PARSIPPANY, NJ - There is no shortage of eye-opening statistics when it comes to the four-year varsity career of Parsippany Regional goaltender Justin Wellman.
Eighty-six consecutive games played. A career total of 2,655 saves, including 923 this season. A 73-save performance in his final game against Park Regional in the Haas Cup playoffs. And a pair of first-team All-Conference honors, including this season in which his team finished eighth in the Haas/Charette Division of the Morris County Secondary Schools Ice Hockey League (MCSSIHL).
“From the moment Justin stepped onto the ice with our program, we knew he was going to be special,” said Parsippany Regional head coach Anthony Egidio. “As a freshman with some talented players in front of him, he helped us win a conference championship. That moment was never too big for him and he was not just there for the ride, he was a big reason why we were there.
“I think Justin’s final high school game (a 7-1 loss to Park Regional in the Haas Cup) is a great metaphor for his entire career. Although we lost, he stood out, facing 80 shots and making 73 saves. Confident and positive the entire time, he led the team as best he could. He made highlight save after highlight save and we always felt like we had a chance because he was in net.”
As a freshman, Wellman led Parsippany Regional to a Charette Division title and a playoff victory over Park Regional. It was also the start of his ironman streak, where he would go on to play every minute of every game (86 games) during his four-year varsity career.
“I remember being very nervous before my first game as a freshman,” Wellman recalled. “We won that game and had a good season. We won our division and beat Park (Regional) in the playoffs. That’s probably the moment I’ll remember most.
“There were times during my four years where I probably shouldn’t have played, like when I had pneumonia as a freshman and played though it. You just realize how much your team relies on you and you don’t want to let them down.”
As much as Wellman has meant to the Parsippany Regional hockey program on the ice, his contributions off the ice may be equally important.
“It’s very difficult for me to put into words what Justin has meant to Parsippany’s hockey program,” Egidio said. “When I took over as head coach when Justin was a freshman, I had noticed that hockey in the town I grew up in was dying. Freshman classes were getting smaller and there were no longer any youth/feeder programs. Justin has been a huge help in creating excitement in Parsippany in regard to hockey.
“He does this not only with his stellar play in net, but he would help recruit younger players during functions like the town’s Fall Festival, and he even attended games for the recreation program that started this year. He’s been a great role model for the kids and would talk to them and give them high-fives after games.”
Wellman, who also played travel hockey for the New Jersey Freeze for the past three years, plans to continue his hockey career at the collegiate level when he attends Rider University in the fall. He is currently preparing to play lacrosse during the spring season for Parsippany but will never forget his time on the ice for Parsippany Regional, a co-op between Parsippany Hills and Parsippany high schools.
“Like they say, it all passes too quickly,” Wellman said. “Playing high school hockey was a great experience and I have memories that I’ll never forget.”
“Justin will surely be missed within our program, but I have a feeling he’ll always be around,” Egidio said. “And when this program is back to a place where we’re competing for championships, we’ll all know a big part of that was due to Justin’s leadership and advocacy for the program.”