The Freehold/Raritan/Colts Neck co-op ice hockey team got off to a great start to the 2019-2020 season at the Howell Ice World Arena.
In its season opener against Freehold Township High School on Nov. 29, the second-year co-op team picked up a 5-2 victory over the Patriots.
“It was a nice start to the season,” said coach Brian Simpson. “We have a good balance of kids from all three schools. It’s a long season. We have to take things one game at a time, one shift at a time and one period at a time to have success.”
The mission for the Freehold/Raritan/Colts Neck co-op team this year is to compete and build off last season’s 11-10-3 record.
Schools are allowed under New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Assosciation guidelines to merge in order to field a team in a sport. This team contains students from Freehold High School, Raritan High School and Colts Neck High School.
Senior Joe Barone is back to lead the way for the co-op team. Barone currently has over 70 career high school points as a three-year starter and has a shot at cracking the 100 point mark this season believes Simpson.
Barone scored a game-high two goals and an assist in the season-opening victory over Freehold Township.
Senior Andrew Kutzman is another veteran leader for the squad. Kutzman tallied home a goal in the first win of the season.
Juniors Anthony Caruso and Nicholas Ochlan both come back will varsity experience and will be key players the team will lean on this season.
Caruso notched a hat trick in the assist column during the team’s win over Freehold Township, collecting three assists in the victory.
Sophomore DJ Clements got off to a strong start in the victory as well, scoring two goals and dishing out an assist.
Senior Dominic Natoli contributed an assist to the cause, while goaltender Anthony Guglieri was solid in net with 20 saves to earn his first victory of the season.
“We feel we can be more competitive this season,” Simpson said. “We only won one game in our division last year, so we want to be more competitive in the A-Central division this season. We want to qualify for the Shore Conference Tournament as well.”
After coaching the Freehold Borough ice hockey team for five seasons, Simpson came back to the helm last year to coach the newly formed cop-op team in its first year.
Simpson has preached about character and commit to his players to make the program successful on and off the ice.
“The guys have come together as one team,” Simpson said. “They may represent different schools, but they play as a team and for each other.”
Happy to see his players get an opportunity to play high school ice hockey, Simpson has been very pleased with the support the team has been getting from each school to start the season.
“It was nice to see kids from all three schools come out to support us in our first game,” Simpson said. “The support we have gotten from all three schools has been great.”
The Freehold/Raritan/Colts Neck team’s next game will be on Dec. 6 against Toms River North at the Middletown Ice World Arena.
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