NEW JERSEY DEVILS’ HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS OF THE MONTH HONORED
FOUR SENIORS, THREE JUNIORS AND TWO SOPHOMORES HIGHLIGHT JANUARY 2020 SELECTIONS
The New Jersey Devils High School Player of the Month Program continues in this, their 28th season honoring the top scholastic hockey players in the Garden State.
Players named for January 2020 are: Christian Brothers senior winger Kyle Contessa (Gordon Conference); St. Joseph-Montvale junior winger Justin Hughes (Big North Conference), Princeton senior center Aidan Trainor and his brother junior winger Colm Trainor (Colonial Valley Conference), Verona-Glen Ridge senior goaltender Chris Kostas (NJIIHL), Mendham sophomore goaltender Connor McDonough (MCSSIHL), Monroe junior forward Gleb Veremyev (Greater Middlesex/Skyland Conference), Howell-Matawan senior goaltender Dan McEvoy (Shore Conference) and Trinity Hall sophomore center Noelle Turek (Girls Ice Hockey).
At Princeton, two Trainor’s are better than one.
For just the second time in the 28-year history of the program, a pair of brothers take home New Jersey Devils’ high school player of the month honors as Princeton’s Aidan and Colm Trainor recorded identical, 11-goal, 23-point performances in January.
Joining Manasquan twins Matt and Mike Franzoni, the Trainor boys produced at a prolific rate in the Colonial Valley Conference this past month.
Colm scored four goals in a 9-9 tie with Notre Dame on Jan. 14 to go along with a pair of two-goal games against Nottingham and Bishop Eustace. He has 17 goals and 37 points this season, second to only his brother, Aidan.
Incredibly consistent over the course of his four-year career, this is Aidan’s fifth Player of the Month award since taking home honors as a freshman in 2017. January 2020 highlights include a hat trick over Robbinsville on Jan. 28 and two-goal performances over Hopewell Valley and Hillsborough. He has 21 goals and 39 points this season and a remarkable 98-career goals and 204 points in his career.
“Every coach wants one player as talented as Colm or Aidan,” Princeton coach Joe Bensky said. “Luckily for our team and community we have two.
“They are both very talented. Teams have to game plan against them in order to slow them down. What is most impressive is not just their talent, but their drive to be the best and make their teammates better. It is exciting to watch these two work together — and find one another. When the puck is on either of their sticks you are waiting for something good to happen.”
Contessa struck for eight goals and 12 assists helping CBA, No. 1 in The Hockey Night in Boston Top 10, go 7-2-1 in January. The senior scored twice against Middletown South and LaSalle Academy before a two-goal, three-point performance in a 6-4 upset of previous No. 1 Don Bosco Prep on Jan. 26. With 44-career goals and 85 points, Contessa could eclipse the 100-point plateau with a fine post-season performance for the Colts.
“Kyle is a dynamic player who has a definite nose for the net,” Christian Brothers coach Andy Gojdycz said. “His quick release and vision on the ice makes him a dangerous player that can compete at the next level.”
With eight goals and 15 points this past month, including four goals and six points in two Egan Cup games against St. John Vianney, Hughes was at the top of his game.
“Justin’s ability to change speeds, see the entire ice and ability to adapt to all situations during a game sets apart from the rest,” St. Joseph coach Larry Mahurter said.
Producing at nearly a point-per-game level in the Big North Conference, Hughes has 22 goals, 36 assists for 58 points in 66-career games.
Appearing in all 10 games in between the pipes for Verona-Glen Ridge this past month, Kostas went 7-3 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .933 save percentage with shutouts over Nutley, Oratory Prep and Cranford. Three of Kostas’ seven-career shutouts came during a seven-game January winning streak (Jan. 11-29) in which he surrendered only six goals.
“A true master of his position,” VGR coach Ken Lilien said. “Works extremely hard everyday. For the past two years, Chris has been the backbone and soul of the team. His leadership, work ethic and compete level has enabled our team to hit the ice and be successful knowing that Chris will always have their back. His dedication has lifted the entire program and he will leave a great legacy at VGR upon graduation.”
McDonough’s sparking .968 save percentage led to a 1.68 goals-against average and 4-2-2 record in January for the Minutemen of Mendham. McDonough, who posted shutouts over Kinnelon and Southern Regional this past month, boasts a career 31-8-5 career record.
“From his first game as a freshmen, we knew we had a special player in Connor,” Mendham coach John Kovacs said. “His desire to be the best player on the ice is exemplified every game he plays. On and off the ice, Connor is a true pleasure to coach.”
Veremyev, a standout for the New Jersey Rockets who has committed to Penn State, lit the lamp 21 times in January, adding 14 assists for 35 points in 11 games. Highlights include a seven-goal game versus Woodbridge-Colonia-Iselin on Jan. 10 and a five-goal, eight-point effort against Edison on Jan. 30. A third round pick by the Lincoln Stars in the USHL Futures Draft, Veremyev is fourth in the state in goals (28) and fifth in in points (45). All told, the junior has already amassed 69 goals and 85 assists for 153 points in just 55-career games.
“Gleb is a phenomenal talent and has given our program nothing short of 110 percent from Day One, even playing defense his freshman year,” Monroe coach Jerry Minter said. “He’s fast and strong and highly skilled but his ability to make his teammates better is what separates him from the pack.”
McEvoy has been a fixture since his freshman season in 2016-17 for Howell. Taking the reigns full time his sophomore season, McEvoy has 24-career wins, including eight shutouts, to go along with a 2.70 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. In nine games this past month, McEvoy went 3-3-3 with back-to-back 40-save efforts vs. South Brunswick and Middletown South Jan. 22-24 in addition to a 37-save performance against Monroe on Jan. 3.
“Dan is all about the team. He is always pushing everyone to do their best. He was voted team captain the past two seasons and is exactly what a coach is looking for to lead his team,” Howell-Matawan coach Bill Daly said.
“Dan is always trying his best in every drill to keep a shutout. I asked him, ‘Dan, you try so hard every time, why not take it a little easier on the younger players?’ Dan said, ‘Coach you play the way you practice. If I take it easy then I am not giving my best and the skaters are not pushed to do their best either.’ Dan has been the rock behind the team all season stopping everything he can giving the team a chance to win. The team builds off that and produces at the other end. This is a well-deserved honor.”
With game-winning goals against Kent Place and Pingry in back-to-back games Jan. 27-28, Turek has provided a big lift to Trinity Hall after missing her entire freshman season after tearing her ACL. Never one to let her teammates down, Turek still appeared at every game last season to show her support.
“Noelle is the type of player every coach wants on his or her team,” Trinity Hall coach Frankie Francese said. “She has tremendous talent, a great work ethic and is extremely humble.
“Noelle’s positive attitude was on display during the Pingry game when she came up to me after they tied the game 2-2 and said, ‘Don’t worry coach, I am going to score right now.’ — 30 seconds later the puck was in the back of the Pingry net,” Francese said. “A minute later, Pingry tied the game again at three so Noelle jumped on the ice her next shift and put our team on top for good capping off a two-goal game.”
Turek has five goals and nine points in seven games this season.
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. January 2020 selections will be honored Feb. 16 when the Devils host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Prudential Center.
This marks the 28th season the Devils honor high school student-athletes.
Written by John Christian Hageny @JCCSPORTS
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