What already was a tough Patriot League Keenan Division got even tougher with a pair of additions during the offseason. Marshfield, which previously was in the now-defunct Atlantic Coast League and competed as an independent last season, joined the Patriot in all sports and Dan Connolly’s club always will be a serious contender. Meanwhile Hingham, which has mostly played an independent schedule for more than two decades (the Harbormen were part of the Patriot League in 2001-02), will be part of the 12-team, 12-game league format this year during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fellow Division 1 power Duxbury always will be strong, while Plymouth North, Silver Lake and Whitman-Hanson all are coming off their best seasons in a number of years.
This former Independent also returns to a league setting for the first time in several years. A dozen players return from last year’s South qualifier for coach Dan Connolly. Defense will be a strong suit for the Rams.
“We have six defensemen and the starting goalie back from last year, so the key will be how quick the forwards can gel. We just want to get better each day and enjoy playing,” Connolly said.
Senior goalie Aidan Healey carried the load in the cage a year ago, compiling a 2.07 GAA while notching six shutouts. Sophomore Brady Quackenbush provides backup. Senior Jarrod Wright, juniors Matt Brooks and Jake Wilner, and sophomores Brady Clark, Jake Hemingway and Connor Merrick manned the blue line a year ago. New sophomore Jake Reisman will push for time.
Junior Nick Souretis (10-15-25) leads a forward group that includes seniors Jake Mastrangelo and Matt Lawlor and juniors Andrew Guilfoyle (3-6-9) and Dan Kane. Junior Colin Doyle, sophomore Jack Croft and freshmen Cam McGettrick, Will Doherty, Ryland McGlame and Tommy Carroll add depth.
Interim coach Ben Murphy takes over for John Blake on the Green Dragons’ bench for this year, moving up from the JVs. The Duxbury native – who played college hockey at Bowling Green and spent time in the ECHL – has a program that had to replace 13 graduated seniors, including elite goalie Steve Pisani.
Captain Billy Mrowka (12-8-20), TJ Jones (8-8-16) and Will Nolan (5-8-13), all senior forwards, are the Dragons’ most experienced returnees. Junior Wyatt Glass (3-4-7) returns up front and will be joined by his brother Brady. Seniors Grady Abban, Charlie Ballerene and Max Attallah are among forwards who will take on expanded roles.
Sophomores Brady Erickson (8 points) and Brendan Bonner along with Luke Moran, Wick Ross and Kyle Sivieri form the defense. Senior Mike Cicerone looks to step to the forefront in goal and will compete for time with sophomore John Tolve.
Plymouth North (15-4-2)
The Blue Eagles had a historic regular season in 2019-20, posting the most wins in program history and drawing the No. 2 seed in Division 2 South, before being stunned in overtime by Bishop Feehan in a first-round game. Coach Tim Drew (seventh season) has to replace Keenan Division MVP Jake Fleet as well as league all-star Jason Norwood, but several key players also return for another run.
North still will be one of the toughest teams in the league to crack, thanks to the play of goalie Jack Arnold (1.05 GAA). He will be supported by seniors Joe Lawrence (4-13-17) and Jamie Keep, as well as junior Matt Vanetta.
Junior Kevin Norwood (12-12-24) looks to be the focal point of the offense this season along with junior center Evan Hallissey (11-8-19). Senior center Pat Driscoll (3-3-6) also could step into a bigger role. Junior Carter Mento steps into the lineup from junior hockey.
Silver Lake (11-11-2)
Despite graduating a solid group of nine forwards off last year’s tournament squad — the program’s first record of .500 or better since 2012-13 — coach Dan Scott likes this version of the Lakers “because of their willingness to take coaching and teaching. We have a veteran group of defensemen with five seniors. We like their grit and skill with the puck.”
Senior captain Jake Generazzo leads that veteran group on the blue line along with senior Will Cronin, while sophomore Aidan Dunphy (2-17-19) is the second-leading scorer from last season.
Senior captains Nate Johnson and Jack Oliver are the top returners at forward, joined by fellow senior Jay Bunar. There is a solid group of juniors in Sam Dilley, Markie Kelleher, J.D. Henley and Brett Evans, while sophomore newcomer Ben Cronin could add early contributions.
“Our forward group is one with good team chemistry and they work well with one another and are tenacious,” Scott said.
The Panthers are coming off their most successful season in nearly two decades, reaching the Division 2 South semifinals before falling to eventual champion Canton. Now Chris Googins has stepped down, handing over the reins in the offseason to Rob Peters, who previously served as an assistant at Scituate.
The strength of the Panthers will be on the back end, starting with league all-star Bob Siders in net. He will be a senior captain with defensemen Kevin Willis and Jack Allen. W-H suffered bigger losses up front but sophomore Matt Solari (18-14-32) is back, and Peters has been pleased with the depth of the incoming freshman class led by forward Luke Tropeano.
“Anytime you come off a year like we did and lose five out of your top six forwards it’s tough,” Peters said. “On top of that the league added Hingham as well as Marshfield this year, both on our side, so we will have a tough schedule ahead.
“With all that being said I am looking for my older guys to step up and fill in the holes that graduated, and believe we have the guys to do that. We have three of our top four [defensemen] back and two great goalies. Match that with some good depth in our freshman class and I am very excited to get going.”