NEW JERSEY DEVILS’ HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS OF THE MONTH HONORED
THREE SENIORS, THREE JUNIORS AND ONE FRESHMAN HIGHLIGHT
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2017 SELECTIONS
The New Jersey Devils High School Player of the Month Program continues in this, their milestone 25th season honoring the top scholastic players in the Garden State.
Closing the book on 2016-17 season, Delbarton, Ridge and Glen Rock captured NJSIAA Non-Public, Public A and Public B state titles, respectively, and a player from each one of the champions was recognized as Devils’ players of the month.
Players named for February/March 2017 are: Delbarton senior forward Mark Benemerito (Gordon Conference); Glen Rock junior goaltender Ryan McAuley (Big North Conference), Princeton freshman forward Austin Trainor (Colonial Valley Conference), Summit junior forward Will Vitton (Essex/Union), Morristown-Beard junior goaltender Anthony DelTufo (MCSSIHL), Ridge senior senior forward John Vilade (Greater Middlesex/Skyland Conference) and Wall Township senior forward Shane Haviland (Shore Conference).
Each month, December through February, seven student-athletes from throughout the state are selected as recipients of the award. Public A, Public B and Non-Public All-Tournament Teams will be selected in March and an overall Boys and Girls High School Player of the Year will also be chosen at the conclusion of the season.
Benemerito capped Delbarton’s comeback in the Non-Public state finals as the senior forward found the back of the net with 1:34 remaining in the second period to deliver the game-winning goal and send his Morris Township school to an unprecedented 12th NJSIAA title. Benemerito was 23 goals and 16 assists for 39 points this season, with 12 of those goals coming down the stretch the finals two months of the season.
McAuley worked hard at his craft in between the pipes and come playoff time the goaltender paid immediate dividends guiding Glen Rock to its first-ever NJSIAA title with 22 saves in the state final. McAuley was stellar down the stretch yielding three goals or less in all but one of his eight games played in February/March.
Trainor showed poise beyond his years as the freshman provided highlight reel after highlight reel for his Princeton team throughout the state tournament. Trainor recorded 22 goals and 39 assists for 61 points his freshman season, including seven goals and nine assists the finals two months of the season. The pinnacle of the rookie forward’s first season was a four-goal performance in an upset over top-ranked Morris Knolls in the Public A tournament. For Trainor, the best is yet to come.
Vitton, an exceptional lacrosse player as well, was instrumental down the stretch for Summit, guiding his Union County team to the McInnis Cup crown after sealing it 7:15 into overtime in a 3-2 triumph over Livingston in the tournament finale. Vitton recorded eight goals and four assists over the final two months of the season and finished with 19 goals and 28 points his junior season.
DelTufo proved to be the best player on the ice for his Morristown-Beard school, providing 18 saves in his team’s comeback over Morris Knolls in the final of the 2017 Mennen Cup. DelTufo provided stability coach Randy Velischek could count on down the stretch, allowing three goals or less in all but three of the 17 games he appeared in. DelTufo recorded two shutouts this season highlighted by a 34-save blanking of St. Peter’s Prep in the Non-Public Sweet-16.
Vilade provided clutch goal after clutch goal down the stretch for the state champion Red Devils, coming up with nine goals and five assists in February/March. Vilade’s goal, with 4:44 left in the second period, proved decisive as Ridge defeated Watchung Hills in the Public A finals on March 5 at Mennen Arena in Morris Township. The senior scored twice in his team’s semifinal victory over Randolph and two more times in its comeback from two goals down against River Dell in the quarterfinals. Vilade rounds out his career with 23 goals and 33 points his senior season.
Haviland was a force to reckon with as the senior put Wall Township on his back, guiding the Monmouth County team to upset after upset before making its first-ever state finals appearance in 2017. Haviland lit the lamp 17 times over the final two months of the season, including his four-goal, six-point effort in an upset over Middletown South in the semifinals. Haviland finishes an outstanding career with 36 goals and 55 points his senior season.
Winners are based on nominations received from members of the media who cover the state’s scholastic hockey. Award winners and their guests receive tickets to a Devils game, a plaque presented by a Devils’ player and dinner compliments of the Devils. This marks the 25th season that the Devils are honoring high school student-athletes.
Special to The Hockey Clan
John Christian Hageny
New Jersey Devils One Jersey Grassroots Team Writer