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Connecticut Division 1 Preseason Poll: Fairfield Prep looks to get back to the top

Connecticut Division I Poll

1Fairfield Prep12102
2Notre Dame (WH)1581
6New Canaan10120
8Notre Dame (Fairfield)10120
9Northwest Catholic1670

Every year we ask the coaches who will top Connecticut Division I, and just about every year they seem to tell us “Prep.”   It’s hard to blame them. Fairfield Prep‘s two years without a state title ties their longest drought since 1999. (Maybe our favorite weird stat: No class has graduated from Fairfield Prep without seeing at least one CIAC Division I title since 1990, when Chris Drury was still, you know, Ted’s little brother, the Little League pitcher. None will until at least 2018.)

The Jesuits had to work hard to make the state final last year, converting forwards to defensemen, changing up their lines and making everything coherent. A couple of top scorers are gone but much of that team returns.

Though it graduated some of its heart-and-soul players, another perennial came in at No. 2, Notre Dame-West Haven. The Green Knights were state semifinalists last year, losing to eventual champion Darien.

No. 3 Ridgefield has become a highly regarded program, too, but it’s still waiting for its first trip to the Division I final. The Tigers have experience in goal and on defense and bring some scoring back, too, from a team that bounced back in the second half last year.

No. 4 Hamden made its own nice run to the semifinals last year, getting there as a 13th seed, in its first season under schoolboy legend Todd Hall. The Green Dragons had a lot of seniors last year but had some young players contribute.

Another strong program seeking its first appearance in a final — in the Falcons’ case, a final of any sort — is No. 5 Xavier. The Falcons last spring came a tough 1-0 loss away from a second straight trip to the semifinals.

There seem to be mixed feelings on No. 6 New Canaan, but those high on the Rams are very high. They were very good toward the end of last season and have lots of key players back who’ve had a couple of years with coach Pat Gore.

Two-time defending champion Darien, the first Connecticut public school aside from Hamden ever to repeat, starts the season at No. 7. Granted, most of the mainstays from those two titles are gone; at the same time, some players grew last season to fill the spots that were left open by graduates from the first title. We’ll see which way the Blue Wave go once the season starts.

No. 8 Notre Dame-Fairfield has made two quarterfinals and a semifinal over the past three years. Several top players departed, but the Lancers have found ways to stay in the hunt.

No. 9 Northwest Catholic took a big step forward last season and still have a lot of the offensive firepower from that team. It’s less experienced on defense but picked up a young goalie.

Greenwich, runner-up two years ago and eliminated in overtime in the quarters last year, comes in at No. 10 under new coach Chris Rurak. Some dynamic players return for him.

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.
Michael Fornabaio
- 2 days ago
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