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Former Brick High School all-state performer and NHL standout Jim Dowd is the top individual among those selected as the best New Jersey high school ice hockey players in the past 40 years to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the NJSIAA state tournament as selected by former Star-Ledger ice hockey writers Paul Bruno and Rick Bliwise. (photo courtesy of

Former Delbarton all-stater and Harvard Crimson star Derek Maguire is on state tourney 40th Anniversary first team. (photo courtesy of

The late Lars Johansson (5) was a star ice hockey player at Montclair High and continued to excel on the amateur scene. (photo courtesy of

Top Players Over Past 40 Years
Cited By Noted Hockey Scribes
By Paul Bruno & Rick Bliwise

This winter marks the 40th anniversary of the NJSIAA Hockey Tournament.

To commemorate the event, these two former Star-Ledger high school hockey writers put together a list of the top players over the last 40 years of the tournament. The two scribes have combined to cover hockey throughout New Jersey for more than 60 years, and used their experience, along with insight from several coaches and officials throughout the state, to select the club featured below.

For the purposes of this All-Time tournament-era squad we decided that all players being considered would have to have played at least two seasons of high school hockey in New Jersey to be recognized.

As for selecting an All-Time New Jersey Player, the consensus goes to Jim Dowd. The former Brick standout finished with 375 career points on 189 goals and 186 assists and helped the Ocean County school to the 1986 state championship in a victory over Delbarton at Mennen Arena. He later played on an NCAA championship team at Lake Superior State and then earned a Stanley Cup playing with the 1995 New Jersey Devils.

Aside from Dowd, several other standout Jersey high school skaters went on to play (and are still competing) in the National Hockey league, including James van Riemsdyk, Johnny Gaudreau, Kenny Agostino, Kyle Palmieri, Max Middendorf, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Dave Williams and George Parros.

In the initial state championship game in 1976, Brick defeated Chatham Township, 3-2, on an overtime goal by Warren Wolf, Jr.

Scholastic hockey in New Jersey began in the winter of 1958-59.


(1975-1976 - 2015-2016)

G-Alex Westlund, Chatham/Lawrenceville

D-Derek Maguire, Delbarton

D-Michael Acosta, Toms River North

F-Jim Dowd, Brick

F-Johnny Gaudreau, Gloucester Catholic

F-Kenny Agostino, Delbarton


G-Bob Cielo, Christian Brothers Academy

D-Ned Crotty, Delbarton

D-John Olin, Lawrenceville

F-James van Riemsdyk, Christian Brothers Academy

F-Joe Tracy, Seton Hall Prep/Livingston

F-Kyle Palmieri, St. Peter's Prep


G-Dave Lehanski, St. Joseph (Mont.)

D-Lars Johansson, Montclair

D-Tony Del Gaizo, Montclair Kimberley Academy

F-Max Middendorf, Rampo/St. Joseph (Mont.)

F-Peter Herms, Seton Hall Prep

F-Dan Pencinger, Randolph



Goalies:  Joe Aliseo, Hudson Catholic; Steve Hippel, Toms River North

Defensemen:  Dustin DePalma, CBA; Jim Fish, Brick; Maarty Stadtlander, Montclair; Pat Yannotta, Morristown-Beard; Trevor van Riemsdyk, CBA; Eric Reisman, St. Joseph (Mont.).

Forwards:  Mats Carseberg, West Windsor/Lawrenceville; Chris Ohlweiler, Chatham Township; Dave Williams, Chatham Township; George Parros, Delbarton; Brandon Doria, Seton Hall Prep; John Demers, Notre Dame; Anthony Randazzo, Bergen Catholic; Pat DiMarco, Toms River North/Peddie; Chip Grabowski, West Essex; Bobby Acropolis, Brick; Dan Prachar, Seton Hall Prep; Pat Verney, Hudson Catholic; Dale Reinhardt, Delbarton; Paul O'Hern, Christian Brothers Academy.



No. 1:  There have been so many outstanding championship hockey games over the past 40 years, but perhaps one stands slightly above the rest; and it came a month after the U.S. Olympic hockey team's historic Gold Medal run at Lake Placid, N.Y. in 1980. The 1980 state final between Brick and Livingston was played before a standing-room-only crowd at South Mountain Arena in West Orange. Sophomore forward Joe Tracy delivered the lone goal of the game--and a state title for the Lancers--when he struck for a shorthanded tally in overtime as Livingston forged a 1-0 victory. The goaltenders in that classic were Jim Mair of Livingston and Emilio Catroppa of Brick. Livingston 1, Brick 0.


No. 2:  Perennial Public school powerhouse Brick skated into a showdown against Delbarton at Continental Airlines Arena for the 2002 state final. Freshman defenseman Ned Crotty produced the game's only goal when he blasted in a shot from the right point and Delbarton edged Brick, 1-0, in coach Bruce Shatel's first season. The title helped ignite a Delbarton dynasty, sending the Green Wave to eight private championships from 2002-2013. This game was not without some controversy, though, after Brick pulled its goalie for the extra attacker with less than two minutes left in regulation. In the final minute of play, after a furious scramble ensued in front of the Delbarton goal, Brick claimed that the puck crossed the line for what could been the equalizer. But there is no clear-cut evidence of that, and the referees declare no goal. Delbarton holds on for the title. Delbarton 1, Brick 0.


NO. 3 : The 2012 showdown between Delbarton and Christian Brothers Academy for the Parochial championship stands out for two reasons -- it was a contest where CBA, which entered as the underdog, nearly pulled off one of the biggest all-time upsets. It also was perhaps the greatest comeback in Delbarton's storied hockey history. CBA, which had lost twice earlier in the year to Delbarton by a combined 14-0 margin, carried a 2-0 lead into the third period on goals by Brendan van Riemskyk and Anthony Cusanelli. But Delbarton stormed back in the final 9:18, getting a pair of goals from Alex Hagerty before Josh Melnick struck for the winning goal with just 1:36 left on the clock for a 3-2 final. The triumph gave Delbarton an unprecedented fifth straight Parochial crown. Delbarton 3, CBA 2.


In the history of the NJSIAA State Tournament there have been only six championship games that have ended with a 1-0 score. The only team to win two 1-0 state championship games is Randolph, while the lone team to drop two 1-0 decisions is Brick. The six contests:

1980-Livingston 1, Brick 0 (OT)

1999-Seton Hall Prep 1, Delbarton 0 (OT, Parochial Final)

2002-Delbarton 1, Brick 0

2009-Randolph 1, Ridge 0

2011-Randolph 1, Montgomery 0

2014-Morristown 1, Ramsey 0


Rick Bliwise has been writing about sports in New Jersey for 40 years, and was a sports writer for The Star-Ledger from 1976 through 1989, where he covered high school and college ice hockey, among several other sports. Bliwise was the first to initiate statewide scholastic ice hockey rankings throughout New Jersey for The Ledger in 1979, beginning with Top 10. He launched the idea for a high school ice hockey hall of fame in 2008, and it became a reality with the inaugural induction class of 2010. Bliwise was inducted into the New Jersey High School Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014. He has covered and chronicled scholastic hockey in the Garden State for the past 37 seasons.


Paul Bruno covered college and high school ice hockey for The Star-Ledger from 1988-2012. A 1984 graduate of Seton Hall University, he played collegiate hockey for The Hall in the Metropolitan Collegiate Hockey Conference. He also served as an intern in the New Jersey Devils public relations department during the 1983-84 season. Bruno later coached the Seton Hall University ice hockey team (1985-1987) and has covered the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils training camps as well as the ECAC ice hockey championships in Lake Placid, NY, for the Ledger. Bruno, who has been a contributing hockey writer to New Jersey Monthly Magazine, has covered hockey for Sideline Chatter for the past three seasons.

            Follow Paul Bruno on Twitter at @PaulBrunoHS

Jim Dowd worked as high school hockey coach after long and successful playing career as both an amateur and pro. (photo courtesy of




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