Hockey: Scotch Plains-Fanwood to Face Off with West Essex for Kelly-McMullen Cup

Raiders' head coach Matt Gunther says the season changed for the better after a win against Johnson in January. Credits: Michael Bruchert
Gunther praised Nick Cassara as one of the team's point leaders. Credits: Michael Bruchert
Jared Figueroa, a junior, is closing in on 100 points during his high school career. Credits: File photo

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – For the first time in the program’s existence, the Scotch Plains-Fanwood varsity ice hockey team finished with a winning regular season record, and now has the opportunity to put the icing on the cake with a win in the Essex County Conference Finals on Saturday, Feb. 20.

This will be the first season a team is awarded the Kelly-McMullen Cup, as teams were divided into Liberty and American divisions prior to the 2015-16 season. The second-seeded Raiders will face off with newly formed rivals West Essex, who earned the top seed although both teams finished with 11-10 records.

“In the beginning of the season, since we’re new to Essex County, I didn’t have a background knowledge about all the teams, but after getting to play all of the teams I kind of foreshadowed one of the teams in the final may be us or West Essex. We’re really comparable teams.” Raiders’ head coach Matt Gunther said.

Sign Up for E-News

The Raiders fell to the Knights 3-1 in their season opener, but flipped the script in the second matchup, scoring four unanswered goals to win 5-3.

“I think we’re starting to build a rivalry between them,” Gunther said. “The first game we lost we were down a couple of our good players, then when we won they were missing a few of their top players. If we both have full rosters, it’s going to be up in the air.”

The Raiders will look to their two point leaders in Nick Cassara and Jared Figueroa to get the team on the board, but need an equally strong defensive effort according to Gunther.

“Initially we had [Cassara and Figueroa] working together. They are two completely opposite players so we separated them. The couple of studs on our team don’t shine individually, but instead when they work as an entire unit,” Gunther said. “We kind of know who to keep our eye on and know who the better players are and it comes down to shutting down their offense. We need to do the best we can to counteract their attack.”

Figueroa, a junior, is already nearing the 100-point career mark and may reach the rare milestone before his senior year. Gunther admits the hockey team has set a precedent in the community, showing younger players that a winning team exists at the high school level.

“It’s quite an achievement not only as a coach, but for the association. We haven’t been able to call ourselves championship contenders till this moment, so we’ve put ourselves in an opportunity to do so,” Gunther said.

Scotch Plains-Fanwood and West Essex will play on Saturday, Feb. 20 at Codey Arena in West Orange. The game is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Scotch Plains/Fanwood

Westfield Family Continues ‘Summer of Kindness’ with Infant Clothing Drive

July 12, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield mom and teacher Sara Liptack is continuing her family’s “Summer of Kindess” with an infant clothing for Furniture Assist, an organization in Springfield that helps formerly homeless people, veterans, the elderly, fire victims, refugees and people fleeing domestic violence.

“I said, ‘What’s the one thing you really ...

It's Not What You Are Eating, It's What's Eating You


Emotional eating can be described as episodes of binge-eating, grazing and/or eating when not hungry to soothe feelings. Emotional eaters have a pattern of eating to cope with stress, emotional conflicts and problems of daily life.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of physical symptoms initiating the eating, ...

Send a Message to Nick Scutari and His Cronies: Corruption Has No Place in Union County

July 19, 2018

Dear Editor:

The Union County Freeholders’ decision to appoint State Senator and newly-elected Union County Democratic Chairman, Nick Scutari’s chief of staff, Ed Oatman as County Manager smelled of corruption from the start.

To place a political consultant like Oatman in the role of overseeing 2,800 employees and running the day-to-day operations of the $500 million County ...

When to Dial 911: Scotch Plains Rescue Squad Tip of the Month

July 10, 2018

There are many times you should call 911. If you or someone around you is in true medical distress, such as experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pains, bleeding, possible stroke, or any other serious health issues, then 911 should be called as soon as possible. If there are wires down, fire, a crime in progress, or other dangerous conditions to people or property, call 911 ...

Pizza and Trivia at Scotch Plains Public Library on Weds, Aug. 8

July 21, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- ​On Wednesday, August 8 at 6:00 p.m., join the teen staff for a night of trivia and pizza!

Teams of four will compete to figure out who has the best musical knowledge. Questions will range from “Name that Tune” to “Who Wrote that Musical?” The winning team will receive prizes. Registration is required and will begin on Monday, July 30 at 11:00 ...

Upcoming Events


Mon, July 23, 8:00 PM

Scotch Plains Public Library, Scotch Plains

View the Night Sky at the Scotch Plains Public ...

Arts & Entertainment Education


Wed, July 25, 6:00 PM

JCC of Central NJ, Scotch Plains

The JCC’s Barracudas Swim Team Meet the Coaches ...



Wed, July 25, 7:00 PM


Downtown Westfield 5K & Pizza Extravaganza