Posted on Sun, Mar. 15, 2009

Hill and Eustace are determined to reach final

By Phil Anastasia

Inquirer Staff Writer

Jamie Hill leads the Bishop Eustace ice hockey team in assists.

So maybe it's fitting that the junior forward is focused on his teammates at this stage of the state tournament.

"It's all about the seniors at this time of the year," Hill said. "We've got a great bunch of leaders in that class. All the underclassmen are playing for the senior class."

Bishop Eustace (22-5) will play Christian Brothers Academy (19-4-1) tonight at 6 in Mennen Arena in Morristown in the semifinals of the Non-Public state tournament.

Delbarton and Bergen Catholic were scheduled to play late last night in the other semifinal. The state championship game will be Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark.

Bishop Eustace coach Mike Green said the team's senior class has set its sights on the state title.

"This time of the year, it's so important to have senior leadership," Green said.

Still, it could be a junior such as Hill who makes the difference for the Crusaders. Hill is tied for the team lead in points with 51. He has 19 goals and 32 assists.

Hill recently committed to attend the University of New Hampshire on an ice hockey scholarship.

"It basically came down to whether I wanted to try to play juniors after high school or play in college," said Hill, a Glassboro resident. "I just felt like the University of New Hampshire was a great fit for me.
 I love the campus and I love the way they play hockey."

Hill said he started skating at age 3 and joined his first team at age 5. He was involved for around 10 years with programs at Hollydell Ice Arena in Sewell, and credits rink manager Guy Gaudreau, the Gloucester Catholic coach, with much of his early development.

Hill also said that Jared Beach, his current coach on the Comcast Under-16 team at the Flyers Skate Zone in Pennsauken, as well as Green and Bishop Eustace assistant Keith Primeau, the former Flyers center, have been instrumental in his improvement.

"Over the years, I've just been lucky to have so many great coaches that have taken an interest in me and have showed me how to play," Hill said.

Hill has 104 career points, just two shy of the program record set by Tyler Hancock in 2007. With another full season, Hill possibly could push the Bishop Eustace scoring record past the 150-point mark.

But that's next season. For now, the speedy, skilled forward is hoping to help this year's team to the state championship.

Hill said he was determined to play his best for the Crusaders' talented senior class, which includes forward Chris Gentile, defenseman Zach Green, goalies Nick Casella and Kyle Van Osten, and several other top players.

"We lost in the semifinals last year and we all felt bad about that," Hill said. "I know I personally felt like I could have done more. This year is the last shot for our seniors, and they've been such a great class. We want to try to send them out with a state championship."


Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia

at 856-779-3223