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Cutters Finish Hockey Season 10-14-1

Your home for Fair Lawn High School Hockey

End of Season Record: 10-14-1

Game Notes:

2/4:  The Cutters got hat tricks from sophomore forward Justin Ritter and junior Thomas Calderone in a 7-2 laugher against Bayonne on Saturday. Junior Kevin Carney had a career-high five assists. Senior goalkeeper Josh Sarna picked up the victory in net.

1/29:  Fair Lawn cruised to a 5-1 victory over River Dell at The Ice House Sunday night.

The Cutters jumped out to an early lead with goals from Kevin Carney and Mark Williams, and finished the first period up 2-0. In the second, River Dell scored on the power play to cut it to a one-gal game, but just seconds later Cutters' sophomore Justin Ritter responded on assists from Jon Polyak and Kevin Carney to bring the lead back to two goals. Polyak added a power-play goal in the third period. Cutters' senior goalie Josh Sarna had 19 saves in net.

1/25: Junior Kevin Carney netted a hat trick and added an assist Wednesday night in Fair Lawn's 7-0 throttling of Hudson Catholic. David Thau, Corey Boettcher, Thomas Calderone and Mark Williams also scored.

1/16: The Fair Lawn hockey team showed Monday night that there is still plenty left in the tank. Although they fell just short in what would have been a huge upset, the Cutters are proving they can compete with anyone. 

After falling behind 4-1, the Cutters rallied and took the lead with 7 minutes remaining when Jon Polyak scored his third goal of the game to give the Cutters a 5-4 advantage. After Pascack Valley tied it with 5:28 left Fair Lawn was whistled for a questionable penalty with 40 seconds remaining. On the ensuing power play, Pascack Valley scored with 25 seconds left to end the Cutters comeback bid. 

1/7: The Cutters scored four times in the opening period and cruised to a 10-1 win over Clifton on Saturday night. Sophomore forward Justin Ritter and senior forward Jon Polyak each recorded a hat trick while Kevin Carney pitched in two goals as well. Thomas Calderone and Frankie Maneri also hit for Fair Lawn. Senior goaltender Dan Prigge made 16 saves and won his first game since returning from an injury.

1/3: Fair Lawn was extremely competitive in a loss to the Ridgewood Maroons on Monday night. Although the final score was 5-1, Fair Lawn trailed 2-1 with 8 minutes left and ended up outshooting the Maroons 25-22. Fair Lawn is 6-4-1 and will play Wayne Hills on Friday, followed by Clifton on Saturday. If Fair Lawn wins both games they will automatically qualify for the Bergen County Tournament.

12/23 vs. Clifton -- Josh Sarna made 24 saves for Fair Lawn in picking up the win. Sophomore forward Justin Ritter scored twice, his second coming with 3:12 remaining on a redirection off a shot from senior forward Jon Polyak. Junior forward Chris DiFalco scored for Clifton and Sarah Scrudato made 23 saves for the Mustangs.

12/18 vs. Vernon -- Junior defenseman Thomas Calderone had a hat trick and added an assist tonight against Vernon. Sophomore forward Justin Ritter had 2 goals and an assist, and three players scored their first career varsity goals -- Sophomore defenseman Matt Wilson, freshman forward Scott Greco and freshman forward Sam Kanda.


2011-2012 Fair Lawn Cutters Hockey Schedule

DateOpponentScore (W/L)Dec. 2
3-1 (W) Dec. 3 River Dell
2-1 (W) Dec. 5 West Essex4-3 (W) Dec. 9
@ Bayonne
3-3 (T) Dec. 11 @ Dumont 3-2 (W) Dec. 16 @ Tenafly
6-3 (L) Dec. 17
@ Vernon11-1 (W) Dec. 23 @ Clifton2-1 (W) Dec. 26 Montclair 3-0 (L) Dec. 30 Northern Highlands 4-2 (L) Jan. 2 Ridgewood

5-1 (L)

Jan. 6 @ Wayne Hills6-0 (L) Jan. 7 Clifton10-1 (W) Jan. 16 Pascack Valley6-5 (L) Jan. 21 @ Paramus CatholicPPD Jan. 25 @Hudson Catholic 7-0 (W) Jan. 27 Paramus Catholic8-0 (L) Jan. 29 @ River Dell5-1 (W) Feb. 2 @West Milford 2-0 (L) Feb. 4 Bayonne7-2 (W) Feb. 8 Paramus Catholic6-1 (L) Feb. 10 @ Pascack Valley

4-2 (L)

Feb. 15 Tenafly
7-0 (L) Feb. 17 @  Ridgewood4-1 (L) Feb. 20 Big North Playoffs vs. Pascack Valley3-2 (L) Feb. 27 State Playoffs vs.  Ridgewood8-2 (L)

Division Standings

Big North Gold Division

TeamDivision Overall  Tenafly15-0-1 21-4-3 Paramus Catholic  12-2-2 18-5-3 Ridgewood 
12-3-1 21-6-2 Pascack Valley
11-5 17-9-1 Fair Lawn
7-8-1 10-14-1 Clifton4-12 5-15-1 River Dell  
4-12 6-17 Bayonne 
2-13-1 5-16-1 Dumont
2-14 5-19

End of Season standings are a combination of Patch records, as well as  NJHockey.org

Team Statistics

# First Last Year G A P 21 Corey Boettcher Junior 3 2 5 66 Thomas Calderone Junior 10 6 16 19 Kevin Carney Junior 13 21 34 61 Andy Chelstowski Senior 2 2 72 Mikael Cortes Junior 4 4 14 Brian Galvin Freshman 2 2 22 Scott Greco Freshman
1 1 10 Matt Hearon Senior 3 8 11 11 Sam Kanda Freshman 1 1 5 Ryan Linn Junior 1 1 28 Frankie Maneri Freshman 4 5 9 29 Sean Milnes Junior
13 13 2 Nick Perez Sophomore 1 1 38 Jon Polyak Senior 16 16 32 12 Justin Ritter Sophomore 19 16 35 91 David Thau Senior 1 1 2 26 Mark Williams Freshman 3 4 7 17 Matt Wilson Sophomore 2 4 6

Key: G - Goals; A - Assists; P - Points; 


# First Last Year Wins Losses Ties GAA Save % 34 Garret Baldacci Freshman 33 Dan Prigge Senior 2 7 3.11 86.3 30 Josh Sarna Senior 8 7 1 3.56 87.3

Key: GAA - Goals Against Average; Save % -- Percentage of Shots Saved

End of Season statistics are provided by Fair Lawn High School Ice Hockey Coach Brack Healy


-- 2011-2012 Season Preview, Dec. 5

Having lost only a handful of seniors from last year’s 11-10-5 squad that made the state playoffs, ’s hockey team and its  have high hopes heading into this season.

Healy expects the Cutters to finish in the top half of the nine-team Big North Gold Division. Possibly higher if all goes right.

“If everything falls into place we could surprise a lot of teams and be a dark horse to win our division,” Healy wrote in an email.

The Cutters didn’t disappoint in their first regular season action over the weekend, notching victories against Dumont on Friday and River Dell on Saturday, thanks to stellar netminding from senior Josh Sarna and timely third period goals by senior captain Matt Hearon (against Dumont) and sophomore winger Justin Ritter (against River Dell).

Like last season, a strong defense and opportunistic offense will be the team’s calling card.

“We sport a defense-first system,” Healy wrote in an email. “Expect a lot of low-scoring games when Fair Lawn is playing.”

“When we get our chances, we seem to be able to put the puck in the net,” he continued. “But we can’t go out there and play teams 6-5 games. We just don’t have that firepower.”

Senior Andy Chelstowski, junior Sean Milnes and sophomore Matt Wilson anchor the Cutters vaunted defense, which lost standouts Jeff Frenkel and Kevin Northrup to graduation.

Sarna, originally slated to be the backup goaltender, has been excellent in net since replacing senior Dan Prigge, who’s out with a concussion and yet to play this year.

On the other end of the ice, Healy expects senior center Jon Polyak to be the team’s top offensive player.

Polyak, who led the team in assists last season, will be complemented by Hearon, Ritter and junior center Kevin Carney, who all scored goals over the weekend.

Healy said he also expects a heavy infusion of talented freshmen to be a shot in the arm for the program this year and in years to come. Of the nine freshmen practicing with the team, three should log significant varsity minutes, including forwards Mark Williams and Frankie Maneri.

Healy said his familiarity with the freshman, many of whom he coached last year with , has eased their transition to varsity hockey.

"They knew me as a coach, I knew them as a player, so it was a lot smoother than you would have if you had no idea who was coming to the program," Healy said. "And a lot of them improved, which is obviously a good thing."

Healy anticipates another one of the squad's strengths will again be its special teams play.

“We excelled last season killing off 90 percent of penalties and averaging less than three penalties per game,” he wrote in an email. “We are a very disciplined team and we were penalized the least amount of any team last year in all of the Big North divisions.”

It’s that sort of discipline that Healy has emphasized since he took over the team’s helm last season after a year leading Montclair Kimberley Academy.

“I demand their best effort at all times.” Healy said of his players. “I’m really no nonsense. I don’t put up with dumb penalties, laziness, poor work ethic. When they play for us they’re going to have to work harder or they’re not going to play.”

Thankfully, Healy said, these kids have worked extremely hard.


-- Feature article on head coach Brack Healy, Dec. 9

Don’t let Brack Healy’s age fool you. At 27, the Cutters’ second-year head coach has already been behind the bench for eight years – four of them leading a high school varsity squad.

A member of NJSIAA’s prestigious 100 Point Club as a player, Healy starred under Bruce Parker at Montclair High School, then skated briefly for Division-III Rowan before calling it a career and transferring to Montclair State University to focus on teaching and coaching.

Healy spent five years as an assistant at Montclair High School before landing his first head coaching gig at West Orange. After a year at West Orange, he was hired to lead Montclair Kimberley Academy.

In his first season at MKA, Healy took a team that had finished 6-19 the year before to its first state playoff victory in 15 years, finishing 14-7-4, and enjoying a four-week stint in the Star Ledger’s Top 20 Rankings. The success earned him NJ Power Ranking’s Coach of the Year.

, hoping to eventually slide into both coaching and teaching in a public school district. But his transition into a classroom has been delayed, Healy said, because of the precarious situation for public educators in New Jersey.  For now, he remains an English teacher at Bloomfield Tech, where he also coaches soccer and baseball.

Healy's ties to Cory Robinson, Fair Lawn’s athletic director, helped land him a job coaching the Cutters.

While playing at Montclair, Healy actually faced Robinson, who at the time was the Cutters’ hockey coach. When Healy later coached at Montclair, he did so under Pat Verney, one of Robinson’s former players at Hudson Catholic and assistants at Fair Lawn.

So when the Cutters’ head hockey coaching job opened up before last season, Robinson knew Healy’s style and system of play would fit right in.

“It was a no-brainer to hire Brack,” Robinson said. “Our mindset is very similar -- like the ideas and the expectations and philosophy on defense when it comes to hockey.”

That defensive philosophy?  “All defense,” Healy said. “We sport a defense-first system.”

“Defense wins games,” Robinson opined. “Everything else after that takes care of itself.”

Because the hockey season started before other winter sports this year, Robinson’s been able to take in each of the Cutters’ first three games – all wins.

“It’s just nice to see that they’ve played three close games that they could have lost, but they’ve won every game,” he said. “There seems to be some camaraderie that’s being built. All three coaches are working well with them. Again they could be 0-3, but they’re 3-0.”

The camaraderie, junior defenseman Sean Milnes said, has been developed through a series of team bonding outings that have brought the guys together, including a recent team dinner at Applebee's that Healy arranged.

“Coach Healy, he wants to get to know you and wants to be your friend, but he also wants to be your coach,” Milnes said. “If we respect him, he respects us the same way.”

“They feel like they can come to him,” Robinson said of Healy, whom he called a great communicator. “But when he wants to make his point, he can make his point… He’s not laid back and he’s not too strict. He falls right in the middle and it works for him.”

“I’m not a yeller,” Healy said of his coaching style. “I’m very much into discipline, but I don’t like to yell.”

Healy said he considers himself a player’s coach because he tries to build a relationship with his players, but that said, he also expects a lot out of them.

“I demand their best effort at all times,” he said. “I’m really no nonsense. I don’t put up with dumb penalties, laziness, poor work ethic. When they play for us they’re going to have to work harder or they’re not going to play.”

Both Milnes and the team’s leading scorer Justin Ritter said the entire squad has bought into Healy’s defense-first mentality

“He’s really focused on defense and that’s what we need,” Milnes said.

“We don’t have the skill that most other teams have so we have to play defense and stick to the system,” added Ritter, whose Ice House Avalanche travel team he said is just the opposite. “[On my travel team], we have skill, but we have no defense. So most of the games we lose because we don’t go defense first.”

Milnes said the philosophy has been a major shift from the team’s previous coach, Mike Goodrich, who’s now at St. Peter’s Prep.

“My freshman year we had a big offensive guy, [North Jersey Ice Hockey Player of the Year] Tyler Novielli. He would just take the puck and just score,” Milnes said. “That would be our offense and maybe a couple other guys helping out, but it wasn’t focused on defense, it was focused around him.”

Without Novielli, Healy had to alter the team’s style.

“We’ve switched gears and we’ve gone to all defense,” he said. “We’re trying to keep our opponents off the scoreboard, trying to get pucks out of the zone. Just get to the red line and get pucks deep if we don’t have numbers. We’re a very defensive minded hockey team now.”

Along with Healy's coaching style, comes a related coaching philosophy that focuses on teamwork, discipline and responsibility.

“My job is to make sure my players are working hard, making smart decisions – both on and off the ice – and playing for each other,” Healy said in a 2009 feature article on NJPowerRanking.com. ”I would rather build character in losses, than destroy character in wins.”

The approach seems to be working.

When asked about personal goals for the season, defenseman Sean Milnes responded that he had none.

“No personal goals," he said. "Team goals. I’d rather win a game than have a hat trick.”

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