A quick look at Vermont High School Division 1 programs…
Home Rink: Essex Skating Facility
Chris Line’s Hornets, the defending state champions, have some solid returnees up front. Charles Wiegand, a junior left winger, scored 13 goals, 11 assists and 24 points. Junior center Max Line had five goals and 10 assists last winter. Senior right winger Willem Barwin had 10 goals and four assists last winter.
The team lost some solid defensemen but brings back senior defenseman Jason Smith (2-8-10), who will help protect the Hornets’ end in front of goalie Paul Gordon, a senior who posted a 2.62 GAA and .902 save percentage last year.
“We need to utilize depth and find consistent scoring after losing some key offensive players,” Line said. “We also need to play solid team defense.”
RICE MEMORIAL (9-11-2)
Home Rink: Cairns Arena
The Green Knights made a nice run last winter, reaching the D1 championship game. With most of that team back, Rice will definitely be in the mix again this winter.
A talented group of returning forwards includes the likes of Kiaran Connolly, Cam Kinsell, Sam Rubman, Connor Peet, Garrett Micciche and Will Crawford. Joining that group are newcomers Jayden Duprey, Matt Senesac and Kyle Tanis.
On defense, coach Jerry Tarrant will turn to Reilly Hickey, Cole Tarrant, Jack Hickey and DaeHan McHugh. Newcomer Jack Strong provides depth.
Cale Lyman is a returning goaltender. Newcomer Carson Barnes is in the rotation.
BFA/ST. ALBANS (14-3-3)
Home Rink: Collins Perley
Toby Ducolon’s team is counting on its new players gaining experience throughout the winter.
Seniors Parker Gratton and Derek Nadeau are back on the front line, and senior Dominic Liscinsky and juniors Nathan Benoit and Colby Morin return on the back side.
Senior goalie Dan Ellis also returns for the Bobwhites.
Home Rink: Stowe Ice Arena
New coach Adrien Melrose takes over after a solid campaign last winter.
The team returns senior forwards Atticus Eiden and Alex Tilgner and junior forwards Henry Paumgartner and Landon Dubie.
Leading the blue-liners is a pair of juniors — Oli Paumgartner and Cam Anderson. They will help defend the net, which has a couple of senior options in Ethan Brown and Jack Seivwright.
Melrose likes the potential of freshmen forwards Woody Reichelt and Charlie Davidow. The team has some talented forwards but needs to focus on defense and preventing goals, coach Melrose said.
Home Rink: BOR
Chad Burke’s Crimson Tide welcomes back a host of returning front-liners. Senior forwards Heath Atwood and Attilio Perantoni are back in addition to junior forwards Evan Dudley and Christian Gagne and sophomore forwards Jamison Mast, Jameson Solomon and Colby Berard.
Seniors Myles Aja and Connor Magoon, junior Owen Kresco and sophomore John Malnati returns on defense. Senior goalies Kyle May and Grant Otis are looking good.
Burke is fond of his talented sophomore class.
MIDDLEBURY UNION (9-8-3)
Home Rink: Howard E. Brush Memorial Sports Center
Coach Derek Bartlett heads onto the ice for his 12th season. The Tigers bring back senior center Devon Kearns, a fine producer last winter with 11 goals and 12 assists. Fellow seniors Keenan Bartlett (seven points) and Hale Hescock (11 points) are also back up front. Tucker Stearns, a junior, had 12 assists last year on defense, and sophomore defender Joey Niemo is also back. He had five points last year.
Senior goalies Zeke Hooper (.924 save percentage, GAA 2.00) and Jeffrey Stearns (.894, 2.10) return. Freshman forward Owen Lawton is a nice addition.
“I have a core group of eight seniors who will have to demonstrate exceptional leadership and compete level every night out,” Bartlett said. “In order to be in the postseason conversation, we will need to stay healthy and injury-free throughout the regular season. It appears that our team chemistry has been solid from day one and hopefully we can carry this through to March.”
SOUTH BURLINGTON (10-9-1)
Home Rink: Cairns Arena
Sean Jones’ Wolves are hungry for a solid season. And they’ve got a pack to do so.
Juniors Hunter Fay and Reid LeClair and seniors Ray Thibeault and Isaac Toupin return up front, and senior defender John O’Rourke and sophomore Shane Burke and senior goalie Ted Hopper are leading the backline.
After graduating a large, experienced senior class Jones said the team is looking to establish its identity through disciplined play and commitment to a defense-minded system. Team chemistry will be important.
CHAMPLAIN VALLEY UNION (8-12-2)
Home Rink: Cairns Arena
J.P. Benoit’s Redhawks return senior James Bernicke (5-8-13), junior Cam Saia (6-2-8), sophomore Angelos Carroll (1-3-4) and senior Austin Igler (0-2-2) out front.
Sophomore Owen Pierce and juniors Aiden Machanic and Sam Whitcomb are back on defense.
“We have a very, very young team that must play disciplined hockey in order to win games,” Benoit said. “Sound team defense and unselfish play will be important for us to play with the best in our state.”
Home Rink: Leddy Park Arena
Andy Corran’s Lakers were bumped up to Division 1 this season after a solid 17-6-1. Will Spencer, a senior, returns up front to lead the team. Sophomore Alex Rublee and junior Jake Baird also come back up front. Senior Andy Rosato is back on defense.
“We will need a strong defensive-minded team that capitalizes on scoring opportunities,” Corran said.
Home Rink: Spartan Arena
New coach Mike Anderson takes the Raiders into the season looking to improve on last year’s six-win campaign.
Ethan Coarse, Eric Brewer, Ryan Melen, Dillon Moore and Micaiah Boyle compose the returning front-liners. Eren Cetin and Owen Simpson are back on defense, and goalie Augie Loras returns in net.
“We need to be the hardest working team,” Anderson said. “Good team defense is key.”