By Brian Deakyne
Red Bank – For Red Bank Catholic, winning is everything.
After winning the Handchen Cup last February, the Caseys’ ice hockey program is gearing up for another impressive season. With most of it’s playmakers from last year’s campaign returning the chances of repeating aren’t too far off.
Despite losing four players who accounted for 129 points last season in Patrick Dwyer, Sean Branagan, Mark Powell and Bryan Gaburo, the Casey’s are confident that this year’s host of players can match the class before them.
“We’re returning a few scorers, and obviously that’s always nice,” Red Bank Catholic head coach Ken Carlson said, “We have some experienced players, and we have some inexperienced players. Hopefully we will see the experienced players step up.”
Stepping into the roles of scorers for the Caseys’, who finished with a 16-7-4 record last season, will be Trevor Grossman, who tallied 36 points on 16 goals and 20 assists as a junior. Forward Jack Donleavy will also look to be an offensive contributor after posting 19 points last year.
Red Bank Catholic’s strength, however, won’t be at the top of the ice. Behind a veteran goalie, the Casey’s will look to control games, defensively, and be a tough team to mount any kind of offense against.
Netminder Chet Tooker will be a senior after posting a 2.25 goals against average as a junior last year. He will be protected by a solid core of defensemen with Brad Anderson and Mike Stickle manning the blue-line.
“We are not expecting Chet to win us games. He can’t do it alone,” Carlson said. “We are hoping to have a good enough defense that can control games. If we have forwards that can come back and play two ways, we will play good, defensive hockey and win games that way.”
Senior Joe Keane will be a factor, defensively, as well, after gaining experience last season.
Last season, the Casey’s 17-win season was good enough for second place in the Shore ‘A’ division, behind Brick Township, who, at times, appeared to be the best public team in the state. RBC, after losing twice to the Dragons in the regular season, got their revenge in post-season play, downing Brick in the Handchen Cup final at the Red Bank Armory.
“The goal is to be competitive in the division every year,” Carlson said, “We want to win the division and eventually the cup. It’s a tough division. We have to play CBA, Brick Township, Brick Memorial, Middletown South and Middletown North, but we expect to have a chance to win against all those teams.”
Red Bank Catholic opens the season on Saturday, Dec. 3, when they travel to Wall to take on Freehold Township.