One of the significant changes in Connecticut boys high school hockey this season, as a result of the pandemic, is the split of the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference into two divisions. As a result, no longer are the league’s five Division 2 and 3 teams required to face the FCIAC’s Div. 1 powers — at least for the 2021 campaign.
Teams will be allowed to play nonconference competition to fill out their schedules. There also will be a separate FCIAC tournament for the Div. 2 and 3 teams to end the season.
Entering his third season, NorMac coach Scott Raymond is hoping to build off the momentum of 2019-20, in which the team won a Division 3 first-round game before the tournament was canceled.
Senior forward Finn Cullen was an FCIAC Second-Team All-Star last season after posting 34 points, and sophomore forward Keegan Cullen (18 points) also brings back some firepower to the lineup.
NorMac will lean on a pair of junior defensemen in Nat Gibson and Will Coale. Sophomore forwards Bryce Jimenez and Hayden Cincotta will be a pair of strong newcomers for Raymond.
“We have a young goalie, so defense will be a key component to our team’s success,” Raymond said.
Having lost few players to graduation, and with most the returning roster having gained game experience a year ago, Wreckers coach Matt Bohn hopes it will carry over into this season.
Senior goalie Graham Day (.913 save percentage) should be the backbone of the team this season, coming off a team MVP campaign and also earning a second-team FCIAC All-Star nod.
Defensively, Bohn points to senior captain Owen Sherman (3-7-10) as someone who could have a breakout season. Junior Andrew Gebicki brings plenty of size to the blue line, and Bohn is counting on him to log a lot of ice time.
At forward, senior Victor Sarrazin (6-8-14) was an honorable mention all-FCIAC last season. Other top returnees at forward include senior Zachary Schwartz (5-5-10), juniors Ben Epes (4-3-7) and Jason Wolgast (3-7-10), and sophomore Nikos Ninios (1-7-8).
Bohn is taking a positive outlook into the season.
“If we work more on our D zone, I think we’ll have more success and create better opportunities for ourselves,” he said. “Also, we need to make sure to stick together when things don’t go our way.”
The Eagles will have a bit more of an offensive focus this season for veteran coach Greg Maxey, with the return of seniors Owen Finnegan and Jack McLean, the top two scorers from a season ago. McLean also was an honorable mention all-FCIAC selection in 2019-20.
Senior Josh Guerrera and junior Luca Minopoli will add depth to the forward lines, along with sophomores Andrew Cutter and Giancarlo Montanaro, and freshman Nick Smagezc.
Defensively the Eagles will lean on senior Josh Liebowitz and junior Zach Jager after graduating all-state goalie Alex Tsymbalyuk. Senior Grayson Chopskie and junior Adam Guttman were competing for the spot in preseason, both already with some game experience under their belts.
The Knights graduated much of the firepower off last year’s squad that earned the No. 5 seed in the Division 2 tournament and had opened the postseason with a win over Cheshire.
Senior Tucker Healy returns and will shoulder much of the scoring load early along with fellow senior Jay Bacco. Emmett Donoghue and Matt DiMartino, a pair of transfers from the now-closed Trinity Catholic, should help immediately for coach John Santagata, along with senior John Leydon and sophomore James Leydon. Donoghue was an honorable mention all-FCIAC a season ago.
Sophomore Eric Osterhus returns in goal for the Knights, with seniors Eric Kelly and Ethan Skaug leading the defense in front of him.
Coach Mark Mangino enters his second season with the Warriors with one of the top returning forwards in the league in senior Jackson Kelly, an honorable mention all-FCIAC pick in 2019-20. Kelly helped spark Wilton to a Division 3 tournament berth and first-round win over Masuk.
Senior Ryan Sorbo, junior Colin Lenskold, and sophomore Nikolai Naydenov also are back at forward for the Warriors. Senior Logan Motyka will be the regular starter in net.