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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Part II: Division 2 Team Preview Capsules

By: Luke Devoe

East Catholic
2012-13 Record: 15-5-0
Tournament Result: 2 seed- defeated (15) Trinity Catholic 5-2 in First Round; defeated (7) Northwest Catholic 7-0 in Quarterfinals; defeated (3) BBD 6-1 in Semifinals; lost to (13) Fairfield Coop 4-3 (OT) in D2 State Championship

East Catholic's Griffin Casey
The East Catholic Eagles rode an excellent regular season into the Division II State Championship last season as apparent favorites.  After beating the three seeded IceCats of BBD and toppling rival NWC in the quarters, this was theirs to lose.  They did... in gut wrenching fashion 4-3 in overtime to Kevin Robinson and 13 seeded Fairfield Coop.  That taste of defeat still lingers in the Eagles’ locker room with the chance for redemption on every players’ mind.  One of last year’s returning captains forward Dan Lemieux is back as is a host of veteran players led by senior forwards Griffin Casey (CTHSHockey D2 Honorable Mention),  Brian O’Connell (may play some D) and Patrick Bishop.  With the deep tournament run plenty of underclassmen saw the thrills that go along with playing at the highest level come tournament time.  The Eagles also return forwards sophomore Liam Donohue, juniors Lee Munson (CTHSHockey D2 Honorable Mention) and Alex Manner.  The Eagles surely will miss Vinny Genovesi, Matt Uricchio, Max Boggini and especially Evan Cedrone who graduated after last year’s stellar run.  But there is more than enough talent left on the Eagles’ bench to make a repeat trip to the finals.  Senior Thomas Usseglio, the lefty, (CTHSHockey D2 3rd Team) came out of nowhere to be as solid as any goalie in the state come tournament time.  The Eagles will be damn good.  With weapons like Casey, Munson and Donohue back as well as a strong core of seniors, I think East Catholic is one, of many, teams to beat at the D2 level.
Fairfield Warde-Ludlowe
2012-13 Record: 10-10-0
Tournament Result: 13 seed- defeated (4) Watertown-Pomperaug 3-2 in First Round; defeated (5) Branford 4-3 (2OT) in Quarterfinals; defeated (9) North Branford 3-1 in Semifinals; defeated (2) East Catholic 4-3 (OT) in D2 State Championship

What a group, what a finish and like Yale in last year’s NCAA Tournament, Fairfield Coop showed that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.  Fairfield rode a group of rag tag, team-first kind of kids on an improbably journey which saw them knock off four higher seeds with a combined 53-23-4 regular season record.  With the exception of Kevin Robinson and his four championship game goals (CTHSHockey D2 2nd Team), the co-op really didn’t have any players jumping off the score sheet.  Coach Mark Pettorini  (CTHSHockey D2 Coach of the Year) maximized the potential of each and every kid and got them to believe in something special.  Okay, puke yet?  No more cushy flashbacks, I promise.  If Fairfield looks to repeat they will have to do it without the services of Robinson, who has left the team after his junior year for the CT Oilers.  They’ve also lost senior Kyle Scheetz who will be playing lacrosse at the University of Pennsylvania so he has opted out of his senior year of hockey.  Finally, the coop lost senior forward Thomas Kryspin to graduation, a key cog in their championship run.  They do, however, return key point producing defensemen in Conor Scharlop (8G, 32 A) and Zach Weinstein (5 G, 15 A).  Offensively, if those guys aren’t offensive enough (in a good way) they bring back Jack O’Rourke (9 G, 17 A) and Austin Armas, two potent weapons that will need to have big years.  Possibly most importantly, they return junior goalie Kyle Greenhut (CTHSHockey D2 Honorable Mention), a kid who played out of his friggin’ mind in last year’s playoffs posting a save percentage of .930 over those four games.  Fairfield has the pieces for a repeat but still lack that “star power.”  Then again, it didn’t seem to hurt them last year.  On a side note, Pettorini loses assistants Kevin Keating and John Landino but replaces them with former ND Fairfield assistants J.R. Bria and Scott Lengel.
Fairfield Celebrating the Division 2 State Championship
Farmington Valley
2012-13 Record: 9-11-0
Tournament Result:  12 seed- lost in First Round to (5) Branford 4-0

Farmington Valley has seen two straight first round exits.  Last year at the hands of Branford in the D2 state tourney and the year before in the qualifying round at the D1 level to Trinity Catholic.  The coop looked to make strides in the right direction last year when they took down both Northwest and East Catholic in early February only to go 3-4 to finish out the year after that.  This year, fully cemented as a D2 squad, FV looks to take a step in the right direction.  It won’t be easy, however.  One of the lone bright spots on FV last year Jeff Demers (CTHSHockey D2 Honorable Mention) has graduated as well as goalie Tyler Bailey.  Junior Connor McCutcheon is also gone as he’s taken his talents to the CT Oilers.  The coop’s goalie battle should be something to pay attention to early on as five potential candidates are set to battle including a Canadian transfer senior Jonathan DiPerna.  FV will look to seniors Nick Sanderson and Dan Rider to provide a spark on offense with a deep D core led by senior Jack Wendler and sophomores Jake Connelly and Mike Wissuchek holding it down on the back end.  Sophomore Mitch DiPerna, brother of transfer Jonathan could contribute on the offensive end early.  With 8 games against upper echelon D3 opponents, FV could find some wins they otherwise might not playing strictly a D1/D2 schedule.  If none of the candidates in net pan out as a solid backstop, this could end up being a difficult year for Farmington Valley.
Fermi-Enfield-E. Granby-Stafford
2012-13 Record: 8-11-1
Tournament Result: 12 seed- lost to (5) Branford 4-0 in First Round

Fermi-Enfield, too wordy to include the East Granby, lost their leading scorer and grittiest player in senior Avery Boissy (CTHSHockey D2 Honorable Mention) as well as up and down senior goalie Aaron Lickwar (CTHSHockey D2 Honorable Mention).  To boot, three of their top five leading scorers are gone off a team who barely managed to win 8 games last year.  Fermi was a tough team to read last year, ultimately failing to achieve more than mediocrity.  They ran off wins against Amity and South Windsor but had headscratchers like a tie against Westhill and a loss to Wethersfield.  Looking to right the ship and make up for the losses are senior captain Matt Boulette (6 G, 6 A) and junior, second leading scorer Brian Reilly (10 G, 12 A).  Joining that top line will be senior Jacob Quinn.  Newcomer Thomas Vose and a cast of underclassmen will need to step their game up to make Fermi-Enfield viable in the suddenly every game competitive Division 2 race.  In net, two Roys hopefully will make everything alright for coach Frank Genovese.  Senior Matt Roy and sophomore Sam Roy, no relation, look to replace Lickwar in the crease.  With D2 getting stronger and Fermi seemingly getting slightly weaker, it’s likely that they will be one of the six teams not playing playoff hockey.
2012-13 Record: 11-7-2
Tournament Result: 6 seed- defeated (11) Milford Co-op 5-3 in First Round; lost to (3) BBD 4-3 (2OT) in Quarterfinals

Guilford had the makings of a team that could make a deep run last season.  A solid, young goalie, a proven veteran defensive leader and plenty of offensive options.  A two overtime loss to BBD in the quarters derailed their plans.  Now, the Indians look to rebuild after almost all of those pieces have left.  Senior captain and D-man Ryan Moore has graduated, fellow senior Zach Cattaruzza moved on, stellar junior forward Matt Horton left for Avon Old Farms, and freshman goalie Brandon Maio is also out after a strong first year.  This leaves them with few weapons and a serious lack of leadership.  Sophomores Chris Cafiero and Will Dacey will be asked to step into bigger shoes.  Cafiero is a high hockey IQ centerman that will outwork most opposition.  Dacey, a defenseman, is quick and has excellent hands.  It would appear with Maio’s early exit that senior Hunter Martins will man the crease.  Look for a strong year from defenseman Ryan Brand while captain Carson Speery will miss part of the season with a broken leg.  Simply, the Indians are piecing it together this year and will have to outwork their opposition.  They have an unproven goalie, youngsters being relied on to carry the workload and leaders out with injury.  If they get off to a bad start, it could be a rough year for these Indians.   

Coming tomorrow... Part III: Division 2 Team Preview Capsules!

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