BASKING RIDGE, NJ -- The Ridge ice hockey team, which has won two state championships in the last three years, opened its season this week in hopes of contending for a spate of titles again in 2020.
The Red Devils defeated Randolph last March for the NJSIAA Public B state championship, and although Alex Konovalov, Blake Loges and Luke Rich were among the graduation losses, Ridge has a pretty good case to make for contending in the county, conference and state tournaments again this winter.
To start with, senior goalie Marcus Fabiunke will be minding the net once again after a junior season in which he allowed just 1.43 goals per game with a save percentage of .936. Fabiunke posted 12 shutouts.
Senior defenders in front of Fabiunke, Will Smith and Sean Leach, each return to provide two more immovable obstacles for opposing attacks. Senior Jack Finnegan and junior defensemen Eric Shubert (1-11-12) and Tommy Vitolo (0-6-6) will also play a lot in the back.
Senior returners on the attack for the Red Devils will be Ty Ebeling (six goals, 16 assists), John Guillano (2-6-8) and Andrew Vilade.
There's plenty of firepower among this year's junior class, with wings Matt Balzarotti (19-17-36), Colin Kirkwood (5-6-13), Grant Loges (3-4-7) and Erik Helgusen (5-9-14) comprising several potent shifts. Sophomore Nick DelGaizo (10-11-21) also will see plenty of minutes up front.
"Our goals are, first place in the Skyland Conference, win the Skyland Cup, qualify for the state tournament (and) win the state tournament," said Ridge head coach Tim Mullin. "(But) the Skyland Conference will be tough this year. Pingry, Bridgewater, Hunterdon Central and Hillsborough will all be good."
The Red Devils opened their season Tuesday evening with a 14-1 victory over Bernards. Ridge scored six goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. Ebeling finished with three goals and one assist, freshman Reese Judson had two goals and two assists, and Loges scored two goals and assisted on one.
Ridge is scheduled to play Bridgewater-Raritan on Wednesday.