CENTRAL CATHOLIC (17-6-3)
The Raiders came oh so very close to claiming their first-ever State title last season, falling to Arlington in OT, 2-1, in a Div. 1A classic. Could this be the year they break through under second-year coach Kim Brandvold? The defending league champs will assuredly be in the mix.
“We’re returning a good group of players who had a good run in last year’s Super 8. We’ll look to build on last year’s success and keep the tradition of the program going. Great goaltending and defense will be the key to success,” Brandvold said.
In junior Matt Pasquale, Central has one of the division’s elite keepers. He finished with three shutouts and a 1.90 goals against average in the regular season, then added a pair of shutouts and allowed only three goals against 1A competition. Senior captain Joe Biddle (12 points) and senior Nick Foderaro return on the blue line.
Fourth-year senior regular Eric Lester (10-19-29) and third-year junior standout Sean Brown (11-16-27) lead the returnees at forward. Junior Will WInship (14-10-24), senior Charlie Stahley (8-9-17) and junior Noah Jankowski (15 points) add supplemental scoring.
In terms of sheer numbers, the Hawks are as deep as any team in the division. Veteran coach John Maguire welcomes back his top goalie, four defensemen and nine forwards from last year’s North Sectional qualifier.
Let’s start in the back where senior goalie Kyle Penton provides a sturdy last line of defense. Senior Gerard Jelloe, junior Mike Burke and sophomore Nic Dallaire form the core of a veteran defense.
Top forwards include seniors Andrew Miller (12-6-18), Chris Egan (13 points) and Shawn Wise, junior J.T. Logue and sophomores Connor Blanchard and Cullen Millerick.
New coach Kevin Richardson should benefit from a seasoned veteran group that includes a dozen seniors and juniors.
“We are an excited bunch that has been working hard the whole offseason to ensure a much more successful season. The mindset is great, and I am looking forward to seeing where this season goes,” he said.
Seven forwards return for the Colonials – seniors Ryan Grady, Josh Azar and Joe Lehner, juniors Victor Otero, Will Meusel and Aiden Fenton, and sophomore Jack Bartle. Seniors Tommy Nolan, Cole Cormier and Cole Timboll and sophomore Liam Fenton form the nucleus of the defense in front of junior goaltenders Connor Champigny and Luke Laforest.
Thirteen players graduated from last year’s North finalist, and the primary task for coach Chris Kuchar and his staff is re-tooling a traditionally stout defense and finding the successor to All-Scholastic goalie Zach Laramie.
“In recent years our strength has been from our goaltender out with solid puck moving defenseman that could control play in all three zones. Graduation depleted the back end and we’ll be looking for players to step up,” Kuchar said.
The offense will be counted on to lead the way, particularly in the early going. Returning All-League forwards Caedon Dillman and Michael Reilly, both seniors, are a premier tandem. Juniors Matt Schuwerk and Patrick Archambault will be looked to for increased production. Seniors Matt Belluche and Jack Lachance lead the defense. Juniors Cole Chingris and Alex Trottier are competing for the goaltender’s job.
WESTFORD ACADEMY (9-10-2)
Long-time coach Bob Carpenter is hopeful that the experience gained during the past two seasons will aid the Grey Ghosts to secure a post-season berth that just eluded them last season.
The offense features seniors Tim Kapetanakis and Ryan Blackwell, juniors Tyler Guillemette and Kevin Bruskiewitz and sophomore Jason Bunyon. Seniors Sean Egan and Chris Blouin and junior Mike Mucci return on the back line.
“We are very hopeful we will be in position to be competitive within the league,” Carpenter said.
Coach Kevin Leonard welcomes back a hungry group that understands there are no nights off. The Lions are shooting for across-the-board improvement in all phases of the game.
“We have a great group of kids returning and a hungry talented group coming in. We’re going to have to battle day in and day out in order to be successful and I think we have a team willing to put that work in,” Leonard said.
Senior captain Chris Bungard (9-4-13) and sophomore Ben Pitts are the top forwards. Junior Ben Gastonguay returns from injury. Senior captain Jared Connelly drives the defense in front of senior goalie Mike Untracht (2.17, .914). New forwards include junior Chad Lizine, sophomores Bobby Turner and Christian Gastonguay and freshman Matt Miner. Juniors Brett Nolan and Jake Harrison and sophomore Tommy Hopkins bring depth to the back line.
Though still young with only five seniors, the Indians hope to be markedly improved as they draw on the experience gained from a season ago.
“(Billerica) is a young talented group this year with a lot more experience. Every player on the team knows that it is a process and all are focusing on competing at a much higher level this season,” said coach Jim Egan.
Those key seniors are goalie Ethan Hadley, defensemen Joe Chasse (Captin) and Sean Climo and forwards Ryan Jackson (Captain) and Tommy Cronin. Juniors Ryan Broulliette, D.J. Fantasia, Joe Lamarca, Anthony Lamarca and Ben Stone and sophomore Anthony Viscione are all back at forward. Juniors Matt Covino and Cameron Collin and sophomores Matt Livingston and Garrett Murphy round out the defense.