This 10-team loop should again provide some of the top action in the Western New England region. Defending champion and NEPSIHA Elite 8 Tournamaent finalist Salisbury heads into the campaign as the favorite, but there is plenty of talent in the league capable of challenging for the top spot.
The Crimson Knights lost 17 players from last year’s club that lost just two games all season, one being in the Elite Tournament championship game to Kimball Union. But, don’t expect a downslide at all, as a host of newcomers have arrived. This club will feature no less than 11 Division 1 commits as the season unfolds.
Coach Andrew Will welcomes back senior Chris Henn and the junior quartet of Nick Capone (29 pts – Maine commit), Ilya Usau (17 pts – UConn commit), Matt DeBoer (10 pts) and Michael Fairfax. A deep forward group also will feature newcomers like senior Tom Richter, a Union commit who played at Brunswick School last year, juniors Jacob Quillan (Quinnipiac), Cole Vallese (Providence), Lucas Mercuri (Vermont), Justin Hryckowian (Northeastern), Matt Coronato (Harvard), Michael Cameron and Brendan Kennedy, and sophomore Dean Bauchiero.
Defensively, Salisbury returns the senior duo of Luke Krys (Brown) and Clay Korpi. Add to the mix the talented junior foursome of Bayard Hall (Brown), Jarod Crespo (Penn State), A.J. Casperson and Bobby Metz. Senior Jared Levine (2.11 gaa) is a returning netminder. New Junior Nicholas Hass is another talented netminder.
“We are very excited about our leadership corps, and the motivation, drive and focus of the group,” Will said. “Our goal is to play a fast, aggressive and up-tempo style, and we feel our forward group has the skill and ability that will allow us to do that effectively.”
AVON OLD FARMS (13-11-0)
An impressive group of young newcomers will mesh with a solid returning nucleus to give the Winged Beavers a solid outfit. How the youngsters adapt to prep hockey could hold the key to success.
Up front, Avon has senior Stefan Milakos, juniors Gentry Shamburger and John Louder, and sophomores Jason Siedem (22 pts), Tim Heinke and Tyler Gordon back in the fold. Post-grad Andrew Pratt, junior Timur Alishilov, junior Tabor Heaslip (RPI commit), sophomore Tyler Boucher (BU commit) and sophomore PJ Neal (Brunswick transfer) will provide solid offensive play.
On the blue line, seniors Moe Acee (St. Lawrence commit) and Cullen Young will provide veteran leadership for coach John Gardner. Amongst the new blueliners ready to contribute are post-grad Ricky Zhao, juniors Simon Mandall and Reid Shafer, and sophomores Drew Tsakounis (Penn State commit) and Chase Ramsay.
In goal, senior Alex Aslanidis (Providence commit) was a workhorse last winter for the Winged Beavers. New sophomore Conor Callaghan will press for time.
TRINITY PAWLING (13-8-5)
The Pride have plenty to be excited about, coming off the school’s first Founders League championship (the league includes all Housatonic teams with the exception of Deerfield and Salisbury) and first NE Large School playoff appearance. Coach Robert Ferraris expects to be good in the defensive zone and on special teams play, with five returning defensemen and starting goaltender.
Hoping to lead the charge at forward are veteran senior Joey Musa (24 pts), who has committed to Dartmouth, senior Jackson Breton (15 pts), junior Stephen Willey (15 pts) and sophomore CJ Zezima, coming off a 12-point freshman season.
Senior rock Phip Waugh (12 pts and a Vermont commit) will be huge on the blue line, as will senior Gabe Blanchard (13 pts), senior Shane Murphy (13 pts), senior John Garvey, senior Stephen Perez and sophomore Cam Grillo.
Williams commit Evan Ruschil, another senior, will give the Pride a solid presence between the pipes.
The Martlets earned an Elite Tournament bid last winter, grabbing the eighth and final seed. To fight for a return trip, Westy will need its returning players to answer the bell and to play better on special teams.
Expect some solid production up front from returning seniors Jordie McKenna (15 pts), Sean Clarke (10 pts) and Nate Pane, along with juniors Jake Monroe (21 pts) and Iggy Belov (16 pts). Coach Tim Joncas adds new junior Matt Lewin and sophomore Matt Kramlich to the arsenal.
Defense should be a strongpoint with the return of Ryan Pineault (7 pts), Will Gilson (9 pts), Ned Blanchard (8 pts) and UConn commit Malik Alishalov, coming off a 12-point sophomore season. New junior Ben Huisman should make a solid group even better.
Junior Ian Shane, who saw the majority of time last season in the nets, is back for another campaign for Westminster.
Keep an eye on the Lions this winter, as they figure to be strong up front and in goal.
A talented group of forwards will include senior Colin Cobb (17 pts), senior Alex Giummo (12 pts), junior Aidan Cobb (10 pts) and junior Jason Kleinhans (9 pts). A talented trio of newcomers – senior Mike Posma (Air Force), junior Dane Dowiak (Penn State) and junior Alex Laferriere (Army) – are all committed to D1 college programs.
Senior and Dartmouth commit Ian Pierce (12 pts) is a defensive cornerstone for coach Dale Reinhardt. Senior Josh Stich and junior Matthew Perryman are two more experience rearguards.
The Lions return a pair of veteran goalies in senior Alex Contey and junior Blaine Moore.
The Rhinos are looking to build off of last season, the first for head coach Ryan Shannon. He is excited about the program’s personnel additions and feels they will bolster the strength of the core leadership returning.
Senior veteran Ryan Colwell (26 pts) headlines the returners up front, a group that also features seniors Finn Walker and Dennis Franklin, and juniors Zack Tonelli, Bobby Barrasso and Ben Craine. Shannon is eager to watch a quartet of new junior forwards ready to contribute right away in Tristan Fasig, Henry Molson, Nikita Kovalev and Justin Humenay.
Harvard commit Christian Jimenez, a junior, will be a backbone on defense for the Rhinos, as will senior Billy Dobensky, a Middlebury commit. Senior Peter Kenerson and sophomore Max Willard are back as well. Post-grad Andrew Ebersol will have a role.
In goal, Post-grad Thomas McAleer and freshman Mikey Roberts are new to the program and will look for time.
LOOMIS CHAFFEE (12-11-3)
The Pelicans have the capability of making some noise this winter, with a nice core of leaders ready to make a statement.
Coach JR Zavisza will look to senior Reilly Connors (Yale commit) and the junior trio of Cody Hoban (16 pts – Dartmouth commit), Anthony Cipollone (16 pts – Vermont commit) and Alex Krause (18 pts) to provide the necessary offense.
On the blue line, junior standout Kennedy O’Connor recently committed to UMass Amherst and will be an anchor, along with senior Thomas Martin. In goal, new sophomore Kyle Chauvette is already committed to Holy Cross.
If Deerfield is to show some marked improvement this season, it will be led by a deep senior class.
The Big Green do return four of their top five scorers which will be a plus for head coach Tim McVaugh. Senior Sean McAvoy (17 pts), a Best Pro Prospect award winner at HNIB’s 2018 Major Showcase, has committed to Hamilton. Fellow seniors Sasha Shogren (18 pts) and Mikey Holland (16 pts), and junior Tomas Zourikian (16 pts) all look to have big years.
Defensively, senior Hoan de la Durantaye and junior Eamon Doherty are returning mainstays. Expect new senior Zach Milton to have a key role.
The Big Green will have one of the prep’s top goalies with the return of senior Thomas Gale, a Dartmouth recruit.
After struggling to score goals the past few years, a priority will be on offense. The Wild Boars always work hard in the defensive zone and that will continue to be an important part of their game.
Tri-captain seniors Chris Guyette (12 pts) and Sean Dennehy (10 pts) will spearhead the offensive attack, along with fellow returners seniors Owen Collins and Qian Liu, junior John Russo and sophomore Zach Vandale. Three new juniors ready to show their stuff are Beau Luther, James Cerepak and Zach Yokoyama.
On the blue line, senior tri-captain Cooper Swift (12 pts) leads a returning group that includes seniors Anish Deena, Sammy Silich and Kyle Sanborn, and junior John Buckholtz. New junior Daniel Lim and sophomores Bauer Swift and Andrew Carmody will battle for key minutes for veteran coach Pat Dennehy.
New junior Tyler McDermott hopes to get the bulk of the time in goal.
Things appear to be on the upswing at Hotchkiss, where coach Mike Traggio expects to have a club solid in the defensive zone. The hope is to see some more offensive production from this group.
Senior Jordan Ehrensperger (13 pts) and junior Gavin Puskar (14 pts) were the top two scorers last season for the Bearcats and look to continue their success. Post-grad Alex Mozian hopes to be a shot in the arm offensively, coming off an All-State season at Greenwich (CT) High School.
Juniors Nick Traggio (9 pts) and Jack Ferguson are anchors on defense for Hotchkiss, while junior Henry Wilder, who played every minute last winter, is back in goal.