For a coach who is losing the school's all-time leading scorer to graduation, Gloucester Catholic second-year boys ice hockey coach Tom Bunting sounded pretty chipper about the future.
In what was supposed to have been a rebuilding year for them, the Rams advanced to the NJSIAA Non-Public semifinals again and had a chance to knock off Don Bosco before losing scoring machine Dom Garozzo to penalties and falling 4-1.
"I was the assistant here for seven, eight years before becoming head coach," Bunting said. "I had a pretty good idea of what I was inheriting when I took over. I knew last year we had a lot of seniors and kids who have been around the program. I knew we were going to have a pretty good team.
"What worried me was Year 2, this year. We had so many young guys and wasn't really sure how well they would do. It's hard to win in the Gordon with a bunch of freshmen and sophomores but they played pretty well."
While the Rams, who finished No. 4 in the NJ.com Top 20, went 10-13-1 on the season, that can be forgiven playing in a Gordon Conference American Division with No. Don Bosco, Delbarton and Christian Brothers, who finished No. 1, 2 and 3 in the final Top 20.
Garozzo did his part, with the help from fellow seniors P.J. Metrio and Carter Jones. Garozzo scored 31 goals this season, beating the school single-season record of Johnny Gaudreau (30), who is now playing for the NHL's Calgary Flames.
Bunting said the emergence of junior goalie Christopher Liscio in the playoffs helped spark the Rams and gave Bunting something to smile about for next year.