GARFIELD, NJ — Several weeks have passed since Don Bosco Prep hoisted its very first state title, but the championship trophy hasn’t lost any luster.
Nearly two months to the day, the prestigious Gordon Conference team from Bergen County came together again to celebrate the Ramsey school’s first-ever NJSIAA title with alumni, family and friends at The Venetian in Garfield.
Liam McLinskey scored twice, Tyler Sedlak also scored while goaltender Max Schwarz made 19 saves as Don Bosco Prep, No. 1 in The Hockey Night in Boston Top 10, defeated No. 2 Delbarton, 3-1, on March 4 at Prudential Center in Newark.
The victory was both validation and redemption for the entire hockey program, which was previously 0-for-4 in NJSIAA finals. With 15 state football titles to its credit, Don Bosco Prep can now add frozen pucks to its ongoing list of champions.
“In 1966, Father Guy Morin started this program. He came down from Canada and had guys actually playing hockey on the pond that is now out front of what is the TK Memorial,” Greg Toskos, the program’s all-time leading scorer with 128 goals and 225 points in his 13th-season as coach at his alma mater, said. “Over the years the program grew and grew and got better from the annual Puckster’s hockey tournament in the 70’s where our very own Bob Campomenosi scored the game-winning goal in overtime to John Hanifin the first All-State hockey player in Don Bosco history to the 80’s when a gentleman by the name of Billy Carroll took over the program…
“All these guys continue to be great mentors for us, all of these guys symbolize what Ironmen hockey is all about,” Toskos said. “And now you seniors, you’re now alumni, you’re one of us now and we expect to see you back. That’s what it means to be an alumni in this program.”
Several individual awards were presented Thursday evening including “Most Valuable Player,” which was shared by team captains McLinskey, Sedlak and defenseman T.J. Schweighardt, who also received “Top Defender” recognition. McLinskey was named “Playoff MVP,” Schwarz and Michael Forgione received the team’s “Spirit Club Award,” while Mark Garfinkel put a cap on an outstanding career with “The Franklin Scholarship Award.” Will Fortescue and Hunter McGee were honored with the prestigious “TK Award” in honor of the late Major Thomas Kennedy, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 8, 2012.
The festivities concluded a historic season for Don Bosco Prep, which finished 27-1 including a 5-3 come-from-behind victory over Delbarton in the final of the 61st Annual Gordon Cup at Codey Arena in West Orange on Feb. 19. The Ironmen closed out the season in fine fashion, winning each of its last 24 games dating to Dec. 5 to become one of 10 teams in state history to win 27 or more games in a single season.
James Fortescue was a four-year letterman for Don Bosco Prep from 1988-91, earning the Ironman MVP Award as team captain his senior season. He has also returned to his alma mater as Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
“Hockey is like the game of life,” Fortescue said. “The puck is in the corner, you get knocked down, but you have to get back up and get in the play.
“I love that program,” Fortescue said, “so proud of all you guys.”
Together, along many other alumni including the Campomenosi’s, the Conte’s, the Fortescue’s, the Garlasco’s and the Kennedy’s, Don Bosco Prep has formed a fraternal family, a hockey brotherhood that is producing some high quality student-athletes.
On May 1, McLinskey and Sedlak announced their intentions to remain local and continue their professional career with the USPHL’s Jersey Hitmen NCDC team. The pair, which finished first and second in the Gordon Conference state-scoring race with 76 and 73 points, respectively, are two among a dozen Ironmen in the Hitmen pipeline.
The Jersey Hitmen NCDC are proud to announce their 8th tender of the 19-20 season as @DBIronmenHockey Capt & @HCrossMHockey recruit @TylerSedlak has committed A speedy RW w/ a wicked release Sedlak returns back to the @USPHL after a stint with @NJAvalanche Welcome home #NJH #212 pic.twitter.com/nZaU6oGhBJ
— Jersey Hitmen Hockey (@NJHitmen) May 2, 2019
“Ever since the start of the season, everybody just bought-in,” Sedlak, HockeyClan’s 2019 State Player of the Year, said. “We came close to one another and each game the coaches gave us the same line: get better every game — and that’s what we did.
“We had one little stunt in the record there, losing to CBA the fourth game of the season, but I don’t think it did anything negative to us in any way. I think it helped us, honestly, taking away the pressure of an undefeated season,” Sedlak the conference leader with 40 goals, said. “We learned from that and as we got toward the playoffs there was no selfishness, everybody wanted to be there and everyone one wanted to win, especially coming up short the last two years. Everyone was willing to do what it took to win — that’s what made the difference this year.”
“My parents haven’t missed a home game in two years,” Toskos, the 1994 New Jersey Devils’ Player of the Year, said. “My kids, Sean’s kids with their jerseys cheering us on, people who have been a part of this program for the last 25 years… family matters to us — the Don Bosco family matters to us.”
For Toskos, and his coaching staff including Sean Foye, Andrew Steffey, Chris Matteo, Rob Morieria, Chris DeCandia and Brandon Vigorito — the last four of whom played for the first three before joining the coaching ranks — the road has truly come full circle.
“Bill Carroll — he was my coach at Bosco and the one who really changed the direction of this program. He gave us the structure, the identity and the belief we could win. He taught Sean and I how to be leaders and gave us life lessons we tried to teach our guys today. When you look around, it’s incredible… we’re here not just to celebrate this team, we’re here to celebrate the past.”
Related: Don Bosco Prep Captures Gordon Cup
Over 30 Alumni Attended our Championship Awards Dinner last night! Thank you for your support!
— Bosco Hockey (@DBIronmenHockey) May 3, 2019
All video courtesy of NJ Sports Media. A number of keepsake items commemorating Don Bosco Prep’s historic 2019 state-title run are still available. Contact NJ Sports Media at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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