Northeastern Conference North Preview: Two-time Defending Champ Danvers Will Have Hands Full

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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Danvers has won the NEC North Division the past two summers, but lost many key players to graduation, which should make for a crazy race to the 2019 league title.

WINTHROP (12-6-2)

A perennial post-season participant, the Vikings will need to be watched. They return four NEC All Stars.

Luke Evangelista

Up front, senior Sam Yarrow (23 pts) will be one of the league’s top producers, aided by senior Luke Evangelista and senior Corey Cherico. Newcomers ready to step in for coach Dale Dunbar are sophomores Chris Ferrara and Joe Deeb and freshman JD Parker.

On defense, senior Chris Finn returns from an injury-plagued year to be a blue line cornerstone along with senior Brian Chalmers. In goal, senior veteran Ryan Skocylas gives the Vikings a solid effort each time out.

DANVERS (16-6-1)

The two-time defending NEC North champions lost some considerable firepower to graduation, but don’t count them out. The Falcons, despite having only four seniors, will have good depth, and the ability to skate four lines.

The big line this year for coach Steve Baldassare will consist of the senior trio of Jared Mscisz (18 goals), Jack Thibodeau and Cooper Adrian. Juniors Cal Mansfield and Tyler Puska will have huge roles.

CJ Graffeo

Defensive leaders project to be junior JP Kelter and sophomore Michael Papmechial.

The goaltending duties fall on senior Robert Prentiss and sophomore Adam Bridgeo.

SAUGUS (6-9-5)

The Sachems just missed the post-season a year ago, and coach Jeff Natalucci is hoping his club can learn from that. Strong leadership from the captains will be a key.

Senior quad-captains Adam Rodrigues and Dante McGrane, and senior Ronnie Paolo will be vital to the offensive attack. Freshman Chris Regnetta looks to chip in.

Defensively, senior quad-captains C.J. Graffeo and Joe Cross will be book-ends on the blue line. Senior Anthony Cogliano is a key blue liner. New senior Dom Paolo has transferred in from Bishop Fenwick.

Conor Hanlon

The goaltending duties will go to junior Jack Devereaux and sophomore Colin Ronan.

BEVERLY (10-6-4)

A return to the post-season last winter was a boost for the Panthers, who have a nice nucleus back. This team looks to be in the NEC North race.

Steve Hallinan

Up front, senior co-captain Steve Hallinan (21 pts) and junior co-captain Andrew Mezza (20 pts) will team with senior Conor Hanlon (27 pts) to form a solid leadership group on offense. A host of players up from the JV program will fill out the first three lines.

Coach Justin Shairs says his team will be strong from net out, returning four of five defensemen in senior Andrew Shea and juniors Brayden Clark, Finn Crocker and Shane Cassidy. New junior Owen Desmond is a transfer from Danvers.

In goal, junior Jack Ten Hope and sophomore Jack Feuerbach will battle for playing time.

Check out HNIB News Mass. Boys D2 Preseason Top 15

Jacob Garfield


Chris Wells takes over behind the bench for the Headers, replacing longtime coach Bob Jackson as he transitions over from the womens program.

As he gets to know his roster, Wells will need to get some leadership out of senior forward Jacob Garfield and junior goaltender Peter Santeusanio.

The hope is for some other younger players to step up and play a bigger role.

Nick Capillo

PEABODY (0-20-0)

Longtime mentor Mark Leonard, entering his 24th year at the helm of the Tanners, says his team has shown a lot of improvement in the off-season and if they can create more offense, and limit the other team’s chances, then wins could start coming.

Seniors Nick Capillo and Connor McCarron, and sophomore Nathan LePage will be keys up front. New sophomore Luke Buckley will get his chance to shine.

On defense, seniors Ryan Huber and Caleb Dollin, and junior Nick Ricci will get a lot of minutes. Sophomore goalie Lucas DeMild played every varsity minute last winter.

Jared McDonald

MEDFORD (12-5-4)

The league’s lone D1 squad welcomes back a solid nucleus from last year’s North Sectional qualifier. Coach Shawn Bates must replace 10 who graduated from a team known for its lockdown defense. The post-season remains a goal.

The Mustangs will lean on the quartet of forwards for offense  – seniors Cole Brennan and Brian Paone, junior Jared McDonald and sophomore Shawn Nestor. Junior Chris Freeman ranks as the top returning defenseman while junior Michael Corso and sophomore Conner Carreiro will compete for time in goal.

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