NEW JERSEY DEVILS’ HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS OF THE MONTH HONORED
FOUR SENIORS, TWO JUNIORS AND ONE SOPHOMORE HIGHLIGHT JANUARY 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.
Opening the book on 2017, offensive firepower defined the action in January as several teams put on a show including Pope John and Vernon in Sussex County.
Players named for January 2017 are: Pope John junior forward John Spetz (Gordon Conference); Clifton sophomore forward James Fusaro (Big North Conference), Princeton senior forward Brendon McCormick (Colonial Valley Conference), Governor Livingston senior forward Danny Kramer (Essex/Union), Vernon junior forward Patrick Graham (MCSSIHL), St. Joseph (Metuchen) senior forward Kyle Jeffers (Greater Middlesex/Skyland Conference) and Freehold Township senior forward Max Halvorsen (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.
Spetz was an offensive dynamo with 12 goals and six assists for 18 points for Pope John of Sparta, which remained undefeated through the end of the month at 14-0-3. Spetz was particularly effective against the top-ranked teams in the state including a goal and an assist in a 4-4 tie with No. 1 Delbarton and a goal and two assists in a 5-1 triumph over No. 2 St. Augustine. Spetz has 30 goals and 43 points this season.
Fusaro was awesome in January and a stud in the Passaic County Tournament with a conference-high 16 goals to go along with six assists in the month. Almost single-handedly responsible for making Clifton hockey relevant again, the sophomore took a 7-11-3 team in 2015-16 and turned it into a 11-5-1 team through January. Fusaro has 25 goals and 41 points this year.
McCormick continues to produce at a high level with 10 goals and 11 assists in January. The senior picked up a goal and an assist in back-to-back wins over CVC powerhouse Notre Dame in January, bringing their 80-game in-conference winning streak to an end. McCormick has 31 goals and 54 points this season and 100-career goals and 179 points at Princeton.
Since returning from an early-season injury, Kramer guided Governor Livingston on a big 8-1 run in January thanks to 10 goals and eight assists. Kramer, who missed nearly all of November and December, has 12 goals and 21 points in just 10 games this season, helping his Berkeley Heights school turn its season around after a 3-7-1 start to stand 12-9-1 and in second place in the NJIHL’s Kelly Division.
Very seldom do players outside the heralded Mennen Division gain any notoriety in the competitive Morris County Schools Ice Hockey League, but Graham’s play for Vernon in January was impossible to ignore. Graham struck for 18 goals and seven assists helping Vernon go 8-2-1 in the Haas Division in January. The junior has been getting it done all season for his first-place team (19-2-3) as well with 44 goals and 58 points this season.
Jeffers was strong in December and even stronger in January for his Metuchen school with 15 goals and 10 assists last month, more than any other season he’s played. The NAHL-Titans commit came through with two goals in a 3-3 tie against top-ranked public school Glen Rock and added two goals and four assists in an 8-0 shutout over Ridge as well. Jeffers has 25 goals and 44 points for St. Joseph in 2016-17.
Halvorsen became Freehold Township’s all-time leading scorer with a four-goal effort in a triumph over Lacey on January 21. An offensive dynamo, Halvorsen amassed 20 goals and 10 assists last month and with 42 goals, 33 assists and 75 points this season, he is second in the Garden State’s scoring race. Halvorsen has 83 goals and 164 points in his storied career.
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.
John Christian Hageny
Lead Writer — Hockey Clan
Buffalo Sabres Team Writer — The Hockey Writers