The Cape Ann League has undergone a lot of change since last season. Much of it could be temporary — Hamilton-Wenham (independent) and Rockport (Commonwealth) will play CAL schedules during the pandemic, while Amesbury will not field a team this season because it is low on numbers after its co-op school Whittier canceled winter sports.
Meanwhile, last year’s champion Masconomet has moved to the Northeastern Conference. That leaves an open field for this year’s seven teams, who hope to end the season in the inaugural Cape Ann League tournament.
After scuffling a year ago, the Clippers are shooting for a bounce-back campaign. Paul Yameen, the longest-tenured coach in program history, said the team has “a great mix of experience and youth that has blended well.”
The defense will be bolstered by the return from injury of senior goalie Jackson Marshall, the Clippers’ keeper as a sophomore. Sophomore Jamie Brooks picked up plenty of experience as a freshman. Seniors Owen Spence (3-10-13) and Tucker St. Lawrence and sophomores Max Puleo and Cam Caponigro return on the blue line.
Junior Jon Groth (8-17-25) and senior Colin Richmond (3-15-18), both centers, spark the offense. Seniors Ryan Archer (8-3-11), Tony Lucci (nine points), Zach Wilson (four goals) and Zach Lever all return. That unit will be fleshed out by new sophomore Zach McHugh and incoming freshmen Kane Brennan, Jack Sullivan, Owen Kreuz, Cole Beauparlant and Will Palermino.
“It will be a one game at a time mentality. With such a short season we can’t afford to overlook anybody,” Yameen said. “We are very excited about our freshman class with 12 entering the program and five on the varsity roster.”
Coach Jon Gardner could have one of his deepest teams in his nine seasons with the Pioneers with nearly 50 players in the program. Included in that is a freshman class of 28, of which seven will be on the varsity roster.
Despite graduating nine players from last year’s squad, this year’s senior class should be just as solid. CAL All-Star Jake Debenedictis returns in goal, while senior forwards Brendan Henehan and Alex Buonopane will serve as captains for the Pioneers. Transfer Aidan Burke will join them on what should be Lynnfield’s top line.
Defensively, sophomore Drew Damiani is poised for big things after a strong freshman season. Tyler Scopptttuolo also returns to the blue line.
Jake Calvani is another transfer to watch for the Pioneers.
A historic 2019-20 run for the Vikings, which included an upset of top seed and former CAL rival Masconomet, reached the Division 2 North final before crashing to a halt. Coach Ryan Sheehan has a strong group of seniors back from that squad as they will look to challenge for the CAL title.
Seniors James Tatro (16-17-33), Cael Kohan (13-16-29), Aiden Lowry, Ben Rennick, Jack Forrest and Ryan Lindholm lead the deep forward group. Captain Brady Lindholm and Trevor Quigley are returning seniors on defense, joined by sophomores Alex Montiero and Brayden Macdonald. Tatro, Kohan and Ryan Lindholm will be alternate captains.
The Vikings have a trio of solid goalies in sophomores Wes Rollins and Josh Bradley, and junior Evan Piscatelli.
Sophomore forward Dominic Cardillo and freshman defenseman Jack Lindholm will look for playing time.
North Reading (8-9-3)
The Hornets just missed by one point in qualifying for the Division 2 North tournament last year in Brian McAuliffe’s first behind the bench.
North Reading brings back some experience from that squad, including senior forwards Nicholas Pasquale, Ben Schille and Jonathan Patch. Ryan Fabrizio and Michael Dee are seniors on the blue line, joined by junior Matt Ryan.
Freshman forward Derek Daley and goalie Marty Pierce add to the depth for the Hornets.
While most of the school’s sports programs compete regularly in the CAL, it has been a number of years since the boys’ hockey team has played its usual rivals in a league schedule. The COVID-19 adjustments are bringing the Generals back home in Rob Ryan’s fifth season.
Senior Grant Landon has patiently waited for his time in goal for H-W, while the senior line of James Horgan, Colby Guyer and Jack Stewart should lead the way. Juniors Zack Walles and Seamus Heaney are the top returning defensemen, along with senior Kevin Murphy.
Juniors Aiden Donovan (F), Leo Kagan (F) and Will Moroney (D) also return along with freshman forward Rafael Santomenna.
The program went on a two-week pause because of a positive COVID-19 test, according to Pentucket officials, but was expected to be back on the ice to open the season Jan. 9 against Hamilton-Wenham. Once again, Georgetown will be part of a co-op for second-year coach Mike Lincoln.
When they return, they will be led by senior Richie Hardy, a CAL All-Star who enters the season with 110 career points (50 goals, 60 assists). Senior defenseman Dom Cignetti also is a CAL All-Star, and he and Hardy will be captains along with senior forward Carson Purcell.
Jake Sorenson is the lone other senior, and the forward group will be rounded out by juniors Cam Hegarty and Paolo Orlando, and sophomores Nolan Gorski, Jacob Riley, Cam Smith and Jack Stewart. Joining Cignetti on the blue line are juniors Jameson O’Leary, Drew Regan and John Hurley, and sophomores Nolan Cole and Noah Parmenter. Sophomore Ben Guertin returns in goal.
The Vikings broke through by making the Division 3 North tournament in the first season as coach for Kyle Nelson, a 2015 alum of the program. This year Rockport, which continues to co-op with Ipswich and Manchester Essex, returns to the Cape Ann from the Commonwealth as part of the COVID-19 protocols.
Senior center Rowan Silva (Ipswich, 6-12-18) is the top returning scorer, followed by senior right wing Frew Rowen (Rockport, 4-5-9), sophomore right wing Dougie Pratt (Manchester Essex, 2-4-6) and junior center Gio Recupero (Ipswich, 4-4-8) at forward.
Nelson said the defensive zone will be a key to building off last year’s success. Sophomore Michael Nocella (Rockport, 1-4-5) and junior Aiden Arnold (Ipswich, 2-1-3) are the top returnees on the blue line. A quartet of Manchester Essex players — sophomore goalie Jack Crompton, junior left wings Luc Moruzzi and Colby Doane, and sophomore defenseman Michael DeOreo — are up from junior varsity.
- Kevin Doyle also contributed to this report