The Falcons won the North Division last winter and return a solid nucleus from that club that will look forward to defending that crown, and look to go far in the post-season tournament. In fact, the team graduated just three seniors.
Up front, coach Steve Baldassare will count heavily on seniors Tommy Mento, Conor Purcell and Nic Disciullo, a trio that combined for more than 100 points last winter. If they stay together, it will be one of D2’s top lines.
Seniors Matt Taylor and Colin Desmond will be blue line anchors in front of senior goalie Yegor Bublik, a returning starter.
Optimism reigns high in Winthrop, where coach Dale Dunbar is expecting to have his usual solid team that is skilled and plays well on both sides of the puck. If all the pieces fall into place, the Vikings will challenge for NEC North title, and for the Division 2 crown.
Despite graduating league MVP Charlie Page, the offense still looks good, led by the trio of seniors Henry Brooks (14-11-25) and Brian Chalmers (11-10-21), and junior Steve Holgersen (8-6-14).
Freshman Joey Holgersen looks to make an impact up front as well, while the usual solid Winthrop defense will handle things in front of returning all star goalie Ryan Skoczylas.
A young team in rebuilding mode, the Tanners will have just two seniors on the roster this winter. Having lost 10 seniors, coach Mark Leonard says he could have 6-7 freshmen competing for time.
Junior co-captains Connor McCarron (12 pts) and Nick Capillo (13 pts) will drive the Peabody offense, along with junior Caleb Doolin. Look for new freshman Andrew Phillips to contribute right away.
Senior Zach DeFreitas will have a major role on defense.
A tournament team last winter, the Sachems will look to return by playing some good team defense.
Coach Jeff Natalucci’s team should also be able to score, with the return of senior John Torres, Ryan Groark, Nick Moore and Ryan Granara, along with juniors Adam Rodrigues and Dante McGrane.
Junior blueliners C.J. Graffeo and Joe Cross will handle things on defense. New senior Drew Worthley will look for time.
In goal, senior Nick Sanderson enters his fourth year as a starter.
The Panthers were very young last season and struggled in the win column. With the majority of the team back, things look like they can improve, as long as they get solid team defense and goaltending.
Coach Justin Shairs returns a host of forwards, including seniors Timmy McCarthy, Anthony D’Amato, and Nolan Kirk, juniors Steve Hallinan, Conor Hanlon and Ryan Munzing, and sophomores Andrew Mezza. As a group they need to produce more scoring. New senior Paul Edson should be an immediate help.
Defensively, senior Aaron Carroll, junior Andrew Shea and sophomores Brayden Clark and Finn Crocker are back.
In goal, the Panthers return all three in senior Troy Doyle and sophomores Jack Ten Hope and Jon Linehan.
The dissolution of the Greater Boston League and the absorption of its teams by the Northeastern Conference leaves the Mustangs as the only D1 club in this division. They are shooting to better last year’s North first-round appearance.
“In order for our team to have success this year we are going to need to play well defensively and have a more balanced offense,” said coach Shawn Bates.
Gifted senior forward Jack Lonergan (24-21-45) drives the offense. Seniors Gino DeSimone and Ryan Donahue return as top duo on defense.
The Headers are hoping that what projects to be a tight NEC North race includes them. They will need to jell as a team, create scoring opportunities and play tough defense, according to coach Bob Jackson.
Senior Sam Cioffi and junior Jacob Garfield are key returners at forward, a group that also includes seniors Stephen Pappas and Mike Kagan, and sophomores Zach Piersol and Loch Sheridan.
Senior rock Aidan Gillis will be a blue line mainstay. Juniors Brendan Locke and Paul Heffernan are back as well.
Two goalies – junior Joe Ferrucci and sophomore Peter Santeausanio – return as well.
New coach Mike Roberts takes on a team that is hoping to continue the winning culture.
The Jets return Michael Clougherty, Sean Devin, Brian Clougherty, John DiFilippo, Travis Ryan and Quinn Brinkler.
The outlook for the Jets 2017-18 campaign is going to be positive as it returns 11 starters.
“This team will be equipped to score,” Roberts said. “However, the big question mark will be goaltending as the program graduated a four-year starter and conference all star in Jack Stafford. Junior Jack Gallant, a converted defenseman, and second-year goalie Kenny Perez will try and fill the void between the pipes.”
New to the Northeast Conference South division, the Crimson Tide look to be a tough opponent. A strong team commitment will be key, according to coach Erick Kainen.
Kevin O’Brien projects to be a key forward, while both Jason Cardinale and Ryan Colman can play both forward and defense. Nathan Johnson should be a key defenseman. Brendan Calderon is back in goal for the Crimson Tide.
Two newcomers to watch are forward Brendan Currie and defenseman Kayleigh Snook.
The Highlanders are looking forward to their new home in the NEC South, and coach Kevin Wilson is looking for each league game to be tight with fierce competition.
Seniors C.J. Resmini and Derek Doane, juniors Jeremy Proctor and Chris DeSousa and sophomore Austin Pacheco all return up front. New sophomore Cameron Carreiro and freshman Josh Amaral will press for time.
On defense, junior Noaln Roche and junior Dylan Zraket are a pair of varsity tested rearguards. New sophomore Joe Carey and freshman Chris Bonney add depth to the blue line.
Senior Ryan Vogel is back between the pipes.
The Big Blue will be looking for a deeper tourney run this year after getting bounced by Lowell in the opening round.
Coach Gino Faia brings back his goalie, senior Dan Johnson. Senior forward Stevie Santanello is back after a 38-point season, and senior forward Thomas O’Keefe, senior defenseman Brett Benoit, senior defenseman Dom Codispoti and senior defenseman Jack Poska return.
“We need to stay healthy,” Faia said. “There is not a lot of depth with a young team, and we will lean on senior all star goalie Dan Johnson as well as rest of seniors. We need to play sound team defense. It’s going to be a challenging year with a young team and low numbers but we look forward to being competitive and hopefully getting back to playoffs for a fourth straight year.”
Revere joins the Division 3 ranks this year after spending time in Division 2 North.
Joe Ciccarello’s gang returns senior forwards out of Malden, Mike Giordano and Mike Goroshko.
Junior Revere defenders Cam Mazza and Matt Cravotta power the blue line.
“If we don’t out-work teams, we will not be successful,” Ciccarello said. “What we lack in numbers (17 skaters) we will have to make up for in work ethic.”
* Gloucester will also be in the South Division under new head coach Derek Geary.