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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Elite Eight Predictions Week Three (12/31-1/6)

I am going to stick to the 8 games per week. If you would like a "Twitter Pick" tweet @cthshockey and I'll send you a pick there!

RECORD: 11-3-2   LAST WEEK: 5-2-1

Elite Predictions: Mark these on the calendar

1/3 Simsbury @ Conard 1:00 @ Veteran's Memorial Rink- The Conard Chieftains were the darlings of the early season, jumping out to a 3-0 record after winning only 4 total last year. They were given a reality check in a 6-2 loss to Glastonbury. Bouncing back is vital during this short season and they get a chance against another D1 foe in Simsbury. The Trojans are coming off a tough 3-2 loss to NDWH, a game that could've easily shifted in their favor. I like both of these teams this year as surprise/upset caliber teams on any given night. I think D1 prevails over D2 in this one, however. Trojans 4-2

1/3 Fairfield Prep @ NDWH 1:00 @ Bennett Rink- Considered best rivalry in the state for years. With NDWH in a somewhat of a transition year, this year's could have a different feel. Prep retooled and reloaded again. NDWH will need top talents like Alec Andreucci and Joe Ansaldo to provide a spark but it may not be enough. I'll take Prep. Jesuits 5-2

1/3 Fairfield Co-op @ North Branford 2:00 @ Northford Ice Pavilion- North Branford has been downright scary to start while Fairfield has rebounded nicely winning two since their opening night loss to Branford. This year's Mustangs squad has a little of that under the radar feel that the state champ team had. Maybe in the end it'll work out similarly for them but for now, they're not in the same league as North Branford. T-Birds 6-4

1/3 St. Joseph @ Hamden 2:30 @ Lou Astorino Rink- Remember Hamden's start last year? 2-0 with wins over Darien and New Canaan and a #1 ranking in the CTHSHockey D1 Top 10. They're off to a good start this year as well, 2-1 with wins over New Canaan and Winchester (MA) and a lone loss to Darien. This is where we see if Hamden has taken that next step and continue to have success throughout the year and win games that they should. St Joe's seems improved since last season but still seems like a bottom tier D1 team after shutout losses to Xavier and Greenwich. Hamden should win. Dragons 5-3

1/3 Xavier @ Greenwich 6:30 @ Dorothy Hamill Ice Rink- Greenwich has been a fun story to cover this year. They're 4-0 and have only allowed four goals against all year. Xavier is an interesting team. They couldn't manage much offense to start the year but have scored 11 in their last two games, wins over St. Joe's and East Catholic. I'm going to go with the better defensive team in this one and take Greenwich. Cardinals 3-1

1/3 Masuk @ Westhill 8:30 @ Terry Connors Rink- This is an intriguing D3 game. On one hand you have a perennial power in Masuk who is ripe to win the whole thing this year after matching 6-0 wins over overmatched BBD and Stamford. On the other hand you have another 2-0 team in Westhill. The Vikings won convincingly over Staples their last time out and snuck out a 5-4 win over D2's Fermi to start the year. It's a small sample size but Westhill is a good team. This one could be close but it's really a chance for Masuk to show the dominant power many think they are. I think they win, but I like Westhill to battle and keep it close. Panthers 4-2

1/5 North Haven @ Northwest Catholic 4:40 @ ISCC- At 0-2-1 North Haven isn't off to the start they wanted but there is hope. The Indians are a good hockey team with a strong senior leader in net. They've lost both tries at D1 teams so far this year and will get another shot with Northwest Catholic, a team who's already lost twice this year to D2 opponents. Something has got to give and I'm calling for an upset. North Haven 5-4

1/6 Fairfield Prep @ ND Fairfield 5:30 @ Webster Bank Arena- The battle for Fairfield is taking place at NDF's new home barn ;). At press time, the Lancers are prepping to face Massachusetts powerhouse BC High in the championship of their tourney. A win over BC High would probably be the most impressive thing any team in this state will do this year. That said, I don't see it happening, I hope it does, but I don't see it. Talent against talent up front these teams are more even than some would think. It's the back end and in net that I think the Jesuits have a decided advantage. Prep 5-3

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Eight Elite Predictions Week Two (12/26-30)

By: Luke Devoe

With Northwest Catholic's "upset" over Glastonbury, my undefeated week was lost on Tuesday. Let's see how it goes this week.I  am going to stick to the 8 games per week. If you would like a "Twitter Pick" tweet @cthshockey and I'll send you a pick there!

RECORD: 6-1-1   LAST WEEK: 6-1-1

Elite Predictions: Mark these on the calendar

12/26 Cheshire vs. New Milford (WH Xmas Tourney DII Final) 2:00 @ Bennett Rink- This should prove to be a competitive final. New Milford has scored 13 goals in two games this year but Guilford and Newtown both seem to be having very down years. Cheshire rebounded from a tough opening night loss to top Amity to reach this final. I'm really torn on this one, but I'm going to go with Cheshire. Rams 3-2

12/26 Darien @ New Canaan 2:00 @ Darien Ice Rink- Gotta love rivalry matchups. Darien plays their yearly "road game" at their home rink. New Canaan, after beating NDWH in OT on opening night has lost two straight to Hamden and Greenwich. Darien meanwhile sits unblemished and coming off a huge win over Prep. Darien keeps rolling... Wave 4-2

12/27 Daniel Hand @ Branford 8:15 @ Northford Ice Pavilion- This matchup features my #1 and #2 teams in this week's D2 Top 10. These SCC powers have both gotten off to good starts. In a game like this it's nice to rely on a proven net minder. I'll go with Brink and Branford. Hornets 3-2

12/29 North Haven @ St. Joseph 8:00 @ The Rinks at Shelton- North Haven has proven they can go toe to toe with a solid D1 team, losing to Simsbury 6-5. St. Joseph has a very hard luck 0-1-1 record, losing to NDF 3-2 and tying NDWH. This should be a good one but I'll go with St. Joe's on home ice. Cadets 5-4

12/30 Staples-Weston-Shelton @ Woodstock Academy 2:00 @ Jahn Hockey Rink- Pomfret School- Woodstock took down Tri-Town in their season opener and seems to be having a lot of fun playing hockey which is why I want to pick them here. I just don't know much about them given their limited sample size. Staples, on the other hand, put up 8 goals against D2's BCR and then went on to beat NFA and most recently Wethersfield-RH-Midd in blowout fashion. My head is picking Staples, my heart is picking Woodstock. I'm a romantic. Centaurs 5-3

12/30 Simsbury @ NDWH 4:00 @ Bennett Rink- At press time NDWH is a lackluster, for their standards, 1-1-1. They'll come in after a battle with Ridgefield on Saturday, so who really knows what club Simsbury will be getting. The fact is Simsbury has been good, undefeated so far, and eager to play one of the "big boys." But they can't afford to overlook NWC on Saturday either. NDWH is good. Their even better at Bennett. I can see Simsbury pulling the upset but I'm going with NDWH. Knights 3-1

12/30 East Catholic @ Xavier 4:00 @ Wesleyan College- Xavier is really having a tough time putting the puck in the net (2 goals through 3 games). East Catholic has only played one game as of press time and gave up 5 goals to a good NDF team. I'm going to go with East Catholic in this one simply because of Xavier's ineptitude when it comes to scoring goals. Eagles 4-1

12/30 Glastonbury @ Conard 8:00 @ Veteran's Memorial-  Conard has been a fun story on the young season so far. They have blown out and I mean blown out two teams that were really good a year ago and were supposed to be pretty good this year. They will have played BCR before this one but not much seems to be slowing down the Chieftain train. Glastonbury seemed to be rolling to but are having trouble scoring goals and most recently lost to Northwest Catholic, a team who Conard beat 5-1. I'm not going to start doing the "they beat them, so that means they'll beat them" comparison. In fact, I'm going to do the opposite. Glastonbury wins. Tomahawks 3-2

Friday, December 19, 2014

Division II Preseason Team Capsules

DIVISION I (2013-14 record; tournament result)

Amity (13-7-0; Lost in the Division II State Championship to Daniel Hand)
Key Losses: Johnny Uscilla, Adam Shea, Brett McNeil, Keating Seymour, Brian Mosher
Key Returners: Sr. Kevin Ryan, F; Sr. Zach Shelnitz, D; Sr. Dalton Luciani, D; Sr. Tim Johnston, F; Jr. Anthony Uscilla, D; So. Tyler Johnston, G
New Blood: Fr. Tyler Cole, G
Outlook: Lindgren returns to a fresh faced group headed by Kevin Ryan, whose experience on the top line in Keating Seymour’s absence last year should help him big time. They’ve lost a lot (top 3 scorers) and their starting goalie in Brian Mosher. Only time will tell with these Spartans. Zach Shelnitz and Dalton Luciani head a D core that should be one of Amity’s strong suits this year.

Branford (15-4-1; Lost in the Division II Quarterfinals to Milford)
Key Losses: Tyler Hackett, Tony Pascale, Jason Vitale, Robert Denhardt, Tyler Martin
Key Returners: Sr. Tyler Criscuolo, F; Sr. AJ Brink, G; So. Zach Withington, F, Sr. Cooper Bunton, F; Sr. Jack Murray, D; Sr. Pat Cunningham, D; Sr. Aidan Deane
New Blood:
Outlook: Branford seemed primed last season to take the DII tournament by storm only to get upset by Milford in the quarters. The loss of graduated seniors and Tyler Hackett will hurt but there’s no debating the fact that AJ Brink is one of, if not the best goalie at the DII level. He can carry this defensive deep squad. If Criscuolo can stay healthy Branford can be scary good.

Cheshire (10-9-1; Lost in the Division II Quarterfinals to East Catholic)
Key Losses: Luke Vendetto, Joey D’Errico, Matt Vallilo, Greg Zovas, Joey Solla
Key Returners: Sr. Matt Jordan, F; Sr. Ben Klanica, F; Sr. Kyle Frederick, F; Sr. Tommy Sokoloff, D; So. Matt Federico, F; Jr. Jake Verneris, G
New Blood: So. Billy McKinley; So. Vinny Solla
Outlook: Rams have fire power back and Karl Sundquist did a nice job over the years getting Verneris work in net, priming him for a successful junior campaign. Watch out for these guys. Losing Vendetto and company certainly won’t be easy to get over but Matt Jordan and Ben Klanica have the ability to take over games offensively. Watch out for the Rams especially with full year talent like McKinley and Solla joining the fray.

Conard (4-16-0; did not qualify)
Key Losses: Quinn Lacroix, Luke Haggerty
Key Returners: Sr. Jake Reynolds, D; Jr. Grayson Lacroix, F; Sr. Mark Ehnot, F; Sr. PJ Melly, D; So. Declan Flaherty; Jr. Matt McCormick, F; Jr. Jordan Fongmie, F; So. Zander Khan, G
New Blood: Fr. Paul Wilson; Fr. Zack Polo
Outlook: Conard will be better this year. They return a solid group of forwards that should be able to put the puck in the net and with the evening out of talent at the DII level, there won’t be many teams that should be heavily favored over them. Grayson Lacroix is a blooming star up front while seniors Jake Reynolds and PJ Melly should do enough to fasten down the back end. Zander Khan is back and after a years experience should be comfortable in net. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Conard is a tournament team this year. I’m not saying they’re a favorite or will even get home ice, I just think they’ve grown enough to join the discussion.

Daniel Hand (10-10-0; Won the Division II State Championship)
Key Losses: Ben Solin, Chase Briggs, Dan Braumann, Dan Healey, Mike Belliveau
Key Returners: Sr. Andrew Rossi, D; Sr. Andrew Banasiak, D; Sr. Connor Bell, F; Jr. Luke Brown, F; Jr. Jeff Rider, D; Jr. Cole Sarna, G
New Blood: Fr. Paul Gagliardi, D; So. Robert Smith, G
Outlook: Well here is a positive… Ken Mitchell returns for his second year at the helm. This is the first time a coach has returned after their first year at Hand in four years.  The reality is he has set the bar pretty high after winning a state title with a .500 team in his first year there. Also, the Tigers only return five players who saw action in the championship game. That could be scary. We will see growing pains for sure, but they shocked everyone last year meaning we can’t count them out.

East Haven (16-4-0; lost in the Division I Quarterfinals to ND Fairfield)
Key Losses: Mike Falanga, Tristan Goodwin, Matt Longobardi, Jake DelGuidice, Tom Delucia, Dylan Butler
Key Returners: Sr. Devan Avena, G; Jr. Anthony Avallone, F; Sr. Tyler Moss, F; Sr. Mike Montesanto, D; Jr. Nick Latella, D; So. Peter Capone, F; So. Matt Latella, F
New Blood:
Outlook: Talk about a new look squad. Just about 90% of the Easties offensive production is gone. They have a new goalie, new top D pairings and a new division. The latter is probably the most relevant. Would East Haven be able to compete at the DI level with the loss of their top line of Falanga, Goodwin and Longobardi? No. But they should be scrappy enough to be able to scratch out enough wins to be towards the top of DII. Time will tell with the Jackets but there is some intriguing young talent on this team that could shine at a DII level.

Farmington Valley (4-16-0; did not qualify)
Key Losses: Nick Sanderson, Eric Welles, Dan Rider, Jack Wendler
Key Returners: Sr. Michael Arciero, F; Sr. Alden Piper, D; Sr. Jim McAuliffe, F; Sr. Tom McAuliffe, G; Sr. Kyle Sopelak, F
New Blood:
Outlook: After a 2-1 start last year the Generals thought they would be certainly locking up a playoff bid. That didn’t happen, they only won two more games the rest of the way (both against RMR) and endured an 11 game losing streak. With a strong group of seniors this year the team should improve slightly from a four win team a year ago. I only see a slight improvement, however.

Fairfield Co-op (7-13-0; lost in the Division II First Round to Amity)
Key Losses: Conor Scharlop, Jack O’Rourke, Austin Armas
Key Returners: Sr. Kyle Greenhut, G; Jr. Mike Grace, G; Sr. Zach Weinstein, D; Sr. Wade Petro, D; Jr. Charlie Pipper, D; Sr. Trevor Demilt, F; Sr. Matt Roberts, F; Jr. Owen Emmendorfer, F; Jr. Kevin Boldrighini, F
New Blood: Jr. Jake Fuss
Outlook: Fairfield brings in a new coach and new attitude to this season. Tom Roche (former North Haven coach) comes in and the Mustangs are eager to erase last season’s less than stellar taste in their mouth. They bring back strong goaltending in Greenhut and Grace as well as an elite D-core led by Zach Weinstein. On offense newcomer Jake Fuss could immediately be impactful and help out returning leading goal scorer Trevor Demilt. I think Fairfield will definitely improve on last year, how much remains to be seen.

Fermi-Enfield (6-13-1; lost in the Division II First Round to Branford)
Key Losses: Matt Boulette, Marc Richard, Nathan Marin, Jacob Quinn, Matt Roy
Key Returners: Jr. Sam Roy, G; Sr. Brian Riley, F; Sr. Ryan Gothers, D; Sr. Troy Martin, D
New Blood:
Outlook: Moving to the CCC South will at least on the surface help a team like Fermi-Enfield. But they will need to put the puck in the net and at the onset the loss of a player like Matt Boulette could be hard to replace. We know they are going to be defensively sound with Roy in net and Martin and Gothers on the back end but there will need to be contributions offensively from up and down the lineup if Fermi is going to be successful. They should improve on their 6 win season from a year ago simply because of their divisional move.

Guilford (5-15-0; did not qualify)
Key Losses: Will Dacey, Evan Powell, Carson Sperry
Key Returners: Jr. Stephen Thibault, F; Jr. Chris Cafiero, F; Sr. Jack Petrick, F; Sr. Kevin Gaudio, F; Sr. Ryan Brand, D; Jr. Matt Clifford, D; So. Kyle Dwyer, G
New Blood:
Outlook: Guilford should be improved. They return a top line of Thibault, Cafiero and Petrick as well as a goalie with a season under his belt. Do I think Guilford will contend for a DII title? No, but they won’t be missing out on the tournament again this year especially if Clifford, Brand and the rest of the D in front of Dwyer are strong.

Milford (11-8-1; lost in the Division II Semifinals to Amity)
Key Losses: Zach White, Will Vitelli, Ben Lavallee, Noah Ericson, John DePalma
Key Returners: Sr. Jarod Butts, D; Sr. Jonathan Depascale, D; Sr. David McLenithan, D; So. Andrew Gobany, F; Jr. Brandon Argyros, F; Sr. Brady Denigan, F
New Blood: Sr. Sean Rowland, G
Outlook: Milford will rely on some younger bodies to provide the offense this year with the graduation of all everything forward Zach White and perfect counter balance players Ben Lavallee and Will Vitelli. Look for Gobany to have a great second year. It’s never a bad thing to lean on senior defense and that’s just what the Indians have. One of the unknowns resides in Milford’s crease where NDF transfer goalie Sean Rowland takes over for DePalma and Ericson. Milford will have solid year with emerging stars in Gobany and Brandon Argyros.

New Milford (14-5-1; lost in the Division II Quarterfinals to Amity)
Key Losses: Steven Berry, Cole Case, Harrison O’Connell, Nick Capriglione
Key Returners: Sr. Jameson Steinhardt, D; Sr. Thomas Nisco, F; Sr. Logan Doud, F; Sr. Blaine McMahon; So. Payton Meyer
New Blood: Jr. Alex Fortuna, G, Fr. Nate Capriglione, F
Outlook: New Milford brings in a new coach this season, Scott Capriglione. If that name sounds familiar, he’s the father of last year’s goalie Nick. Capriglione played high school/college hockey in Minnesota and has coached in the area for a number of years. This is all well and good but he inherits a team that has lost a lot of fire power with Berry, Case and O’Connell all gone. Defensively the Wave should be sound and freshman Nate Capriglione could be very good. They will certainly have a new look this year, but should still be able to do enough to make states.

Newington-Berlin (16-3-1; lost in the Division II First Round to Daniel Hand)
Key Losses: Dan Roberts, Mike Davies, Tyler Mangiafico, Matt Harackiewicz, Kevin Landau
Key Returners: Sr. Dante Gugliotti, F; Sr. Marco DiPaola, F; Jr. Luca DiPaola, F; Sr. Mitch Pitkin; Jr. Aaron Lassen; Sr. Cam Criniti, G
New Blood: So. Alex Borselle, F; So. Paul Ciarcia, F
Outlook: Newington-Berlin certainly underachieved last year. A #4 overall seed in the Division II state tournament only to fall in the first round. The only thing that justified the lost was Daniel Hand running the table and eventually winning the whole thing. This year they should have some unfinished business on their mind. Sr. Cam Criniti will be in net and should be strong after a solid junior year. Senior forward Dante Gugliotti is one of the best at the DII level and is ready along with the DiPaola brothers to step out of the Dan Roberts, BJ Richard shadow. The Indians will be good yet again but will need to prove themselves at the DII level in the tourney.

North Branford (10-10-0; lost in the Division II First Round to North Haven)
Key Losses: Nick Johnson, Brendan Appi
Key Returners: So. Will McEwan, G; Sr. Alec Martone, F; Sr. Jordan Glenn; So. Brian McKee, F; Jr. Adam Burkle, F; Jr. Tanner Opie
New Blood: Sr. Chris Russo, D (Wolfpack)
Outlook: The T-Birds really didn’t lose a heck of a lot. This bodes well for them this year in a pretty dismantled DII field. They return a ton of depth with players like captains Alec Martone and Jordan Glenn. But they’re also very young with a bevy of underclassmen ready to step their game up on the big stage. We should definitely see a jump up from their 10 wins of a year ago especially with their competitive goaltender group headed by sophomore Will McEwan. If he falters Will Burke or even Tyler Odice are ready to jump in. Look for the T-Birds to do some damage this year.

North Haven (12-5-3; lost in the Division II Quarterfinals to Daniel Hand)
Key Losses: Chris Lion, Matt Bogart, Kyle VanBramer, Vin Fasulo, Joe D’Amico, Phil Gauvin, Mike Tantorski, Mike Hribko
Key Returners: Sr. Cam Owens, F; Sr. Tyler Luedee, F; Jr. Josh Back, D; Sr. Andrew Graziano, G
New Blood:
Outlook: Losing a player the caliber of Vin Fasulo definitely hurts North Haven’s chances but the Indians have never been a group solely relying on one player’s production. Add to that new coach Mike Silengo and the Indians may be ready for a new start or new approach. The steady net presence of Andrew Graziano is something that, if North Haven is to be successful, will be key. Like last year in a 12 win season, North Haven will be in the mix towards the end at the DII level, I’m just not sure they have enough pieces to be the last one standing at the end.

Bolton-Coventry-Rockville-RHAM (17-2-1; lost in the Division II First Round to New Milford)
Key Losses: Liam McGrath, Kevin Morton, Eddie Bates, Mason Madison, Hunter Byram, Nate Tonzi
Key Returners: Jr. Paul Bates, F; Jr. Calvin Tonzi, D; Jr. Connor McGrath, G; Sr. Scott Mocko, F; Jr. Ben Lavasseur, D
New Blood: So. Connor Morton, F
Outlook: BCR put together a 17 win season last year to only fall to a more battle tested New Milford squad in the first round.  Simply the seeding and 17 wins were mainly accrued due to a lighter schedule. This year’s schedule is very similar with 11 games against DIII opponents. This co-op will need to stack up wins there because they lost a ton of offensive depth. Paul Bates, Calvin Tonzi and sophomore Connor Morton will be able to put the puck in the net but it’ll be important for them to find other scoring options. If they don’t it could be a long year for BCR.

Suffield-Granby-Windsor Locks (14-5-1; lost in the Division II First Round to Cheshire)
Key Losses: Max Marson, Marc Adams,
Key Returners: Sr. Jake King, F; So. Jake Bourdeau, F; Jr. Colin MacDougald, F; Jr. Dan Bahl, F; So. Austin Rupp, F; So. Brendan Looney, F; Sr. Shane Kertanis, G; So. Craig Montemerlo, D; So. Vinny Breda, D; Sr. Austin Adams
New Blood:
Outlook: SGWL comes back loaded. Not only do they return all DII player Jake King, they return a stockpile of underclassmen talent like Jake Bourdeau, Austin Rupp, Colin MacDougald, Brendan Looney and Dan Bahl. They are strong on defense and return one of DII’s best goalies in senior Shane Kertanis. All the pieces are there for Nick Boorman’s club. They will play six games against Division I competition and look to be the easy favorite in the brand spankin new Nutmeg Hockey Conference (Woodstock Academy, Tri-Town, NFA-St. B’s, Eastern CT Eagles, Housy).

Trinity Catholic (14-5-1; lost in the Division II First Round to Milford)
Key Losses: Drew Scanlan, Will Egan, Colin Bernard (Brunswick), Kyle Odierno (Oilers), Eryk Wielgos (Oilers)
Key Returners: Sr. PJ Duddie, G; Sr. Griffin Northrop, F; Sr. Matt Carlson, Sr. Joey Nelson, Jr. Jordan Skiba; So. Quinn Thompson; So. Liam Shanahan
New Blood: Jr. Daniel Bernard; Fr. Kyle Bernard
Outlook: Trinity Catholic brings in an electric and dynamic new coach in 24 year old Jonny Chiapperino. Chiapperino brings a lot of hockey experience despite his young age playing overseas in Finland and Switzerland. This experience will hopefully help him early because he’s going to need it. The Crusaders’ losses are large with three talented underclassmen leaving early for prep and junior hockey. TC does return a competent group of senior skaters headed by the talented Griffin Northrop. Along with Northrop Chiapperino will lean on seniors Matt Carlson and Joey Nelson to bolster that top line. There are many new faces on this club this year and repeating last year’s 14 win season could be tough. However, I think Chiapperino will have this group ready to compete each night and ride senior PJ Duddie, often in Kyle Odierno’s shadow, to success.

Trumbull (4-16-0; did not qualify)
Key Losses: Alex Pierne
Key Returners: Sr. Sam Watson, D; Sr. Jake Crowe, D; Sr. Nick Cirino; Sr. Matt Sarosky, F; Sr. Mike Cullen, F; So. Brady Jensen, F; Sr. Francis Fromageot, G; So. Will Guttman, G
New Blood:
Outlook: Trumbull had a rough year last year, not qualifying for the state tournament only two years removed from winning the whole thing. They didn’t lose much, however. They return a big group of seniors who are hungry and willing to do the small things to be able to win. I think they’ll be especially strong on defense led by Sam Watson and Jake Crowe. Expect senior Francis Fromageot to get most of the starts in net but if he slips up sophomore Will Guttman will be ready to take over.

Watertown-Pomperaug (5-14-1; did not qualify)
Key Losses: Jon Manzer, Seamus Conway,
Key Returners: Jr. Brian Manzer; Sr. Mike Foschi; Sr. Ray Borsari; Sr. Carl LaRosa, G
New Blood: So. Ryan Dunfee; So. Peter Jorgensen
Outlook: We’re not that far removed from Watertown-Pomperaug being a serious force in the SWC. I mean, back in March of 2013 they won the title beating BBD convincingly at the Danbury Ice Arena. Times have changed for the team with the sweet orange and black take on the Blackhawks logo. This year, though, they have to improve on last year’s 5-14-1 finish, don’t they? They should. Senior goalie Carl LaRosa could be a difference for the co-op while leaders like Brian Manzer and Mike Foschi need to take control of this young inexperienced team. I do not see WP reaching the tourney with how things currently are but they are on the brink of starting to creep back to relevance.

Wilton (5-12-3; lost in the Division II First Round to East Catholic)
Key Losses: Joe Cullinan, Josh Worley, Christian Hansson (out for year, injury), Derek Prario
Key Returners: Sr. Kyle Jonas, F; Sr. Jameson Hill, D; Sr. David Craven, F; Sr. Mark Donahue, D; Sr. Luke Rizzo, F; Sr. Edward Zawislak, F; Sr. Kyle Buckley, G
New Blood: Fr. John Fung, F

Outlook: Wilton crawled into the postseason last year with a 5-12-3 overall record only to get throttled by East Catholic in the first round. This year the team returns a ton of experience with 12 seniors on the roster including new netminder Kyle Buckley who will take over for the graduated Derek Prario. They will be without the services of senior Christian Hansson who’s out for the year with a torn ACL. Kyle Jonas and David Craven will be looked upon to provide the bulk of the scoring while the back end will be protected by seniors Jameson Hill and Mark Donahue. While I think you can’t replace what a player like Joey Cullinan brought to the ice and the locker room, I think Wilton will improve this year. You can’t go wrong with that much senior leadership right?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Division I Team Preview Capsules

Welcome back to another season of high school hockey here in Connecticut! Below you will find information pertinent to this season's action, teams and players… Enjoy! Division II and III to be released this weekend!

DIVISION I (2013-14 record; tournament result)
Darien (17-2-1; lost in the Division I State Championship to Fairfield Prep)
Key Losses:  Tommy Waters, Owen Koorbusch, Jack Massie, Mike Colon
Key Returners: Sr. Will Massie, G; Sr. Jack Pardue, F; Sr. Craig Miller F; Sr. Nic Tuzinkiewicz, D; Jr. Sam Knowlton, D; Sr. Aidan Loh, D; Sr. Brendan Cassidy, D
New Blood: Jr. Jake Kirby (top line talent in from CT Oilers)
Outlook: Darien was on the verge of their first title since 1969, facing off against vaunted Fairfield Prep in overtime. A bounce here or a bounce there could've put them over that hump, but it didn't go that way. The Jesuits toppled the upset minded Wave winning their second straight title. Darien was left with feelings of what could've been. This year they return a strong group of experienced seniors ready to reclaim some of last season's glory and reclaim that moment in the sun. They'll do this with a new goalie in net. Senior Will Massie will take over for graduated net minder Mike Colon. The Wave will rely on a top line of seniors Jack Pardue, Craig Miller and possibly junior newcomer Jake Kirby, a player who formerly played for the CT Oilers and is expected to contribute right away. Darien is deep on D and should be right in the thick of things come the end of the season.

East Catholic (14-5-1; lost in the Division II semifinals to Daniel Hand)
Key Losses: Brian O’Connell, Griffin Casey, Patrick Bishop, Tommy Usseglio
Key Returners: Sr. Lee Munson F; Sr. Jake McCarthy, F; Sr. Alex Manner, F; Jr. Liam Donahue, F; Sr. Steven Murray, D; Sr. John Peters, D; Jr. Cam Lauzon, D
New Blood: So. Joe Sitarz, G (Wethersfield transfer netminder)
Outlook: East Catholic is coming off an underachieving final Division II season where they earned the number one overall seed come tournament time only to fall to eventual DII champ Daniel Hand in the semis in less than impressive fashion. The adjustment to Division I is easier now than it’s been in the past in terms of competing on a nightly basis. Climbing over the giants that stand atop the division come tournament time is another story. Losing senior goalie Thomas Usseglio will hurt the Eagles and a lot of pressure early on will be on incoming goalie Joe Sitarz. East Catholic plays 6 of their 7 first in state games against Division I competition. They return strong offensive leadership in seniors Lee Munson, Jake McCarthy and Alex Manner as well as a solid D core headed by Steven Murray and John Peters. Their success could come from the goal mouth out and with a difficult schedule from top to bottom, a bad start would prove disastrous for the Eagles.

Fairfield Prep (12-4-3; won the Division I State Championship)
Key Losses: Mat Wikman, Dean Lockery, Kenny Kochiss, Matt McKinney, Steven Bayles, Mike Ventricelli (Westminster), Brendon Killoy (Avon), Billy Overby (Choate), Jack Hoey (Choate), Matt Beck, Chris Gutierrez
Key Returners: Sr. Ryan Deering, F; Jr. Justin Blanchette, F; Sr. Vinny D’Amore, D; Sr. Jack Taubl, G; Jr. Will Schlichtig, F; Jr. Jack Quinn, F; Jr. Geoff Hadden, D
New Blood: Fr. Skyler Celotto, F; So. Chris Brown, F; So. Brennan Henry, F; Fr. Devin Blanchette, F; Fr. Cole Casl, D
Outlook: Prep won back to back state titles last season and their third in four years. With that, they lost a ton of players, a ton of talent and would appear to be in a rebuilding mode. I mean they lost 163 of 196 points scored including their top five scorers. Not so fast, this happens nearly every year for the Jesuits and they seem to rebound just fine.  They seem to have a way of turning previous season’s role players into legit studs. Look for Justin Blanchette to elevate his game this year, his junior year. Senior Ryan Deering and the big bodied junior Will Schlichtig should also put together strong years. Freshman Skyler Celotto of Westport has the chance to be a difference maker right off the bat for the Jesuits as well. With the graduations of Matt Beck and Chris Gutierrez, senior Jack Taubl will be tasked with taking over the goaltending reins. But knowing Sather, a pair of underclassmen could also see some net time. I will never question Prep’s preparedness, talent or will to win. The swagger that they carry onto the ice each time out has them as a natural favorite yet again. It may take a little while for this unit to gel with so many losses, but I believe Coach Sather and co. will have this group ready to go for a three-peat come tournament time.

Glastonbury (15-5-0; lost in the Division I quarterfinals to Fairfield Prep)
Key Losses: Jack Pizzo, Isaac Ward, Patrick Conley
Key Returners: Sr. Kyle Thibodeaux, G; Sr. Tyler Maclean, F; Jr. Adam Yeager, F; Sr. Logan Underwood, D; Sr. Shane Mack, F; Sr. Carter Henderson, D;
New Blood: So. Cam Repoza, F; So. Joe Deluca, D
Outlook: Glastonbury quietly put together a 15 win season last year and nearly upset Fairfield Prep at Bennett in the quarters. The outlook looks positive for the Tomahawks this season and why shouldn’t it with returning senior goalie Kyle Thibodeaux in net? Thibodeaux proved he is one of the strongest netminders in the state and Glastonbury’s success will rest squarely on his shoulders. He will be helped by a strong group of forwards lead by senior Tyler Maclean, a 26 point scorer a year ago and junior Adam Yeager (18 points last year). Seniors Logan Underwood and Shane Mack will be leaned upon as players who will need to elevate their games going from their junior to season seasons. Glastonbury still seems to be a few bodies short to ultimately compete but with Thibodeaux in net, crazier things could happen.

Greenwich (9-10-1; lost in the Division I First Round to Darien)
Key Losses: Luke Finneran, Mark Schmeiler
Key Returners: Sr. Matt Lodato, F; Sr. Ian Fulton, F; Sr. Tommy Rogan, D; Sr. Kevin Piotrzkowski, D; Sr. Brian Archino, G; Jr. Nick Bozzuto, G
New Blood: Fr. Oliver Fulton, Fr. Matt Bougher, Sr. Phillip Glasser
Outlook: The Cardinals took a step toward returning to relevance last season going a competitive 9-10-1 before battling Darien in a tough 3-1 loss in the DI first round. The Cardinals return a large number of contributing bodies from last year’s squad. This includes a ton of senior leadership in the form of forwards Matt Lodato, Ian Fulton and Tommy Rogan. On defense, senior Kevin Piotrzkowski is one of those Fairfield County hidden gems. A great puck mover and penetrator, he will be key for the Cardinals. Greenwich will be in for a good old fashioned goalie battle between Nick  Bozzuto and Brian Archino. It appears Archino will be given the first nod. If the Cardinals can weather an early difficult stretch of games (West Haven, New Canaan, St. Joseph, Xavier) they are greeted with quite a few against DII-III FCIAC clubs. This is a team who still seems a few pieces away from being a contender but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least bit if they finish over .500 this year in a very even DI field.

Hamden (6-13-1; lost in the Division I First Round to Fairfield Prep)
Key Losses: John Battick, Stephen Pantera, Dan Chicoine, Anthony Rascati
Key Returners: Sr. Sam Carignan, F/D; So. Jeremy Routh, F; Sr. Matt Barnett; F; Sr. Mike DeMatteis, F; Sr. Jimmy Magson, F; Sr. Aidan Smyth, D; Sr. Tim Gontarski, D; So. Jake Blackwell, F; Jr. Christian Ugolik, F; Jr. Anthony Hernandez, F; Sr. Eric Perez, D
New Blood: Jr. Colin Burke, G (transfer from NDWH)
Outlook: For the first time in a few years Hamden’s line chart won’t be drastically different. They will lose steady contributions from forwards John Battick and Anthony Rascati and rock solid D from the graduated Dan Chicoine and the early exit of Stephen Pantera but for the most part the Dragons have a lot of pieces that make you feel good about them coming into this campaign. They return sophomore Jeremy Routh who had a great freshman season, seniors Matt Barnett and Mike DeMatteis as well as key role players like senior Jimmy Magson, junior Christian Ugolik and sophomore Jake Blackwell who’s freshman season was cut short due to injury. On the back end Hamden is a bit thinner with seniors Eric Perez, Aidan Smyth and Tim Gontarski manning the point. Senior Sam Carignan, one of Hamden’s leading point scorers from a year ago, will give it a go on defense this season. Look for junior Anthony Hernandez to step and contribute on offense this year. The goalie situation is an odd one for Hamden. Chris Feldman graduated which left Hamden with Logan Cathey as the incumbent. Cathey dealt with some off ice health issues this summer which cut his hockey career short leaving sophomore Stephen Richitelli and NDWH transfer junior Colin Burke as the lead candidates to man the pipes. At this point it appears that Burke will have to sit out ten games due to the transfer rule. Hamden’s success could rely on their stalwartness in net.

New Canaan (15-4-1; lost in the Division I Quarterfinals to NDWH)
Key Losses: Harry Stanton, Jack O’Rourke, Mac Wright, Peter Reinhardt, Stephen Mettler
Key Returners: Sr. Patrick Hompe, F; Sr. Ted O’Rourke D; Sr. Peter Katz, F; Sr. JP McMahon, D
New Blood: So. Peter Wyndas, G; Liam Mooney, G
Outlook: New Canaan seems to reload with the best of them but losing a player like Harry Stanton and the supporting cast of guys like Stephen Mettler, Jack O’Rourke, Peter Reinhardt and goalie Mac Wright could be a tall task. New coach Pat Gore has his work cut out for him but definitely has some strong pieces to build with including senior Patrick Hompe. New Canaan has some defensive depth as well in the forms of Ted O’Rourke and JP McMahon. With Wright’s graduation another goalie battle will take place with sophomores Peter Wyndas and Liam Mooney going at it. Gore has been adamant at least early on in saying that he would ride the hot hand and stick with the platoon.

Northwest Catholic (10-8-2; lost in the Division I First Round to New Canaan)
Key Losses: Jesse McLain, Demitri Yao, John Arel, Zeke Angelini
Key Returners: Jr. Mike Camasso, G; So. Tucker Alissi, F; Sr. Tyler Noll, F; So. Anthony Ceolin, F; Jr. Henry McKenna, F; Sr. Josh Stumpf, D; Jr. JJ Foster, D; Jr. Anthony Gianonne, D
New Blood:
Outlook: Northwest Catholic lost certain firepower with the exits of McLain and Yao. This will be hard to replicate which may cause the Indians to stylistically change their approach. They are solid gold on D with two extremely solid D lines headed by Josh Stumpf, JJ Foster and Anthony Gianonne. Junior goalie Mike Camasso played every game for the Indians last season and he is back for more. If this unit is solid, Northwest Catholic’s chances of success increase. However, on the offensive side of the puck, the team is young and inexperienced. Their top four leading scorers are all gone. Defenseman Stumpf is actually their returning leading scorer with 10 points last year. Look for youngsters Anthony Ceolin and Tucker Alissi to take that needed next step as well as some senior leadership and offensive potency from Tyler Noll. Regardless of how this year goes for NWC, be sure to circle these dates: January 10th and February 7th. These will be the first regular season meetings between rivals East Catholic and Northwest Catholic at the Division I level…must sees.
Notre Dame- Fairfield (15-4-1; lost in the Division I Semifinals to Darien)
Key Losses: Zac Bouve, Justin Krochko, Jesse Burns Christian La Croix, Dan Walsh, Greg Ferris, Garrett Gintoli, Craig Hessenius
Key Returners: Sr. Jon Suporn, F; Sr. Justin Dupuis, F; Sr. Seamus O’Rourke, D; Sr. Nick Carloto, F; Sr. Ryan Gawricki,  D; Sr. Brendan Barger, D; Sr. Adam Dawe, F; Sr. Zach Stepkoski, F; Jr. Tyler Henchcliffe, F; Jr. Mark Russo, F
New Blood: Sr. Landon Gabriele, Owen Kane, Connor McCutcheon, Max Lagasse, Mike Antoniou, Tyler English So. Billy Skoville, So. Charlie Capalbo
Outlook: The Lancers return a nucleus of forwards and enough D that they should legitimately contend this season. They return senior Jonny Suporn, one of the state’s best forwards. Also, look for seniors Justin Dupuis and Nick Carloto to take on a bigger role this season with the loss of La Croix, Walsh and Gintoli on the front end. In goal, the Lancers will see some new faces. Sophomores Billy Skoville and Charlie Capalbo will battle to see who can take the reins. Overall, the Lancers will be a very tough out and if Seamus O’Rourke and co. can be defensively sound, the offense should be enough.

Notre Dame-West Haven (13-5-1; lost in the Division I Semifinals to Fairfield Prep)
Key Losses: Matt Dumas, Kyle Lynch, Ryan Lynch, Jimmy Davins, Pat Francis, Casey Hoban, Anthony Iovene, Eric Austin
Key Returners: Sr. Wade Conlan, G; Jr. Colin O’Connor, D; So. Alec Andreucci, F; Jr. Joe Ansaldo, F; Jr. Paddy Connors, D; Sr. Nick Abate, D
New Blood: Jr. Doug Caliendo, So. Vinny Paiollilo
Outlook: Things will certainly look different for Tim Belcher’s second year at the helm. The loss of Dumas/Lynch 2X will definitely hurt and will be nearly irreplaceable. If NDWH is going to be successful this year they’ll have to do things a little differently. They are fairly strong on defense, headed by Colin O’Connor, a player with prep school talent, who’s hanging around for another year. Conlan is as strong as they get in terms of returning goaltending talent. Look for a breakout year from Alec Andreucci who had a strong freshman campaign last season. At the end of the day NDWH is still a power. They may take their licks early, but should be considered a contender until they prove otherwise.

Ridgefield (16-4-0; lost in the Division I First Round to South Windsor)
Key Losses: Sam Sarath, Callan McCormick, John Tregurtha
Key Returners: Sr. Liam Smith, F; Sr. Shane Luery, F; Sr. Paul Garlick, F; Sr. Brad Alexander, F; Sr. Alex Fugazy, F; Sr. Brandon Winne, F; Sr. Patrick Sheehan-Delany, G; Sr. Alec Schneider, G; Sr. Matt Keegans, D; Sr. Ryan Hallahan, F
New Blood:
Outlook: Ridgefield was bounced unceremoniously early in last year’s playoffs, falling to underdog South Windsor. Retribution will surely be on the mind of this talented FCIAC club. Along with Darien and New Canaan, the Tigers will again be in the mix for the conference title. They return an abundance of capable forwards with senior Liam Smith headlining a group that is likely to have a different hero each night. In net two seniors, Pat Sheehan-Delany and Alec Schneider will battle for crease position. I have no doubt this team will post some quality wins this year, stock up on wins against weaker FCIAC clubs and have a good seed in the Division I tourney. What they do after that is anybody’s guess.

Simsbury (7-12-1; lost in the Division I First Round to NDWH)
Key Losses: Curt Eustis, Nolan Thompson, Pete Sconzo, James Foster
Key Returners: Sr. Hunter Thompson, F; So. Riley Chapman, F; Jr. Zach Levin, F; Jr. Ben Levin, F; Jr. Jake Arnold, F; So. Willem Rooney, D; Jr. Nate McIntyre, D; So. Drew Marquis, G
New Blood:
Outlook: Simsbury should be improved this season. They are a year older with 10 underclassmen coming back with a year of experience under their belt. Eustis was one of the stronger D-men a the Division I level last year so replacing him won’t be an easy task but they have a strong group ready to battle. The Trojans never wow anybody in terms of being a flashy group but they are as hardworking as any. Hunter Chapman and Riley Chapman head this unit of blue collar type of kids. Look for Marquis to have a strong year in net and for the Trojans to certainly improve on their 7-12-1 mark of a year ago.

South Windsor (8-10-2; lost in the Division I Quarterfinals to Darien)
Key Losses: Bryan Bakas, Nick Jones, Connor Minguy
Key Returners: Jr. Scott Skenyon, G; Sr. Patrick Lawson, F; Sr. Tyler Dowdy, F; Sr. Sean King, F; Jr. Scott Swan
New Blood:
Outlook: South Windsor shocked the high school hockey world last year when they upset Ridgefield in the first round of the state tournament. For a team that battled all year long, the victory was well deserved. Scott Skenyon was excellent in that game and throughout the year for the Bobcats and the junior will have to be as strong in goal this year for them to have a fighting chance. The Bobcats have lost 8 starters from last year’s 8-win club. Big questions abound as to where the production lost in the graduation of Bakas, Jones and Minguy will come from. Only time will tell for this group but at the end of the day it’s refreshing to see them sticking it out at the DI level.

St. Joseph (7-12-1; lost in the Division I First Round to ND-Fairfield)
Key Losses: Ryan Corcoran, Colin Powell, Sean Hurley, Dom Derosa
Key Returners: Sr. Filippo Petrini, F; So. Adam Usinger, F; Jr. Nick Disabella, F; Sr. Justice Cook, D; Sr. Dylan Batterson, G
New Blood: Ryan Wilson, G
Outlook: The Cadets had less than a stellar year last season showing how irreplaceable players like Keator and Gore were. This year they will have to deal with the loss of some top scorers in Ryan Corcoran, Colin Powell and Dom Derosa. Powell and Derosa both opted out of their senior seasons. They will be lead on offense by sophomore Adam Usinger and senior captain Filippo Petrini. Also look for Nick Disabella to contribute. They will need to find scoring with a very young D-core protecting the back end. Senior Justice Cook will be one of the lone senior leaders in this unit. The crease is currently senior Dylan Batterson’s to man but look for freshman Ryan Wilson to push for playing time. Times appear to be tough in Cadet land. A home game in the playoffs looks iffy unless some unsung heroes emerge.

West Haven (11-8-1; lost in the Division I First Round to East Haven)
Key Losses: Alex Scranton, Jaeson Puleo, Joe Ayala, Pete Lynn, Matt Kelly
Key Returners: Sr. Mike Savino, G; Sr. Devin Hines, D; Sr. Don Froehlich, D; Sr. Wyatt Condon, F; Sr. Kevin Coyle, F; Sr. Jake Lynch, F
New Blood: Fr. Colin Braziel
Outlook: As blue collar and hard working as they come; That’s been West Haven’s mantra each of the past few seasons. Things will be no different this year. Joe Morrell’s crew will need to win the war of attrition in order to defeat some teams that, on paper, are more talented. The Westies will do this from the net mouth out where senior leader and stud netminder Mike Savino resides. His success will be the Westies’ success this year. On offense leading goal scorer senior Wyatt Condon returns. The Blue Devils are strong on the back end with senior leadership in the forms of Devin Hines and Donny Froehlich. This is a team that you like to see win only because of how hard they work for it. I think the Westies have a similar year to last year finishing at or above .500 but with Savino in net, could certainly shock some big boys on any given night.

Xavier (7-10-2; lost in the Division I First Round to Glastonbury)
Key Losses: Paul Hotchkiss, Sean Johnson, John Burkinshaw, Andrew Meoli, Bryan Stanton
Key Returners: Sr. Adam Aresco, F; Sr. Hunter Wilcox, F; Sr. David Piekut, F; Jr. Cam Pollack, F; Sr. Ben Guidobono, G; So. Jared Guidobono, G; Sr. John Ford, D
New Blood:

Outlook: Xavier’s task will be lofty this season. The Falcons lost 10 seniors from last year’s 7 win club and play one of the state’s most difficult schedules with only one game outside of DI and matchups with LaSalle Academy (RI) and St. John’s-Shrewsbury (MA). They will look for Ben Guidobono to man the pipes with his brother, sophomore Jared, right behind him. On offense look for David Piekut to have a breakout senior campaign playing up front with seniors Hunter Wilcox and Adam Aresco. I am also expecting big things out of junior Cam Pollack. Xavier has some pieces to be successful but at least at the on set has a lot going against them.