One of the premier scholastic leagues in the country will again boast some top talent. There will be no easy days in the Founders League this winter.
Defending Large School champion Avon Old Farms (17-6-5) not only lost talent to graduation, but five underclassmen as well. A trio (Spencer Knight, Ryan Siedem and Trevor Zegras) moved on to National Team positions, while Tyler Madden and Jack Babbage are now in the USHL. Veteran head coach John Gardner says this year’s Winged Beavers must find the scoring touch and team defense. “We have a deep team but many unproven at this level,” he said.
The cupboard certainly isn’t bare. Seniors Matt Kirwan (Colorado College commit), Nick Wildgoose (St. Lawrence) and Will Christensen form a solid offensive nucleus. Newcomers to the attack ready to move in to key positions include seniors Zac Rehbaum, Max Sauve and Max Rand, sophomore Ryan Kirwan and freshman Timothy Heinke.
Seniors Mac Wiseman (UConn commit) and Aaron Pinto (Williams) and junior Cullen Young will have increased roles on the blue line. St. Lawrence commit Moses Acee should step right in.
New junior Alex Asianidis, from the Junior Flyers program and already committed to Providence, has his eyes on some solid minutes in goal for Avon.
More power play production and solid team defense will go a long way in helping Choate (9-14-2) to climb above the .500 mark.
A solid group up front is back for coach Pat Dennehy with senior Jack Hoey (24 pts, Colgate commit) headlining a pack that also includes seniors Chance Gorman (19 pts) and Pat Mullowney (12 pts) and juniors Sean Dennehy (12 pts), Brendan Darby and Chris Guyette. New sophomore John Russo will look to contribute.
Seniors Faisal Al-Saif (10 pts) and Sasha Teriyshny and juniors Cooper Swift and Kyle Sanborn all return on the blue line for the Wild Boars. New juniors Anish Deena and Sammy Silich should pay immediate dividends.
In goal, senior Cal Stewart returns after getting the majority of the minutes last winter. Senior Jackson Elkins is back as well.
Deerfield (10-13-2) won just one of its last nine games last season and will look to buck that trend with strong leadership and team chemistry and defensive depth.
A pair of juniors and Charlotte natives – Michael Holland and Sean McEvoy – are the Big Green’s top two returning scorers and will be relied on heavily, along with senior Chris Camelio, to lead the attack for second-year coach Tim McVaugh.
Senior Milo Defay and sophomore Jarod Harrington should have bigger roles. Three new forwards – Montreal natives Tomas Zourikian and Matt Miron, and Sasha Shogren from Minnesota, all juniors – will fit in up front.
Seniors Bret Pastor, Theo Lenz and Tommy Craft, and sophomore Eamon Doheny all have varsity experience on the blue line. The unit is bolstered with the arrival of post-grads Patrick Logan and Jeff MacDonald and new junior Noah de la Durantaya.
Deerfield boasts one of the prep’s top goalies in junior Thomas Gale, recently committed to Dartmouth. Sophomore Tyler McDermott is also in the mix.
Hotchkiss (9-14-2) made some strides last season and looks to continue its upward trend with a more balanced scoring attack.
A trio of seniors – Luke Harrington, Hauken Washington and Michael Gillis – are expected to drive the Bearcats offense. Keep an eye on new juniors Gino Antonacci and Jordan Ehrensperger.
On defense, coach Mike Traggio will rely on senior veteran Costa Tzougarakis.
A good group back has Kent (12-9-3) optimistic about a solid season. Coach Dale Reinhardt is looking to get some more offense from his defensemen.
Up front, Kent graduated six of its top seven scorers. meaning seniors Jeremy Routh (21 pts) and Adam Usinger (12 pts) will be keys, along with returning senior Tyler Cooligan and juniors Colin Cobb and Alex Guimmo. Three new sophomores hoping to open some eyes are Adian Cobb, Jason Kleinhans and AJ von Brauchitsech.
Defensively, the Lions have senior Nick Smith and junior Josh Stich as book-ends. New junior Ian Pierce and sophomores Matthew Perryman and Javi Ubarri will add solid depth.
Stalwart netminder Peter Negron has moved on, leaving some big minutes to junior Alex Contey and sophomore Blaine Moore between the pipes.
With 11 seniors on the roster, experience will be on the side of Loomis Chaffee (13-9-2) as the Pelicans look to make some noise.
Last year’s top scorer Joey Cipollone has moved on to junior hockey, so the offense for coach J.R. Zavisza will go through the senior duo of Mark Amatetti and Connor Leighton. New sophomore Anthony Cipollone, already committed to Vermont, will be a key addition up front.
On the blue line, senior Andrew Lucas (28 pts) is another Vermont commit and should be one of the prep’s top rearguards. Senior Matthew Giutarri brings key experience as well. New junior David Paluch gives the Pelicans a third Vermont commit on the roster and is expected to log some key minutes.
In goal, senior Patrick Pugliese logged an impressive 1.86 gaa last winter in limited time.
Perennial power Salisbury (20-8-2) needs to replace no less than 12 players that moved on from last winter’s 20-win club that qualified for the NE Elite Tournament. So, coach Andrew Will says there will plenty of opportunity for returning and new players to have a big impact.
Despite the roster turnover, there is plenty of talent in the forward lines. Senior Jacques Bouquot (29 pts) is a Boston College commit, Fellow senior Alex DiPaolo (32 pts) is bound for UMass-Amherst. Seniors Kevin Wall (32 pts) Matt Holmes (31 pts), Brett Willits and Nick Lachaine are back as well. More firepower will come from new senior Chris Brown and sophomores Nick Capone (Maine commit), Ilya Usau (UConn commit) and Arsenii Smekhnov (UConn commit).
Seniors Nick Hale (Holy Cross commit) and Peter Diliberatore (Quinnipiac commit) are defensive anchors for the Crimson Knights, along with junior Noah Lee. New junior Luke Krys will be a plus.
Salisbury will have a pair of new goaltenders, including post-grad Bryan McGrath, from Roxbury Latin.
The only new head coach in the league is behind the bench at Taft (15-8-1), where former Rhinos star, and NHL player, Ryan Shannon, takes over. He inherits a club that returns the majority of a team that was young last year, including its top seven scorers.
The Rhinos will be led up front by its big three in senior Nik Allain (UConn commit) and juniors Jordan Tonelli (Brown commit) and Shea Courtmanche (Dartmouth commit). Junior Ryan Colwell had a huge season a year ago, while Finn Walker, Peter Kennerson, Jack Sheehan and Dennis Franklin all return. Newcomer Scott Del Zotto has committed to UMass. Zack Tonelli, Jakub Teply and Bobby Barrasso are new forwards as well.
Defensemen back in the fold include Billy Dobensky, Azan Dorsett, Jack Feinstein, Johnny Hartfiel and Cam Cokinos. Harvard commit Christian Jimenez will certainly bolster the group.
Senior Caleb Hannon is a returning netminder and will join with newcomer Wyatt Courchaine to form a solid tandem in goal for the Rhinos.
Trinity Pawling (7-16-3) overcame an injury-plagued beginning last winter and played some good hockey down the stretch. This year’s Pride could see as many as 10 new faces up front, but returns five of its six top defensemen.
Junior Joey Musa (20 pts, Dartmouth commit) and senior Scot Lawson (16 pts) will be offensive cornerstones for coach Rob Ferraris.
Junior Phip Waugh (12 pts), already committed to Army, and senior Kyle Miller will be defensive leaders. In goal, junior Mitch Bown, whose season was cut short due to injury last winter, will be in the netminding mix.
Westminster (11-11-3) finished an even .500 last season, and will need some more output from its returning players to improve this winter.
A quartet of seniors – Harvard commit Ryan Doolin (18 pts), Cam Scott (15 pts), Tasso Housakos (13 pts) and Max Torrez – will be called upon to lead the Martlets attack. A lot is expected of new junior Tyler Kinney and sophomore Ignat Belov, a Belarus native committed to UConn.
Senior veteran Patrick Dawson (16 pts), a Sacred Heart commit, anchors the defense for coach Tim Joncas. Senior Mike Fiorini is another key returning blue liner. Sophomore Malik Alishialov, from Russia and also a UConn commit, will have a key role.
The Martlets need to find a replacement in goal for Kai Edmonds, who moved on to junior hockey.