It was a two-horse race in the South Coast Conference last season and, based on the amount of talent returning, league champion Dighton-Rehoboth/Seekonk and runner-up Somerset Berkley look like the teams to beat again.
Old Rochester/Fairhaven should be the leader of the chase pack along with Apponequet/Old Colony, which will have to get its legs back after not competing a season ago. Bourne is young but a program with tradition and can’t be overlooked, with Greater New Bedford and Wareham/Carver also hoping to develop through inexperience as the season progresses.
APPONEQUET/OLD COLONY (no 2020-21 season)
Coach: Ed Botelho
MIAA Division: 3
The Lakers are looking forward to being back on the ice this season after sitting out a year ago during the pandemic.
Among the players who gained previous experience are forwards William Harrop, Jacob Legault, Adam Coutts and Justin Hooper, as well as defensemen Sean Delgudice and Ryan Legault. Jake Smolinsky is back in net.
Newcomers to watch for the Lakers are Ryan Abreau, Jared Freitas, Logan Froio and Ryan Vincent.
Botelho sees playing to the systems, transitioning well, and getting timely scoring as keys to success this season.
Coach: Frank Carpenito
MIAA Division: 4
Carpenito said the Canalmen took a positive approach to the shortened 2021 season, using it as an opportunity to develop young players. Bourne still will be young this season, but the hope is last year’s experience will pay dividends.
Senior center Tyler Evans (8-11-19) and right wing Max Civilinski (2-4-6) are the veterans at forward, with sophomore center Ty Kelley (6-9-15) and left wing Dana Leach (4-4-8) also gaining valuable experience a year ago.
The defense will be led by junior Owen Surrette (1-3-4) and sophomore Ryan Burgess (0-1-1), with junior Paul Case (3.87 GAA) also returning in goal.
Carpenito will be looking to a host of newcomers to play key roles – sophomores Domenic Bonito (RW), Ryan Collins (LW) and Nate McDonnell (C), and freshmen Caleb Dean (D), Chris Klueber (F), Alex Shavyko (RW), Joziah DeSouza (C) and Matteo Scena (F/D).
“We will need to lean on our upperclassmen for leadership and as we progress we want to turn some of last season’s close losses into wins,” Carpenito said, “and be hard to play against every night.”
Coach: Tom Fecteau
MIAA Division: 3
The Falcons made history last season with their unbeaten season capped by a victory in the conference championship game.
That could be just the start for the program, which has plenty of talent returning from that squad. It begins with the high-scoring trio of senior right wing Devin Dailey (11-10-21), Liam Fecteau (8-12-20) and Noah Bastis (7-9-16) – all of whom were South Coast All-Stars last season. Sophomore Aidan Boothe (8-10-18) is another potential big-time scorer, and senior captain Evan Pereira (5-2-7) and sophomore Sebastian Rebelo (2-5-7) should provide depth from their left wing positions.
Defensively the Falcons will follow the lead of junior Colten Nastar (6-5-11), senior captain Ryan McCarthy (2-5-7) and senior Andre Ashton (1-1-2).
For added measure, D-R/Seekonk also brings back a young but tested goalie in sophomore Sam Bastis (1.78 GAA, .919 SP).
GREATER NEW BEDFORD (0-9-0)
Coach: Mike Frey
MIAA Division: 3
Last season was a struggle for the Bears, but longtime coach Frey is hoping to see improvement this season even as he puts another young squad on the ice.
Senior Maximus Lague is the lone senior on the roster, but GNB is a large junior class including forwards Anders Alves, Brandon Borges, Joao Oliveira and Noah Mello. Sophomore Brady Finn is another forward to watch.
The junior class dominates the back end of the ice as well with Jacob Belli, Nathan Marcelino and Matthew Harding on defense, and Michael Melo and Logan Marshall in goal. Sophomore Joshua Lourenco will be another top four defenseman.
The Bears will have a big freshman class with forwards Kaduna Agnew, Nicholas Boucher, Ayden Chisholm, Kevin Cormier, Colby Furtado, Mason Marshall and Nicholas Sears, and defenseman Bryce Desirey.
OLD ROCHESTER/FAIRHAVEN (5-4-2)
Coach: Zach Ledogar
MIAA Division: 3
Coming off a winning abbreviated 2020-21 season, which included a third-place finish in the South Coast, Ledogar has a strong group of returning players to try to push for one of the league’s top spots.
Senior center Michael Tobin is a returning SCC All-Star and one of the most seasoned veterans, along with senior wing August Vincent. Also back are juniors Derek Gauvin and Sam Newton at center, along with wings Harrison Hughes (junior) and Jake Newton (sophomore).
ORR/Fairhaven should be strong on the blue line with a solid returning group of Carson Spencer, Alec Marsden, Ben DeMoranville, Tyler Kelly and Jake Drew in front of goalies Thomas Galavotti and Dylan Branco.
Ledogar will look to freshman forwards Caleb Bousquet and Cliff Hedges to contribute, along with junior Braeden MacDonald and sophomore Barrett Becotte on defense.
SOMERSET BERKLEY (8-1-1)
Coach: Kevin Snyder
MIAA Division: 2
The Raiders came tantalizingly close a season ago, tying league champ D-R/Seekonk in their only regular-season meeting but falling in the league title game.
There are plenty of experienced players back hungry for another shot at it. They will be led up the middle by a pair of SCC All-Star centers – senior Max Aguiar (3-4-7) and junior Davis Sullivan (4-6-10), as well as junior right wing Noah Taylor (7-8-15), senior left wing Josh Pacheco (4-6-10), and sophomore forward Luke Gauvin (2-7-9).
Defensively the Raiders will look to senior Carter Stevens (2-4-6) and junior Matt Costa (2-5-7). A pair of newcomers on the blue line are sophomore Dylan Messier and freshman Nate Melo, the latter of whom also can play forward.
Sophomore Brandon Silva saw most of the time in net last season, and that year of experience will only help.
Coach: Rich Valatkievicz
MIAA Division: 4
Entering this season with a very young squad, Valatkievicz says it will take a “whole team effort” to produce positive results.
The Vikings will look to the forward group of senior Olivia Sonta, juniors Brayen Fernald and Nolan Kaiser, and freshmen Cole Blankenship and Patrick Tripp.
Returning on defense for W/C will be senior Conner Tait and sophomore Madison Butler.
In net, the Vikings return senior Ryker King and junior Cam Manuel.
Among the newcomers for Valatkievicz are Levon Mulready, Keenan Peterson, Brayden Cannon, Logan Moore, Keith Tobin and Nathan Tobin.