Conn. D1 Preseason Poll: Prep Eyes Return to Prominence

Michael Fornabaio
Michael Fornabaio
Michael writes for Hockey Night in Boston, covers the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the Connecticut Post, and once covered the Beast of New Haven. He grew up at the New Haven Coliseum. Story, blog links @BSTSoundinOff blog.ctnews.com/fornabaio.

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Connecticut Division I Poll

RankTeamWLT
1Fairfield Prep10110
2Xavier1463
3Darien2330
4Notre Dame (WH)9102
5Notre Dame (F)12100
6New Canaan1283
7Hamden11111
8Ridgefield1580
9Greenwich2132
10Simsbury13100

It was a year unlike any in recent memory last year, when Connecticut’s Division I tournament came down to an upstart Catholic school, an upstate public school, and two public schools from Fairfield County with long championship droughts.

The latter two met for the state championship, and Darien beat Greenwich in a 1-0 thriller for the Blue Wave’s first title in 46 years. Long gone were the big downstate Catholic schools, the traditional public school powers from New Haven County. Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame-West Haven, two of the state’s top programs over the past couple of decades, both finished under .500.

So what do the state’s coaches expect for an encore? Well, they went right back to Fairfield Prep, but there’s a bit more diversity than usual in the top half of the poll. Xavier, that Catholic school semifinalist, is right behind, and Darien drew support as a possible repeat winner; according to the CIAC’s championship database, the only¬†public school ever to do that in Division I is Hamden.

hockey-night-in-boston-summer-hockey-tournamentsThe rival Notre Dames have usually been in the mix in recent years. ND-West Haven lost some top players (like most teams) but are still seen as dangerous. ND-Fairfield felt it had earned a win in the quarterfinals but had an overtime goal disallowed against Glastonbury.

New Canaan had a transition year with new coach Pat Gore after legendary Bo Hickey retired. They’ve got lots back on defense. It’s the opposite at Hamden, which has a new coach in Todd Hall: Only one defenseman returns.

Ridgefield has been a perennially competitive team in a conference that, until last year, hadn’t produced a state champion since 1998. Greenwich is another; the Cardinals had an outstanding season with only one regular-season loss, to Xavier.

There were lots of teams vying for spots in the top 10, like Glastonbury, looking to replace several key players, and like upstate programs on the upswing, East Catholic and Northwest Catholic. For starters, Simsbury is a team that seems to have intrigued a lot of coaches up that way. The Trojans returned a lot of experienced players.

  • Coming soon: Individual D1 Team Previews
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