Connecticut HS Hockey: Branford the choice in re-structured Division II

HNIB Staff
HNIB Staffhttps://www.hnibnews.com
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 40 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.

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Connecticut Boys Division 2 Pre-Season Poll

RankTeam WLT
1Branford1382
2East Catholic1960
3Amity1380
4Cheshire5150
5Hand1183
6North Haven4142
7Guilford1282
8Fairfield14110
9Newinton/Berlin/Manch.1742
10New Milford1372
[one_fourth]
Tyler Hackett Branford
Tyler Hackett
Branford
[/one_fourth] [one_fourth]
Tyler Criscuolo Branford
Tyler Criscuolo
Branford
[/one_fourth] [one_fourth]
Luke Vendetto Cheshire
Luke Vendetto
Cheshire
[/one_fourth] [one_fourth_last]
Conor Scharlop Fairfield
Conor Scharlop
Fairfield
[/one_fourth_last]

 

AMITY (13-8-0)
The Spartans will play a tough schedule, but they have lots of experience in many spots. Senior captains Adam Shea and Keating Seymour scored 31 and 20 points last year respectively; Senior Brett McNeill had 26. John Crocker and John Pignataro, also seniors, will be keys up front.

 

Senior captain Johnny Uscilla, seniors Ryan Hauser and Scott Saffran, and junior Dalton Luciani make up part of a solid defense corps. All-state goalie Nick Nuzzolo graduated, but backup Brian Mosher, a senior, steps into the starting role, and coach Gary Lindgren expects him to make progress as the year goes on.

 

BRANFORD (13-8-2)
Coach Adolph Brink hopes to develop some depth so the ever-solid Hornets can balance a good defense and a quick-striking offense.

 

Anchoring that defense: junior goalie A.J. Brink, who had a 2.41 goals-against average and .924 save percentage last year. Senior Rob Denhardt and juniors Pat Cunningham and Aidan Deane lead the defense
corps with offense expected from juniors Tyler Criscuolo (20-12-32) and Tyler Hackett (19-19-38) and senior Tony Pascale (14-10-24).

 

BROOKFIELD/BETHEL/DANBURY (17-7-1)
The IceCats surprised some people moving up from Division III, and although they’ve lost 14 players from that team — including graduating two goalies and losing two players to season-ending injuries before that season even began — coach Rusty Granacker things there’s a lot of potential.

 

Seniors returning up front include Joe Britton, Steve Almeida, John Vitti, Justin Sinko, Mark Vetter and Daivon Ruggiero, with help from sophomore John Buckle and juniors Will Lawrence and Austin Natale. Senior Kevin Keiser leads the defense, and juniors Eric Stoeckle and Trevor Powers and Brennan Battochio also return. Three sophomore goalies, James Van Trunk, Taylor Bingham and Jacob Keller, will battle for time.

 

CHESHIRE (5-15-0)
The Rams will play a very different schedule this year, moving down from Division I (particularly tough in the Southern Connecticut Conference, full of state powers) to Division II. With 11 seniors, coach Karl Sundquist’s team has a chance to jump up into the competitive mix.

 

Senior Luke Vendetto and junior Ben Klanica both scored 19 points last year. Senior Dan Purslow should be a top offensive defenseman. Senior Chris Stevens, the captain, is a good defensive forward, and seniors Joe D’Errico, a playmaker, and speedy Jon Hauser will contribute up front. Senior Joey Solla is the team’s top goalie.

 

FARMINGTON/AVON/WINDSOR (9-13-0)
The co-op is together for its third year, so co-coach Scott Percival (with Mike Barone) thinks chemistry should be a strength, along with speed and leadership from captains Nick Sanderson, Dan Rider and junior Connor McCutcheon at forward and senior Jack Wendler on defense.

 

Juniors Mike Santos, Paul Tasillo and Michael Arciero will contribute up front; sophomore Mike Wissuchek and junior Alden Piper should be solid on defense.

 

FERMI/ENFIELD/EAST GRANBY/STAFFORD (8-12-1)
The co-op has six defensemen back, led by junior Ryan Gothers and senior Ernie Bouthiette. That has coach Frank Genovese hopeful that they’ll be a tough team to play against.

 

They will need to develop some depth and secondary scoring up front behind senior Matt Boulette and junior Brian Riley (22 points). The team will need to replace graduated goalie Aaron Lickwar, now playing for the Boston Junior Rangers.

 

HAND (11-8-3)
The Tigers have a new coach again, former Masuk assistant Ken Mitchell. There’s a good nucleus returning from last year’s SCC Div. II champion, led by senior goalie Chase Briggs, a standout last year. Senior Dan Healey is a heart-and-soul type of defenseman, and senior Danny Braumann and junior Ben Solin both had over 30 points last year. The Tigers did lose Sam LaFontaine, though, who moved to Ohio.

 

MILFORD (12-9-0)
The Indians had a nice year last year and can do so again if they play well in support of senior goalies John DePalma and Noah Ericson.

 

Coach Sal Follo’s Indians have several seniors back up front, including centerman Zach White, who scored 61 points last year, along with right wingers Will Vitelli and Danny Cyr and left wingers Dylan Hallett and Larry Shea. Senior co-captain Ben Lavallee leads the defense with juniors Jonathan DePascale (13 assists and Jarrod Butts.

 

NEW MILFORD (13-7-2)
There’s kind of a buzz around the Green Wave from other coaches. The team has a senior goalie returning in Nick Capriglione, who split time,last year on a team that allowed only a goal and a half a game for coach Dan Moore.

 

Senior Jack Laucius and junior Jameson Steinhardt are back on the blue line, and junior Matt Delafield and sophomore Riley Zimmerman will step into key roles. The Green Wave have an influx of players from different places, including junior hockey, where senior forwards Steven Berry and Cole Case arrive to join senior Harrison O’Connell and juniors Blain McMahon, Logan Doud and Tommy Nisco; how well they blend the newcomers into the system will go a long way toward determining how the season goes.

 

NEWINGTON/BERLIN/MANCHESTER (17-4-2)
Division III champions the past two years, the team moves up a class. It was more than competitive with Division II programs last year, but it graduated goalie Drew O’Leary and all-staters Brendon Richard and
Justin Pratte.

 

Senior captain Mike Davies leads an experienced defense, though. Senior captains Dan Roberts (11 goals, nine assists) and Matt Harackiewicz (9-13-22) have been big contributors; senior Tyler Mangiafico is often first on the puck. Junior Marco DiPaola and sophomore Luca DiPaola bring lots of skill, and Marco scored the
championship-winner last year.

 

NORTH HAVEN (4-14-2)
The Indians move down from Division I, and coach Tom Roche is hopeful this year will be a good one behind several good returning players.

 

Senior Vin Fasulo, the team’s captain, is a centerman with good hands, and his classmates, speedy Chris Lion (an alternate captain) and gritty Mike Hribko, are solid on the wings. Tough senior Mike Bogrart
and strong senior Philip Gauvin lead the defense in front of junior alternate captain Andrew Graziano, a top-notch goalie.

 

ROCKVILLE/BOLTON/COVENTRY/LYMAN MEMORIAL (20-2-2)
BCR graduated goalie Cam Earle, a huge loss, leaving untested goalies as the team moves up from Division III. But it does have senior forward Kevin Morton back, a junior all-star last season with over 30 points, and senior Eddie Bates also returns after a season with more than 40 points.

 

Seniors Liam McGrath and Hunter Byram (co-captains) and Nate Tonzi are all solid defensemen, and Kevin Bishop made good decisions and played well last year as a freshman. Bruce Smith, whose sophomore season was cut short by what coach Christian Stevenson called a questionable hit, was a big loss, but he’s back up front as a senior.

 

SUFFIELD/GRANBY/WINDSOR LOCKS (8-12-1)
It’s a young group, but it has some experienced underclassmen back. Speed and defensive depth will be key to coach Nick Boorman’s Wildcats’ chances.

 

They have goalies Cam Clark, a senior, and Shane Kertanis, a junior, returning; both allowed under three goals a game last year. Junior Jake King (21 goals, 15 assists, all-state) and senior Max Marson (11 goals, 15 assists and good defensively) are back up front.

 

[one_third]
Jake King Suffield
Jake King
Suffield
[/one_third] [one_third]
Eryk Weiglos Trinity Catholic
Eryk Weiglos
Trinity Catholic
[/one_third] [one_third_last]
Kyle Odierno Trinity Catholic
Kyle Odierno
Trinity Catholic
[/one_third_last]

TRINITY CATHOLIC (9-13-1)

After slow starts but big finishes the past two years, coach Ken Smith is hopeful the Crusaders can start quicker this year and build from there. They will rely on the leadership of seniors Will Egan, Sean Epp, Carmine Derubeis and Tyler Stenquist, with standout junior Colin Bernard returning to be the workhorse of the defense.

 

Junior Griffin Northrop will be among the leading forwards, with sophomore forward Eryk Weiglos and sophomore defenseman Jordan Skiba on the rise. Junior Kyle Odeirno returns in goal.

 

TRUMBULL (5-15-0)
The Eagles will look to bounce back behind leading senior Alex Pierne, who scored 13 points last year up front, with sophomore Michael Antoniou expected to step up into a key role. They’ll need other newcomers to produce, too. They have junior captain Sam Watson (11 points) back on defense, and junior Jake Crowe returns after missing most of last season with a concussion.

 

Seniors Andrew Charlton, Rob Fantarella and Owen Polzello should shore up the defense. Senior Grant Vagnone and junior Francis Fromageot lack experience, but coach Greg Maxey figures them capable.

 

WILTON (5-15-0)
Coach Brett Amero feels the Warriors were just about game-ready even before the season started; he likes their work ethic, motivation and dedication. Senior Joey Cullinan, a versatile player with great hockey
sense, is the team captain. Senior Derek Prario should be solid in net.

 

FAIRFIELD (14-11-0)
The defending state champion graduated 13 players, which may have them a bit under the radar again. There’s still some talent coming back, led by senior captain Conor Scharlop, a defenseman with a big presence, joined by senior Matt Stern. Kyle Greenhut returns in goal after a brilliant playoff last year as a sophomore.

 

Gritty senior forward Jack O’Rourke will work hard, and classmate Austin Armas will hit hard and score. Playoff hero Kevin Robinson, who scored four goals in the final, will play junior hockey.

 

CONARD (7-12-2)
The Chieftains are young but work hard, with great leadership, coach Greg Raymer said. That begins with senior centerman Quinn Lacroix, team captain, and assistants John Palermo and Luke Haggerty on the
wings and junior Jake Reynolds on defense.

 

Junior defenseman Eric Krueger should also be solid for a team that can have success (though it’ll face a tough schedule) if its team defense is sound; there’s ability up front, including in sophomore forward Grayson Lacroix, all-conference as a freshman.

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