VERONA, NJ - After a solid year in which they fell in the State Tournament the Verona-Glen Ridge Ice Hockey Team has high expectations for the 2020 campaign.
“I really expect us to be playing for the Kelley Cup Championship and making a lot of noise in the State Tournament,” said Head Coach Ken Lilien.
In net for Verona will be Chris Kostas. Kostas was exceptional last year leading the squad to a 15-8-4 record. The senior had a number of games where he collected over 30 saves in the cage.
“[Kostas] was probably the best goalie in Essex County last year, he’s looked really sharp in the first few weeks of practice, he really settles things down,” said Lilien
Defensively Senior Assistant Captain Alec Vecchione will head up a talented group. Vecchione notched a goal and six assists last year for the squad. Star sophomore Zach Gold on the back line will join him. Gold added nine goals and 10 assists last season moving around in all different positions for the Hillbillies.
“I think we’ll be solid back there,” said Lilien.
On the attack Verona returns their Team Captain Chandler Otterbein. Otterbein had nine goals and 10 assists last year. Alongside Otterbein will be fellow senior Aidan Brennan who had nine goals and four assists of his own.
The Hillbillies are going to be tested early and often this season. The team has built what Lilien feels is the “toughest non-league schedule” since he’s taken over the squad which includes games against Montclair, Livingston, West Essex and Chatham among others.
As the season rapidly approaches the squad is working to build on their chemistry for the season opening game.
“[We’re working] on the powerplay, getting comfortable with the penalty kill, some special teams situations, faceoffs and getting a little bit tighter in our defensive zone coverage,” said Lilien.
Verona gets their first test of the 2020 season when they take on Nutley on December 3.
“We’re expecting Nutley to be a big challenge…it’s a big divisional game on opening night to start the season,” said Lilien.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.