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Connecticut Division 2 Preview: Guilford, Watertown-Pomperaug Look For Big Things

The Eastern CT Eagles (from D3) and Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks (from D1) join the D2 field this winter.

GUILFORD (22-4-0)

Fresh off last year’s impressive run that saw the defending 2017 state champions make it all the way to the championship again, this time losing 7-3 to Farmington Valley, will have the Indians looking to continue their success from the previous two years into this year.

Returning on the offensive line for coach Ralph Russo’s squad are seniors John DeLucia, who is committed to play lacrosse at Quinnipiac, and Jack Watrous and juniors Jack Dacey and EJ Vickerman. Newcomers to the offense include freshman Connor Hagness and Mike Torre.

The Indians will feature a senior-laden blue line, with three key returners in Michael LeTourneau, Greg Litvyn and Liam Murphy. Sophomore Shea Thibault and freshman JT Murray will both look to contribute.

CONARD (13-11-1) 

Coach Chris Tornaqundici thinks “team leadership and postitive attitudes” is what will propel his team to be competitive this season.

Leading the way for the Chieftains will be senior forwards Liam Lecroix and Bryant Caron. Both were assist leaders last season.  “Liam is two-way player with limitless talent and Bryant can shoot the puck from anywhere and will be a large factor in our scoring this season,” said Tornaqundici.

Newcomers to the forward line include a sophomore trio named the “Speeders” that is made up of Will Macdonald, Owen Fernandez and Colum Flaherty. Tornaqundici excepts big things from them this season.

Returning in net is fourth-year goalie Shea Henderson, who coach thinks could be the reason Conard may hang a banner this season.

Will Cannella
Eastern CT Eagles

EASTERN CT EAGLES (19-3-3)

Fresh off their impressive championship season, the Eagles now move from D3 to D2 and are hoping for the same outcome. With many of their top players returning, they look to be competitive.

The offense will be lead by the trio of senior Ryan Huta (35 pts) and juniors Evan Tower (47 pts) and Kyle Jacobsen (50 pts), who are all coming off outstanding seasons for the Eagles. Also returning is junior Will Cannella (29 pts) and senior Trent Hughson.

The defense looks to be strong with key holdovers from last season’s squad. Back on the blue line are junior Jake Verbridge and sophomores Devyn Jordan and Kyle Marino. The Eagles unfortunately will be without senior captain Riley Jordan who suffered an off-season injury. That will be hard to overcome.

Rylin Fowler will be back in net hoping for another good season. Some newcomers to the defense include sophomore Miles Hinckley and goalie Wes Williamson.

Patsy Harris
Watertown/Pomperaug

WATERTOWN/POMPERAUG (19-5-1)

With major losses due to graduation, coach Victor Vicenzi will look to the newcomers on the squad to step up.

Back at forward for the Indians are senior captains Troy Harwell (34 pts), James Moaddel (18 pts) and Patsy Harris (24 pts) who will all be relied on heavily to get the offense going. Also back at forward are senior Zach Smith, juniors Jake Oldham and Sean Dunfee and sophomore Ryan Magee. Sophomore Ryan Robinson will also look to contribute.

Defense will be key for the Indians. “Success starts with strong, competitive D-Zone hockey and Ryan [Fleming] is as strong as a backstop gets in the state,” said Vicenzi. The defense will be anchored by senior captain Fleming who will be back in net. Also returning are senior Trevor Davis, Harrison McCormack and Tim Leonard.

Aaron Cholewa
Weathersfield

WMRP (13-8-1)

New to Division 2 this season, Wethersfield/Middletown/Rocky Hill/Plainville is looking to make a splash in a strengthened schedule in what coach Dennis Tulimieri said “will make for a fun year.”

Back on the offensive line for Eagles are captains  senior Ben Mroczka (26 pts) and junior Trevor Piecewicz (40 pts) who led the way last season. Also returning at forward is senior Connor McNamara and sophomores Aaron Cholewa and Chase Millin. Junior Jack Healy will also look to contribute.

Returning on the blue line is senior Riordan Mertans, junior Andrew Casio and sophomores Cole McNamara, Spencer Bartone and Kevin Avery. Senior captain Jake Peckrul returns in net for the Eagles. Also, joining in on the action is sophomore goalie Trevor Schad who will look to see some minutes in net.

FARMINGTON VALLEY (21-2-1)

The defending champions have a bit of a rebuilding project after some key losses from last year’s title team. But, it will not keep the Generals from being in the D2 mix again.

A solid group of forwards for coaches Mike Barone and Scott Percival include seniors Eric Schweitzer and Owen Lacourciere, and juniors Matt Arena and Trevor Paluso.

NORTH HAVEN (10-9-1)

First year coach Christopher Avena is hoping his team is going to be a tough opponent to face this season. Utilizing younger talent and building on their second half success from last year will be key components for the Indians.

Key returning forwards include seniors Alex Kirtland, Andrew Johnson and Domenic Biondi.

Senior Simon Brubacher will be big on the blue line for the Indians and back in goal will be senior Danny Godlewski.

With the third new coach in as many years, its very important to coach Avena for his team to trust each other. “The team’s first goal is to buy into culture and beliefs of the new staff,” said Avena.

Sean McKee
North Branford

NORTH BRANFORD (14-8-1)

With a handful of returning players, the Thunderbirds hope to be a threat in a tough SCC conference.

On the offensive line expect senior Sean McKee (33 pts) and sophomore Matt Pederson (24 pts) to be big factors once again. Also returning on offense is senior Nick Barrett and junior Nick Vecchio. Sophomore Shawn D’Aversa will look to contribute as well.

After losing some key players to graduation on defense, coach Ralph Shaw knows the focus is to fill those positions. Returning on the blue line are seniors Nick Mancini (14 pts) and Eric Fruin. Newcomers on defense include freshman Joe Marra and in goal sophomore Tyler DiNapoli.

Jason Csejka
Amity

AMITY (13-9-1)

This year’s Spartans will feature a whole new look with the loss of 12 seniors including both of their goaltenders Tyler Cole and Michael Holloway. Coach Michael Richetelli knows his team has their work cut out for them.

Wes Perler
Amity

The Spartans will rely on returning senior forwards Jason Csejka (31pts) and Colin Hughes (16 pts) to come up big again this season. Looking to help to contribute on the offensive attack are seniors Ryan Miller and Nelson Borderleau and juniors Cody White, Nick Kiwanis, Connor Bath and Ed Martino.

Back on the blue line will be senior Ken Page and Wes Perler. Sophomore’s Justin Miller, Caleb Marcin and Jason Dittmann join the defense for the Spartans this season. With the loss of their standout goalies, Amity will turn to junior Malachi Zurolo and freshman Michael Andreesen to fill their shoes.

EAST HAVEN CO-OP (9-11-0)

The Yellowjackets will look to be competitive and to stay healthy this year in the SCC.

Key returning forwards include Alec Spears (16 pts), Joe Consiglio (18 pts) and Dave Amatruda. Back on the blue line will be senior Chris Giglietti (9 pts) and  sophomore Rucco Plano (6 pts). Junior Logan Hamilton will be back in goal.

TRUMBULL (7-13-0)

In this his 22nd year as head coach, Greg Maxey knows his team has good depth and skill level up front.

Leading the offense for the Eagles is senior Alex Jackel coming off a 23-point season. Two new additions to the offense include seniors Nick Marinos and John Therriault.

Junior Marco Minopoli returns on defense and will play a big role, and back in goal will be junior Alex Tsymbaluk.

SUFFIELD/GRANBY/WINDSOR LOCKS (8-11-1)

After three years battling in Division 1, the Wildcats move down to Division 2 looking to compete. New head coach Jake King is hoping the offense is improved from last season. Key returners up front for the Wildcats include senior Connor Matthews (20 pts) and junior Tyler Gazdik (17 pts).

Defense will be key if the Wildcats want to compete with a tough Division 2. Returning on the blue line is senior Ryan Antkowiak (7 pts). Another key factor will be new sophomore goalie Cam Begley who had a good season with the JV last year. Begley is taking over for all-state goalie Dan Degagne.

Matt Odom
Woodstock Academy

WOODSTOCK ACADEMY (8-11-0)

Good team chemistry is what new coach Kevin Bisson hopes will propel his team this season.

Key returners on the forward line include senior Matt Odom, junior Doug Newton and sophomore Gudrun Favreau.

Benjamin O’Connor
Cheshire

CHESHIRE (9-10-2)

With strong leadership, a strong defense and the return of the most of their top scorers, the Rams have the potential to be a threat this season.

The offense will be led by senior captain Evan Veivia (15 pts), senior Jason McKinley (12 pts) and sophomore Niklas Vasiljevs. New to the forward line is sophomore Thor Novicelli, who coach Anthony Giusto says is “a skilled forward that will compete for playing time early on.”

Evan Vievia
Cheshire

Back on the blue line for the Rams is senior captain Benjamin O’Connor (17 pts), who was first team All-State and All-Conference last year. Coach Giusto says O’Connor is “a very good two-way defenseman and he will be our team leader on and off the ice.” Also a threat for the Rams is senior assistant captain James Ilnicki (12 pts) who can play on both ends of the ice. Senior Kyle Sheehan is also back.  New to the defense this season will be sophomore Joey Deko, who will be relied on a lot more.

The Rams will have a new goalie this season in Nicholas Mongillo. Although he has no prior varsity time, coach Giusto is impressed with the improvements that Mongillo has made playing on JV over the past two seasons.

BRANFORD (13-7-1)

The Hornets are looking to be competitive in a tough Division 2 this season.

Back on the forward line will be be senior captains Robbie Lionetti and Max Bunton. Also returning is junior assistant captain Spencer Engstron.

In the cage, the Hornets will have senior goalie Greg Lucente and sophomore Jared Yakimoff.

EAST CATHOLIC (0-19-1)

Coach Joe Trenholm knows his players are hungry after a winless 2017-18 season. “Our key to the season is to have learned from last season,” said Trenholm. “We need to take advantage of other teams mistakes and limit our own. We must focus on playing defense on the other end.”

The Eagles will have a heavy senior-laden offense returning from last season. Those include Sean Fellows, Connor Hartnett, Justin Bailey, David Lundy and Brandon Ello. New to the team looking to contribute this season are freshmen Rowan Masse and AJ Bushnell.

Back on the defense the Eagles will have sophomores Mick O’Connor and Brett Schofield. Newcomers to the blue line include sophomores Kyle Pelletier and Nathan Segar.

GLASTONBURY (11-11-0)

With senior goalie Brendan O’Connor back and solid team defense, coach Ken Barse hopes his team can make a run in the playoffs.

Returning on the forward line for the Tomahawks are senior Justin Hazard and juniors Adam Poetto, Jack Kantor and Ryan Ginnett.

Back on the defense this season will be seniors Noah Ment and Matt Adriola and junior Colin Williams. The Tomahawks will have their leader O’Connor back in net, which will be key.

HALL/SOUTHINGTON (11-7-2)

The Warrior-Knights have the potential to be a force as a good number of players return for coach Brian Cannon.

Among the leaders up front will be co-captain Mike DiPietro, Nate Zmarlicki, Sam Kerrigan, Bobby Allan, Christian Mohr, Kent Silva and Tyler Matukaitis. New guys ready to contribute include Marco Fusciello, Mason Woods and Sean Roach.

A deep defense returns senior co-captain Chris Gambardella, Ethan Penn, Sam Kursman and Liam Stone. Mike Kwok will provide energy after taking last year off.

A new goaltender will come from pre-season workouts

HNIB Staff
In 1972, two lifetime high school hockey fans started a weekly broadcast of Greater Boston high school games on WBOS-FM (92.9). The duo - Lance LoFaro and Darby Yaeger - called the nightly broadcasts "Hockey Night in Boston". As of late, HNIBnews - over 30 years running - has kept the scholastic hockey world on its feet with its widely-read website HNIBnews.com. In addition to HNIBnews, Hockey Night in Boston runs MassHSHockey.com, and also hosts summer tournaments showcasing the talents of scholastic hockey.