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Monday, December 9, 2013

Part III: Division 1 Team Capsule Previews

By: Luke Devoe

2012-13 Record: 14-6-0
Tournament Result: 7 seed- defeated (10) ND-Fairfield 3-0 in First Round; lost to (2) ND West Haven in the Quarterfinals 6-1

Simsbury goes about their business quietly.  They don’t play an overtly challenging schedule but they continue to have quality seasons.  Last season’s 14-6 mark and first round win over Notre Dame-Fairfield was evidence of this.  This year’s club will look different than last year’s with 10 graduated seniors including electric forwards David Olechna and Ryan Carpenter both CTHSHockey D1 Honorable Mention.  Their production will not be easy to replicate.  Simsbury’s success hinges on how stout and impenetrable their defense will be.  They boast one of the best D pairings in the state in the towering combination of Curt Eustis (CTHSHockey D1 Honorable Mention) and Brian Gellman.  With goalie graduations, yet another good old fashioned goalie battle will play out for Thomas Cross’ squad.  Senior Max Allan, last year’s JV goalie may have first crack at the job but he will be challenged by freshman Drew Marquis.  A third goalie, Mike Adorno reportedly from the NE Falcons will enter the fray as well.  Offensively, the Trojans could be a little more challenged.  They will rely heavily upon Nolan Thompson, Hunter Chapman, Aaron Riccio and James Foster to pick up the Olechna/Carpenter slack.  Look for a few more bodies to become relevant out of tryouts.  Simsbury, year after year circles the wagons and I think they will be more than competitive again this season.
South Windsor
2012-13 Record: 8-11-1
Tournament Result: 14 seed- lost to (3) Darien in the First Round 5-3

South Windsor eeked into the state tournament last year with a team that had to believe an 8-11-1 overall mark was an underachievement.  They will be without graduated seniors Josh O’Neal and Chris Gionfriddo both CTHSHockey D1 Honorable Mentions.  Goalie Aidan Cain has also left early for the prep school ranks.  The Bobcats return a decent amount of offensive talent including Connor Minguy, Nick Jones, Bryan Bakas, Patrick Lawson, Tyler Dowdy and Sean King.  On D, Zac Sylvester, Tim Swan and Adam Glanz stand out as a core that should propel South Windsor back over .500.  The Bobcats seemed to beat the teams they should’ve last year but were blasted by FCIAC schools, going 0-5 against Darien, St. Joseph and Ridgefield last year.  The Bobcats are always competitive and no one eagerly welcomes them into their respective barn but they need to start winning “the big games.”  I think they are better this year, but I’m not all that confident in proclaiming them one of the better teams at D1.
St. Joseph
2012-13 Record: 15-4-1
Tournament Result: 6 seed- defeated (11) New Canaan 3-2 in First Round; lost to (3) Darien in Quarterfinals 5-2

St. Joseph's senior Ryan Corcoran
St. Joseph has a lot of rebuilding to do.  If I was asked at the beginning of the season which team would have two players on my D1 First Team I would never have guessed the Cadets but that’s exactly what happened and now those two all world talents, CK Keator and Andrew Gore are gone.  To boot, only two of their top eight scorers return.  This will indeed be a rebuilding year for the Cadets, but don’t tell the group that returns that.  They plan on being equally as potent.  They will be lead offensively by senior Ryan Corcoran (CTHSHockey D1 Honorable Mention), a 32 point scorer last season, junior Colin Powell and senior Sean Hurley.  Two of the Cadets goalies from last season have transferred out.  Wade Conlan has headed to NDWH while Marc Van Etten has jumped ship as well.  They bring in a junior transfer goalie Dylan Batterson (Wolf Pack) who looks to take over at a position that was a major problem area in the past and possibly prevented St. Joseph from being even more successful than they were.  Junior goalie Christian Furce saw limited action as a sophomore but will battle as well for the crease spot.  Look for incoming freshman Adam Usinger to contribute early.  There are plenty of unknowns for the Cadets.  Realistically, it’s hard to believe, with the talent the FCIAC is showing across the board, that they will have a repeat of last year but look for the Cadets to possibly surprise some people when they get into states.
West Haven
2012-13 Record: 8-10-2
Tournament Result: 13 seed- lost to (4) Xavier 2-1 OT in First Round

West Haven's junior goalie Mike Savino
A season under .500 does not sit well with the Bennett faithful, a proud group, like Hamden, that have certainly felt the pain of prep hockey taking over the northeast.  This year could be another tough one for the Westies but working in their favor is a core group of gritty, fun to watch players and one of the state’s best goalies.  Even considering those variables, the graduation of Austin Hansen (22 G, 18 A) (CTHSHockey D1 Second Team) and the early exit of junior Jimmy Morrissey (17 G, 15 A) to the prep school ranks (Canterbury) will hurt immensely.  The two combined for more than half of West Haven’s scoring.  So, where will it come from?  Senior Alex Scranton, one of the state’s best offensive D-men will be relied on heavily to make some plays while seniors Jaeson Puleo, Pete Lynn and Joe Ayala will need to take their games to the next level.  Defensively, the Blue Devils are fine, not losing one of their starting six.  Junior goalie Mike Savino is good, very good and will need to be.  Some wildcard players include sophomores Jeremy Borelli and Tyler Paine as well as senior Matt Kelly.  If the Westies are to be successful their D has to be tough and scoring has to be found somewhere.  There isn’t one “gimme” on their schedule so they will need to bring it each and every night.  They’re guaranteed a trip to states but a jump past a .500 team may be tough with their limited offensive potency.
2012-13 Record: 12-5-2
Tournament Result: 4 seed- defeated (13) West Haven 2-1 OT in First Round; lost to (5) Ridgefield in Quarterfinals 4-2

The Xavier Falcons could possibly define rebuilding year this year.  They lost the farm, the farmer and all the farmhands.  Top gun Jack Gethings (CTHSHockey D1 Honorable Mention) is off to Williston Northampton Prep after a great junior season, defenseman Kade McCartin (CTHSHockey D1 Honorable Mention) has also left early, in favor of the Jr. B Wolfpack.  The list goes on, Nate Rosemond (Avon Old Farms), Evan Lindquist (South Kent, Selects Hockey Acad.), Colin and Dylan Beaudoin (Sheehan).  Senior graduates Dan Dupont (CTHSHockey D1 3rd Team) and goalie Shane Baldwin are also gone.  Finally, and arguably the most important, Coach Scott Gainey is gone as well, ironically enough to coach at South Kent.  Former assistant and Xavier grad Dan DeConti steps in to fill Gainey’s underachieving shoes.  So where do they begin to rebuild?  A team, who in one way or another was penalized by a late season school suspension spree certainly has their work cut out for them.  Success starts in large part with a talented group of seniors led by captains Andrew Meoli and John Burkinshaw.  They will look for help from seniors Bryan Stanton, Sean Johnson and sophomore Cam Pollack.  The Falcons didn’t just omit this offseason, they’ve added a speedy winger from the Mid Fairfield Blues in the form of David Piekut.  In net, it appears three bodies are set to battle it out.  Juniors Ben Guidobono and Paul Hotchkiss both saw plenty of action last year when Baldwin went out.  Look for senior Devin Peterson to join the fray at some point as well.  This will be a rough transition for new coach DeConti, but, boy, if he could be successful facing the adversity he’s sure to face this year, the guy would really announce his arrival.  On a side note, both Stanton and Peterson will be missing the first six games of the season, likely relating back to issues incurred last season.

Coming tomorrow... Division 1 All CTHSHockey Preaseason Teams!

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