Head Coach: Kyle Weise, Fourth season (35-26-8)
Record last year: 11-10-3
Division/Classification: Class A South/Public B
Home Rink: Howell Ice World
OPENING DRAW: Replacing Joe D’Andrea — and his 48 points — and fellow members of a senior leadership core – Matthew Meyer, Ryan Abline and Ryan Verile – will be no easy feat, but there’s no denying that Jackson Liberty enters the new year with three of the most exciting young forces in the Shore Conference in junior captains Nick LaBianca and Joey Granza, and sophomore Zach D’Andrea.
DIVISION RIVAL: Southern Regional aims to sustain success in 2017-18
DYNAMIC TRIO: A season ago they combined for 143 points (61g, 82a), and that’s after Joey Granza spent the first 10 games on the defensive blue line. Granza, LaBianca and D’Andrea were dispersed out on the first and second lines in 2016-17, and it appears that will be the plan once again for fourth-year head man Kyle Weise.
However, despite the wealth of talent being spread around, it didn’t stop LaBianca (Jersey Shore Whalers 18U) from finishing as one of just 12 Shore Conference skaters with 50-plus points, as he notched career-highs in both goals (19) and assists (31). Labianca will enter his junior year with 85 career points.
DIVISION RIVAL: Toms River South & East join forces in 2017-18
Granza (Mercer Chiefs 16U) completed his sophomore season as the Lions third-leading scorer with 47 points on 25 goals and 22 assists, including 10 multi-point games and seven tilts with at least two tallies in Jackson Liberty’s final 14 outings.
As for Zach D’Andrea – who helped a Brick Hockey Club 16UAA program to an NJYHL Division Championship and a state finals appearance with a club-best 18 points – the centerman made program history in his first season at the varsity level, setting the Lions record for freshman scoring with 46 points on 17 goals and 29 assists…a mark that led all first-year Shore Conference players in point production.
STRONG SUPPORTING CAST: When it comes to rostered skaters Jackson Liberty isn’t blessed with huge numbers. But alongside Labianca, Granza and D’Andrea, the Lions feature a strong cast of two-way skaters with skill and experience, including seniors Joe Rugarber — a Jersey Shore Wildcats 18UAA skater who finished tied for second in team scoring in the pre-season — Joe Crouchman (8g, 4a), and Erin Campbell, who plays her club hockey for a skilled Princeton Tiger Lilies outfit that has played to a mark of 9-7-5 through their first 21 games of the year. The Lions also return a junior to watch in Nick Waldron (Jersey Shore Wildcats 16UAA), who logged 22 points on nine goals and 13 assists in his first year of varsity competition.
IN THE CREASE: Brendan Sheerin (Jersey Shore Wildcats 18UA) took over the starting role for Jackson Liberty on Jan. 13 of last season, and in the final 12 starts of his junior season he posted a save-percentage of .866 to go with 3.33 goals-against average, including a 33-save victory over Vernon in the Public B State Tournament.
FRESHMEN TO WATCH: Shaun Auriemma (Brick Hockey Club 16UA) and Brendan McCaully (Brick Hockey Club Bantam AA) are expected to make immediate impacts on the Jackson Liberty blue line, as will two-way skater Joey Virga, who is listed as a forward but skates in the defensive end for the Jersey Shore Wildcats Bantam AA club.
CLASS A SOUTH ALIGNMENT
Toms River North