Mass. Boys HS Hockey – Central Mass. Preview: Teams Return To Conference Play This Season

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopouloshttp://www.hnibnews.com
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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After participating in Pod play last winter during the shortened season, teams are back this year playing in their divisions – Roy, Quinn, Russell and Coughlin. There will be a Central Mass. tournament teams can look forward to after the regular season, and prior to the new state-wide post-season tournament.

ROY CONFERENCE

WACHUSETT REGIONAL (4-6-2)

Coach: Matt Lane

MIAA Division: 1

If the team’s younger players can step up, the Mountaineers will challenge for CMass supremacy. Under the MIAA’s new alignment, Wachusett will play in the D1 post-season tournament if it qualifies.

Up front, senior Aiden Nicoloro is coming off a big year where he led the club with 18 points. Junior Dennis Jardine (9 pts) will be a key fixture in the forward group.

On defense, junior Braden McKenzie and sophomore Thomas Willman will be important parts of the rearguard contingent.

Allesandro Conte
Leominster

Senior Steve Layton was solid a year ago (2.63 gaa) and returns between the pipes.

LEOMINSTER (2-7-3)

Coach: Frank Mooney

MIAA Division: 2

Depth at forward could help propel the Blue Devils to betting things this winter. They will need to play hard in all three zones.

Patrick LeBlanc
Leominster

That depth comes from the return of seniors Tucker Mitton, Patrick LeBlanc, Ayden Bourque and Nathan Lemanski, juniors Will Parker and Brandon LeBlanc, and sophomores Zackary Warner-Senee and Jordan Adu.

An experienced defense features senior Alessandro Conte, senior Dante Mazzaferro and junior Deaglan Killay.

Junior returner Ryan Melanson should get the call in goal.

NORTH MIDDLESEX (5-6-1)

Coach: Steve Trundle

MIAA Division: 3

With some good talent returning at all positions, the Patriots are poised for a big season.

Five of last year’s top six forwards return, including senior T.J. Murphy (9 pts) and junior Jimmy O’Keefe (11 pts). Also back are seniors Ryan Lavery, Conner Lavery and Griffin Petrucci, and junior Noah McCusker. A couple of sophomores to watch are Sean Myers and Justin O’Keefe.

A veteran defense is led by senior Tyler Dunbar, senior Connor Ludford and senior Matt Lynch. Junior Jake Miller adds to the mix.

Coach Trundle welcomes back both goaltenders as well in Aaron Scarelli and Brandt Goodfriend.

GROTON-DUNSTABLE (10-0-1)

Coach: Brendan McCann

MIAA Division: 3

The Crusaders made the most of their opportunity last winter, going undefeated. They lost a lot of scoring from that team, so replacing that firepower will be a priority heading into the new year.

That task will fall on senior captain Dylan Cianci, junior captain Cole Beigel, juniors Carter Amidon, Jerry Fang and Andrew Cappella. Newcomers looking to challenge for time are senior Matt Lesser and juniors Jarret Arsenault and Ryan Ahumada.

On defense, seniors Hunter Woolfrey and T. J. Sannazzaro are both four-year varsity players who will bring stability. Juniors Preston Southwick and Will Conway return as well to the unit. Freshman Cullen O’Malley will see some time.

Junior Alex Hillenberg is a returning goalie, with new sophomores Caden Woolfrey and Cam McCretton in the mix as well.

NASHOBA REGIONAL (7-5-1)

Coach: Matt Biggs (interim)

MIAA Division: 3

Joe Scanlon
Nashoba

Great team defense and goaltending will be what propels the Wolves to success this winter.

They also could have a potent scoring attack with the return of seniors Billy Johns (13 pts) and Kameron Pierce, and junior Joseph Quinn.

Jack Peterson Nashoba

A stout defense features senior Joe Scanlon, junior Dillan Lowe (9 pts) and junior Colin Ruschioni.

Senior Jack Peterson, a returning varsity player, will provide solid goaltending.

QUINN CONFERENCE

MARLBORO (11-1-1)

Coach: Mike O’Brien

MIAA Division: 3

The Panthers are coming off an impressive season that saw them lose just one of 13 games. They hope to keep it going in the upcoming full season.

Expect some decent production from returning senior Marcus Chrisafidies (21 pts), senior Mark Evangelous (18 pts) and junior Sam Miele (11 pts). Looking to step it up are junior Gavin Daly and sophomore Cam Ellsworth.

Senior Colin Tunnera anchors the defensive unit with sophomore Luc Masse.

In goal, juniors Dan Esteves and Matt Lacroix both return to form a solid tandem.

Shawn Bradway Auburn/Millbury

AUBURN

Coach: Glen Bombard

MIAA Division: 2

Not able to play last winter, the Rockets are primed to get back into competition. They do have a handful of players who were solid performers in the 19-20 campaign.

Three of those players, now seniors, will lead the offensive attack in Shawn Bradway, Dominic DiPadua and Joe Valone. Two newcomers slotting in are sophomore Gavin Groh and freshman Landon Connor.

Senior Dillon Winkelmann had 20 points as a sophomore and will be a defensive leader along with junior Nolan White, who had 12 points as a freshman back in 190-20.

The Rockets have a pair of new senior goaltenders in Nate Brown and Evan Beaudette.

HUDSON (2-10-1)

Coach: Scott O’Connor

MIAA Division: 4

Veteran head coach Mike Nanartowich retired at the end of last season, and O’Connor takes a young team looking to turn things around.

Senior Nick Dipersio will be a sparkplug in the forward ranks. New junior Parker Green adds his talents.

Seniors Nick Perez and John DiFonzo lead the defense. Senior Paul Melo is primed for a big season between the pipes.

WESTBORO (4-6-1)

Coach: Chet Hallice

MIAA Division: 2

With some solid depth, the Rangers will be in the mix. “I can play four lines and I have strong defense and goaltending,” Hallice said. “Speed is our strength but I need players to step up and put the puck in the net.”

That job will fall on returning seniors Will Gravell (captain), Danny Marden and Anthony Pascal. New sophomore Max Aires will work his way into the lineup.

Captain Jackson Bohn and assistant captain Jake Leary will book-end the defensive unit. Junior Jake Dapolite and sophomore Brendan Martel will add depth.

Senior assistant captain and junior Will Yearlick will handle the goaltending duties for the Rangers.

** Algonquin Regional will also be in the Quinn Conference. No information was available prior to press time.

RUSSELL CONFERENCE

HOPEDALE CO-OP (12-0-0)

Coach: Mike MacQuarrie

MIAA Division: 3

This club averaged over seven goals a game last winter going undefeated. Much of that firepower returns.

An explosive offense will be ignited by junior Brady Butler (41 pts), supplemented by seniors Cam Collins (19 pts), Will Plett (15 pts) and Eric Landry (12 pts), and junior Jake Frohn (11 pts).

Senior Matt Girard (9 pts), junior Joey Mahoney and junior Brody Goding give the Raiders a solid blue line group. Between the pipes, senior Johnny Tomaso and senior Nick Kannally both return. They combined for seven shutouts last season.

Look for newcomers Nathan Jarret (sophomore), Joe Butler (freshman) and Aiden Collins (freshman) to contribute as well.

NORTHBRIDGE (4-5-1)

Coach: Ryan Neville

MIAA Division: 3

The Rams have just three seniors returning, but a lot of underclassmen gained valuable experience during last year’s abbreviated season.

Guys like junior Chase Falcon and sophomores Jack Nummela (10 pts), Brett Flanders and Joe Sullivan should carry the offense for coach Neville. New sophomore Evan Harrigan will provide a spark.

Senior Luke Lange and juniors Derek Lewis and Patrick Shrafft will be huge on the blue line.

Junior Zach Menard (3.11 gaa) is back in the nets.

Evan Kondylis
St. Paul

ST. PAUL DIOCESAN (new team)

Coach: Jay Monfreda

MIAA Division: 3

A new varsity program, the Knights are ready for the challenge, even with a smallish roster. “We will need to be committed to solid D-zone discipline and coverage, and take our offensive opportunities as they come,” said Monfreda, who most recently was the girls head coach at St. Peter Marian.

Colin Kruez St. Paul

Forwards to watch are freshman Colin Kreuz and eighth-grader Chase Burdett.

Junior Evan Kondylis will be the defensive anchor while sophomore Chris Palermo will get the call in goal.

GRAFTON/BLACKSTONE VALLEY TECH (4-4-1)

Coach: Mike Binkoski

MIAA Division: 4

The Gators expect to play fast and have great team defense as they look to be in the Russell Conference race.

Forward leaders will be seniors Paul Hardcastle, John DeFonzo and Nick Viens, and juniors Keegan Gilmore and Lukas Petone. Sophomore Zack Baker will be a plus.

The defensive unit for coach Binkoski has seniors Ryan Bowman and Nic Petone, and juniors Roman Gilliatt and Ryanne Chibani, with sophomore Thomas Liddy looking to chip in.

Two seniors return between the pipes in Reed Henson and Chase Levasseur.

Joe Bermingham Assabet Valley

ASSABET VALLEY/MAYNARD/W. BOYLSTON

Coach: David Quinn

MIAA Division: 4

A wide-open competition for roster spots highlighted the first week of pre-season as the Aztecs were unable to play last winter, and return just four full-time players from the 19-20 outfit.

Early on, it appears that the team has some scoring prowess in seniors Brady Sawyer, Jack Denn and Will Schiavone, and juniors Nolan Tomczyk and Joe Bermingham. Newcomers include junior Thomas Rider and Jake Figueiredo.

Seniors Steven Denn and Patrick O’Brien will be key defensemen. Juniors Nathan Rider and Payton Cabral, and freshman Adam Vorce provide depth.

The goaltending duties will fall on juniors Gabe Aroian and Nolan Westberg.

Josh Lemieux Worcester

WORCESTER

Coach: Mike Vaughan

MIAA Division: 4

The Worcester co-op also did not have a season last winter. They look to get back into the swing of things.

Senior Josh Lemieux was a CMass All-Star as a sophomore in 2019-20 and will be one of the region’s top netminders. Senior forward Luke Evers, also a CMass All-Star in 19-20, will be an offensive leader.

Other key players to watch are forwards Aidan LePoer and Nathan LaPrade, and defenseman Nick Michaelian, all seniors/

COUGHLIN CONFERENCE

FITCHBURG/MONTY TECH (8-3-4)

Coach: Steve Lowney

MIAA Division: 4

Riley LeBlanc Fitchburg/Monty

The Red Raiders return their entire defensive group and a good amount of forwards, so expect them to be in the mix in the Coughlin Conference.

Up front, sophomores Sam Jaramillo (15 pts) and Jacob Pruneau (10 pts) look to build on impressive freshman campaigns. Also returning are seniors Lucas Wiebe and Liam Hickey, junior Riley LeBlanc (12 pts) and Tyler Brassard, and sophomore Colin Hines.

Robert Brogan Fitchburg/Monty

A year more experienced, the blue line contingent features seniors Peter Stephens, Robert Brogan, Tyler Salafia and Zack Robillard, and juniors Wyatt Peters and Nick MacKenzie.

In goal, senior Deavin McGivern is a returning netminder.

LITTLETON/BROMFIELD (4-6-2)

Coach: Kevin Lizotte

MIAA Division: 4

Timely scoring from a group of senior forwards could dictate how the Tigers fare this season.

Seniors Kyle Tracey (6 pts) and Ryan McNulty (6 pts) both won four state titles as members of the Bromfield soccer team. Senior San Dunn (6 pts) will be a key cog. Junior Tyler Edwards looks to step it up with more of a role. Newcomers looking to contribute are senior Colin Murphy and freshmen Ethan King and Zach Lizotte.

A skilled blue line has sophomores Evan Piekos (6 pts) and Ryan Johnson, and senior Will Murphy. New sophomore David Ming helps out.

Senior Aiden Leduc should give the Tigers strong goaltending.

ST. BERNARD’S (0-10-0)

Coach: Brad Gilmartin

MIAA Division: 4

The Bernardians returned to varsity play a year ago and struggled in the pandemic shortened season. They look to have a stronger season in year two.

Key players project to be junior forward Ben Stout, sophomore defenseman Colin Majowicz, and sophomore goalie Mackenzie Donoghue.

Freshman forward Hunter Lammi will press for a key role.

LUNENBURG/AYER SHIRLEY (8-3-1)

Coach: Eric Short

MIAA Division: 4

This projects to be a rebuilding year for the Blue Knights, who must replace a talented senior class that has moved on.

Up front, senior Ryan Strout, senior Brady Madigan and sophomore Josh Agnese will handle the scoring duties. Eighth-grader Ben Short will battle for a role.

Senior Nick Gamble and junior Nick Fortier are defensive cornerstones for coach Short, with freshman Tyler Fortier aiming to get some key minutes.

Junior Kyle McGrath and sophomore Garrett Hakey are the goaltending candidates.

GARDNER CO-OP (1-9-1)

Coach: Scott Freniere

MIAA Division: 4

Returning a significant amount of major contributors, there is a lot of optimism in the air. It will be a veteran group for the co-op team, which also gets players from Murdock, Narragansett and Quabbin.

The Wildcats will look to senior Eric Amblo and junior Zach Boucher to be offensive leaders. The forward group also welcomes back seniors Jaxon Decker, Max Murphy and Jonah Hoisington, juniors Jason Ingman and Chris Merchant, sophomores Dylan Stocking, Jeff Alisauskas and Drew St. Peter, and freshman Parter Bolden.

Senior Matt Marshall, a veteran blueliner, will be the defensive anchor for coach Freniere. Two sophomores – Ty Burdett and Sean LaPointe – return with varsity experience as well.

In the nets, sophomore Mark Quinn was a Pod 2 All Star a year ago and will be a team strength. Freshman Cohen Veilleux is back as well.

OAKMONT REGIONAL (4-7-0)

Coach: Mike Duteau

MIAA Division: 4

The Spartans will be led by a core group of seven returning seniors. Overall, they should have decent depth.

Seniors Evan Thibault, Kaleb Jakola and Zach Sarasin will power the offense. Senior Sean Colangelo and juniors Blake Riggins and Kyle Vogel are expected to provide supplemental scoring.

A solid defensive unit is made up of seniors Izak Hannula, Drake Nelson and Cam Hines, and junior Chris Sanborn.

Battling for time in goal for the Spartans are sophomore Cathal Wells and freshman Chase Alexis.

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