Vermont Division 1 Previews: Champlain Valley Union, BFA Will Be In The Hunt

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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ESSEX (19-3-0)

As debut seasons go, things couldn’t have gone any better for coach Chris Line as he guided the Hornets to the program’s 15th State Championship. However, nine seniors graduated from that team and, Line says, “It will be extremely important to establish an identity both on and off the ice. It will be important for this year’s returners to take the reins and created a cohesive locker room.”

Senior center Grady Cram – who popped in the GWG and had two assists in the 5-0 title decision of Spaulding – will look to build on his stellar 19-12-31 line of a year ago. Veteran senior wings Johah Janaro (12-17-29) and Sam Gibbs (8-8-16) also scored in the title game.

Senior Sam Foster returns in goal and posted impressive numbers (1.65 GAA, .909 save pct.) a year ago, capped by a 17-save shutout in the title match. Seniors Tyler Millette and Ian Amaliksen are the top returnees on defense.

Dan Ellis
BFA St. Albans

BFA/ST. ALBANS (17-2-1)

Following last season’s surprising quarterfinal round exit from the State Tournament at the hands of South Burlington, you can anticipate the Bobwhites to be doubly focused on regaining their lofty perch at or near the top of the standings this season.

Coach Toby Duculon expects the team will be sound on defense but said there are holes to fill on offense – five forwards were among the eight graduates from last season’s club.

Top forwards Colby Brouillette and Noah Vincelette, both seniors, are a proven pair up front. The back end should be fine with goalies Dan Ellis (Jr.) and Tyler Laroche (Sr.) and senior defensemen Mark Howrigan and Cooper Cioffi providing stability. Depth will culled from a group of returnees looking to move up from supplemental roles they filled a year ago.

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Ben Ross
CVU
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Charlie Averill
CVU
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Jack Schaefer
CVU
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Nick Lyman
CVU
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CHAMPLAIN VALLEY UNION (9-12)

The Redhawks took State Champion Essex to double overtime in a 3-2 quarterfinal loss last March. A solid core group returns from that club, which graduated four and had two goaltenders transfer. Six seniors will lead the way while nine freshmen will look to earn regular time.

“Our outlook is promising as we have great leadership returning, a coaching staff with a year under our belts, and kids that love to play hockey. Keys will be building on last year’s late run, staying healthy and staying out of the penalty box,” says coach J.P. Benoit.

Senior wing Jack Schaefer (15-7-22) and senior center Charlie Averill (6-10-16) return as leaders on offense. Senior Nick Lyman (6-7-13) is a presence at both ends of the ice and is joined defense by seniors Ben Ross and Colton Murphy. Senior Logan Cody returns in goal.

RICE MEMORIAL  (1-17-0)

New coach Jerry Tarrant slides over from a highly successful tenure as Rice’s girls coach. He and his staff are committed to turning the page and steering the program in a new direction. “The Green Knights expect to make an early impression and be very competitive in the league,” Tarrant says.

A handful of seniors lead the way for this still-young team. A large contingent that learned on the fly a year ago returns this season.

The forward group includes seniors Ryan Byrnes, Connor Ritchie and Cooper Harvey; junior Cam Kinsell; and sophomores Sam Rubman, Mathieu Dubois, Finian Rugg and Caleb Matosky.  Juniors Cale Layman, Ethan Brown and Riley Hickey and sophomore Cole Tarrant provide experience in the back end. Depth will come from a large tryout group of a dozen or so candidates.

STOWE (16-3-2)

Despite being one of the smaller hockey-playing schools in the Green Mountain State, the Raiders reached the State Tournament semifinals a season ago. Coach Chris Eaton said playing a complete team game is a must in order to compete against much larger schools.

A core of returnees will be counted on for both production and leadership. Seniors Jace Boerger (C), Mas Carr (W) and Alex Tilgner (W) are back at forward. Senior Sam Schoepke is the most experienced defenseman. Pre-season will determine how the remainder of the roster shakes out.

SOUTH BURLINGTON (7-12-2)

The Wolves stunned BFA/St. Albans in the tournament quarterfinals a year ago and will look to build on their late-season surge and semifinal appearance.

“An experienced senior class will be asked to lead by example. If all things go well and the guys buy into the program and each other, we have the potential to make some noise,” said coach Sean Jones.

Among those key seniors are forward Dylan LeClair and defensemen Jared Baron and Ty Bernardet. Pre-season will determine the team’s overall make-up.

MIDDLEBURY UNION (11-9-1)

Experience in the back end coupled with a brace of proven forwards could make the Tigers a troublesome bunch. Coach Derek Bartlett’s club is shooting to improve upon last season’s trip to the quarterfinals.

“Our success will be defined by how well we play team defense. Our goaltending and defensive core will be our strength. We will also need to stay healthy as we do not have much depth,” Bartlett said.

Senior Ben Turner, junior Robbie Bicknell and sophomore Abel Anderson will patrol the blue line in front of incumbent junior goalie Jeffrey Stearns. New sophomore defenseman Tucker Stearns and new junior goalie Zeke Hooper add depth.

Seniors Kolby Farnsworth (14-9-23) and Cooper O’Brien and juniors Kamrin Bartlett (4-17-21) and Devon Kearns (7-8-15) are the top forwards.

Evan Parent
Spaulding

SPAULDING (16-7-0)

The Crimson Tide graduated eight from last year’s State finalist – their second consecutive title appearance – and may take a step back as coach Chad Burke and his staff adjust. That said, don’t expect the drop to be excessive.

“We have a good group of sophomores and freshman coming in. But we will be back-filling positions with some inexperience,” Burke says.

Seniors Cam Gosselin, Evan Parent and Jesse King and junior Heath Atwood are the top forwards. Senior Travis Roy and junior Myles Aja are back on defense, as are junior keepers Grant Otis and Kyle May. New sophomores Owen Kresco and Christian Gagne are among those expected to contribute.

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