Bourne dominated the South Coast race last season, and while the Canalmen will be strong again, graduating three 100-point scorers could open the door for the rest of the pack to catch up. Greater New Bedford and Wareham/Carver have enough high-end talent to push for the top of the league, and Somerset Berkley returns 16 players. Apponequet/Old Colony and Old Rochester/Fairhaven each will look for turnarounds under new coaches, and Dighton-Rehoboth/Seekonk is another team that will contend.
APPONEQUET/OLD COLONY (6-12-2)
Home Rink: Driscoll Arena, Fall River
Ed Botelho takes over as head coach of the Lakers and he will inherit a good situation with 15 returning players.
Senior forwards Ethan Harrop (15-13-28) and Zackary Lovendale (7-13-20) are the top returning forwards along with Michael Sweet, and the Lakers will have an experienced defense with senior Sterling Macleod, juniors Griffin Gardner and Cody Macomber, and sophomore Benjamin daCosta. Senior Carson McGrath started the majority of games in net a season ago.
Other returnees at forward are juniors Shane Previti, Jacob Gauthier and Andrew Cummings, and sophomores Ryan Legault, Jacob Legault, Jake Smolinsky (F/D) and Sean DelGiudice.
Newcomers are junior Marc Drouin, and freshmen Luke Butler, Noah Curtin, Justyn Hooper, Adam Coutts, Michael Niemi, Ryan Flaherty and William Harrop. The team has a good split of players from Apponequet (13) and Old Colony (10).
Home Rink: Gallo Ice Arena Bourne
After winning the South Coast title in his first season as the head coach, what can Frank Carpenito (22nd season overall) and the Canalmen do for an encore? He knows it won’t easy, but Carpenito is looking to continue that success.
“We’re looking for the identity of this year’s team to develop, but we are encouraged with the effort and attitude so far,” Carpenito said. “This group enjoys playing together and it shows on the ice. Their hard work and ability to play as a team will help keep the program moving forward.”
With only 18 players (15 skaters, three goalies), Carpenito sees plenty of opportunity for contributions throughout the lineup.
Bourne will need to replace a trio of 100-point career scorers, but senior Michael Bonito (10-12-22 last season), Andrew Ariagno (4-5-9), Morgan Hopwood (4-3-7) and Connor McGuire (4-1-5) are poised to move into bigger roles up front along with senior Karsten Becker and newcomer Tyler Evans, a sophomore.
Junior Owen Lapworth is the No. 2 returning scorer (5-13-18) and leads the defense along with junior Jonathan Sheehy (1-7-8). The Canalmen have the luxury of a pair of experienced goaltenders in seniors Kam Sassone (3.04 GAA) and Kyle McGuire (1.91 GAA). Juniors Alex McCarthy and Alex Duval join the blue line this season.
Home Rink: New England Sports Village, Attleboro
Coach Tom Fecteau expects the Falcons will have more depth this season, even though they still will be on the young side.
The forward group will have plenty of scoring balance with seniors Malachi Letourneau (D-R, 7-8-15) and Connor Dowty (Seekonk, 4-8-12), sophomore Devin Dailey (Seekonk, 11-4-15), juniors Mike Agresti (D-R, 6-8-14) Peter Anghinetti (D-R, 5-9-14), and freshman Liam Fecteau (Seekonk, 10-4-14) all making key contributions last season.
Defensively, junior Wyatt Nastar (6-8-14) and freshman Colten Nastar (3-5-8) also helped out with two-way play.
D-R senior Zach Evans and junior Dan Deroche are the candidates in goal, and will be pushed by senior newcomer Paul Jarvis of Seekonk. Freshman forward Noah Bastis is another player to watch.
GREATER NEW BEDFORD (14-6-1)
Home Rink: Hetland Memorial Arena, New Bedford
The Bears posted their most wins in two decades last season and finished tied for second in the SCC race. The pieces are in place potentially to repeat both of those feats with a strong group of players returning.
Austin Shorrock will be the key play in net for GNB, but veteran coach Mike Frey sees the rest of his team as one with “many interchangeable parts … forwards can play (defense), D can play forward.”
The Bears had balanced scoring last season and should continue that with senior Spencer Raposo (10-19-29), juniors Matt Medeiros (16-14-30) and Matt LeBoeuf (5-15-20), and sophomore Maximus Lague (11-10-21) all returning. Senior Peter Pimentel (4-11-15) is one of those interchangeable players Frey will use on both ends of the ice. Junior Mason Dupre (2-14-16) also will help out.
Frey also welcomes a strong group of freshmen that includes Brayden Webster, Joao Oliveira, Anders Alves, Matt Harding, Brandon Borges, Nathan Marcelino, Jacob Belli and Keaton Macondes.
OLD ROCHESTER/FAIRHAVEN (8-9-3)
Home Rink: Travis Roy Arena, Marion
Old Rochester/Fairhaven fell a point shy of tournament qualification a season ago, and now the Bulldogs have to regroup as Zach Ledogar takes over as the program’s third different coach in three seasons.
The good news is that there is plenty of experience back to help the transition and push for the top for the SCC. Top returning forwards include seniors Aiden Tremblay, Rob Ramsay and Jack Martins, juniors Ben Austin, sophomores August Vincent, Michael Tobin and R.J. Vickery, and freshmen Harrison Hughes, Sam Newton, Derek Gauvin.
Junior Brady Becotte (Fairhaven) leads the defense along with junior Gabe Murray, sophomores Ben DeMoranville and Carson Spencer, and freshman Alec Marsden. Senior Jake DeMoranville and sophomore Thomas Galavotti both are back in net.
Adding to the ORR/Fairhaven depth this season will be junior forward Mitchell Higgins, sophomores Tyler Kelly (D) and Nate Ribeiro (F), and freshmen Nate Guerreiro (F) and Jake Drew (D).
SOMERSET BERKLEY (9-11-0)
Home Rink: Driscoll Arena, Fall River
The Raiders just missed out on a tournament berth a year ago, but could be a sleeper team to push for the top of the South Coast this time around.
The reason for the optimistic is evident, as coach Kevin Snyder’s team returns its top two scorers among 16 players back overall. Seniors William Simons and Jonathan Pacheco will spark the offense for Somerset Berkley, which also has a veteran goalie in senior Dylan Belchior.
Among the other returnees are: junior forwards Evan Affonso, Owen Carlisi, Ty Lema, Shane Mello, Joshua Pacheco and Benjamin Sigman (junior), and sophomore Joshua Pacheco.
The Raiders also have a veteran defense with senior Vincent Russell, juniors Andrew Jennings, Sean Patola and Tyler Politano (junior), and sophomore Ashton Branco.
Home Rink: Gallo Ice Arena, Bourne
The Vikings bring back 13 players from the team that finished third in the SCC and earned the No. 6 seed in the Division 2 South tournament.
Few players had as productive a season as Quirino doCanto, who posted 27-27-54 totals and is poised for another big year as a senior. Junior Tyler Lovendale (12-22-34) also is back at forward with juniors Robert Maloney, Zachary Barris and Wylde LaTulippe, sophomore Olivia Sontag, and freshman Nolan Kaiser.
Senior Alex DeMarco (2.83 GAA) played almost every second in net last season for coach Rich Valatkiewicz, and will be backed up again by freshman Ryan Tripp. Defensively the Vikings will look to junior Nathan Eldredge (2-13-15) and sophomores Sean Pollock, Nathan King and Connor Tait.
Eleven newcomers dot the Vikings roster, including five eighth-graders, four freshmen, and sophomore and a senior.