WMass Preseason Top 10: Longmeadow the choice

Fran Sypek
Fran Sypek
Fran has covered hockey at all levels, NHL, AHL, junior, college and high school for the Springfield Republican from 1978-2013. His column "Hockey Talk'' appeared in the Sunday Republican. The hockey beat took him from Maine to Arizona in the United States and from Newfoundland to Alberta in Canada. Fran was the recipient of the Matthew Ryan Award for Outstanding Coverage of High School Hockey and the Janet McCormick Award from the Springfield Olympics. He then shifted from pros to college when the University of Massachusetts restored its program and joined Hockey East. Later, he continued covering the Boston Bruins and the Springfield Falcons. Fran's covered future NHL players from Western Massachusetts in Paul Fenton, Bob Kudelski, Rick Bennett and Bill Guerin. He is a member of the Bessone Award committee, which helps select the top high school hockey player in Western Mass. Fran was a goalie for Holyoke Community College in 1973-74 and graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1977. Fran is currently a free lance writer living in Bondsville, Mass and grew up in Chicopee, Mass, has visited all 50 states, and is an avid photographer.

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Western Mass. Preseason Top 10 Poll

RankTeam[tooltip text="PR*" gravity="ne"]Previous Ranking[/tooltip]WLT
1Longmeadow1741
2Westfield1760
3Minnechaug1470
4E. Longmeadow9120
5West Springfield9110
6Amherst1452
7South Hadley/Holyoke1283
8Wahconah4121
9Ludlow4151
10Chicopee1921

With a solid returning cast, Longmeadow enters the season as Western Mass. Division 3 favorite.

The Lancers have the best scoring punch in the division. They are solid in goal.

Longmeadow,  East Longmeadow, Agawam, Minnechaug, West Springfield and Westfield are the only Division 3 teams in Western Mass. and will play in the Berry Division. The Fay and Wright consist of Division 3A teams.

“The Berry Division will be very competitive with Longmeadow and Westfield being the teams to beat,’’ said Minnechaug coach Greg Palm. “Every game should be tough and competitive and any team could beat anyone on any given night.’’

The Wright Division is composed of Belchertown, Easthampton, Greenfield, St. Mary and Berkshire newcomers Drury and Mount Everett.

The Fay has Amherst-Pelham, Chicopee, Chicopee Comp, Ludlow, South Hadley and Berkshire newcomer Wahconah.

Wahconah has been the best of the Berkshires the past several seasons. Now that Pittsfield and Taconic are part of the co-op team, the Warriors should be even stronger.

That means the two largest cities in Western Mass., Springfield and Pittsfield now no longer have high school hockey teams within their city limits (Division 1 Pope Francis is located in Chicopee).

Amherst will again be a team to watch as will reigning D3A champion South Hadley

Max Loyuk
Longmeadow

LONGMEADOW (17-4-1)

The Lancers are a hard-working group with dedication and commitment, according to coach Jim Joyce. A strong corps of forwards return, but Longmeadow is young and inexperienced on defense.

Spencer Robbins (30-30-60, plus 50) heads the list of returning forwards. Jack Barron (27-28-45, plus 44) also returns.

Max Loyuk came into his own as a goalie as a sophomore last season and should be even better. He had a 1.85 goals against average and .912 save percentage.

MINNECHAUG (14-7-0)

The Falcons lost some serious scoring punch and will need to rely on a veteran defense.

Tyler Rose, Zach Varney, Austin Kareta, Jordan Torres and Joe Manning return on defense.

Bill Gosselin, Patric O’Brien, Brandon Vreeland, Matt Kowal, Ed Wurst and Frankie Soares are back up front.

The key will be finding a goaltender.

WESTFIELD (17-6-1)

The reigning sectional champs will again rely on defense and goaltending. Being involved in a lot of low-scoring games last season, prepared the Bombers for a strong tournament run.

Nate Boucher (2-5-7) returns as a shutdown defenseman. Goalie Cam Parent (1.74 GAA) has been solid.

Senior Max Maggipinto (14-15-29) will provide offense, along with senior Connor Cottengim, junior Spencer Cloutier and sophomore Ryan Moorhouse for coach C.B. Matthews

EAST LONGMEADOW (9-12-0)

The Spartans look to battle for the fourth playoff spot in the Berry Division. Coach Dan Reid expects to play as many as seven sophomores.

Senior Angelo Morace (27 pts) will spark the offense, with help from senior Zac Martin. Senior Connor Piecuch (12 pts) will anchor the defense.

LUDLOW (4-15-1)

Moving from the Berry to the Fay should help the Lions and coach Paul Rivest be more competitive.

Senior Ryan Martin and junior Aidan McBride will be cornerstone defensemen. Junior Brennan Madru is a key forward and junior Michael Young looks to be the guy between the pipes.

AMHERST/PELHAM (14-5-2)

The Hurricanes bring back a strong nucleus and could reclaim the championship that eluded them last season.

Nico Cardaropoli is a gifted goal-scorer and will lead the offense. Brandon Feldman, Richard McIntire and Jake Riels also return.

But the strength of the Hurricanes lies in their defense, which features Jarrett Tripp, Eli Slovin and newcomer Justin Masteralexis. The forwards also have defensive responsibilities.

Promising newcomer John Hansom will handle the goaltending chores.

MT. EVERETT (5-10-3)

Defenseman Jake Corcoran, who is also a gifted forward, returns for the Eagles and coach Aidan Gilligan. He also plays defense. Corcoran had 19 goals, 25 assists last season and has 132 career points. A key to success will be to play fundamental defense.

GREENFIELD (8-9-1)

The Green Wave are looking to return to the post-season. It has shown great chemisty during the pre-season, reports coach Adam Bouchard.

Senior captain Evan Simmons (40 pts) is a solid, two-way threat from his defensive position. Cam Barnes will be the other Greenfield captain. Sophomore Booie Harris (13 pts) will see a lot of time on defense as well. Sophomore Sean O’Sullivan will be a key forward. Sophomore Riley Drew saw the majority of time in the Green Wave nets last year.

Others looking to have an impact are Doug Hanieski, Ethan Lafluer, Bryan Baumann, Cassidy Wozniak, Chris Urgiel, Aurel Pydych, Mason Whiteman, Mike McGoldrick, Jacob Bryant, Alex Jordan Bryce Jordan and Cam Rice.

BELCHERTOWN (8-7-2)

Defenseman Nate Pacheco (4-9-13) will lead the Orioles. Sophomore Chris Buffone (6-6-12) leads the attack, along with senior Zack Rajpold. Matt Crutch’s Orioles will need newcomers to step up and provide offense.

Newcomer senior forward David Fredenburgh should help. Ethan Rajpold, Jake Delaney and Colby Masse will vie for playing time in goal.

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