NEW JERSEY DEVILS’ HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS
OF THE MONTH HONORED
SEVEN SENIORS AND ONE SOPHOMORE HIGHLIGHT JANUARY 2019 SELECTIONS
The New Jersey Devils High School Player of the Month Program continues in this, their 27th season honoring the top scholastic hockey players in the Garden State.
Players named for January 2019 are: Don Bosco Prep senior forward Tyler Sedlak (Gordon Conference), Clifton senior forward James Fusaro (Big North Conference), West Windsor-Plainsboro sophomore forward Ronan Keenan (Colonial Valley Conference), Montclair Kimberley senior forward Oscar Worob (Essex/Union), Madison senior goaltender Matt Ubertaccio (MCSSIHL), Pingry senior forward Daniel Schnack (Greater Middlesex/Skyland Conference), St. John Vianney senior forward John Gutt (Shore Conference) and Kent Place senior goaltender Isla Okkinga (Girls Ice Hockey).
Sedlak, the Bergen County Tournament Most Valuable Player, was a force with 16 goals and 10 assists in 10 games this past month. The North Jersey Avalanche star who has inked with Shreveport Mudbugs of the NAHL recorded three hat tricks in three straight games in January against Ramsey, Christian Brothers and Bergen Catholic. The swift senior forward eclipsed the prestigious 200-point plateau on Tuesday.
“Tyler’s been a four-year guy for us,” Don Bosco Prep head coach Greg Toskos said. “He’s been putting up points for us since his freshman season — and he scored some big goals for us as a freshman so it’s great to see his ascension to where he is today. What’s different for Tyler this year is he’s separated from Mickey Burns. But after three years with him, he’s really picked up with Liam McLinskey as a center and they’ve really jelled. You see it — the on-ice product is awesome: the goal against BC High, the two against Delbarton, the hat trick against CBA… really thrilled with where he is and his leadership.”
Fusaro, who eclipsed the 200-point plateau on Feb. 1, is a Devils’ Player of the Month selection for the second time at Clifton, also taking home honors as a sophomore in January of 2017. The New Jersey Hitmen standout whose hat trick guided the Mustangs to the Bayonne Holiday Tournament title on Dec. 27, continued his torrid pace in January. After leading the state in scoring last month, Fusaro amassed 13 goals and 14 assists to begin the new year including four-goal games against Freehold Township and Newark East Side. On the season, Fusaro has 42 goals and 33 assists for 75 points, third overall in the state scoring race.
Keenan, a sophomore, tallied four four-goal games in January powering West Windsor-Plainsboro to a pair of triumphs over Nottingham-Hamilton and Edison. With 20 goals and 18 assists for 38 points this past month, Keenan has surged to a tie for 13th in the state in scoring, helping WWP to a 7-2-1 record to begin the new year.
Worob, another Hitmen standout, struck for 10 goals and 13 assists for an MKA team that went 4-2-1 in January. Worob’s best game was a four-goal, five-point performance in a 6-4 victory over McInnis Division leader Summit on Jan. 10.
“Senior Captain Oscar Worob is the heartbeat of our team,” Montclair Kimberley Academy head coach Tim Cook said. “He shows up and competes every game, and has been doing that his whole career. Oscar is excelling offensively and has great chemistry with his linemates David Chen and Brian Schindler. Through 15 games, he has 17 goals and 31 assists for 48 points.
“Not only is Oscar a point producer, he is also our most responsible defensive player and consistently sacrifices for the greater good of the team,” Cook, a fifth round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, said. “Oscar does a great job communicating with our team, holding his teammates accountable on and off the ice and being the type of student athlete that we want for MKA Hockey. In my opinion, Oscar is a bonafide college hockey player due to his skill set, work ethic and continued upward trajectory of his development.”
A 7-1 record, 0.75 goals-against average and .966 save percentage with four shutouts in January, Ubertaccio was a unanimous selection as the Morris County Secondary Schools Ice Hockey League Player of the Month. The Madison senior goalie, who set a new school record with his 41st-career victory in between the pipes, shut out Vernon, Chatham, Wall and Morristown this past month and has six shutouts for a resurgent Dodgers team turning heads in the Mennen Division.
“Ubo is a two-year captain who holds the respect of teammates and opponents,” Madison assistant coach Joe Cecala said. “Ubo has set the school record for wins (45) and shutouts (10). We have never had a player who prepares the way Ubo does. He does his homework on opponents and knows the tendencies of other teams top shooters. He has a lot of goaltending left ahead of him but he will make an excellent coach one day.
“Matt is the player you dream of as a coach,” Cecala added. “He is dedicated to his craft and self-improvement, he makes everyone around him better, he handles adversity and criticism well, and he knows how to make you laugh when you really need it. We believe we have a chance to win every night with Ubo in net.”
A senior forward, Schnack is a big reason Pingry captured the Skyland Conference regular season title and the top seed in the upcoming Skyland Cup. He was head coach Scott Garrow’s pick from the prestigious Martinsville school.
“Senior assistant captain, Daniel Schnack, led the Big Blue with six goals and thirteen assists in only eight games during the month of January,” Pingry coach Scott Garrow said. “Dan’s relentless drive for the game of hockey, his speed and his intensity have led him to his best season of high school hockey. Always an energy player, Dan has blossomed into an improved playmaker and has utilized his tremendous shot to become a lethal goal scorer. A leader by example, Dan has helped the Big Blue to a 15-2-1 regular season record.”
John Gutt, with deep roots in the Garden State, kept the hockey bloodlines flowing with 13 goals and 12 assists as part of an 8-1 St. John Vianney month of January. Gutt, who eclipsed the 100-point plateau earlier this season, struck for four goals and six points against Morristown-Beard on Jan. 17 and tipped his cap with a hat trick in a 3-0 win over Pingry on Jan. 22. All told, Gutt has a team-leading 22 goals, 25 assists and 47 points for the Lancers this season.
“I’m very proud of the way John has stepped up his senior year,” St. John Vianney coach Mick Messemer said. “He gets it done for us on the scoreboard, in the locker room, in practice — wherever we need him to get the job done he does it.”
Okkinga stood tall turning aside 258 of 270 shots in January, sparking Kent Place to an 8-1 record behind a minuscule 1.33 goals-against and sparkling .955 save percentage. Highlights include back-to-back shutouts over Oak Knoll and Pingry and a 34-save performance in a victory over Trinity Hall on Jan. 26.
“Right the very start, Isla was a special player. Her physical talent was conspicuous to everyone who saw her play and she immediately became a team leader,” Kent Place coach Tim Maset said. “Since then, we have built our team system from her on out and she has become a key part in creating and shaping our team identity.
“She is a terrific teammate — relentlessly hardworking, mature, responsible, supportive and kind,” Maset said. “For these reasons she was named a team captain as a sophomore — the first time in my twenty years of coaching I have ever had an underclassman as a captain. But such was Isla’s impact on and off the ice. She has been the backbone of our program for four years. Isla will be attending Princeton University on a field hockey scholarship next year.”
Each month, December through March, eight student-athletes from throughout the state will be selected as recipients of the award. Public A, Public B, Public C 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.
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 27th season the Devils honor high school student-athletes.
— News 12 Varsity (@News12Varsity) February 7, 2019
Written by John Christian Hageny / @JCCSPORTS
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