New Hampshire HS Hockey – Division 1 Team Previews: Exeter, Salem, Bishop Guertin Have High Hopes

Kevin Doyle
Kevin Doyle
Kevin joined HNIB in 1990 and is a Senior Writer and Director of the Northern New England and Mass/R.I. High School Division camps. A veteran editor/writer of 40 years in the print and digital mediums, he has edited and produced original content and coordinated production for local and global publications and websites. He holds degrees from Merrimack College and Boston University and won multiple industry awards as Sports Editor of The Daily News of Newburyport and News Editor of The Amesbury News. He is the 2016 recipient of the North Shore Lifetime Commitment From the Community award presented by Moynihan Lumber and a 2017 Newburyport High School Wall of Fame inductee. He resides with his family in Portsmouth, NH. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @kdoyle40

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Declared co-champions at the end of last season when COVID concerns caused the NHIAA to curtail Championship Weekend, Concord and Bedford begin this season where they finished the last – as the division’s top two teams.

Salem has the personnel and the motivation to make a push. Meanwhile, Keene returns to Division One for the first time in 18 seasons, stepping up after being declared a D2 co-champ last year. New coaches Bill Kotsifas and Jordan Sorracco take over at Nashua North/Souhegan and Nashua South/Pelham respectively. Both schools’ seasons are currently on hold.

From truncated schedules to the enjoyment of simply being on the ice, it’s bound to be a different sort of season.

“This season is about allowing our young people to have the opportunity to play the game they love in a safe and controlled environment, to have fun and to have memorable experiences with their teammates,” said Exeter coach Paul DiMarino.

Indeed.

Tyler Coskren
Concord

CONCORD (23-1-0)

After suffering a single league loss last season, the NHIAA declared the Crimson Tide a State co-champion when it canceled Championship Weekend at the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak in March. This season’s first milestone will likely occur early on as 31-year coach Duncan Walsh wins his 500th career game. He stands at 498.

Joey Ala
Concord

Fifteen players return with abundant experience from last season’s juggernaut, led by stellar junior defenseman Ryan Philbrick (10-33-43), the Tide’s scoring leader and a First Team All-State selection as a sophomore. Senior Alex Forward (15-14-29) was an honorable mention pick on the blue line. Juniors Kevin Jones and Will Pegnam will compete for the open goaltending job.

There is plenty of firepower up front. Juniors Tyler Coskren (15-22-37) and Joey Ala (16-16-32), sophomore Brooks Craigue (11-21-32) and senior Zach Drew (9-16-25) all return. Junior Parker Frederickson is back after a season of U-16.

“We have a lot of our offense back from last year. Our powerplay was outstanding and should be again. Our guys are really motivated after not being able to play the final game last year,” Walsh said. “We are just happy to have the opportunity to play and taking it one day at a time because nobody knows what’s going to happen.”

WINDHAM (13-12-0)

Coach Shawn Dunn welcomes a young team that he expects will learn on the fly. Since there is no JV team, up to as many as 14 freshmen and sophomores could pull the sweater on for the Jaguars this season.

“As long as the young players raise their compete level we should be very good defensively and in goal. If we can keep games close with strong defensive play and capitalize on the power play we should surprise a lot of people,” Dunn said.

Key returnees include sophomore goalie Vito Mancini (2.57 gaa, .901 save pct., 2 SO), senior forwards Charlie Breen (8-9-17) and Owen Larouco (5-8-13), and junior defenseman Aiden Gravel.

“We acknowledge there will be many hurdles and we have to take them in stride. We most likely won’t be able to get into routines and we just have to be thankful for the times we are able to hit the ice. You can’t leave anything in the tank because your current practice/game could be the last of the season,” Dunn said.

Robbie Nowill
Keene

KEENE (18-3-2)

Last year’s Division 2 co-champion returns to Division One for the first time since 2002. The Blackbirds will be younger than usual with only a sprinkling of seniors on a roster that will be made up largely of underclassmen.

“Our expectations are that we will be a competitive Division 1 program that will continue to enter every season with a goal to play for a State Championship,” said coach Chris McIntosh, who has guided the Blackbirds to a pair of State titles in three seasons.

That senior group includes forwards Zach Mooers and Ethan Russell, defenseman Peter Haas (injured), and goalies Jacob Russell and Taylor Panek. Sophomore forwards Joel Beard and Jonah Murphy and junior defensemen Robbie Nowill and Ryan Smart also return. Freshmen forwards Noah Parrelli and Casey Mooers and freshmen defensemen Ben Greenwals and Cam Quail all figure to take regular shifts.

“We’ll take it day to day, focus on growth and development and bring a competitive approach to every practice hoping we get the opportunity to show our hard work in games. No matter what happens we will make the best of it and be appreciative of the opportunities we are given,” said McIntosh. “We are excited to play in Division 1. We feel we have earned our right to be back here.”

Austin Salvetti
Salem

SALEM (14-5-3)

You have to figure the senior-laden Blue Devils are itching to get started after an unexpectedly early exit from last year’s tournament. Veteran coach Mark McGinn counts 11 seniors on the roster.

Leading the way is senior forward Ryan Pappalardo, who pumped in 24 goals and added 23 assists a year ago. Fellow seniors Ryan Allard (6-14-20), Sam Maietta (12-5-17), Declan Burke (6-8-14) and Aidan Chane (8-4-12) all look to build on their productive campaigns. Senior defenseman Austin Salvetti (7-7-14) and senior goalie Spencer Deane (1.95 GAA, .915 save pct.) are defensive stalwarts.

“We should have three lines that can score and one of the top forwards in Ryan Pappalardo. Our commitment to the defensive zone will be the commitment,” said McGinn. “If we get one game or 14, we will cherish each one. We’re not taking anything for granted.”

Dan Woodford
Bishop Guertin

BISHOP GUERTIN (14-10-0)

Whether or not New Hampshire will be able to play a complete season is one question being pondered by veteran coach Gary Bishop, in his fourth decade as BG’s head coach. The other is more immediate: Will a goaltender emerge that allows the Cardinals to approach last year’s success when they upset Exeter to reach the State semifinals?

Sam Cronin
Bishop Guertin

The forward group features Derek Amaral (9-15-24), Sean Kelley (6-7-13), Mike Kiely (6-7-13) and Daniel Woodford (nine points). Newcomers senior Hayden Shattuck, junior Brian Jenkins and sophomores Logan Vogel and Quinn Cepiel could step into regular roles.

A quartet of returning defensemen features the offensive-minded pair of Sam Cronin (8-11-19) and Declan Wilkie (4-11-15) as well as Avery Abbott and Cam Avery. Austin Abbott moves up from the JVs.

Cam Avery
Bishop Guertin

EXETER (14-5-2)

With graduation having lopped some of the state’s premier forwards off the Blue Hawks’ roster, second-year Coach Paul DiMarino will look to the other end of the ice and a deep and experienced group of defensemen – the top four return – to guide the way back to the post-season.

“We feel very confident in our ability to limit opponents’ scoring opportunities as well as create more for ourselves. We feel really good about our team. The boys appear to have good chemistry and are all on the same page in regards to what their expectations are for this year,” DiMarini said.

The four returnees on defense include senior captains Sam Perry (20 assists) and Davis Nelson, junior Simon Potter and sophomore Roger Davis. Junior Henry Fraser (0.77 GAA, .923 save pct., 2 SO) takes over in goal after excelling as a backup last season. Senior captain Liam Walsh (5-12-17), junior Keegan Knight (13-12-25) and sophomore Ty Robinson (4-11-15) return at forward. Junior Berwick Academy transfer Jaxson Roenick and sophomore Cameron Snee, up from the JVs, provide depth.

“We do not take any day for granted this season. You could take the ice for the final time as a high school hockey player without even realizing it. Our team’s mindset is to show up every day demonstrating discipline by following the protocols and guidelines that allow us to play, as well as working hard every single day to get better,” DiMarino said.

[one_fifth]
Keegan Knight
Exeter
[/one_fifth] [one_fifth]
Liam Walsh
Exeter
[/one_fifth] [one_fifth]
Sam Perry
Exeter
[/one_fifth] [one_fifth]
Simon Potter
Exeter
[/one_fifth] [one_fifth_last]
Davis Nelson
Exeter
[/one_fifth_last] BISHOP BRADY (2-15-1)

Second-year coach Josh Vega is hopeful the growing pains of last year’s rebuild pay off for the Giants. The expectations are higher, driven by the core nucleus of what is still a young team.

“Senior leadership will set the tone. We will compete and outwork our opponents,” Vega said. “The hard working, team first mentality should propel the Giants to new heights this season.”

The forward unit returns seniors Darren Early and Ben Marceau, juniors Ben Modarski and Nate Smith and sophomores Jack Allen, John Thomas and Tucker Townsend. Junior goalie Owen Currier and defensemen Peyton Vachon and Ethan Piotrowski, both juniors, and Ethan Christerson, a sophomore, all return. New freshman forward Jake Tash and freshman goalie Liam Cripps provide depth.

NASHUA NORTH/SOUHEGAN (6-9-3)

New coach Bill Kotsifas takes the helm for the Saber Tigers. If and when the team finally hits the ice, how quickly it adjusts to a new staff and its systems will be pivotal to its success. Kotsifas brings a “defense first” mentality, noting “everything starts from the net out.”

Kotsifas is still getting to know his team. Colin Duckless returns in goal and will be protected by a quartet of veteran defensemen in Peter Lennox, Cam Gagne, Nelson Hawkins and Johnny Hawkins. Forwards Mike Dodge, Ryan Charest, Ryan Catalano, Ben Foley and Ethan Gaffney will carry the attack.

“We will work hard and stay positive that we will have a season. We do our best to stay healthy, follow the guidelines and block out negative thoughts,” Kotsifas said.

Curtis Rice
Hanover

HANOVER (12-10-0)

As he closes in on his 40th season, Marauders’ coach Dick Dodds (9 State titles) has seen a thing or two. Given the uncertainty of the impact of COVID on this season, Dodds is taking a straightforward approach.

“We’re hoping to get as much hockey in as possible [and will] treat every day like it’s Game 7,” he said.

Junior Luke Ives takes over as the regular goalie. He was undefeated (5-0) in limited action last year, compiling a 1.40 GAA and .934 save pct. Junior Spencer Lawe returns on defense while junior Curtis Rice (8-6-14) and sophomore Jack Stadheim (5-10-15) drive the offense.

Tylor Pappalardo
Pinkerton

PINKERTON (11-9-0)

Coach Sam Littlefield welcomes back a core group of seniors complemented by experienced underclassmen from last year’s State quarterfinalist.

The senior trio of Ethan Burgess, Hunter Drouin and Jake Masterson will power the offense. Junior Tylor Pappalardo and sophomore Lorenzo Corsetto also return with experience. Look for new sophomore Damien Carter to step in at goalie. Seniors Aidan Price and Nick Plaza are back on defense.

Littlefield said success will come from “young players stepping up and filling key roles, attacking the net aggressively and taking advantage of scoring opportunities. We’ll be trying to maintain consistency as much as possible and will work through adversity.”

Shea Guimont
Bedford

BEDFORD (16-3-1)

The Bulldogs were declared co-champions with Concord after the NHIAA cancelled Championship Weekend at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Veteran coach Marty Myers welcomes back a solid core from that team.

He cited senior goalie Shea Guimont, in his fourth varsity campaign, as a key figure in that group. Senior captain Arhat Vaidya ranks among the division’s top two-way defensemen. Speedy junior Derek Greer is a high energy type who plays with pace and doesn’t shy away from big moments. Newcomers Daniel O’Connor and Dolton Roberto should take on regular roles.

Senior captain Owen Roberto, the top scorer from last season, has shown a knack for scoring key goals throughout his career. Senior captain Brady Burke is a proven playmaker. Senior Quinlan Kerr is slated for the top line Brendan Thorton, PJ Costa, JD Dillman and Andrew Douthart add to the mix at forward.

“The key to our season is playing well in the defensive zone and shorthanded. Most of the teams have good power plays [so]we’ll do our best to stay 5 on 5,”said Myers.

  • Also in Division 1 this season are Bow, Londonderry, Nashua South/Pelham and Manchester Central/West. No information was available as of post time.
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