The Blue Wave graduated some key players, but other coaches expect them to remain competitive, with a good group of returning forwards and some key defensemen back.
Seniors Tommy Watters, Owen Koorbusch, Robbie Juterbock and Connor Davis are back up front; junior Jack Pardue also returns. On defense, seniors Nick Allam and Jack Massie are back for coach Chris Gerwig. Senior Michael Colon takes over in goal.
EAST HAVEN (8-12-1)
Coach Lou Pane’s Yellowjackets had no seniors last year, which has him optimistic that they can be very successful.
The talented top line returns, junior Mike Falanga and seniors Matt Longobardi (captain) and Tristan Goodwin. There’s depth behind them, too, with seniors Dylan Butler, Nick Montesano and Tyler Johnson plus sophomore Anthony Avallone.
Senior Jake Delguidice, 6-foot-4, anchors the defense, with juniors Mike Montesano and Marty Lendroth and sophomore Joe D’Albero set to play key roles.
FAIRFIELD PREP (23-1-0)
The Jesuits were perfect in-state last year on the way to their 15th state title. They have their goaltending tandem back, seniors Chris Gutierrez and Matt Beck, with help from junior Jack Taubl, but they’ll have a lot to replace on defense, with five graduated regulars.
Though there is also a lot of firepower to replace up front, they have some experienced players returning, the likes of Matt Wikman (18 goals, 11 assists), Kenny Kochiss (8-9-17), Dean Lockery (14-14-28 and Matt McKinney, all seniors, and juniors Brandon Powell, Jack Quinn, Ryan Deering and Mike Ventricelli (7-10-17).
Replacing those defensemen falls to senior Steven Bayles and juniors Bryan Connell and Brendan Killoy, among others.
The Tomahawks don’t have the natural goal scorers they had in some past years, so they’ll have to work on their team defense and transition game.
There is some depth on defense for coach Ken Barse’s team, led by seniors Phil DeSalvo, Isaac Ward and Spencer Hosack, along with junior Logan Underwood. Junior Tyler MacLean will be among the leading forwards with seniors Patrick Conley, Jack Pizzo, Conor Thompson and Parsa Entezarian.
Goalies Alex Ment, a senior, and junior Kyle Thibodeaux will compete for the starting job.
NOTRE DAME-WEST HAVEN (18-6-1)
After 45 years of teaching and 15 years of coaching the Green Knights, Bill Gerosa retired on May 2. Tim Belcher, Class of 1993, succeeds him, taking the only job he said he’d leave Lyman Hall for. He plans for an “aggressive and passionate” team of hard-working players.
Champions two years ago and runners-up last year (with its fourth loss to Fairfield Prep), the Green Knights graduated several standouts (including two goalies), sent would-be senior star Billy Vizzo to the USPHL and lost senior defenseman Anthony Iovene to a preseason injury.
Returning, though, are some players who have scored. Senior Matt Dumas, senior Eric Austin and juniors Kyle and Ryan Lynch all had over 20 points last season. Senior Casey Hoban will contribute as well.
The Tigers suffered from their success, losing several players to prep school and junior hockey. Coach Shaun Gallagher will have quite a few solid players back, though, led by senior captains Jamie Kelly, a battle-tested defenseman, and workhorse forward Christian O’Connell.
Assistants Jack Tregurtha and Callan McCormick return up front along with junior all-state scorer Liam Smith.
Senior Sam Sarath will be relied on more at forward, as will senior Kyle Wolfath on defense. Juniors Alex Schneider and Patrick Sheehan-Delaney will compete for time in goal.
ST. JOSEPH (18-6-1)
The Cadets have usually had some top-end talent up front, but this year coach Marty Crouse has probably his deepest flock of forwards yet, at least three solid lines deep. They’re led by senior captains Ryan Corcoran, a hard-nosed and determined player (and one of several Cadets who are also standouts in lacrosse) and Sean Hurley, a big power forward.
Playmaking junior Dom DeRosa and talented junior Colin Powell will also play key roles, along with senior Dom Sidorczuk, juniors Filippo Petrini and Chris Kirven, and freshman Adam Usinger.
Seniors Vito Roca and Tommy Schaefer will have to lead the defense in front of junior goalies Christian Furce and transfer Dylan Batterson.
The Trojans have a strong group of defensemen returning, led by seniors Brian Gelman and Kurt Eustis. Both have size and should lead a group that should be a strength for coach Tom Cross’ team, along with senior Grant Swenson.
Aaron Riccio and James Foster, seniors both, work well around the net, and the team will have to find players who can score consistently. It will look to seniors Nolan Thompson and Sean Gaffney for leadership and for solid work from senior Stirling Brandt.
Simsbury will also need timely goaltending after graduating its regulars from the past few seasons.
WEST HAVEN (8-11-2)
The Blue Devils bring back their goalie and the bulk of their defense but needs to find consistent goal scoring. Coach Joe Morrell’s team will work hard.
Junior Mike Savino returns in net. Senior Alex Scranton will play big minutes on defense in all situations, and senior Joe Ayala and juniors Devin Hines and Don Froelick will also be relied on.
Senior Jaeson Puleo (14 points) is a hard-working forward, and senior Pete Lynn (nine points) is speedy up front.
New coach Dan DeConti’s team was hit by graduation and hit again by losses to prep school. He plans to be competitive, though, as the Falcons have been in recent years. They should be fine in goal, with junior Ben Guidobono returning.
Senior forward Andrew Meoli leads what should be a potent offense. Senior John Burkinshaw is the top returning defenseman.
DeConti, the former junior varsity coach, replaces Scott Gainey, who stepped down to coach the Selects Academy U18s at South Kent.
NEW CANAAN (13-8-2)
Like a lot of the traditional programs, New Canaan has been hit hard by both prep-school and junior-hockey defections. But coach Bo Hickey likes what has come back for him. He expects to be a little deeper defensively than last year.
That has allowed the Rams to move captain Jack O’Rourke and junior Peter Katz back to forward; they played on the blue line to help shore things up there last year. He’ll join fellow senior captain Harry Stanton up front along with senior Peter Reinhardt and juniors Patrick Hompe, Parker Lewis, Davis Bruch and Kyle Mettler.
The defense will be led by senior Steve Mettler, 6-foot-2 and mobile, along with juniors J.P. McMahon, Max Begoon, Jake Donaldson and Ted O’Rourke. Freshman Liam Mooney has potential in goal.
NORTHWEST CATHOLIC (15-7-0)
Coach Don Melanson had a goal to get the Indians to Division I, eventually. This might not be the optimal year to do it, losing a bunch of key players to graduation, but here they are.
“There’s a lot of very young talent coming in,” Melanson said. “We’ll get them used to playing at this level.”
They’ll be led by senior Demitri Yao, an offensive talent. A solid group of defensemen is led by senior John Arel, 6-foot-8 with a good shot and soft hands, and energetic junior Josh Stumpf.
The goalies have graduated, but a sophomore transfer could replace them.
Senior forwards Mark Schmeiler and Luke Finneran, both captains, lead the Cardinals against their typical tough schedule.
Coach Bob Russel’s team was one of many in Fairfield County that have had lots of talent siphoned off by junior programs, but they’re typically competitive.
The Green Dragons had a curious season last year in which they almost didn’t have a streak: They were competitive as always for coach Bill Verneris, but they never won, lost or tied two in a row until the end
of the regular season and the first game of the state tournament.
They graduated some talent, though, and then lost both standout forward Tyler Carangelo and defenseman Joe O’Connor to prep schools, Avon Old Farms and Westminster respectively. They’ll also need to find
NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD (11-10-0)
The Lancers got contributions from lots of underclassmen and threw in some surprise wins last year. Their challenge is to do it again in Steve Hetherman’s second fullnseason as head coach. They’re not going to sneak up on many people this time around.
SOUTH WINDSOR (8-12-1)
The Bobcats graduated eight seniors from a 20-man roster. They’ll have a tough schedule again. Still, coach Neil Rodman has always had his teams competitive.