allentown, led by Marin Hartshorn’s three goals, took its three-goal lead a minute into the second half when Hopewell Valley (11-7) answered, scoring six of the next seven goals for a 7-5 advantage.
The Lawrenceville School beat Hopewell Valley, 17-6, in the championship game.
Allentown (11-1) now focuses its attention on the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III tournament.
Dylan Westerman, who stepped into the lineup when top scorer Eamon McDonald suffered an injury, scored the winning goal with 1:44 left in regulation, as Princeton High School (8-7) beat Allentown, 8-7, May 9 in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals.
Connor Provost scored twice for Allentown (6-9), which saw an end to its three-game winning streak. Princeton Day School beat Princeton, 9-5, May 11 in the county tournament finals.
Hightstown High School (11-8) eliminated Allentown, 5-4, from the Mercer County Tournament quarterfinals in 10 innings May 9 after Allentown (10-10) tied the game, 2-2, with two runs in the home seventh. Heather Devine and Madison Storey each batted in a run for Allentown.
The Colonial Valley Conference Valley Division champion Redbirds also lost, 3-1, to Robbinsville High School May 12, as Katie Hunter scattered six hits.
Outdoor track and field
Rain forced the postponement of the Mercer County Championships from May 13 to May 20 at Steinert High School.
“Having an extra week was big for us with our injuries,” said girls’ coach Drew Lachenmayer, who has pole vaulter Carly Roche nearing full strength from her injury.
Sophomore 800-meter runner Emily Friend is the only member of the team expected to miss the county meet with an injury.
Allentown’s girls suffered their first dual-meet loss of the season to Lawrence High School, as some Redbirds sat out the meet recovering from their injuries, but they beat Ewing High School in a tri-meet May 9.
The Redbirds’ girls’ and boys’ teams hosted West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North May 16.