Staff Writer
The Egg Harbor Township ice hockey team was 6-11-1 heading into a South Jersey High School Hockey League playoff elimination game against Williamstown on Feb. 1, which might not seem like an impressive season by anyone’s standards. But a closer look reveals that the Eagles have plenty to be confident about going forward.
The SJHSHL is divided into tiers and divisions. The Tier 1-A division features very strong teams such as Cherokee, Eastern, Moorestown and Washington Township, while EHT is in the Tier 1-B division along with Williamstown, Shawnee and Kingsway. Tier 2 features teams that are more like club teams or draw from several different schools to make up a team, such as St. Joe’s, Mainland, Clearview, Holy Lenape Valley, Cherry Hill and Riverfront. EHT didn’t play any of those teams, and did pretty well inside its own division, posting a 6-2-1 record while outscoring Williamstown, Shawnee and Kingsway 37-29 in regular-season games. The Eagles finished with an identical overall record as Shawnee, but were two games better inside the division.

Jacob Feliciano is one of many underclassmen the Egg Harbor Township varsity ice hockey team returns for next season. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)

“We’re a young team, and over the past couple of years it’s been a building progression,” said head coach Fred Feliciano. “Most of our team is freshmen and sophomores. We’re a growing program, our JV team is undefeated, so obviously we’re growing and heading in the right direction.”
Feliciano is assisted by Steve Bergeron, Bill DeClement and Nick Faulhaber, and three of them have sons on the team. Josh DeClement is a senior, Zachary and Jacob Feliciano are juniors, and Dylan Faulhaber is a freshman. A good sign for the Eagles is that only Feliciano and Dillon Carmen are seniors, everyone else returns next year.
“A lot of our players graduated last year and we have a lot of freshman, so it’s a whole different team. We have some good players, so the team is definitely evolving. A lot of these guys play travel hockey, and a couple kids out there are first-year varsity players as freshman. When I came up as a freshman, a lot of the kids just played JV, but nowadays you’re seeing a lot more travel players come up, which makes all the teams better,” Josh DeClement said. “A lot of these kids, we’ve grown up with them so we have a little bit of chemistry with them. It’s a different position for me, being a senior leader and captain, but we work with them and they’re all playing hard and we’re looking for big things (in the future).”
One of the difficult things, however, with having a lot of travel players is scheduling practices, as often times players have conflicts with travel games. And ice time is at a premium, so practices can’t simply be rescheduled as easily as in a sport such as basketball.
“The biggest challenge is that a lot of the high school hockey runs into travel programs, so the kids at the younger levels sometimes have conflicts at certain times, and that makes it a little bit difficult for the team to gel,” coach Feliciano said. “About 75 percent of our team now plays both.”
The team features only three seniors — DeClement, a center, defenseman Dillon Carmen, and Nick Pullano, who is currently injured. Goalie Cameron Carmen, a junior, returns next year, as do some other key players, such as Faulhaber, the Feliciano brothers, forwards Ryan Robertson, Blaze Tommi and Jayson Humphrey, and defensmen Scott Hiltner and Riley Rudolph, among others.

Goalie Cameron Carmen is a junior and has one more season between the pipes for the Eagles. (Glory Days Magazine photo/Dave O’Sullivan)

“We’ve pretty much been in the championship the last two years, we lost in the championship game last year, they won it a couple years ago on varsity, and two years ago on the JV level. So, we’re in it every year. Being a small program, it’s tough and it’s a lot of work, but these kids try their best and never give up,” coach Feliciano said. “Most of the team is made up of freshmen and sophomores, so we should be pretty strong next year. Losing only a few players is big, a lot of these other teams have gone through a big change or have a lot of older kids, so it’s going to be tough for them. They’ll kind of be in the same position we’re in right now, next year they’ll be very young. We’re all working hard and there are a bunch of good personalities out here. We were also the least penalized team. It’s just a good group of kids.”
Coach Feliciano likely will be with the team through the end of next year, as his sons graduate in 2020, and possibly beyond. And why not? He’s enjoying himself.
“The most fun thing for me is most of the kids we have now are kids who I came into the program with about six years ago at the middle school level. So, I’ve been around these kids for six years,” he said. “That’s the fun part for me, I get to see them grow up through our system.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan:; on Twitter @GDsullysays