WESTFIELD, NJ — The Blue Devils ice hockey team starts the season 2-2 as it transitions from the loss of last year’s star seniors Andrew Marino, Matt Friedman, Matt Greco and Westfield High School’s all-time win leader as goalie Dan DoCampo.
However, the team is much more experienced this year than they were at this point last year as it welcomes back many players who joined the varsity team last year.
Now featured are seniors Dante Anastario, Luke Hiltwein and Matt Macik, as well as sophomores Kenneth Meyer and Matt Rittendale. Key newcomers include freshman Anthony Oliveri, sophomore Brett Denner and senior Aaron Tavasi.
“We are not a high-powered offense,” Head coach Joe Bertucci noted, “so in order for us to be successful we have to play solid defense and capitalize on our scoring opportunities.”
Senior Christian Mancheno and junior Ethan Finver, who have split time as goalies, have both performed well so far. Mancheno recorded 20 saves in a 2-0 win against Governor Livingston and 15 in a 3-0 loss to Johnson. Finver, meanwhile, had 32 saves in a tough 2-0 loss to Summit and 13 in a 4-1 win against Cranford.
Coach Bertucci has confidence in both of them going forward, especially after backing up a leader like DoCampo.
“Having two goalies capable of carrying the load is a good problem,” Bertucci said. “Coming into this season, they were aware that the starter would be determined on a day-to-day basis. They have a good relationship and recognize that they are on this team together for the same reason. The healthy competition is good for the both of them.”
Going forward, the players know what they have to do.
“We want to improve on capitalizing on our scoring chances and we want to work on communicating more,” sophomore Meyer said. “Once we start talking, the goals will start coming, and we can really see what we will be able to do as a team.”
He added, “We are looking forward to testing ourselves against some of the top competition in the state this year. We are looking to build off of last year's success, and as there aren't as many fresh faces we are ready to compete against these high-caliber teams.”
Bertucci and his players believe that they can win the Union County Championship as well as make a serious run at a state championship.
“We realistically think that's the sky is the limit this year,” Finver said. “We set our standards high and have confidence that we can achieve them. We have the right pieces of the puzzle, we just need to put them together.”
Eric Storms is a junior at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAP into Westfield.