VERONA, NJ - Described by his coach as the “shutdown defenseman,” Jack Lonsinger has stepped up and delivered, helping the Verona-Glen Ridge ice hockey team to the Kelly Division title and to the finals of the Kelly Cup Tournament.  Most recently, Longsinger helped VGR shut out two-time defending Kelly Cup champions Millburn to advance to the finals. Lonsinger is the TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove Hillbilly Athlete of the Week.

“Jack has gotten better on the ice every day this season and has become our shutdown defenseman.  If we need to slow down the opposing team's best player we match Jack with him,” said Head Coach Ken Lilian.  “He does all the things you need to be successful that do not necessarily show on the score sheet. His commitment and dedication to VGR is one of the key reasons we are having a great season.”

Lonsinger credits VGR’s depth and determination with the success they’ve had this season, currently sitting at 15-8 overall.  After Monday’s big win over defending champs Millburn, he’s excited and ready for the Kelly Cup finals against Cranford on Friday. 

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“Millburn was a great game.  We came into it ready to go. What’s interesting is that it was scoreless through the second period,” Lonsinger explained.  “So we managed to keep our cool and bring it home in the third, scoring three goals in a matter of minutes.”

“Our strength is our physicality -- pressuring and playing the body. So when we play teams who don’t play the same way we’re really able to wear them down,” he further stated.  “We’re able to run three lines. We have really good depth and that shows at the end of the games. We are able to come on strong like we did against Millburn last night (Monday).”

Lonsinger described the season as a roller coaster ride, with lots of ups and downs, but he feels the team is hitting its stride now.  

“In the beginning we struggled to score goals.  I think we were averaging 50 shots a game and only scoring one or two goals. Our coaches and our captains have really done a great job working with us, and we’ve hit our stride.  We’ve won some big games, and we want to keep it going in the finals on Friday night and bring the Kelly Cup home,” Lonsinger said. “I think the biggest challenge has been keeping our composure.  We’ve had a lot of highs and lows, but I think our captains and coaches have helped us to stay cool, and we’ve really been working hard in practice and that shows.”

VGR will take on Cranford in the Kelly Cup finals at Codey Arena in West Orange on Friday at 6 p.m., with the state tournament shortly after, so Longsinger said the team is staying focused.  

“Looking ahead to states, the ultimate goal is to be playing at the Prudential Center in March, but we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. Right now we’re just focused on Cranford and we’re taking it one game at a time,” Lonsinger said.  “I’m really just loving everything about this season -- the coaches, the playing, the team -- it’s just been a lot of fun. Obviously it’s great that we’re winning games too and I have to give another shout out to our captains. They’ve been so good all year.”

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.

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