At least in sheer numbers, the Southern Connecticut Conference/South West Conference Division 2 race should be appealing with roughly 20 percent of the Nutmeg State’s programs competing here again this season. North Haven won the conference tournament last season, but once again there will be stiff challenges from the likes of Daniel Hand, Lyman Hall and Sheehan. Amity and Watertown-Pomperaug are optimistic about breaking into the top tier of the league. Rounding out the deep 11-team pack are Branford, Cheshire, East Haven, Guilford and North Branford.
Coach: Michael Richetelli
The Spartans enter the season with a solid returning core, including seven seniors and two juniors who played key roles in 2021.
Senior captain Joe Carangelo leads an experienced forward group with seniors Nolan Smith, Jack Bordeleau, Kyle Hummel and Dom Harris. The defense will be led by senior captain Ethan Moffett and senior Cadem Demaio.
In net, the Spartans return juniors Aiden Courtney and Brendan Smith.
A host of newcomers could help the Spartans this season – sophomores Will DelVecchio (D), Josh Hackett (F), Ryan Kelly (D) and Jayson Gherlone (G), as well as freshmen Eli Gregory (D), AJ Capecelatro (F) and Mike Page (F).
“The team has a strong chemistry and solid work ethic,” Richetelli said. “If we maintain that attitude throughout the season we can make a strong push into the playoffs.”
Coach: Jim DiNapoli
To say the Hornets will be young this season is an understatement. There will be just one senior – Wesley Raymond – and seven freshmen across a 17-player roster.
A deeper junior class includes Mikey Farricelli, Matt Morgan, Sean Bosworth, Colin Deane, Jack Linder, Michael Linder, Nicolas Michaud and Alexander Milne. Kellen Grehl is the only sophomore.
New to the program are freshmen Dylan Bosworth, Dante DiLegge (goal), Jack Francis, Michael Loomis, Michael Maler, James Moran and Maxwell Voets.
Coach: Anthony Giusto
The 2021 season was an interesting one for the Rams, who started 0-5 before rolling to the league title game, ultimately falling to North Haven.
Giusto says this year’s version has a lot of depth at forward – led by senior captain Damon Zurolo (4-0-4) and juniors Will Gaudet (3-1-4) and Evan Vasiljevs (5-3-8). Junior Rocco Ocone-Krause is a newcomer whom Giusto expects to step right into a top-six role.
Defensively junior Lukas Sargolini (0-2-2) will be helped by “big, mobile” sophomore newcomer Ryan Fraser.
The Rams return senior Amaan Chaudry in net, and Giusto says he will be relied on heavily behind an otherwise inexperienced blue line.
“Team success will be dependent on our ability to play in our defensive zone and help our defense,” said Giusto, adding Cheshire should be able to roll three or four lines. “Offensively we should be a solid team.”
DANIEL HAND (4-1-0)
Coach: Brian Gonsalves
The Tigers got in only five games last winter before the season was shut down. Now with eight seniors departed, Gonsalves says there will be a new identity with 12 upperclassmen looking to make a name for themselves and keep Hand in the mix.
Helping establish that identity will be senior captains Kevin Sandor and Marcus Padula, who will be the anchors on defense. Junior Alex Schiano will be in goal.
Seniors Jeff Pinover and JJ Barber are the top returning forwards with juniors Ryan Pfaff and Kevin Rich.
Gonsalves will be looking to junior forward Malcolm Yanez and junior goalie Ethan Hajdasz to make key contributions.
EAST HAVEN (0-4-0)
Coach: Louis Pane
The Yellowjackets were never able to get untracked last season before the premature end to their season.
But a large chunk of the roster returns, led by senior captains Ethan Roach, Michael Robert and Parker Sprankle. Roach will be back in net behind a defense led by Robert, juniors Dylan Ingram, Giuseppe Monaco, Matt Penn and Tyler Weinzimmer, and sophomores Dominic Perillo and Robert Testa.
Sprankle leads the forward group with senior Josh Berg, juniors Evan Giovanelli, Nicholas Ruggiero, Alan Schroeter and Joseph Vocatura, and sophomores John D’Albero, Griffin McGlinchey and Josh Salvati. Freshman forward Gennaro Pompano could make an immediate impact.
Senior Ryan Sheldon and junior Jon-Paul Garea also return in goal.
Coach: Ralph Russo
The Grizzlies return 11 upperclassmen from last season as they try to climb their way up through the SCC/SWC 2 ranks.
The strength will be on the back end of the ice, where senior goalie Gavin Litvyn is supported by a strong group of defensemen – seniors Thomas Booth and James Murray, and juniors Shane Considine, Ryan McMahon, Sean Melvin and Mitchell Ward.
Returning forwards include seniors Michael Torre and Thomas Ziemba, and juniors Gabriel Mongelli and William Petrick.
LYMAN HALL (10-3-0)
Coach: Dave Sagnella
With eight seniors returning and experience across the forward lines and defense, the Trojans should be in good position to continue their recent run of success.
Seniors Jack Roberts (12-14-26), Zachary Pettit (4-10-14) and Dylan Gay (4-7-11) will lead the scoring attack with seniors Ryan Arduini (2-3-5) and Aydan Durant (3-2-5).
The blue line will be just as solid with seniors Kenny MacKenzie (1-7-8) and Dan Pettit (2-5-7), as well as junior Peyton Durant (0-2-2). They will help ease the transition for freshman goalie Dylan Florio.
Sagnella says the Trojans will continue to work as a team in all three zones and outwork opponents.
NORTH BRANFORD (1-9-0)
Coach: Ralph Shaw
Shaw says the Thunderbirds have “a good group of returning players that are eager to play. They have set some goals for the season and look to revitalize the program.”
North Branford will have senior captains Dakota Cooper and Ryan Miuchonski at forward, as well as senior captain Joe Marra on the blue line.
Sophomores Mike Matteo and Jack Maley add depth at forward, and Marra will be joined on defense by sophomores Colin Augur and Nickie Ryszczyk.
The Thunderbirds should be solid in goal with junior Aidan Geist, sophomore Austin Fruin, and freshman Greg Gallaso.
Sophomore forward CJ Sherwood has transferred back from Notre Dame-West Haven and will step right into the lineup.
NORTH HAVEN (8-2-0)
Coach: Christopher Avena
With 17 players back from the team that won the SCC/SCC Division 2 tournament championship (a first for the program), hopes certainly are high for the Nighthawks.
North Haven will be driven by the forward group of Jake Hines (2-5-7), Michael Anquillare, Brian Jooss, Ayden Mindlin (0-1-1) and Nicky Tondalo (2-2-4).
Senior Justin Pniewski (1-1-2) is back on defense, and senior Jared Anderson (8 career starts) will get his chance to take the goaltending reins full time.
“With increased playing time we look to build on last season’s success and should be in the mix again for our conference and state tournaments,” Avena said.
Even without a postseason tournament last winter, the move to Division 2 certainly didn’t faze the Titans, who were front-runners all season before being bumped off by North Haven in the conference tournament.
While many key players from the recent run of success have departed, Festa believes the program is in good hands going forward.
Senior center Anthony Defilio (3-6-9) and sophomore wing Landon Cantele (3-3-6) are poised to step into key roles at forward, with seniors James Stratton (3-5-8) and Brendan Hilinski (1-14-15).
The Titans have three goalies with experience: sophomore Michael Fritz (1.40 GAA), junior Justin Lyon (2.00 GAA) and senior Luca Mange (1.00 GAA).
Other players to watch include freshman forward Max Festa, senior forward Andry Guy, and junior defenseman Billy Totz.
“With a good offseason and players joining higher level teams, the compete level in practice has been great,” Festa said. “The chemistry and cohesiveness of the team drives the attitude and motivation.”
Coach: Vic Vicenzi
If there is a team poised for a breakout this season, W-P could be it. Vicenzi cites the team’s wealth of leadership and experience throughout the lineup.
Seniors Matt Christina (C), Robert Lubus (RW), Aidan Nemoto (C, RW) and Aiden Kane (LW) headline the forward group with juniors Jack Mulhall (LW), Jackson Hitchcock (C) and Shane Repetto (C, LW).
The W-P defense should be just as solid with seniors Spencer Ances, Joe Meglio and Sam Swoyer, junior Nate LaMadeleine and sophomore Jack Gouveia. Senior Carly Bokina returns in goal.
Joining the lineup this season are sophomores David Burke and Logan Cheney on defense, plus freshmen Jack Leary (C), AJ DelCarmine (D) and Andrew Brown (G).
“Senior class is hungry for some success and are primed to get after it,” Vicenzi said. “We have decent depth with our juniors and sophomores, as well as some freshmen looking to compete for ice time. Disciplined, aggressive hockey is what we will be relying on for some success.”