Kearny-North Arlington-Secaucus hockey looks to make a name for itself

Little went right for the Kearny-North Arlington-Secaucus hockey team a year ago as injuries and inexperience made its one-year stint in the NJIIHL Kelly Division a trying one.

Now, with several key members back and a return to the McMullen Division and another year of growth, optimism is high even without the depth it has had in past seasons.

“We’ve had our core of players now for a number of years,” Kearny coach Tim Firth said. “The bulk of our team is juniors and seniors now so at this point, my expectation is that they’ll be in top form now that they’re older and stronger and have more experience.”

Leading that core is defenseman Kevin Zidiak, who has logged major minutes on the blueline since arriving as a freshman. In addition to being their best defender, Zidiak can also make an impact on the offensive end, posting four goals and 14 assists a season ago.

“He always pulls monster minutes for us,” said Firth. “He was one of our captains last year. He can play the whole game if he’d like. He’s fantastic at moving the puck and transitioning and getting the puck out of our zone, whether it’s by a pass or skating it up himself.”

Junior Sean Meaney is also set to return on defense and is capable of playing forward as well. Firth also has high hopes for junior Ian Fu, who had three goals and three assists last season.

“This is going to be a big year for Ian. His confidence is at an all-time high,” Firth said. “He will be one of the bigger and faster kids on the squad. I think he’s really going to blossom and show us what he can do this year.”

Sophomore Billy Worman is set to be the fourth defenseman for Kearny.

Up top, Kearny returns its top scorer in junior center Aiden Stamm, who led the team in both goals (17) and assists (17).

“The kid is fast, he’s incredibly skilled and he has a really good mind for the game,” said Firth. “He will be pulling No. 1 center minutes and we’re really looking forward to seeing him play this year because I know he’s very invested in the sport and the game and the team. We’re also looking forward to him being one of the leaders.”

The Kardinals also return their second leading scorer in Chris Crawford (12 goals, 14 assists). The senior is capable of playing on the wing alongside Stamm or center his own line if Kearny wants to balance its lines.

The biggest addition to Kearny is sophomore Arthur Bor, who is primed for a big season after missing virtually all of last year due to injury.

“He had a season-ending injury about two weeks into the season last year so we never got to actually see him play in a high school hockey game. But last year he was impressive,” said Firth. “This year, he’s bigger and stronger, very confident on his edge work and stick work, he’s got very good speed and we’re very excited to see what he can bring.”

Freshmen Owen Golon and Connor Michalkovich are primed to make an instant impact and have extensive travel hockey experience.

Other forwards poised for big roles include senior Anthony Leppin, who excels on the penalty kill and fellow senior Joseph Crawford. Junior Vanessa Salgado, who is one of the team’s most improved players, and physical junior Jon Solinski will also see extensive time.

Junior Sebastian Andaluz and sophomore Braidan Logue are currently splitting time in goal.

“Both players have been learning and growing. They’ve had older teammates to watch and learn from,” Firth said. “We’re looking forward to seeing what they can do now that they have the chance to take the reins.”

Kearny opens the season at its home rink, Secaucus Ice Rink, on Friday, Dec. 8 against Hoboken-Weehawken at 4:15 p.m. The Kardinals follow with home games against Johnson on Dec. 12 and Fair Lawn on the 15th.

“Our goal this year is to have an impact. We want to be a known commodity in our towns. We want to make a name for ourselves,” said Firth. “We want people to know that Kearny, North Arlington and Secaucus have a high school hockey team. You do that with wins, you do that with good publicity through social media and just general excitement.

“We want the towns that we live in to know that they have a team and they have a competitive team, a successful team and an exciting team.”

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)