The Division 3 side of the Southern Connecticut Conference/South West Conference will be back to seven teams with the return of Shepaug Valley, which sat out last season.
BBD nearly ran the table last season and skated away with the postseason tournament championship, and league coaches expect the Icecats to be strong again along with JBWA, Masuk, Milford and New Milford. With one of the best goalies in the state, Newtown/New Fairfield certainly can’t be counted out.
Coach: Rusty Granacker
Coming off a historic season capped by a victory in the SCC/SWC 3 championship game, the Icecats once again should be one of the top teams in the league.
While some talent has graduated, senior Louis Alfidi is back between the pipes for BBD and will be one of the four captains along with seniors Liam Gelfand, Kenny Granacker and Alex Nunez.
Also back for the Wildcats are juniors Kevin Dykes, Thomas Fernandes, Daniel McCue, Jordan Perrotti, Tim Whitlock and Dmitry Yates.
BBD, which won its first 10 games last season, remains a co-op of Brookfield, Bethel and Danbury.
Coach: Bob Stearns
The three-team co-op – Joel Barlow, Weston and Abbott Tech – will have only three seniors this season, so Stearns and the team will lean on the leadership of returnees Duncan Craine and Stephen Theall as well as newcomer Nick Randall.
Returning juniors include Tommy Berry, Josh Gyolai, Tommy Kane, Kai Smith and Spencer Thomas. The sophomore class includes Henry Hoeffner, Graham Jacobs, Parker Kendall and Ryan McCabe.
JBWA also will skate six freshmen this season, including promising scorer Niko Tournas.
Coach: Andy Townsend
With junior center Drew Scalia (25 points), an SCC/SWC 3 first-team pick, leading the way, Townsend likes the offensive potential the Panthers will have this season. Junior wing AJ Michetti is another returning player at forward.
On defense, Masuk will look to seniors Jack Cirillo and Justin Aleman, as well as junior Colin Deering. Senior Tony Beck returns in goal after starting every game as a junior.
Sophomore Nick Kondub is a newcomer who should help the Panthers, and junior Kyle Suftkin will join the lineup later in the season after transferring from Fairfield Prep.
Coach: Ken Mitchell
The Mariners will take a lunch-pail approach to this season, according to Mitchell.
“We need to be the hardest working team on the ice,” Mitchell said. “If we can find some scoring to go along with our compete, we should see some success.”
Senior captain Kevin Woaknovicz anchors the blue line along with senior Chad Stryker, with senior Max Howland in goal.
Up front, the Mariners return juniors Connor Chirico and Chris Adkins, senior Joey Honcz, and sophomore Aidan Ragusa. Freshman Sean Luxedor is a newcomer to watch.
The Mariners are a co-op of Milford schools Jonathan Law, Foran, and Pratt Tech.
NEW MILFORD (2-7-1)
Coach: Scott Capriglione
The Green Wave should make positive strides in the win-loss record this season with a veteran cast back.
“We have a great nucleus of experienced forwards and four senior defensemen,” Capriglione said. “We are also returning a junior goaltender. We have some quality younger players with real promise.”
Those senior defensemen include Nick Carlucci (0-2-2), Steve Sanford (0-3-3), Quinn Danvers (2-5-7) and Joey LaCava, with junior Jonas Veleas (3.80 GAA) in goal.
Up front the Green Wave will lean on senior center Ryan Parker (2-2-4) and junior wing Bruce Isquith (3–1-4), with a solid cast of sophomores ready to help out.
NEWTOWN/NEW FAIRFIELD (3-4-2)
Coach: Paul Esposito
For the Nighthawks, it all begins in their end of the ice, where All-State and SCC?SWC 3 first-team goalie Markus Paltauf will be between the pipes again. The senior posted a .945 save percentage last season and will make Newtown/New Fairfield a tough out on a nightly basis again.
Senior captain James Celentano (8-10-18) also returns off a SCC/SWC 3 first-team selection and was second-team All-State. Junior center Cam Gouveia (1-2-3) is the other top returning forward. The Nighthawks also welcome a promising cast of sophomores in centers Alex Schmidt and Jared Ku, along with wing Ryan Anderson.
Aiding Paltauf in the defensive end will be senior assistant captains Ronan McAllister (2-5-7) and John O’Sullivan (0-1-1), and sophomore newcomer Sebastian Cilia.
“We will have to find ways to score to complement a solid defense,” Esposito said, adding he likes the physical size he has on the roster.
SHEPAUG VALLEY (no 2021 season)
Coach: Rick Faull
After sitting out the 2021 season during the pandemic, Shepaug returns to the ice this season with a new coach in Faull. The numbers look promising after COVID protocols would have left the team with just nine skaters and no goalie a season ago, leading to the cancellation of their schedule.
It may take a while to get up to speed under a new staff, but seniors Tyler Moody (center), Stanley Ambruso (defense) and Connor Ross (wing) all were part of the program two years ago, as was junior defenseman Andre Gamelin.
Seniors Samantha Faull, Thomas Giraldi Jr. and Nicholas Guerra join that group this season along with juniors Logan Beauprey, Jacob Conway, William Nichols, Thomas Vailionis and Thoedore Valletta.
Other newcomers to the program are sophomores Sean Classey, Thomas Faull, Cameron Goethner, Dayton Griffin, Rachel Hofmann and Mason Pieger, as well as freshmen Clare Moore, Luke Nichols and Peyton Thomas.
The co-op team includes players from Litchfield, Nonnewaug and Thomaston.