Colchester and Coach Greg Murray’s Lakers had a solid 14-6-2 mark last winter. They lost in the quarters to North Country.
Matty Cuce, a senior center who last year had 17 goals and 39 assists for 56 points, returns along with forwards Ryan Francis (13-15-28) and Jared Rylant (16-7-23).
Defenseman Jared Antoniak had 12 points on eight goals and is back along with netminder Erik Swan, who started five games and went 4-0-1 along with a 1.75 GAA.
Tate Hamblett, a forward, and goalie Jake Rocheleau have promise.
“We are going to be young on the back end having graduated three of the top four defensemen and the starting goalie,” Murray said. “We will have three potent forward lines with Matty Cuce and Ryan Francis leading the offense.”
The Crimson Tide finished 9-9-2 one year ago and were bounced in the first round by Middlebury.
Forwards Garret Kelty and Jeff Roy, defensemen Matt Blouin, Patrick, McKelvey and Curtis Magnan and goalies Ben Ferland and Justin Laperle return.
A top newcomer is expected to be Luke Krupa of the Green Mountain Glades.
“We will be a very solid defensively with three returning defenseman and two of the best goalies in the state,” Spaulding coach Clay Bell said.
CHAMPLAIN VALLEY UNION (15-5-3)
The Red Hawks last winter were the victims of an historic run by South Burlington, which won its first Division 1 state crown.
Coach Mike Murray’s team finished 15-5-3 one year ago. Returning veterans include Greg Talbert, a junior goalie who went 10-4-3 with a 1.59 GAA last year.
Alex Bulla, a defenseman, is back after getting 17 assists last winter, and he is joined by fellow returnees and forwards Hoyt McCuin (5-12-17), Elliott Mitchell (10-5-15) and Will Bernicke (8-6-14). Oscar Kelly is up from the junior varsity, and Thomas Samuelsen, a freshman, could make a difference.
“After finishing third in season standings and making it to the finals we are still a young team,” Murray said. “We have one senior defenseman and four senior forwards. Good goaltending, a big three on defense and balanced attack.”
BFA ST. ALBANS (10-10-2)
BFA and Coach Toby Ducolon last year were 10-10-2. Nick Berno is one of the returnees, and Ducolon said he is looking for continued improvement this season.
SOUTH BURLINGTON (21-2-0)
Last year’s state champs, South Burlington, went 21-2 and bring back Adam Weinheimer, a senior defenseman, along with junior blue liners Peter Camardo and Connor Bradley. Senior forwards Gabe Simpatico and Matt Baechle return.
“We’re looking forward to starting fresh knowing that we have a target on our back,” South Burlington coach Sean Jones said. “We return three lines and five defensemen from last season but will be a different team. We are looking forward to a challenging schedule and making our mark.”
Essex went 17-3-2 and lost to CVU in the state semifinals, 3-0. Brock Paquette is back in net as a senior, and senior forwards Brody Almeida, Nate Nelson and Steve Morse should carry the offense. Defensemen Jake Gaboriault and Kyle Rutz are back.
“We should be competitive,” Essex coach Bill O’Neil said, “in a very even Metro League.”
Rutland, which fell to eventual state runner-up CVU in the quarterfinal round of the Metro state tourney last winter, returns Jordan Godfrey, a junior forward, this season.
Along with Godfrey, Max Major, a senior forward, Brian Collamore, a senior defenseman, and Dan Eugair, a senior forward, are all back.
The team is a blue collar hockey team that works hard and creates goals. Key newcomers should be Dean Abatiell, a junior goalie, and Jacob Godfrey, a rookie forward.
NORTH COUNTRY (15-6-1)
Five seniors return for North Country, which went 15-6-1 last winter. They are led by Ross Delabruere Ryan Paul, Nathan Marsh, Ryan O’Donnell and Chase Lacourse.
The team has a strong offense and the potential to have a strong defensive group. The team will be starting a new goalie this year as its previous goalie, Chris Bronson, graduated.
Henry Delabruere, Ben Sykes and Matt Paul – each sophomores — could be big impact players for new coach Ryan Jacobs.