The IceCats move back down after a couple of years in Division II, and coach Rusty Granacker is hopeful they’ll be competitive in Division III.
With junior goalies Jacob Keller and James Van Tronk back, and with some experience on defense like seniors Trevor Powers and Eric Stoeckle and sophomores Luke Newman and Jack Wallin, their own zone will be a strength.
They’ll look to develop their offense as the year goes on, though there’s experience at forward as well. Seniors Will Lawrence, Nick Rhodes (back from a knee injury), Austin Natale and John Buckle, junior Jack Sommerfield and sophomore Doug Alfidi should all play important minutes.
E.O. SMITH/TOLLAND (17-7-1)
Last year’s runners-up graduate a couple of all-state players, forward Ross Brancati and defenseman Justin Gagnon, but there’s enough back for another good year.
Senior Matt Schoen returns in goals after aseason with a 1.75 goals against average and a .930 save percentage.
Senior Sean Benjamin is a stay-at-home defenseman for coach John Hodgson’s Bucks. Senior Pete Mayer returns off a 31-goal season, and sophomore Nick Mayer had 25 points as a freshman. Senior Josh Barnes joins the team and should contribute.
The Panthers were one of the top Division III teams all year and reached the CIAC semifinals. Coach Andy Townsend’s team has a lot back at the top, like senior goalie Conner Muller (2.85 GAA), like its top three scorers, senior Shane Dushay (29 goals, 49 points at center), senior Charlie Christo (21 goals, 34 points) and junior Brian Denham (19 goals, 31 points).
There’s also experience on defense, led by seniors Conner Bunovsky and George Andros. They’ll look to some youngsters to add depth up front.
NEW FAIRFIELD/IMMACULATE (15-6-3)
The team graduated some key players from a very good, competitive team, most notably goalie Ryan Dobos. But four-year varsity goalie Marchello Carlucci can step into that spot; he had a 1.19
goals-against average last year.
Coach Larry Vieira feels he has six solid defensemen, led by juniors P.J. Masi (13 points last year) and Kai Kindred. They’ll look to young players to fill big spots behind the experienced forwards, like seniors Parker Evans (22 points), Matt Hooker and Andrew Rosenblum and junior Paul Benzing.
This could be a rebuilding year after graduating 10 players from a team that lost in overtime in the conference final, then won its first CIAC championship in an emotional run through the tournament. Not every coach buys that notion, but it will be a young Nighthawks team for coach Paul Esposito. They’ll look to develop those youngsters.
Junior Nick Chaloux takes over in goal; he’s a leader in the room. Sophomore Domenic Cartelli returns off a seven-goal season, and sophomore Scott McLean, whose one goal won the championship in March, will look to take another step forward. Junior Matt Pelisson brings size and smarts on defense, and sophomore Sean Ferris can play a physical game while moving the puck from the back end.
NFA/ST.BERNARD/BACON ACAD./STONINGTON/LYMAN MEMORIAL (4-17-0)
Living proof that the early games matter as much as the late ones: The team made the playoffs last year on a head-to-head tiebreaker because of a Dec. 26 win over Norwalk. This year’s team adds the latter two teams to the co-op (Lyman Memorial had been long-time partners with Bolton and Coventry in different incarnations), which helped give second-year coach Terry McAuliffe’s team 29 players at the preseason meeting.
They’ll look to continue to grow the program, led by senior Andrew Gagnon at center with junior Logan Morin joining him at forward, and senior Danny Terraciano leading the defense.
Coach Michael Gorra’s Spartans expect to be competitive this year with only a couple of losses to graduation. They’ve got all-State right winger Andrew Loya back as a senior; he scored 24 goals and added 11 assists. Senior Nick Ganio is also returning.
Senior Christian Stuart, who had 31 points last year, is moving to defense in front of sophomore goalie Will Slohm.
The Black Knights are young and don’t have a lot of depth, but coach Doug Robinson is hopeful that a .500 record is attainable.
They’ve got two goalies back, sophomore Colin Rella and junior Conor McDonough. Captain Zach Rood will play forward and defense for Stamford, as will senior classmate Ryan Sexton. Senior Tommy Molgano and junior Chris Clemenson should be key forwards.
Second-year coach Todd Sharinn thought the Wreckers exceeded expectations last year. With no seniors back this year and just four juniors — forwards Jesse Greenspun, Ryan Johnson and R.J. Gupta and defenseman Ian Offenberg — they’ll be looking to continue to grow the program.
An assortment of talented newcomers are on the way, including sophomore defenseman/forward Evan Mancini, defensemen Sam Zaritsky and Billy Hutchison, forward Sam New and goalies Zach Bloom and Angus Fiori.
Jesse Peters took over as coach just before last season. The team worked its way to the Division III semifinals and is hoping to take the next step.
Senior Philip Nicolescu takes over in goal for graduated standout Alex Bleisner. Senior captain Ryan Gaidos, junior Jason Skorulski and sophomore Ryan Sherba should all chip in with offense.
Physical junior Tom Burgess and hard-working sophomore Sam Greenberg will lead the defense.
WETHERSFIELD (5-16-0)/ROCKY HILL/MIDDLETOWN (3-17-0)
Wethersfield adds part of an old co-op, Rocky Hill/Middletown (their partner, RHAM, joined Rockville/Bolton/Coventry in Division II). They’ll have to come together as a cohesive unit.
Coach Dennis Tulimieri’s team brings some experience, back, though, including in goal with senior Domingo Rodriguez and sophomore Stephen Vaughan. They’ll look for continued improvement there.
Senior co-captains Cameron Cietek and Colin Horn lead the defense with senior James Garofalo and junior Mitch Marena. Co-captain Anthony Portonova will work at the front of the opposition net, and co-captain Nick Hock is a playmaking forward to go with tenacious senior Ryan Wolfer as the team looks to replace a lot of graduated scoring.
WOODSTOCK ACADEMY (6-10-0)[one_third] [/one_third] [one_third] [/one_third] [one_third_last] [/one_third_last]
The Centaurs moved up to varsity status with a respectable first season. Coach Mike Starr’s team will face a tough schedule in Year 2 as it tries to continue to grow.
A gritty group of juniors, Jon-Luc Cournoyer, Connor Bavosie and Doug Gerrity, will protect the defensive zone.
A young group of speedy forwards includes Nathan Deluca, Will Liscomb and Ryan Black, and juniors Jordan Lamothe and Zack Burnham bring smarts in both ends.