Defending champ Arlington, a Super 8 entrant last season, will be in the hunt with Reading and Winchester in the always-competitive Liberty Division of the Middlesex League. There is one new coach in the division, as Geno Khatchadourian takes over at Winchester.
Home Rink: Ed Burns Arena
Thirteen players are back in the fold for coach John Messuri, who has guided the Spy Ponders to the 2017 State Championship. A handful of this year’s seniors were freshmen on that team.
The projected Top Six forward group is led by fourth-year senior Anthony Messuri – who has committed to Northeastern University – and includes seniors Brendan Jones, Brendan Pigott and John Hourican, junior Leo Piandes and sophomore Reid Malatesta. Senior James Santagati aims to move into a regular role.
Senior Nate Brennan mans the Spy Ponders’ goal. Seniors Ryan Davies, Tyler Callahan, Declan Dolan and Luke Beraducci, junior Dom Laiosa and Brendan Flynn all return to a deep corps of defensemen.
Coach Messuri expects a wide open league this season and said success will be predicated on playing as a team.
Home Rink: O’Brien Rink
After spending 20 years in the prep school ranks – most recently at Pingree – Gino Khachadourian slides over to take over the defending North Sectional Champion Sachems following Bill Burns’ retirement. He sounds prepared for the challenge.
“I’m looking forward to taking over the program and building on the success the Sachems had last season with a good group of returning players,” he says. Winchester fell in the State Championship game to Duxbury, 3-1.
Senior center Ryan McCarthy returns as the Sachems’ leading scorer. Junior center Joey Falso, junior Colin Van Stry and senior Jace Christakis form the core of a solid forward group. Freshman center Michael Nigro and freshman wing Max Tong project as regulars.
Junior goalie Robert DiVincenzo gave the Sachems a chance in the post-season, yielding just five goals in the Sectional with wins against Bishop Fenwick, Billerica and St. John’s Prep. Seniors Michael Martignetti and Kyle Ettenhofer and junior Nick Ciaccio return on defense. Sophomore Liam Doherty is likely to move into a regular role.
Home Rink: Viglirolo Ice Rink
Coach Fred Allard will rely on a strong core of upperclassmen as the Marauders aim to bounce back from a down season last winter and return to tournament play for the third time in four seasons.
Junior Ben Fici is the leading returning scorer and looks to build on a strong sophomore campaign that saw him click for 14 goals and 22 points. Senior assistant captain Matt Brody (9-7-16) and senior captain Justin Rocha (14 points) add experience and scoring depth. Sophomore Matty Rowan (4 goals) also returns up front. Junior transfer Declan Harrington provides another scoring option.
Senior captain Nico Carere (2.17 goals against average, .931 save percentage) compiled stellar numbers as a junior while juniors Nolan Duffy and Thomas Grace are the most experienced defensemen. Allard tabs Arlington as a clear favorite, adding “all of [the] Liberty Division could challenge for a tourney spot.”
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READING ( 12-7-4)
Home Rink: Burbank Arena
Strong on the blue line and in goal, if the offense can produce on a consistent basis, it could be a big season for the Rockets, who look to challenge in the Liberty Division
A veteran defense will be the team’s hallmark, with the return of senior captain Matt Fiorenza, veteran seniors Cam Lawhorne and Brandon Millerick, and junior Charlie Miele, who will miss the start of the season with an injury.
Coach Mark Doherty lost some key components up front, so he will rely on production from guys like senior captain Sean Barbera (20 pts), senior Shawn Golden, senior Kevin Donaghey and junior Landyn Greatorex, all returning forwards.
In goal, senior captain Dylan Emery is a returning starter coming off a solid junior season.
Home Rink: Hayden Ice Rink
Nine seniors return for Coach Curt Colarullo, most in their second and third varsity campaigns. Experience is not an issue and Colarullo will lean on them heavily for their leadership as the Minutemen aim to surprise opponents this season.
Goaltending is a strength with junior three-year starter and league all-star Donald McCarthy and junior Will Buchta returning to anchor the back end. Seniors Luke Murphy and Collin McMahon lead the defense.
Senior captains Joe Hunt and Eric DeCoste, seniors Bill Cincotta and Matt Harding, and junior Thomas Caouette will trigger the offense. New freshmen Brady Huang and Eric Caouette should step right into the lineup.
Home Rink: O’Brien Rink
The Tanners have been in a bit of a rut recently, missing post-season play each of the past three seasons. Now in his 22nd season, coach Jim Duran is hopeful the Tanners have what it takes to reverse that trend.
“We’re hoping to be a tournament team although we’re still young,” Duran said.
Duran is looking for a big year from junior forward Jonathon Surrette. Junior forward Lance Anderson is another key cog for and offense that will be augmented by new freshmen Brett Stone and Jackson Powers.
Sophomore Michael Arsenault is back on the blue line in front of senior goaltender Kevin Burkett.