They’ve already signed a new coach, and now it’s been confirmed that the Manasquan/Point Beach hockey cooperative will be adding two of the most skilled forwards in the Shore Conference to the fold.
After it was unveiled that Howell native Adam Houli — who this year helped found the latest junior hockey option at the Shore in the New Jersey 87’s — had filled the coaching vacancy at Manasquan, the new Warriors head man confirmed that the program would see the addition of Matt and Michael Franzoni.
The Franzoni brothers burst onto the local high school scene a season ago as freshmen at St. John Vianney, earning top line roles on the wings of sophomore centerman Mike Gelatt, who would ultimately lead the Lancers in scoring with 36 points on 14 goals and 22 assists.
The dynamic brotherly duo combined for 45 points on 19 goals and 26 assists in their first year of varsity competition, and the Brielle natives will bring that sort of production back home to their districted public school program at Manasquan…much to the excitement of Houli.
“It’s very exciting for us, because I know what type of skilled players they are, and the core of talented guys they’re going to be joining,” Houli said. “I had an opportunity to see Matt and Mike play a lot last year at the travel level [Jersey Shore Whalers], and they were very impressive. You pair them with the guys who are returning to the roster from last season and it can be a very special combination.”
Though the Franzoni brothers will be forced to sit the first 30 days of the season due to NJSIAA transfer rules, once they are able to suit up they’ll join a roster that includes Nick Ventura, who completed his junior campaign as one of just 12 Shore Conference skaters to amass 50 points, as he notched 28 goals and 22 assists.
Alongside Ventura, the Warriors will also look to juniors Aidan Tolnai and James Conti, who combined for 39 points on 21 goals and 18 assists in 2016-17. On the back end Manasquan is led by a pair of talented two-way pivots in senior Conor Murray (7g, 17a) and sophomore Luke McNamara (5g, 15a).
“For me and our coaches, we’re looking at a boat load of talent to work with,” Houli added. “We thought this team could achieve big things just with the guys we knew were coming back. Now, if we put in the work, focus on getting better each day and develop as a team, you’re looking at a deadly mix of skaters that can really make some noise in a great high school conference.”
As for St. John Vianney, losing top line talent is never enjoyable, but coach Mick Messemer and the Lancers should have the personnel to fill the void, with the aforementioned Gelatt continuing to emerge as a top player in the Shore Conference and the state of New Jersey, as well burgeoning front end talent like sophomores Jake LaRusso — one of the premier skill players in all the Shore, who was forced to play on the blue line as a freshman due the club’s depth of forward talent — and Mike Fratarroli, who was a point-per game player for Toms River North last year with eight goals and seven helpers before transferring to the Holmdel-based private school.
As non-divisional opponents — St. John Vianney posted a record of 11-8-3 in the Shore’s Class A North power division in 2016-17, while Manasquan went 8-10-3 in the Class A Central — the only way these two teams would meet this season is in the Shore Conference Dowd or Handchen Cup Tournaments.