Offense should not be a problem for the Falcons, who return a flock of talented forwards. Leading the way is senior Doug Champagne, the reigning D2 Player of the Year, who exploded for 34 goals for last year’s State finalist.
Seniors Alex Killion (17 points, reg. season), Austin Beaudette (12-12-24, reg. season) and Chris Mead return at forward while seniors Brendan Ulrich (eight goals) and Colin Tracy are back on the blue line. Killion also scored in the title game loss to Windham. Depth will come from a large group of experienced underclassmen.
The Tomahawks advanced to the semifinals last year and seem poised for another run this winter. Coach Matt Davis will lean heavily on a seasoned group of juniors and seniors to lead the way.
There is depth at forward where seniors John Tiano, Jeff Gerhard and Owen O’Brien and junior Stephen LiCata all return. New senior Alec Bronchuk figures to contribute along with freshman Zach Stimeling. Senior Remy Tupper returns on the blue line and will stabilize the defense along with junior keeper Greg Amato. Freshman Matt Warrington projects to log regular time on defense.
“We will need to be a defensively sound team that capitalizes on offensive opportunities,” said Davis.
All but two players return from last year’s semifinal team, making Kyle Macie’s club as experienced as any in the division.
An explosive offense features All-State First Team selection Nate Darwin (20-19-39) and All-State Honorable Mention pick Hunter Gallant (14-26-40), both seniors. Gaetano DeLonge (12-16-28) and captain Cody Bragg (10-6-16), both seniors, and junior Tim Greenwood (17 points) return while senior Jason Langevin is back in the fold after a year of Junior hockey.
Senior captain Griffin Kane (10 points) is the top returnee on the blue line in front of junior goalie Myles Ditkoff, starting his third season in goal.
Seventeen players return for the Owls, who will need to play a grinding style as they shoot for a return to respectability. Coach Steve Costa cites defense as a strongpoint and said consistent play in all three zones is an absolute must.
Top returnees at forward include seniors Kyle Woods, Hunter MacRae, Joe Ferullo and Billy Gannon; juniors Jake Heckman, Matt Lanceleve, Austin Smith, Frank Ramsdell and Cam Kelly; and sophomores Jared Knight and Bill Downes.
Junior Andrew Bedard and sophomores Angelo Nazzaro, Ben Murphy and Chris Longchamps are back on defense. Senior Jake Chaput and Eric Mills both have experience in goal. A strong freshman class figures to contribute immediately.
After posting the best record in program history a year ago, the young Clipper Mules run the gauntlet to start this season, opening against five consecutive playoff teams – Goffstown, Keene, Dover, Windham and Merrimack. Coach Bill Widi said the “focus will be on competing early and finishing season strong.”
Senior forward Beau Arsenault (22-8-30) leads the offense and figures to score his 100th career point early in the year. Senior Oscar Kozikowski (16 points) – who can drop back to defense as needed – and sophomore Dylon Stutts (12 points) add depth.
The defense projects to be a strength with juniors Jacob Morin (13 points), Luke Squire and Will Perry – who may also see time up front – and sophomore Fred Holmes back on the blue line in front of junior keeper Lance Lavoie (2.15 gaa, 4 SO).
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (8-12-1)
The Saints drop down this winter and, with 10 seniors returning, are as deep as any team in the division. It’s an asset that should place coach Peter Harwood’s club squarely in contention.
The forward unit will feature captain Brock Crowley (7-13-20), Eric Keilty (10-15-25), Hunter Saxon (six goals), all seniors, as well as junior JoJo Grella. Senior Christian Torr returns from last year’s season-ending injury and sophomore Mike Somerset moves up from the JVs.
Seniors Will Kaspari, Tucker Whitcomb and Garrett Downs and junior Ben Coate return on the back line. Sophomore Connor Lapierre is another player back from an injury that cut his season short a year ago. Junior Aidan McLaughlin and sophomore Berwick Academy transfer Chris Eno will compete for time in goal.
New coach Jamie Ferullo takes over a club deep on defense. “A strong defensive core will lead this team. Taking care of the defensive zone and working up ice will be vital to our success,” he said.
Seniors Kerry Winfrey and Connor Breeze and junior Ashton Langis are the top returnees on the blue line in front of veteran senior goalie Ben Toussaint. Seniors Shaun Cormier and Kyle Decost and sophomore Ryan Ellis lead the forwards. Newcomers who could get regular time include sophomore Tanner McDougal and freshmen Adam Enscoe and Garrett Langis.
Ferullo stressed that “grit and determination will be the factor in how far this team goes.”
The Green Wave didn’t have to look far for a new coach, calling upon former player and long-time assistant Mike Young. Declining numbers will make maintaining the program’s level of excellence a challenge.
Senior captain Brendan Nichols returns on defense along with senior Arie Johnston. Young said senior Colby Stewart has prepared diligently to move in as the top goalie. Senior Jesse Frase, juniors Jared Turgeon and Alex Schlapek and sophomore Jameson Goodridge are top forwards. Goalie Austin Gilbert and forward Connor Thomas will push for time.
“We have a great group of kids with good team chemistry,” Young said.
As an assistant, new coach Shawn Dunn had a front-row seat during the Jags’ first-ever State Championship run that saw them knock off the four teams seeded ahead of them. Although 10 players have either graduated or headed to the Junior ranks, Dunn takes a over a program with a championship pedigree.
“We will have a young team and will rely heavily on our systems as players get their feet wet at the varsity level. We anticipate having a strong offense as well as very strong goaltending,” Dunn said. “There’s still a lot of promise that we should make a strong push.”
Junior Nolan Cunningham (13-7-20), the top returning scorer, had a goal and an assist in the State Championship game and leads a forward group that includes seniors Dan Donovan (11-5-16) and Tim Anderson (8-6-14) as well as junior Jim Harootian (8-8-16). Junior Jake Aleksa is the top returnee on the blue line. New sophomores Alek Tunik and Tyler Toohey add to the forward mix.
Despite graduating eight from last year’s club that pushed its way into the playoff structure, coach Mike Potenza is hopeful abundant team speed and sound goaltending form the recipe for a post-season return this winter.
Junior forward Burke Ruel (7 goals) returns after missing half of last season due to injury. Sophomore Sam Danais is another top forward junior Sam Barton is back on defense and sophomore Joey Vetanze takes over in goal.
Players returning to the program add depth. Potenza is looking for big things from senior forward Andy Contrada. Sophomore Brewster Academy transfer Cole Emerson is a forward and junior defenseman Drew Luby also returns.
This could be an intriguing year for the Raiders, who graduated nine from last year’s tournament team but also return three proven scorers and an experienced core on defense.
Offense will come from the three Nates – senior Nate Gariepy (17-20-37), senior Nate Damren (8-10-18) and sophomore Nate Chickering (7-23-30). The defense will feature senior Carter Adams, sophomore Aaron Damren and senior Sam Lawrence while senior Jordan Hammond, junior Andrew Friend and sophomore Jared Audette will compete for time in goal.
Success will depend on how quickly new players get acclimated to the varsity pace. “We will be looking to rebuild with many new players logging key minutes for the first time,” said coach Gary Smith.
Coach Ben Slocum said “focus on our play without the puck, [doing] the little things and [making] an extra effort to score” will determine the Grizzlies’ path.
A solid returning core features senior defensemen Nick Naut and Dylan Hyers, senior forward Tyler Riendeau and junior forward Noah Charron. New seniors Mickey Bridgeman and Maggie Fifield and freshmen Colby Gamache and Gavin Macentee add depth. All are forwards.
Jude Logue is the new man on the Warriors’ bench and should benefit from a line-up that will feature 10 juniors. “We’ll have nice size, strength and maturity which we’ll need to fight off some of the faster teams throughout Division 2,” Logue said.
Junior Harrison Moulton and sophomore Conor Allyn return as offensive leaders while junior Haydon Choat anchors the defense. Freshman forward Braedon Logue looks to move into a key role.
OYSTER RIVER (12-11-0)
The Bobcats are deep. Really deep. Veteran coach Griff Richard welcomes back a dozen juniors and seniors and 14 players overall from last year’s quarterfinalist with clear expectations: “I expect us to be very competitive for the top four spots during the regular season,” said Richard.
Nine forwards are back, led by senior captain Mike Donovan (6-11-17) and classmates Devin Kaya (6-7-13), Matt Bishop, Dylan O’Connell and Sam Dreher. Juniors Will Cilia, Sam Davies and Ethan Kesler and sophomore Aydin Kaya add to the mix.
Senior Liam McNamara (2.43 gaa/.903 save pct.) returns in goal, backed by solid sophomore Nick Milano. Senior Anson Thibault (13 points) is the leader of a defense that also returns juniors Jake Kaplan and Zach Leichtman.