Hockey team welcomes modified 2021 season


Photo Credit: Simon Toffell

The 2019-2020 squad stands for the National Anthem before their matchup against West Essex.

by Michael Silver, Managing Editor

The 2020-2021 New Jersey high school hockey season, along with all of the other winter sports, remain in jeopardy after Governor Phil Murphy announced the second postponement of all winter sports on Nov. 30.

The hockey season was supposed to take place between Jan. 4 and Feb. 17 before the governor announced his new executive order, but the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) has announced that the season is scheduled to go from Jan. 15 to March 6. 

Prior to the season opener, outdoor practices were permitted to begin on Dec. 14 and indoor practices on Jan. 3. Transfer students will not be eligible to participate in games until Feb. 1. The NJSIAA will not be sponsoring any post-season tournaments. 

There is still the possibility for all of these dates to be postponed a third time or even cancelled due to the rise in COVID-19 cases. 

If the season is able to go as planned, the Panthers’ hockey program is in for an exciting one. 

Coming off a strong 2019-2020 campaign, the Panthers are expecting an even better season. Last year’s team consisted of a strong, young core, as only four seniors had graduated from the class of 2020.

For the most part, the core of last year’s team will all be returning, which includes all-North Jersey goalie Vincent ‘Mack’ Alvino III, captain Ryan LeBlanc, and leading goal scorer Anthony Maurice. 

This season will feature a difficult schedule for the Panthers, both inside and outside of the Mckinnis conference. Ridgewood, Livingston, Lakeland, and Summit are four of many highly anticipated matchups for ‘Rock Puck’.

 “Our division from top to bottom is a competitive division,” said Head Coach Dean Portas. “I will probably say that every game is big. We have so many hilltoppers.”

Portas did acknowledge three-time defending state champions Summit, Montclair, who lost in the state championship last season, and Westfield, who was the 2-seed in their bracket for the state tournament, as three of their biggest matchups. 

No matter what their record shows, the players will be more than gracious for the chance just to participate in games amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a strong possibility that the seniors have already stepped on the ice for the last time as high school hockey players. 

Alvino will cherish every moment he can get as he caps off his last season in net for the high school team, and is setting high goals for his squad this season.

“If we can hit our stride, we think that we’re really going to go on a run,” said Alvino. “We’re just looking forward to getting on the ice and having success.”