2020 NEPSAC Small School Tournament champion Cushing and 2020 Elite Tournament finalist Phillips Andover highlight the Independent programs from the East region. Look for Dexter Southfield to be improved this winter.
Coach: Val Bono-Bunker
The 2002 NEPSAC Small School champions have as talented a nucleus as anybody and should be in the conversation of serious Elite Tournament challengers this winter.
“Our players will earn every minute of ice, they will work as a team and they will overcome obstacles together,” said coach Bono-Bunker. “The only control we have is focusing on our goals in front of us and working hard and smart, together, to achieve them.
At forward, seniors Mia Langlois and Lily Brazis, both key contributors to the Small School title team, have both committed to Northeastern. Junior Sammy Taber is a Boston College commit. Junior Caroline Lilley is back as well. New junior Delaney Williams looks to contribute.
Seniors Shea Frost (Boston College) and Kailey Smith (Sacred Heart) are two more D1 commits on the blue line, as is junior Rylie Jones (Northeastern). Junior Lily Corso is another solid blueliner that is back. Post-grad Sophia Gregory has a commit to Elmira.
In goal, senior Elle Sullivan (Dartmouth commit) and junior Daphnee Kalogeropoulos will handle all the work.
Coach: Maggie Taverna
Another program on the rise is Dexter Southfield, which should be an interesting team to watch this winter. “We want to have much success,” said coach Taverna. “We will give our best efforts on the ice and work as a team to improve our game.”
An offensive leader will definitely be senior Kara Goulding, a Boston College commit. A couple of youngsters looking to show what they can do up front are eighth-graders Alex Mitsakis and Evelyn Doyle.
Dexter Southfield has two more college commits on defense in senior Cailin Flynn (Boston College) and senior Emily Hohmann (Amherst). New freshmen Emma Peterson and Alaina Dunn look to contribute.
A couple of varsity goaltender return in senior Margaret Thompson and junior Ainsley Moulton.
Coach: Ashley Paulson
The Lumberjacks have a group of strong seniors that are committed to have a successful season.
Leaders project to be senior forward Julia Gregory, senior defenseman Brooke Larsen and senior goaltender Mya Tucker.
Coach: Emilie Arseneault
The Huskies have the bulk of the games this winter on the road, and that is something they are actually looking forward to.
Seniors Naomi Balon and Lauren McCallig, and sophomore Annie Audet will be offensive catalysts for coach Arseneault. Amongst the newcomers to the program this year are senior Ella Oakes (St. Lawrence Steel), junior Clara-Even Landry (Northern Lightning AAA) and sophomore Averi Zhong (Acton-Boxboro HS).
No less than five defensemen that have been with the program are back in post-grad Laurie-Anne Hebert, senior Emma Knowles, juniors Evan MacKay and Austyn Crowley, and sophomore Abi Graham. Senior Eva Jaskova, from the U18 Slovakian Team, could play either defense or forward. Freshman Avery Ross (Maine Moose) will battle for time.
The team will have two new goaltenders in senior Emma Gardner (Ontario Hockey Academy) and sophomore Sarah-Maude Richard (Bathurst Northern Stars).
NORTH YARMOUTH ACADEMY
Coach: Matthew Poulin
New head coach Poulin feels his Panthers will have a strong defensive group and goaltending. He also reports that all forwards on the rostser last year have returned and ready for a full season of hockey.
Keys up front for NYA include senior Rylie McIntyre, senior Jasmine Huntsman and senior Carly Sanzo. Two freshmen to watch are Lyla Casey and Anna Elizarkov.
NYA will have four senior defensemen in Maggie Holt, Eliza Chace, Courtney Swenson and Emma Sharp.
Sophomore goalie Molly Nelson returns and will team up with freshman Brooklyn Goodman to handle the netminding duties.
Coach: Martha Fenton
The Big Blue haven’t played a game since falling to Nobles in the 2020 Elite Tournament title game. Senior leadership will set the tone in the early going as two-thirds of the club has never played a game in an Andover uniform.
Harvard recruits Indi Wagner and Gwyn Lapp, both seniors, highlight a deep and fast forward group that also features seniors Marie Eve Marleau (Amherst commit) and Elizabeth Assimes, juniors Claire Colvin, Lulu Rourke, Keira Harder and Gretchen Swartz, and sophomore Shea Freda.
On defense, seniors Rachel Neyman (Middlebury commit) and Lizzie Gilmartin, and juniors Anne Averill (Dartmouth commit) and Olivia McManus are back, joined new senior Aimee Seppenwolde (Wesleyan commit) and junior Deanna Buenzow (Yale commit.
Both goalies are new. Senior Lexington Secreto is an Ohio State commit and joined by freshman Ellie Parker.
The Big Blue could have as many as six freshmen on the roster.
Coach: Sally Komarek
Exeter is geared up for a full season of play, and now have two groups of players that have not yet had the opportunity to wear an Exeter jersey in competition against other prep clubs.
They did have a handful of intra-squad scrimmages a year ago, and top scorers during those battles included junior Shauna Vadeboncoeur (Brown commit), junior Eden Welch (Penn lacrosse commit), junior Tammy Zhu and seniors Caitlin Burke and Victoria Quinn. Junior Kate Nixon is another veteran forward.
An experienced blue line features the likes of seniors Kathryn Welch (Northwestern lacrosse commit) and Molly Longfield (North Carolina lacrosse commit), junior Jenny Drevitch and sophomore Caroline Shu.
Junior Sami Smith is primed for big season in goal for coach Komarek.
Coach: Jeff Pellegrini
New head coach Pellegrini, who has experience in the college coaching ranks at Northeastern, says that “building a foundation is going to be critical to our success. Right out of the gate, we will be a blue collar team built on relentless effort and energy.”
He inherits a solid group of hard-working forwards in the senior group of Zoe Tow, Kaylen Taddia, Grace Fitzgerald and Rose Harvey. Post-grad forward Naomi Black (Goulbourn Rockets) should pay immediate dividends.
On defense, senior Biv Benoit, junior Mackenzie O’Leary and junior Brianna Conger all return and will have key responsibilities on the blue line. New junior Paige Pomerleau (Lewiston HS) joins the program from Maine.
New junior Ryley Disner (Team Colorado) looks to take over as the starting goaltender for the Wapiti.
Coach: Kevin Zifcak
At Worcester, success will come from the team’s upperclassmen setting the tone for the younger players.
Up front, senior Lauren Potvin (Sacred Heart commit) will be a go-to player for offense, working with returning seniors Faith Mancini, Kaleigh Wall and Erika Parenti, and juniors Elise Siciliano, Gina Richard, Cara Mancini and Jess Pistorino. New junior Frederikke Foss will have a key role.
Senior Emily Long will be a defensive backbone. New sophomore Bailee St. Hillaire will step into a regular role on the blue line. New senior Miranda De Antunano will join returning junior Emmy Lacourse in forming a formidable goaltending tandem.
Zifcak also reports the Hilltoppers have a good number of talented freshmen in the program as well.