From the looks of things, this should be a typical highly competitive Catholic Conference race. Each team will play the other twice, for a 10 league-game season, with plans for a small post-season league tournament. St. John’s of Shrewsbury, a longtime independent program, joins the conference this winter. As one league coach put it: “We could finish first, or we could finish sixth.”
BC HIGH (15-5-4)
Graduation and attrition took away a fair number of players from the Eagles, ousted in last year’s 1A semifinals after winning back-to-back crowns in 2018 and 2019. No matter – coach John Flaherty will rely on the culture that has been in place for a number of years to lift up this group.
“We have a good mix with a handful of returning guys who have been around for two Super 8 titles; some who played limited roles last year that will be asked to do more this season; and a group of new faces eager to make their mark. It will take a lot of hard work to get up to speed to play a full slate of Catholic Conference games,” Flaherty said. “We will approach it with the goal of winning the Catholic Conference and we will play for each other, especially the seniors in the room.”
Returning forwards include seniors Brian Bulger (8-7-15), Declan Joyce (6-6-12) and Neil Murphy, junior Aidan McDonnell, and sophomores Ryan Flaherty (10 points) and Brendan Coughlin. New to that unit are seniors Colin Oatway and Christian Bracher, sophomores Jackie Murphy and Luke O’Sullivan and freshman James Marshall.
Senior goalie Andrew Webb (2.81 GAA) anchors a defense made up of senior veterans Paul Terry, Nick Martin and Josh Milso and returning sophomores Matt Cox and Cormac Joyce. Freshman Troy Huber backs up Webb in goal. Junior Michael Mann, sophomore Nick Perniola and freshman Liam Kineen join the defense.
“It will be a dogfight every night. Adding a great program like St. John’s of Shrewsbury will make the state’s strongest league even stronger,” Flaherty observed.
ST. JOHN’S (S) (12-9-5)
The Pioneers move into arguably the State’s deepest league this season under the guidance of coach Michael Mead, now in his eighth year. Eleven players return from last year’s club that advanced to the North Sectional title game.
Mead said the objective this year is clear: “Keep the kids safe and healthy, take one day at a time, control what you can control and enjoy the moment.”
Seniors Ryan Richard and Matt McLellan, junior Evan Parente and sophomores Brett Edgren and Damon Myers return at forward. Seniors Andrew Dowd, Mitchell Albert and Luke Bellaud and sophomores Will Brophy and Andrew Brown are back on defense in front of senior goalie Ryan Dailida.
CATHOLIC MEMORIAL (10-8-6)
Fourteen players return for the reigning league champion Knights, a 1A qualifier last season. Coach Larry Rooney knows that what is generally regarded to be the state’s deepest league in terms of talent demands a full effort each and every night.
Junior goalie Dom Walecka is the linchpin of the CM defense. Seniors Seamus Burke, Jack Dunsmore and Mick Cowley, junior Tommy Goonan and sophomore Finn Burke all return on the blue line. Goalies PJ Benites, a junior, and Owen Watson, a freshman, are new to the varsity.
Seniors Will McNeil, Glen Considine and Jonny Nichols, juniors Dylan LaMonica, Joey Borelli, Ty Magliozzi and Luke Stacey and sophomores Brendan MacNeill and James Koo all return at forward. New junior Aiden Tripp joins that group.
“We plan to have a successful season [but] the Catholic Conference is a very strong league; any team can win on any night,” Rooney said.
MALDEN CATHOLIC (6-10-4)
The Lancers graduated only three players from last year’s club that played some of its best hockey in the back half of the season. The hope for coach Chris Kuchar’s club is that it can build on that momentum. Above average team speed and overall depth are strong suits.
Senior forwards Brendan Curtis (16-8-24) and dynamic David Bazile (9-9-18) – who can shift back to defense and is healthy after a back injury late last year – drive the offense. Senior Joey Tranchina, junior Nick Julian (4-6-10), and sophomores Daniel Zizza, Will Fosdick and Chris Stevens all return. Junior transfers Evan Foskett (Haverhill) and Nico Russo (Arlington Catholic) are among six new forwards while freshmen Seamus Condon and Joe Gaffney could have an immediate impact.
Senior league all-star Brady Roux returns in goal and sophomore Brendan Zinck will press for time. Seniors Chris Merryman (10 points), Zack Montecalvo and Cam Chute, junior Robert Ghergurovich and sophomore Samuel Ohannesian all return on defense. New freshmen Owen Keefe and Alex Rich join the defense and new sophomore Mason Phillips provides goaltending depth.
“With the majority of the team back and hungry to improve on last year and with the addition of some promising newcomers and some transfers, we’re looking to have a strong year. We’ll make the right decisions and follow the protocols to remain on the ice,” Kuchar said.
ST. JOHN’S PREP (14-6-5)
The Eagles are accustomed to re-loading. However, having lost heavily to graduation and transfers from last year’s 1A semifinalist, they will engage in a rare rebuild on the fly under veteran coach Kris Hanson.
“We are young and inexperienced. We’re looking to develop and build and make the most of every day,” Hanson said.
Seniors Jake DiNapoli and Zach McKennelley are the top returning forwards. Juniors Theo Vetere and Zack Raposa return on the blue line and senior Cam Smith gets the call in goal.