CHATHAM, NJ - Dynasty: a series of members of a family distinguished for their success.
This definition clearly articulates the Chatham High School ice hockey team, a family and one that has become known for its success. Last year, the Cougars made quite a splash and are focused on doing the same this year.
Under first-year head coach Frank Gilberti, who took over for long time head coach and athletic director, Harvey Cohen, the Cougars won the NJSIAA Public B State Championship.This year, they look to do more of the same, win.
“We have all the right tools,” junior forward Will Barnett said. “Everyone this year is looking to knock us off, but if we do the little things right and play up to our potential, we are all confident that we can make a run both in the Mennen Cup and the State Championship.”
Junior forward Bryn Casey added that, “Our main thought is defending the label that we have been given. We are ranked No. 1 in the state according to NJ.com, and we aren’t going to be able to keep that title unless we play the aggressive, defensive and tough game that our coaches have been putting into our brains since we all first started playing for Chatham.”
Similar to Barnett, Casey added that the goal of the team was to ultimately, “Win the state championship but also win the Mennen Cup.”
It certainly will not be as easy winning this year now that many talented players have graduated, including Andrew Winter, Tate Triano, Travis Terzer, Nicky Citron, Matt McNally, Brian Leonard and Aedan Stankelstrom, who moved back to Sweden.
“We lost some good seniors last year, but have gained it back with good upcoming varsity rookies,” Casey said. “Our team is full of ‘grinders’ and no superstars, so in order to win we have to grind hard and play the simple game the team is designed to play.”
The Cougars already began their season on the right “paw” after beating Kinnelon, 5-1, on Nov. 30.
“Every team we play is going to play their hardest because we have something to prove and they want to take it away from us. We have to make sure that no matter what team we play, that we have to play our hardest because no matter who the opponent, we know they are going to give us their all.”
A key contributor to the team’s success last year and in to this year is the “7th Skater.” This is the Chatham student section, which makes itself prominent at almost all of the games. The student section has custom t-shirts made, and will often dress as certain themes. During the championship game last season against Morristown, the theme of the student section was “America.”
The team loves the section, as they motivate them and get them excited for each game. “They are very loyal and always have a good turnout no matter what game. Playing in front of a large, emotional crowd like the ‘seventh skater’ really motivates us to go out there and play hard.”
Casey believes that the “seventh skater” makes the games even more difficult for their opponents. “Playing against a team with a loud and demanding crowd obviously affects their game. It is important to be the loudest.”
It will certainly be loud on Friday night (Dec. 6) when the Cougars take on Randolph at Mennen Sports Arena. The team believes that it will certainly be “a good test” for them as they look to retain their championship.
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