Boys Prep Hockey – East Independents Team Previews: Cushing, Dexter Strong Again; Austin Prep To Make NEPSAC Debut

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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Once again, Cushing and Dexter Southfield will have strong teams. Phillips Andover and Phillips Exeter will feature solid squads. Winchendon will impress with a fast team, while making its NEPSAC debut this winter will be Austin Prep. Cushing and Dexter Southfield face off against each other to open the season on November 30.


Coach: John McLean

Conor Griffin
Austin Prep

After many years of being a dominant program in the Massachusetts HS hockey landscape, the Cougars have made the move into the NEPSAC scene and hope to be competitive right off the bat with what will be a young team.

Michael Bevilacqua Austin Prep

The team will have many new faces in the forward group. Leadership should come from returning senior Drew Thibodeau, and new junior Michael Bevilacqua.

Junior Derek Daley and sophomore Conor Griffin are solid on the blue line, as are junior Fischer Niehaus and sophomore Nathan Carlson.

In goal, both senior Nathan DeRoche and junior Marty Pierce are back from last year’s varsity squad.

CUSHING (17-7-3)

Coach: Paul Pearl

It was a solid first year for coach Pearl a season ago, as his Penguins made it to the Elite 8 playoffs. To navigate a rugged schedule and possibly return to the Elite tournament, Pearl says consistency throughout the year will be key.

Leading the attack for Cushing will be a pair of blue-chip juniors in Landan Resendes, a Boston College commit, and Ethan Gardula, who has committed to UConn. Both are coming off impressive sophomore campaigns. Senior Linas Dedinas, a native of Lithuania, will be involved in a big way as well. Two program newcomers who look to make a splash are post-grad Jack Costanzo, and Emerson Marshall, both from Gloucester, MA.

Defensively, senior Ryan Philbrick stepped right in last season, his first at Cushing, and was a huge part of the blueline. The UNH commit will be an anchor this winter, as will fellow senior Zack Rizzo.

In the goalie room, senior Luke Rizzello (limited action last year) is joined by senior Cooper Rautenstrauch and junior Aidan Foley.


Coach: Dan Donato

With a stellar defensive group and solid between the pipes, the key for the Shields lies up front. If they can score on a consistent basis, they will be hard to beat. “We have a lot of depth up front and will need some guys to have good seasons to ensure our team success,” coach Donato said.

Brayden Naumann Dexter Southfield

Offensively, the team lost Grayson Badger to the USHL, but do return key guys in senior Connor Sutherland (17 pts), senior Brayden Naumann, senior Joe Hurton, senior Shane Dwan, junior Cullen Emery (13 pts) and sophomore Nate Porter. A pair of new players ready to step in are juniors Ben Morgan (Chelmsford HS) and Ian Burke (Newton).

Ben Morgan
Dexter Southfield

The blue line core features no less than three Division 1 commits in senior Sean Keohane (23 pts – Harvard), and juniors Jon Lanza (Yale) and Liam O’Keefe (Holy Cross). Senior Mick Frechette is another solid returner for the Shields. A newcomer to the program is junior Carson Nickulas from Barnstable, MA.

Dexter Southfield will boast a pair of solid netminders in senior returner Max Gatti and new senior Pat Dalessio.


Coach: Paul Tortorella

Being aggressive on the offensive attack could dictate how the Big Blue fares this winter. Coach Tortorella, now in his 10th season at Andover, feels his team will have strong defense and goaltending.

The top two returning forwards project to be senior Nolan Roche (17 pts) and senior Joey Zheng (13 pts). Post-grad Reid Maletesta (Arlington HS) and new junior Ethan Skowronek (St. Alban’s, VA) will add to the offense.

On the blue line, senior veterans Bobby Corkery (18 pts) and Rory Booth (17 pts) like to get involved offensively as well. Senior Dan Rekoske also returns to the solid group. Joining the group is post-grad Bobby Falvey (Hingham HS), who has committed to Colby.

In goal, sophomore Chase Anderson and new junior Ben Skowronek (St. Alban’s, VA) will give Andover an impressive rotation.


Coach: Tim Mitropoulos

The Big Red reached the Large School semifinals a year ago. They lost some firepower up front, but will be strong in the defensive unit and between the pipes.

Aidan McDonnell Exeter

Despite losing a bunch of talent up front, there is still a good nucleus returning, led by junior Christian Maro, who put up 27 pts a year ago. Also back and ready to go are senior Cam Guthrie and juniors Riley Piersimoni, Eli Pendergrass, Baron Masopust and Beau Elson. Look for post-grad Aidan McDonnell (BC High) to step right in.

A formidable senior trio will control things on the blue line in Mike Durkin, Jack O’Brien and Dyan Shapiro. Post-grad Johnny Johannson (Sunfish Lake, MN) and new junior Leo Wites (Lighthouse PT, FL) will add sold depth.

In goal, senior Michael Salvatore was among the prep’s best in 2021-22.

Colby Lyons Winchendon


Coach: Brian Troy

Expect the Wapiti to have a very high level of compete, and coach Troy says speed and toughness will be the name of the game.

Up front, the returning group for Winchendon includes seniors Cole Roenick and Liam Forsyth, and juniors Brendan Coughlin, Brock Bergeron, Eli Deener-Chodiker and Willem Dumais. Some youngsters to keep an eye on are sophomores Aidan Westphalen and Trevor Pellechia, and freshman Benjamin Short.

Senior Benjamin Andersen, senior Colby Lyons and junior Jake Freelove are the key returners on the blue line. Look for post-grad Maddox Gagne (Salisbury) to step right in.

A returning goalie for the Wapiti is sophomore Giovanni Calvanese.

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