Mass. Boys HS Hockey – Middlesex League Freedom Division Preview: Melrose Moves To D2, Stoneham To D4

Jim Clark
Jim Clark
Jim Clark joined Hockey Night in Boston in December 2019, and has covered high school hockey in Massachusetts for more than three decades. He also covers high school hockey and is a multiplatform editor for the Boston Globe, and previously spent two decades as high school hockey reporter at the Boston Herald, where he also served as the high schools editor from 2000-06. Clark was honored by the Mass. State Hockey Coaches Association with its William Stewart Award for contributions to the sport in May 2019, and also received the Joel Perlmutter Award for media coverage in 2006. A graduate of UMass, he also spent eight years as sports editor/reporter at the Sentinel & Enterprise in Fitchburg, and has extensively covered high school hockey in Central and Western Mass. as well as Connecticut.

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There was quite a shakeup in the ranks of the Middlesex Freedom last season, with Stoneham winning its first title in more than three decades and holding off Melrose.

Stoneham should be strong again and also will be a big factor in Division 4 along with an experienced Watertown. Meanwhile, Burlington never can be overlooked as the division’s lone remaining D1 team, Melrose moves down to D2 along with Wakefield and Wilmington, both of which have postseason aspirations.

BURLINGTON (5-5-3)

Coach: Bob Conceison

MIAA Division: 1

Rebuilding will be the key phrase for the Red Devils this year, especially in the forward ranks.

Anthony Andriolo Burlington

Offensive production will need to come from the likes of seniors C.J. Hacker and Ricky Sheppard, juniors Koby Sloan, Will Curtin and Ryan Kane, and sophomores Will McLean and Jackson Powers.

On defense, senior captain Anthony Andriolo, entering his fourth varsity season, will be the backbone, leading a group that features junior Lucas Magliozzi, Dillon O’Reilly and Charlie Andriolo.

The Red Devils had two seniors in goal last year, so a new starter will emerge as the season gets underway.

MELROSE (5-2-3)

Coach: Vin Mirasolo

MIAA Division: 2

Tyler Muse
Melrose

For the Red Raiders, the sting of not being able to compete in the postseason last year with a strong senior class lingers.

With much of the production from that team departed, Mirasolo will turn to senior captain TJ Sullivan (6-5-11) to lead the way. Sophomore Colin Fahey is another returning forward along with seniors Jamie Haggerty and Connor O’Leary, juniors Patrick Cotter and Joey Zarella, and sophomore Tyler Muse.

Junior Jason Pino will headline the defense along with senior Joey O’Keefe. The Red Raiders are fortunate that junior Joey Smith returns in goal, backed up by freshman Matthew Fuccione.

STONEHAM (6-2-1)

Coach: Paul Sacco

MIAA Division: 4

The Spartans made history last season by winning the Freedom Division, the program’s first ML title in 32 years. So what to do for an encore?

It doesn’t hurt that the Spartans bring back junior captain and wing Danny Storella, whom Sacco and the coaching staff believe could be the best player in the Middlesex this season. Senior forwards Joe Kranefuss and Kolby Horgan also will be captains. Sophomores Joe Aronis and Cam Shinnick will get a primetime opportunity right away in their first varsity seasons, skating with Storella on the top line.

Senior Gavin Tobias is a big (6-foot-2) body on the blue line, where junior Bobby Cooke and sophomore newcomer Jack Sullivan also will be key players.

Senior Aiden Goulding, who has been a backup the last two years, finally gets his opportunity to become the starter in goal for the Spartans.

WAKEFIELD (5-8-1)

Coach: Michael Geary

MIAA Division: 2

The Warriors have plenty of experience throughout the lineup, including both goaltenders, but just enough new faces and players in different roles to make for an intriguing outlook going into the season.

Senior captains Joe O’Brien (center, returning ML All-Star) and Matt Elwell (LW) are back as two-thirds of Wakefield’s top line from last season, with junior Bobby Defeo moving up in the lineup to round out that group. Senior Ryan Rossini moves up to the second-line center position, where he will play between senior right wing Dan Mailhiot and freshman Andrew Nemec on the left side.

Top defenseman Matt Burns now will be paired with Michael Parent as an all-senior No. 1 unit on the blue line. Junior Joe Colliton also returns on defense.

The Warriors will be in good hands in net with senior Jon Guida and junior Dom Deangelis.

WATERTOWN (3-8-1)

Coach: John Vlachos

MIAA Division: 4

After graduating just three seniors from last year’s squad, the Raiders will be looking to navigate a tough Middlesex schedule to put them into position for success as they drop down to the new Division 4 for the statewide tournament.

Seniors Colin Campbell, Dante Venezia, Nathan Master and Mason Andrade will be the captains this season along with assistant captains Anthony Venezia and Jack Dickie. All bring back a wealth of experience from past seasons.

The forward lines will be led by Campbell, both Venezias and Andrade along with seniors Michael Cormier, Malcolm MacDonald, juniors Aidan Campbell, Brendan Campbell and Daniel Tattrie, sophomores Alec Banosian and James Erickson, and freshmen Dante Cosco and Brendan Cummings.

On the blue line, it’s Master and Dickie leading the group with sophomores Caden Saltzman and Mauricio Souza, and freshman Domenic Moynihan.

Watertown has plenty of experience in net with senior Jared Norton and junior Casey Williams, joined this season by freshman Patrick Johnson.

WILMINGTON (1-7-3)

Coach: Steve Scanlon

MIAA Division: 2

Longtime coach Scanlon will be looking to make some inroads in the Middlesex behind a group of eight seniors, led by captain Aidan Murphy.

The rest of the senior class features Matthew Vinal, Will Alworth, Joseph Cornish, Liam Crowley, Tristan Dimeco, Nathaniel Packer and Michael Sullivan. An equally deep class of juniors includes Nathan Alberti, Brian Barry, Ryan Bornstein, James Caples, Michael Daniels, Brett Ebert, Justin Finnegan, Ryan Hayden, Casey Robbins, Jason Sousa and Owen White.

Rounding out the Wildcats are sophomores Robert Cyr and Eric Spinney, and freshman Matthew O’Brien.

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