Fair Lawn's hockey team may be just 1-1 after two games -- a shutout win over division doormat Dumont on Saturday and a 4-2 loss to powerhouse Paramus Catholic on Monday -- but coach Brack Healy thinks this might be the best squad he's had in his three years at the helm of the hockey program.
The Cutters boast a dynamic scorer in junior Justin Ritter, an up-and-coming goaltender in sophomore Garret Baldacci and a seasoned core of senior leaders at both ends of the ice, headlined by center Kevin Carney and defenseman Sean Milnes.
"This year's team has a lot of carry-overs from last year and I expect us to be very competitive within the division," Healy said Tuesday. "Ridgewood and PC seem to be the top two teams, but unlike previous years, I expect our team this season to be very competitive with them. I think a top three finish in the league is very much a reality."
At 7-8-1 in league play last year, Fair Lawn finished fifth of nine in their division, but failed to notch a victory against a winning team. The Cutters were dominated by a combined score of 44-8 against the division's top three finishers.
If they're going to remain competitive this year, Healy said he not only needs big things offensively from both Carney and Ritter, the team's two top point scorers from a year ago, but also from a few guys that played smaller roles last season.
"Senior Thomas Calderone, sophomore Mark Williams and sophomore Frankie Maneri are also guys we need to put the puck in the net this year if we plan on being successful," he said.
Perhaps the team's x-factor, however, is Baldacci, who minded the net for the junior varsity last year, but lacks any varsity experience.
"He has improved tremendously over the past two years," Healy said. "If he continues to get better, he could be the key to our success."
Fair Lawn will continue to sport a defense-first system this season, but Healy hopes an improved transition game will translate into more offensive opportunities for his scorers.
"We play very good defensively, our neutral zone trap works well, but we want to try and generate more offense from opponent turnovers," he said.
In their next game on Friday night, the Cutters face a much-improved Clifton team.
See More on Patch
Most Popular articles
- Campania Restaurant Closes Three Months After Chef's Suicide
- Four Cars Involved in Chain Reaction Crash on Fair Lawn Avenue
- Fair Lawn Makes 'America's Best High Schools' List for Fifth Straight Year
- Council Approves 'Reasonable' Tax Increase Rather Than Deplete Surplus
- Downed Power Line Causes Outages Across Fair Lawn