Berwick Academy (13-17-1) joins the Independent ranks this winter, and thus will have a more challenging schedule to face. But with the majority of the team returning, the Bruins are in good position.
Scoring projects to come from the likes of seniors Jackson Sidford (31 pts), Ryan Gaulin (26 pts) and Greg Stohrer (25 pts). Sophomores Tyler Gaulin and Chris Dowd are coming off solid freshman seasons.
Senior rock Tanner Derby and sophomore Zander Lizotte are solid cornerstones defensively for head coach Jeoff Jarnot. Sophomore Connor Derby is ready for an increased blue line role.
New sophomore Alex Ramsey joins the Berwick goaltending mix.
It will be a blast from the past at Small School Tournament finalist Cushing (13-14-2) where longtime head coach Steve Jacobs returns to the bench for the Penguins. A key will be how the team comes together with a new coaching staff.
Jacobs inherits a solid group of returners. The forward lines welcome back seniors Vilho Saariluoma (Finland native), Matt Guerra, Matt McGrath and Michael Outzen, and juniors Cam Recchi, Patrick Borella and Andy Ide. New sophomores Wyatt Strahan and Jake Hewitt are amongst a host of young newcomers vying for a varsity jersey.
The defense will be experienced, as the Penguins return junior and Wisconsin commit Patrick Keegan, veteran seniors Cam Berube, Nolan McElhaney and Gino Bastone, junior Brad Zona and sophomore Brendan O’Donnell.
In goal, returning sophomore Joe Sharib has the inside track on the starting job. New sophomore Max Caouette will be in the fight.
There is plenty of optimism at Dexter Southfield (22-4-3), where coach Dan Donato’s club returns some talented players, and brought in some impressive newcomers.
A pretty imposing forward group will be led by seniors Jack Nisbet (33 pts), Ian Murphy (31 pts) and Nolan Donato (16 pts), along with sophomores Chase McInnis (24 pts) and Johnny McElaney (20 pts), who both had solid freshman campaigns. Keep an eye on a trio of newcomers in John Farinacci (a Harvard commit). Aidan Connolly and Ben Raymond.
Senior veteran Jack Rathbone, a Harvard commit and Vancouver draft choice, anchors things defensively. Sophomores Ben Meehan (committed to UMass Lowell) and John Fusco are two more key returners on the blue line.
Newcomer Derek Mullaly, also a Harvard commit, should give Dexter-Southfield a solid presence in goal.
A quick transition to prep school hockey from the incoming players, along with improved depth on defense and strong leadership from the senior class will go a long way for Hebron Academy (12-17-0).
Holdovers Luke Grainger (senior, 44 pts) and Declan Dennehy (junior, 27 pts) are offensive leaders for second-year head coach Casey Ftorek. Post-grad Anthony Carella, senior Joe Bisson and sophomores Spencer Ryall and Alex Matho all look to make an immediate impression up front.
On defense, the Lumberjacks have returning senior Sean Kimura to be a key presence. New juniors Nick Bisson and Anthony Toto hope to have key roles.
Senior Justus Kujala looks to take over the starting goaltender’s job.
Kents Hill (15-19-1) will have an older team this winter and will look to get off to a good start to the season.
Senior Nick Garneau (21 pts) and senior Frank Vitucci (10pts) are two key returners up front for coach Doug Friedman. They will be bolstered by the influx of post-grads Jay Gallagher, Joey O’Leary, Jack Grady and Pat Sunderland.
There will be lots of experience on the back line, buoyed by the return of seniors Olivier Lemire (18pts), Etienne Crousie (18 pts) and Jared Valade (17 pts). Post-grad Matt Ricci should pay immediate dividends.
In goal, returning senior Jaxon Friedman will be joined by post-grad Danny Santiano.
At Phillips Andover (15-9-2), coach Paul Tortorella is looking to continue the improvement the program made last winter. An impressive group of newcomers will be a help with that.
Up front, seniors Quinn Doyle (18 pts) and Jack Cusack (10 pts) and junior Christian Powers (24 pts) are key holdovers expecting to have even better years. First-year players who will have key roles in the attack are post-grads Dante Maribito, Kyle Hentosh and Kevin Ouellette, juniors Thomas Manty and Jonathan Assayag, sophomores Dawson Arkell and freshman Matt Veneri.
Senior Bryce Murphy and junior Carter Giampietro form a reliable returning tandem on the blue line., which will be bolstered with the arrival of post-grad Christian Kukas, junior Mark Meinecke and sophomore Mike Gallagher.
In the nets, senior veteran Alex Daccord and new sophomore Chris Archer will battle for the starting job.
The play of a young and rather inexperienced defense crew could well dictate the fortunes of Phillips Exeter (24-7-1) this season, according to longtime head coach Dana Barbin.
Up front, senior co-captains Kyle Jadatz (40 pts) and Sam Stone (23 pts) and senior Bobby Murray (37 pts) will be offensive catalysts. Juniors Garrett Foster, Paddy Bogart and Michael Pitts will be involved offensively as well. Joining the forward group are post-grads Peter Scheshareg, Ted Aiken and Nick Epperson and juniors Andrew Seaman and Ethan Abraham.
The Big Red will have three returners on the blue line in senior Andrew McGurrin and juniors Gray Betts and Reese Popkin. Post-grad Max Alsarraf will be counted on heavily in the rotation.
Sophomore goalie Ryan Welch, who amassed over 1300 minutes between the pipes last winter as a ninth grader, is back, along with senior Will Douthit.
It will be a new era for St. Paul’s (7-16-3), which goes independent this winter and does so with a new head coach in former Taft School mentor Danny Murphy.
Murphy will have no less than nine returning forwards to work with in seniors Ryan Peck, Garth McLaughlin, Daniel Reuben, Jake Demers, Reid Clemmenson and Matt Deegan, and juniors James Orne, John Saklad and Ty Green. New junior Eric Sinson joins the group.
Defensively, seniors Julien Menes, Jordan Michaud and Hubert Bourque, and junior Riley Drew return for another campaign for the Big Red. Adding to the mix are new juniors Teddy McElhaney and Max Dumas and sophomore Jack Hepp.
New junior Andy Beran will look to gain some key minutes between the pipes.
Winchendon (14-11-3) is coming off a solid campaign and looks to do better in 2017-2018. The Wapiti did lose two of their top three scorers who moved on to the USHL.
Four returning forwards will be instrumental in any success the Wapiti have this winter. They are seniors Cam Gendron (31 pts), Justin Alves (25 pts) and Danny Allen (11 pts) and junior Devin Moran (16 pts). New sophomore Danny Cavanagh will look to have a role.
Looking for key minutes on the blue line is post-grad rearguard Matt Rickard.
Post-grad James Corcoran projects to be a key presence in goal for coach Jarrett Sampson.