It is surely fitting that the two best hockey clubs in the state will face-off tonight at Codey Arena in West Orange to decide who will stake claim to the 60th Gordon Cup.
Tonight’s contest features top-seeded Don Bosco Prep, No. 1 in the Hockey Night In Boston New Jersey Top 10, and second-seeded and No. 2 Delbarton in New Jersey’s oldest and most prestigious cup tournament.
To celebrate the Garden State’s most esteemed cup championship, we thought it would be interesting to select an All-Time Gordon Cup team.
Veteran hockey writer Rick Bliwise, a 2014 inductee into the New Jersey High School Ice Hockey Hall of Fame and The Star-Ledger columnist who instituted the All-State teams at the paper, was asked to shed some insight on choosing this select group.
The only true requirement to be considered was that a player had to have earned at least one Gordon Cup title during their scholastic hockey career.
Several of the selections were difficult and could have gone differently. So, agree or disagree on the picks, let the debate begin – have at it!
G-Dave Lehanski, St. Joseph of Montvale (1992)
D-Dustin DePalma, Christian Brothers Academy (1996)
D-Ned Crotty, Delbarton (2005)
F-Jim Dowd, Brick (1987)
F-Joe Tracy, Livingston (1982)
F-Kenny Agostino, Delbarton (2010)
G-Colton Phinney, Delbarton (2012)
D-Trevor van Riemsdyk, CBA (2009)
D-Frank McKevitt, Brick (1975)
F-Peter Herms, Seton Hall Prep (1979)
F-John Vlachos, Morrristown-Beard (1966)
F-Brandon Doria, Seton Hall Prep (1999)
G-Emilio Catroppa, Brick (1980)
D-Anthony Del Gaizo, Montclair Kimberley Academy (1982)
D-Joakim Ryan, CBA (2010)
F-Jon Marks, Montclair (1970)
F-Anthony Randazzo, Bergen Catholic (2002)
F-Dave Weisman, CBA (1991)
G-Al Giordano, West Orange
D-Alex Velischek, Delbarton
D-Maarty Stadtlander, Montclair
D-Jim Fish, Brick
D-Tommy Muratore, Delbarton
F-Phil Mandry, Montclair
F-Zach Hatcher, Seton Hall Prep
F-Michael Ambrosia, Delbarton
F-Mike Giampapa, West Essex
F-Jeff Brow, CBA
GORDON CUP MEMORIES
Bob Auriemma built Brick into a perennial state power and guided the Ocean County team for over 50 years before retiring in 2017 with a state-leading 730 career wins. He steered Brick to eight Gordon Cup titles.
“Winning the Gordon Cup was always special,” said Auriemma, who guided Brick to 21 major championships. “We won our first Gordon Cup in 1974 and repeated in 1975 and that meant a lot because the state tournament didn’t begin until 1976. Even when the state tournament started it was still special to win the Gordon Cup.”
Auriemma had a lot of great players, but without question the best was forward Jim Dowd, who graduated in 1987. Dowd helped Brick Gordon Cup champions in 1984 and 1985 and a state title in 1986 when he was a junior.
“Jimmy was successful because he worked so hard on the ice,” said Auriemma. “He was a very strong skater and he always showed great stamina. He was like a coach on the ice for us. He did everything we needed to help us win.
“He had a great knack for putting the puck in the net, but he could also help us on defenses because he was a very good back-checker.”
Dowd went on to star in college at Lake Superior State and helped the team win the 1988 NCAA Championship. And in 1995 he helped the New Jersey Devils to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.
Kenny Agostino helped lead Delbarton to two Gordon Cups in his four seasons and finished as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 261 points. In Agostino’s four seasons Delbarton posted a 103-7-5 record that included three NJSIAA Private state titles, three straight Star-Ledger Trophies and four Gordon Conference crowns.
“Some of the best hockey memories I have were playing in those Gordon Cup games,” said Agostino, a two-time State Player of the Year. “Those games were always pretty exciting, and they always felt like that was the preview to the state championship. I remember we had some great games with St. Augustine. Anything short of a Gordon Cup was a letdown. I still miss it.”
Dustin DePalma also has fond Gordon Cup memories – and he should, as he helped guide Christian Brothers to three straight Gordon Cups in his four seasons.
In fact, DePalma was a member of the CBA squads that took three straight Gordon Cups and three consecutive state championships (1994, 1995, 1996) – a feat no team has accomplished since. The two-time All-State defenseman captained CBA’s 1995 and 1996 Gordon Cup championship clubs and was the State Player of the Year in his final season (1996). He then payed at the University of Connecticut.
“Growing up playing in the Brick Hockey Club, they made sure you knew about the history of the Gordon Cup,” DePalma recalled. “I loved playing at South Mountain in the Gordon Cup final. It was so much fun. I was fortunate to have played on three Gordon Cup winners at CBA and we’re still very proud of that. Winning those was special. I think to the players, winning the Gordon Cup was just as meaningful as winning a state championship. Every game in the Gordon Cup was tough.
“But to think that this year is the 60th Gordon Cup is something special. It makes me very proud to have been a part of three teams that won it. That tournament has been around so long and has so much history. Every year it came down to the best players on the best teams in the state playing each other for that Cup. I think in the hockey circles the Gordon Cup was the title you wanted. You had to come to play your best to win it. As far as bragging rights in the state were concerned, it was definitely meaningful to win the Gordon Cup.”
GREATEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE IN THE GORDON CUP FINAL: There were several memorable performances, but one that truly stands out was provided by CBA’s Dave Weisman, who registered five goals and two assists for seven points in an 11-1 Cup victory over Brick in 1991.
GORDON 50-50: In the 1961 final Montclair and West Orange skated to a 2-2 tie. Fifty years later St. Augustine and Delbarton played to a 2-2 stalemate and were declared co-champions.
Written by Paul Bruno / @PaulBrunoHS
Special to HockeyClan
Main Image: Delbarton Green Wave celebrates its 2017 Gordon Cup championship with a 5-0 victory over Pope John at Codey Arena on Feb. 18, 2017. (John Christian Hageny)
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