Connecticut Division 1 Preview: 15-Team Field Embarks On Quest For A State Title

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopouloshttp://www.hnibnews.com
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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Connecticut Division 1 will consist of 15 teams this season. Fairfield Prep is the defending champion and will be in the running again.

RIDGEFIELD (20-5-0)

The Tigers have all the pieces to make a serious run in Division 1 this winter.

Plenty of firepower returns up front for coach Shaun Gallagher. Seniors Nick Cullinan (49 pts), Will Forrest (43 pts) and Matt Walker (44 pts) should put up big numbers again. Junior Kees van Wees (27 pts) is another proven scorer. New sophomore William Stewart will look to crack the lineup.

On the blue line, experience abounds as well with the return of senior Simon van Wees, senior Daniel Parson and junior Kevin McNicholas. Looking for a spot in the rotation is junior Patrick Rigby.

Senior Sean Gordon will be tough to beat in the nets.

FAIRFIELD PREP (22-2-1)

Even though the Jesuits graduated several impact players that were instrumental in last year’s title run, this year’s team will continue to be a deep, experienced club.

Senior co-captain Calyb Reeves (21 pts) and senior Colin Bella (22 pts) will be a dynamic go-to duo offensively for coach Matt Sather. Seniors Anthony Clericuzio and Chander DuMont, junior Matt Wegner, and sophomore Mason Whitney are all back as well up front.

Excellent team defense will be vital to success and tasked with that job will be senior co-captain Connor Boyle, and fellow seniors Jack Carroll and Evan Farruggio.

Ryan Colombo
Greenwich

In goal, things project to senior Jake Walker taking over as starter for the graduated Jack McGee.

GREENWICH (21-4-0)

Sean Pratley
Greenwich

The Cardinals were one of the premier teams in Division I last year and look to be again, utilizing their team speed. “We have another fast team and will need to beat opponents to the puck and apply pressure,” said coach Chris Rurak.

Senior tri-captains Matt Davey, Sean Pratley and Charlie Graves return to lead the offensive attack, a group that also welcomes back senior Julian Ribushofski and sophomore Thatcher Danielson. The group will be bolstered by a bunch of new sophomores and freshmen.

Defensive returners for the Cardinals are seniors Dylan Madden and Isaac Cadigan, junior Ryan Columbo and sophomore Chris Cataldo.

In junior Ben Nash, Greenwich will boast one of the state’s top netminders.

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Conor Gethings
Hamden
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Ben Chicoine
Hamden
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Michael Gethings
Hamden
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AJ Luedee
HAMDEN
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Eddy Fracasso
Hamden
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HAMDEN (14-8-0)

A good core of experienced and seasoned players return for the Green Dragons, so this a team that must be watched.

Three seniors will be vital to any offensive success for coach Todd Hall. Michael Gethings (37 pts), A.J. Luedee (31 pts) and Eddy Fracasso (19 pts) will lead the attack.

Senior Ben Chicoine and sophomore Conor Gethings will spearhead the Hamden blue line. A new starting goalie will emerge from preseason camp after the graduation of Steven Turner.

* Check out the HNIB News Connecticut D1 Preseason Top 10

NEW CANAAN (11-11-0)

With virtually its entire defensive corps back, and one of the state’s top forwards, don’t be surprised to see the Rams as vastly improved this winter. “We will look to play a high pace, high pressure game again that includes all five players on the ice,” said second-year coach Clark Jones.

Senior Gunnar Granito (40 pts) will be the leader of New Canaan’s offensive attack. Senior Dylan Shane is a returning starter in goal, and that experience will help.

A deep defense will consist of senior Walker Ker, senior Turner Ives, senior Shane Pickering,  junior Justin Wietfeldt, junior Bennett Ong and junior Eric Wills.

Justin Lasella
Notre Dame Fairfield

NOTRE DAME FAIRFIELD (9-11-0)

Second-year coach John Longo is looking to get the Lancers back over the .500 hump. A big part of that project will be senior goaltender Kacy Adams.

Key defensemen include senior Justin LaSella and junior Matt Ward. A leader in the forward ranks is Tom Kuryla.

Matt Ward
Notre Dame Fairfield

XAVIER (16-6-1)

Don’t overlook the Falcons, who will have some decent depth and great leadership. “We will run four lines and be prepared, organized and ready for every game,” said new head coach Nick Costanzo.

Offensive production is expected to come from senior Trevor Earley, senior Chase Maxwell and senior Evan Pace.

Defensively, seniors Kevin Lynch and Brendan Buckley will provide the necessary leadership, while a pair of exciting sophomores – Luke Lappe and Tom Lynch – should have key roles on the blue line.

Senior Jake Woznyk looks to get the call between the pipes.

NOTRE DAME WEST HAVEN (12-8-0)

The Green Knights may get off to a slow start, as there could be a learning curve for both players and coaches in the early going with a new coaching staff and systems in place. Larry Vieira takes over behind the bench after guiding New Fairfield/Immaculate last winter.

There certainly is no dearth of players. Seniors Ian Hayden, Thomas Ashmore, Thomas Hunt, Jack Luzzi and Mike Card, and juniors Jack D’Agostino and Ryan Cafferty are all back at forward.

On defense, Notre Dame welcomes back three seniors in Kevin Millea, Connor Morgan and Vinny Cleary, as well as junior Jack Mascari. In goal, junior Nick Piselli has his sights set on the goaltending job.

ST.  JOSEPH (5-14-0)

Although still a young team overall, the Cadets fully expect to mature quickly. “We anticipate having a stronger defensive core with several new additions,” said St. Joseph coach Eddy Lemaire. “We hope to be able to generate more offense as well with a simplified, hard-working game.”

Up front, seniors Thomas Schietinger and Brandon Roselli will be asked to provide both leadership and production. Sophomore Wyatt Chrisman hopes to make his mark in the offensive zone.

Sophomore Liam Gelston will have a key role on defense. New sophomore Kyle Marcinko looks to crack the lineup.

St. Joseph returns a pair of netminders in senior Chris Higgins and senior Will Brady.

SIMSBURY (9-10-1)

There is some optimism in Simsbury, where the Trojans return 14 players, including several seniors.

The offense will flow through senior Cole Chapman, a First Team All State selection last season.

Sean Macary
Northwest Catholic

On defense, senior Torben Wunderle (13 pts) will be the backbone; he was a Second Team All State choice. Junior Jackson Bulger, last year’s back-up, projects to move into the starter’s role between the pipes.

Brennan Horn
Northwest Catholic

NORTHWEST CATHOLIC (14-9-1)

A good core group returns for the Lions, who should prove to be a tough out this winter.

Junior Brennan Horn is coming off a solid, 41-point season and will be an offensive catalyst, as will senior Nick Salcedo (21 pts), junior Nate Loitz (31 pts) and sophomore Connor Melanson (23 pts). Keep an eye on new freshman Bobby Lachance.

Michael Kaliff
Northwest Catholic

Senior Sean Macary (15 pts) should be among the state’s top blueliners. Senior Tyler Esposito and sophomore Griffin Macary will be key defensemen as well.

Coach Dan Melanson also welcomes back senior Mike Kaliff in goal.

DARIEN (11-12-1)

Getting meaningful contributions from a core of players who have significant varsity experience could dictate the fortunes of the Blue Wave this season.

Offensively, a lot will be expected from senior C.J. Hathaway, senior Hudson Pokorny and junior Bennett McDermott.

Senior James Gregory will backbone the rearguard contingent for coach Mac Budd, while the Blue Wave also return an All-State goaltender in senior Henri Pfeifle.

Sam Mitchell
New Fairfield/Immaculate

NEW FAIRFIELD/IMMACULATE

New head coach Mike Bonelli has jumped in feet first to build on the past success of this program. “Our success will be judged on our ability to bring a good attitude and great effort to each practice and game as we grow during the last season of the NFI co-op program.”

Seniors Sam Mitchell and Aaron Dibble are the cornerstones of the offensive unit.  Newcomer Mason Peragine looks to contribute right away.

Senior Ryan Fanella is a key on the blue line. In goal, senior Scott Dobos is back. Newcomer Chris Grahm will be in the goaltending mix.

FAIRFIELD (10-10-0)

The Mustangs will be on the young side, but coach Carl Larouche feels his club will be strong on the defensive side.

A decent amount of production returns. Senior Kyle Mazza (22 pts), senior Kevin Quinn (12 pts), junior James Pisciotta (13 pts) and sophomore Rhys Davies (14 pts) are all back and ready to post even bigger numbers.

Sophomore Andrew Shavinsky should log key minutes on the blue line. New sophomore Sam Swanson will press for defensive minutes. Senior Will Capalbo is ready for a big year in goal for the Mustangs.

WEST HAVEN (4-16-1)

Getting off to a good start and getting scoring production from two lines will be key for any improvement the Blue Devils will see.

Senior Niko Kyle (28 pts) put up some good numbers a year ago. Juniors Kevin Moriarty and Kaden Morgillo will be involved offensively, Junior Richie Greene moves to forward after skating as a defenseman a year ago.

On defense, junior Robert Forleo (21 pts) is an adept two-way blueliner. Junior Sean Dupre is another key returner on the back line.

In goal, veteran coach Joe Morrill, entering his 21st year behind the bench, must find a replacement for the graduated Logan Cole. Battling for time will be senior Noah Iversen,  junior Jared Pliszka, sophomore Charlie Miller and Dan Kelly.

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