Head Coach: Mike Dianora, 17th season (207-137-35)
Record last year: 18-7-2 (Shore Conference Handchen Cup Champion; Public B State Finalist)
Division/Classification: Class A North/Public C
Home Rink: Jersey Shore Arena
OPENING DRAW: It was a history making season for Wall Township. The Knights not only captured their first Shore Conference title with a Handchen Cup finals victory over St. John Vianney, but made a run to the Public B state championship for the first time in program history. A state championship loss to Glen Rock was by no means the storybook ending the Knights had in mind, but it was fate suffered the season prior by that same Panthers team, and will serve as further motivation for an another extremely skilled Wall Township outfit that must overcome some losses in personnel, including the Shore Conference Player of the Year in Shane Haviland, as well as Nick Destefano, captain Steven Karanassos, Kieran MacInnes, Luke Piazza and the bruising defenseman David Robberson.
DIVISION RIVAL: St. John Vianney a state power in 2017-18
DYNAMIC TRIO: The loss of Haviland and Karanassos from the Wall Township forward corps will absolutely be felt, but the reigns of this offense is still in great hands with seniors Zach Tarantino (New Jersey Rockets Elite), Ryan Burns (Jersey Shore Whalers 18U) and Larry Hooper (New Jersey Jr. Titans 18U) primed to lead the way.
Tarantino led the Knights in scoring a season ago with 56 points and was one of the Garden State’s top assist men with a team-leading 45 helpers. Though his vision, hands and playmaking ability are among the best in the conference, Tarantino’s goal-scoring is an underrated aspect of his game, and he proved to be a more than capable dual-threat in a Public B State Semifinals victory over Middletown South, when he scored twice and assisted on three more.
DIVISION RIVAL: Wall Township has state championship aspirations in 2017-18
Burns is one of the best two-way skaters in the state, coming off a career year in which he logged 52 points on 25 goals and 27 assists, numbers that could have been improved had he not accepted a defensive role come tournament time, spending at least a portion of the final eight games of the season on the blue line.
Hooper was the odd man out last year starring on the second line in all three zones. Hooper’s 31 points were a career-best and his 14 goals and 17 assists ranked third and fourth on the team, respectively. A hard-nosed competitor with great instincts on the power play and penalty kill, Hooper is an emerging star for Knights.
OFFENSIVE ZONE: Sophomore Sean Kiewe (2g, 4a) is going to be another burgeoning star to watch in this Wall Township offense, as the winger has displayed good speed and creativity as part of a talented Jersey Shore Whalers 16U outfit…As one Haviland brother departs, another one emerges in Riley Haviland, whose time with the New Jersey Jr. Titans 18U program and a tough AYHL and NAPHL schedule should make him an impact player at the scholastic level…Another standout at AYHL level is classmate Kyle O’Neill (4g), who currently stands as the scoring leader for the Mercer Chiefs 18U outfit with 13 points in 12 league games…Seniors Noah Lozano (Jersey Penguins 18UAA), Sean O’Beirne (Jersey Shore Wildcats 18UA), Tommy Falletta (4g, 3a) and Jack Textor (6g, 5a) combined 22 points a season ago and will counted upon to shoulder larger roles in their final scholastic campaigns, as will juniors and Jersey Shore Wildcats 16UAA teammates Colin Gabuzda (1g, 2a) and Joe Velke.
DEFENSIVE END: Red Bank Generals 16UAA standout Bobby Seelinger (2g, 12a) has been a fixture on the Knights top pairing since he entered the program as a freshman. He’ll head into his junior year with 30 career points and as a top blue liner to watch due to his superior skating ability, active stick and an a prowess for pushing the puck and driving the net. Seelinger fronts a defensive unit that includes senior Nick Casais (1g, 5a), juniors and Jersey Shore Wildcats skaters Sam Campbell (1g, 3a) and Glen Puzo (1g, 1a), and sophomores Robby Curran (1a).
BEATTIE IN THE CREASE: Not only do they have depth of talent at the forward and defensive positions, but Wall Township will go to work with one of the best netminders in the Shore Conference. Logan Beattie enters 2017-18 as a third-year starter for the Knights, and entered last year’s state finals appearance with a league-leading .922 save-percentage. He closed out his sophomore campaign with a 2.38 goals-against average in 25 starts, and was at his best when the stakes were at their highest, turning aside 40 of 42 shots in a slim loss to CBA, while making 71 saves on 76 shots faced in three Shore Conference Tournament tilts to help the Knights secure that aforementioned Handchen Cup. Beattie’s goaltending should only be improved at the scholastic level after playing a tough USPHL Elite Division schedule with the New Jersey Hitmen.
IMPACT FRESHMEN: Beattie will be pushed by Joey Hooper — younger brother of Larry Hooper — who backstopped his Jersey Shore Wildcats 16UA club to a 12-6-2 mark this fall. Jack Beattie, Dean Surgent and Patrick Demarinis will be in the forward mix, while Dylan Byrne and Brian Fell will help out on the backend.
CLASS A NORTH ALIGNMENT