Once again, night in and night out Keller Division games will be a dogfight, no matter the opponent. Defending champion Belmont Hill will be on the young side this year.
One new coach in the league is at Milton Academy, where Jim Gaudet has taken over for veteran coach Paul Cannata.
BELMONT HILL (20-7-3)
Graduation has taken a big hit so the Hillies will be on the young side this winter. Coach Brian Phinney says there will be a lot of opportunities for people to step into bigger roles on the club.
A leader up front will be senior Jake McManus, who has committed to Williams. Senior Grayson Cohen will be vital to the BH blue line. Junior Andrew Waugh returns up front and expects to be a factor.
The top two goalies do return in junior Keagin Wilson and sophomore JJ Thibodeau.
GOVERNORS ACADEMY (9-11-9)
With a solid core nucleus returning, the Govs eye a return to the post-season, as well as being a factor in the Keller Division race.
What should be an impressive offensive attack for coach Brian McGuirk will be led by returning seniors Cam Russo (Brown commit), Michael Ranaldi, Tyson Scanlon and Alec Babineau. Junior Kye Smyrnios and sophomore Ford Sullivan are ready for increased roles.
On the blue line, junior Ian Crowley leads a crew that will include returning seniors Max Vieira and Matthew Collina and sophomore Cooper Schuwerk. Newcomers Fischer Niehaus (Austin Prep) and Mikey Mansfield (Berwick) will bolster the defensive group.
In goal, last year’s anchor, Max Lacroix, has graduated. A pair of newcomers with sights on the job are junior Zach Ericson and freshman Timmy Heaslip.
LAWRENCE ACADEMY (13-11-4)
Fresh off a Large School title, the Spartans will hit the ground running for the 23-24 season.
Coach Robbie Barker returns his top two scorers in senior Owen Leahy and senior Brendan Hirsch. Senior Spencer Hirsch was fourth in scoring a year ago and is another key cog in the lineup. Junior Ty Wood is also coming off a solid campaign and will be an important part of the offense.
Senior Shawn Leary is a key fixture on the Lawrence Academy blue line. Senior Logan Neal and junior Aiden MacIsaac are also back from last winter’s championship club.
The Spartans did graduate three varsity netminders. They did bring in Holderness transfer Kolin Belliveau who could emerge as the starter.
Jim Gaudet Takes Over Milton Academy Bench
MILTON ACADEMY (17-5-5)
Longtime head coach Paul Cannata has stepped down, turning over the coaching reigns to Jim Gaudet, a former assistant at Babson College. Gaudet inherits a strong returning group that lost just five games a year ago.
Back up front are senior Will Cannata and senior Ryan Shea, two of the team’s top scorers from a year ago. Junior Luis Valencia will be a factor, as will junior Anthony Sergeyev and seniors Jack Allieri and Jonathan Careri. A host of new forwards hoping to make their mark are junior Ewan Cleary (Little Caesars), junior Kyle Greene (Bishop Kearney), sophomores Joe Feinberg (BC High), Justin Garvey (CT Jr. Rangers), and Jeremy Polzer (American Hockey Academy), and freshmen Reed Enders (Boston Advantage) and Marco Linton (Boston Jr. Eagles).
Junior Dylan Hunt, a Yale commit, anchors the Mustangs defense that also welcomes back seniors Chris Amodeo, Curt Heath and Connor Lee, and junior Danny Li. New junior Nick Brandano (St. John’s Prep) should have a solid campaign.
In the nets, junior Sam Caulfield is a top-notch netminder. Senior Jonah Nash is also back. Freshman Carter Backus (Boston Advantage) looks to be in the mix.
The Bulldogs grabbed a berth in the Elite 8 post-season touranment a year ago and have what it takes for another run this winter.
“We are returning an experienced, talented group of forwards who as a group should lead out team,” said coach Brian Day. “Through opportunities brought about by graduation, there is a lot of ice to be filled by our new and returning defensemen. We are expecting our goaltending to be a strength of our team.”
Up front, juniors Dennis Davidson, Teddy MacAusland and Ethan Cox return after being the team’s top three scorers last season. Others back and ready to go are seniors Liam McCarthy and Amir Jamal, juniors Kyle O’Leary and Ben Nakata, and sophomores Billy MacAusland and Ryan Callahan.
Graduation did take some key players off the blue line, but Nobles does return senior Andrew Higgins, junior Lou Munger and sophomores Tuck Gilbane and Jack Hartwell.
Senior Tyler Bloomfield is ready for the top job between the pipes with Thatcher Bernstein having moved on to the USHL.
Arrows Will Be A Deep and Experienced Club
ST. SEBASTIAN’S (13-9-5)
Having rostered no seniors last winter, it is safe to say the Arrows come into the season loaded with talent and experience at all positions. “We have a deep group of forwards and experience on D and in the net,” said coach Sean McCann. “We need to be consistent and reliable with puck management.”
Four forwards – Matt Cataldo (Brown), Teddy Mutryn (Boston College), Ben Merrill (Harvard) and Nolan Flynn (Sacred Heart) – have D1 college commits. Other key contributors back for coach McCann are seniors Colin Gorman, Isaac Mitchell and Brian Hall, and sophomore Casy Mutryn.
The St. Sebastian’s defensive nucleus consists of seniors Charlie Leverone, Aidan Connors, Jack Harney, Owen Lynch and Ben Stavaridis. It is an experienced group.
Senior Pelle Russo got the bulk of the work in goal last season for the Arrows and is back, along with senior Kam Carkner.
The Seawolves proved to be a formidable foe last winter, reaching the semifinals of the Large School Tournament before falling to eventual champion Taft. This will be another competitive group this year.
“Our expectation and hope is that we are a NE tournament team again this season and will be competing for a New England championship along with an ISL title in the hyper-competitive Keller Division,” said coach Gerry Dineen.
Keys up front will be the returning group of seniors Cam Gaffney, Kai Roberto and Josh Itri, and juniors Will Doherty and Adam Quinn.
The defense looks good with seniors Cole Estey, Brad Guden and Axel Vaillancourt leading the way on the blue line. Senior Brayden Bennett is a returning varsity netminder.
THAYER ACADEMY (9-14-4)
With great balance at all three positions among the hefty group of returners, the Tigers will be a tough out this winter.
Last season’s leading scorer – senior Josh Halliday – is back to spearhead the offensive attack with junior Brady Kudrick, junior Teddy Lally, junior Tommy Anderson, senior Ryan Mottau and junior Kevin Delay.
A solid blue line for second-year coach David Hymovitz includes senior Brady Erickson, senior Vinnie Sica, senior Ryan Bradley and sophomore Matthew MacDonald.
Beau Lane has graduated in goal, so the job is up for grabs. Quinn Devin and Tyler Moschella will be in the hunt for minutes between the pipes.