The Kearny High School ice hockey cooperative, shared with neighboring North Arlington and Secaucus, won only three times in 10 games last year in the COVID-19 shortened season.
“It was rough for us,” said Kearny middle school teacher Tim Firth, who is in his sixth season as the head coach of the co-op. “We had some young players who were trying to bond as a team. We had so many things working against us. We didn’t get done what we wanted to get done. We knew we had a lot of new guys coming in.”
Now, as the Kardinals move into the new calendar year, they own a respectable 2-1-4 record. They own wins against Bayonne and Passaic Valley, with ties against Bayonne, West Orange, Scotch Plains-Fanwood and Newton with the lone loss coming at the hands of Edison.
“We’re fortunate to have some younger brothers of former players coming in,” said Firth, who has also been blessed with an influx of talented newcomers from Secaucus. “Secaucus has a very good youth league, so we had an idea of what we had coming in.”
Firth said that he was optimistic about the team coming into the 2021-2022 season.
“The idea coming in was that we would be better with a full season,” Firth said. “We were hoping to provide a full season we didn’t get last season.”
And then the omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus reared its ugly head two weeks ago, bringing the season to an abrupt halt.
“But I’m glad to have this group for the next two seasons or so,” Firth said.
The goaltending duties are being shared by senior Jack Logue and junior Morgan Iachetta. Logue is a four-year player who volunteered to return to action at center before climbing back between the pipes this season.
“He’s very athletic and very versatile,” Firth said of Logue.
Iachetta has been getting a lot of work in this far. Both goaltenders hail from Kearny.
The Kardinals have only three defensemen in the rotation in senior Sam Francisco from Kearny, sophomore Kevin Zidiak, a native of North Arlington and freshman Ian Fu, who hails from Secaucus. Zidiak leads the team with six assists thus far.
The team’s leading scorer is junior center Matt Golan, who has scored eight goals and collected five assists so far this season. Golan is a native of North Arlington and is a team captain. Skating on the same line with Golan is junior Owen Logue, the younger brother of goalie Jack, and freshman Rafael Campo of Secaucus.
The second line is centered by Secaucus freshman Aidan Stamm of Secaucus, who is second on the team in scoring with six goals and three assists, with wingers Chris Crawford, a sophomore from North Arlington and freshman Sean Meeney of Secaucus.
Junior Joe Drefko of Kearny is the team’s third line center, flanked by junior Andrew McDermott of North Arlington and Joe Crawford, the twin brother of second line wing Chris, also of North Arlington. Senior Pat Waters gets quality time as a reserve winger.
After the break, the team is planning to return to the ice this week with a game scheduled for Tuesday against Scotch Plains-Fanwood at Warinanco Park in Union.
So owning a 2-1-4 record is…
“I think the ties have been tough,” Firth said. “But at least they’re not losses. Some of those ties we were able to pull out in the last minute, so that’s encouraging. All of the games have been nail biters. I think we’re right there, ready to take the next step. We have to dig deep now with a compromised schedule.”
But the prospects look pretty darn good.
The Kearny/North Arlington/Secaucus cooperative has posted a 2-1-4 record thus far, including participating in the Tyler Chimenti Classic to draw awareness to suicide prevention and bullying in Bayonne to begin the season. Photo courtesy of Kelly Logue.
Learn more about the writer ...
Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”