For the Green family, ice hockey is more than a game — it is a way of life.
So when Mike Green, long-time coach, teacher and motivator, announced his resignation after 21 seasons at Bishop Eustace high school in Pennsauken, N.J. last week, the Garden State lost a good one.
“I have started every day the last 25 years grateful I was coaching,” Green, who leaves behind a legacy of 176 wins, two conference championships, three division titles and two Handchen Cups in a coaching career that began the 1998-99 season, said.
“It is literally impossible to adequately thank everyone who motivated me, inspired me and gave me their time and friendship over the years. Getting to know so many great people and learn about their lives is an amazing benefit to coaching. Thank you all for your confidence in me and your friendship.”
It is equally as impossible to measure the impact Green has had shaping the landscape of ice hockey in South Jersey.
Before players like Johnny Gaudreau, Tony DeAngelo, Brett Hextall and Eric and Buddy Robinson left their mark, there was Mike Green and his brothers Mark and Bill, the latter of whom helped start the Bishop Eustace program as a student in 1977. Mark would go on to become the first New Jersey native ever drafted in the NHL when the Atlanta Flames selected him in the 10th round (165th overall) in the 1978 Amateur Draft.
“When I came on board the idea that high-level ice hockey could be played in New Jersey, particularly in South Jersey, was considered a joke,” Green said. “No one laughs anymore!
“It never made sense to me that in order to play high-level ice hockey athletes from South Jersey and the Philadelphia area had to relocate to northern states or Canada,” Green continued. “When I started, so many hockey people said NJ hockey wasn’t strong enough (but) it seemed like there were enough of us to create strong scholastic leagues.”
Along with Tim Fingerhut of St. Augustine and Guy Gaudreau at Gloucester Catholic, Green helped establish a rivalry that carried the three South Jersey institutions all the way up the coast and into the Gordon Conference — the oldest and most prestigious league in the state.
“Mike has been at this a long time — he’s a staple in South Jersey ice hockey,” Fingerhut said. “I will always remember our rivalry with the rinks packed wall to wall with students, family and alumni from both schools making for tremendous hockey games and an electric crowd when St. Augustine and Bishop Eustace would meet.
“Mike has been more than just a hockey coach in South Jersey, he has organized Coaches vs. Cancer as well as the long-running tournament for our JV programs in honor of former Bishop Eustace player Connor O’Kane. Our South Jersey schools have always supported Mike and he has led the way to far better things in life than just ice hockey. He will be missed.”
Bishop Eustace Legacy
While it is impossible to acknowledge the many players, coaches and teams that stood out over the course of 21 seasons behind the bench, three moments rise above the rest for Green whose career record stands at 176-248-33 for the Crusaders.
Handchen Cup Final: Bishop Eustace 5, St. Augustine 1 — February 27, 2004 at The Armory in Red Bank
“In 2004, it was my strong belief that in order for high school ice hockey to be strong enough for players to want to remain in South Jersey and not relocate to New England Prep or Canadian Juniors we had to have local rivalries. By the time this game arrived the Eustace-Saint Augustine rivalry was getting huge. The best local players were heading to either school. Ironically, because this game was a cup final both teams had to travel to Red Bank. The site cost us a huge crowd which would not have happened if the game was in South Jersey, but both Brett Hextall (Phoenix Coyotes, 6th Round, 159th overall, 2008 NHL Draft) and senior co-captain Sean Kohler had exceptional games. Going into the third it was 2-1. St. Augustine took two minors early in the third and we scored twice. I remember Hextall scoring that fourth goal and thinking this is over. One of my favorite memories of that game was Michael Mirmanesh skating the cup around the ice. Mike’s older brother John had been on my first two teams and his parents had helped me with off-ice team building during those early seasons.” — Mike Green
Bishop Eustace 2003-04 (17-3-1, 2nd Place, Southern Conference, Handchen Cup Champs)
Bishop Eustace 4, Delbarton 2 — December 9, 2008 at Aspen Ice in Randolph
“So many things aligned prior to this season. This was not only my son Zach’s senior year but it was a great year for NJ high school hockey. Delbarton, Christian Brothers Academy and Eustace all were loaded with future D-1 and even future professional players. Keith Primeau was fully on board with our coaching group which included my good friends Angelo Milicia and John Jones. We knew going into Delbarton that they hardly ever lost at home and since it was an early season game, it would set the tone for how far our program had come. Going into the third period we were trailing and being behind at Aspen Ice was not a spot teams worked their way out of. I think what was different was that we were as deep as Delbarton that year and could literally use 18 skaters. Kyle Van Osten was outstanding in net and we gained the momentum when we tied it at 2-2 and you could feel the game turning our way. I remember Andrew Tegeler scoring on a breakaway and the bench erupting. The game ended 4-2. We spent the next two months beating everyone we faced and being ranked number 1 in the state until early February.” — Mike Green
Bishop Eustace 2008-09 (22-6, Tied, First Place, Gordon Conference)
Chris Gentile was named to the First Team All-State Team by The Star Ledger. Jaime Hill and Zach Green were named to Second and Third Team All-State, respectively. Gentile and Kyle Van Osten were named First-Team All Non-Public School Team. Hill and Green were named to the Second Team All Non-Public Team… Kyle Van Osten, Zach Green, Jamie Hill and Chris Gentile were named First-Team All South Jersey by the Star Ledger. Nick Casella and Mark Constantine were named to the Second Team, while Connor O’Kane was named to the Third Team… The following Crusaders who were selected to the All Gordon Conference Team: Kyle Van Osten (First Team Goalie), Jamie Hill (First Team Forward) and Chris Gentile (Second Team Forward)… Jamie Hill became the second Crusader to ever break the 100-point plateau that season. His 104 points as a junior were second only to Tyler Hancock (2003-07) who scored 106 points… Chris Gentile, Mark Constantine, and Jamie Hill all broke the single-season scoring record. The previous record for points in a season (40) was set by Jamie Hill in 2007-08… Congratulations to Mark Constantine who was selected the New Jersey Devils Player of the Month from the Gordon Conference for December… Congratulations to Head Coach Michael Green, who captured his 100th-career victory with a 3-1 win over Christian Brothers Academy on Dec. 5.
Related: Bishop Eustace Ice Hockey
Regular Season Finale: Bishop Eustace 4, St. Augustine 3 — February 11, 2015 at Flyers Skate Zone in Pennsauken
“Going into the season I knew Coach Primeau had a lot of emotional commitment to this group. This was his son Chayse’s senior year and many of the players on the team were together since they were mites. Add to that Cayden Primeau was a sophomore goalie that had now emerged as a top prospect in the country. The season before Chayse got injured in the first game and missed almost the entire year. His drive that year because of all these circumstances was through the roof. By 2015, the landscape was completely changed. Junior hockey and club hockey presented major conflicts for all the top players and as coaches we had to make hard decisions on what we would allow as far as sharing our players. Although we started the season with some close road loses it all fell together in January and we went on a tear. With everyone confident we found ourselves facing Saint Augustine at home for the division title. The vibe that day was everything you could want in a high school game. We jumped on them early and it didn’t look like there was a chance they could get back in the game. That St. Augustine team had Danny Briere’s kids (Caelan, Carson) and was also a top team in the state at that point. Sure enough they crept back in it. Had it not been for a terrific stop by Cayden in the last seconds we may not have held on.” — Mike Green
Bishop Eustace 2014-15 (14-7-1, Gordon Conference National Division Champions)
Related: Crusaders Nip Hermits in Showdown
Tribute to Coach Green
“Mike was an incredible ambassador for South Jersey scholastic hockey. He was the driving force behind private school scholastic hockey in South Jersey. He was the driving force in bringing the Gordon Conference to South Jersey. He established local rivalries that generated interest both on and off the ice as well as coached hundreds of student athletes who have gone on to be very successful in a wide range of professions. No one understood the value of being engaged in their academic institution better than Mike. His athletes at Bishop Eustace understood community and commitment by the relationship he created for them with the school. He will be missed by Bishop Eustace and the South Jersey scholastic ice hockey community.” — Keith Primeau
“Mike has crossed paths with a lot of great hockey players and will go down as one of the great guys in the game. I wish him all the best in his next endeavor and thank him for all he has done for NJ high school hockey. He’s a friend and a great competitor to coach against.” — Tim Fingerhut
“We are both Deerfield Alums. Mike is a terrific guy and was always a gentleman before and after our games. He genuinely cares about kids in high school hockey in New Jersey. All of us are appreciative for the work that he has done with Coaches vs. Cancer.” — Bruce Shatel
Mike Green, a native of Cherry Hill, N.J., grew up playing for the New Jersey Gladiators and Philadelphia Little Flyers, participating in three National Tournaments. He attended Deerfield Academy, playing all four seasons before continuing his athletic career at Lake Forest College. He continues to remain active with Coaches vs. Cancer, an initiative he remains passionate about.
Coach Green would like to thank fellow Bishop Eustace coaching staff Angelo Milicia, John Jones, Keith Primeau, Nick Tomasello and Joe Ambrozy. He would also like to thank coach Guy Gaudreau with whom they coached their kids together from the time they learned to skate as well as coach Tim Fingerhut whose embracing of the Bishop Eustace-St. Augustine rivalry resulted in many great games. He would also like to acknowledge fellow Deerfield Alumnus Peter Herms and Bruce Shatel as well as fellow coaches Bob Auriemma, Mike Reynolds, Dan May, Ken Such, Ryan Brown, Brian Monteverdi, Mike Atkinson, Greg Toskos and Ryan Bogan for sharing their knowledge and creating strong programs that continue to put New Jersey scholastic hockey on the map.
“The Gordon Conference, as hard as it was to play in, was clearly the place I wanted our program to be. Extremely proud of how South Jersey high school hockey was able to grow over the time I coached.” — Mike Green
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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