Preview capsules of area high school boys hockey teams that responded to The Courant's request for information. [Compiled by Matthew Conyers]
Coach: Greg Raymer
Last year: 6-13-1
Top players: Trevor Connal, sr., defense; Charlie Fisher, sr., goalie; Danny Kycia, sr., forward; Zach Powers, sr., defense
A note: After two inconsistent seasons in the CCC North, the Chieftains have made some changes. This season, Conard, five seasons removed from a trip to the Division I semifinals, will play in Division II. The Chieftains will also have a new coach at the helm. Led by Raymer, Conard will look to its experience and defense to turn things around.
Coach: Frank Genovese
Last year: 9-12
Top players: Avery Boissy, sr., forward; Aaron Lickwar, sr., goalie
A note: It was a frustrating first season for the co-op of the two former hockey powers, Fermi and Enfield. The two old rivals picked up just nine wins and never seemed to fine the right balance. But this season it should get better with the addition of East Granby and Stafford. The program, which is once again led by longtime Fermi coach Frank Genovese, will play in Division II and should be able to improve on its play from last year.
Coach: Ken Barse
Last year: 20-5
Top players: Avery Clair, sr., forward; Chase Gabor, sr., goalie; Connor Thompson, jr., forward; Ryan Walker, jr., forward
A note: How do you replace not two of the best players in program history but two of the best players in the state? That's the question the North's top team will be trying to figure out this year. After reaching the Division I championship for the second time in four years, the Tomahawks have one of the most difficult follow-up acts in the state. But Barse has proven capable of reloading before. Instead of a high-powered offense, Glastonbury will try to make a run behind Gabor and an experienced and tough team defense.
Coach: Tom Cross
Last year: 11-10-1
Top players: Ryan Carpenter, sr., forward; Pat Driscoll, sr., forward; Dave Olechna, sr., forward; Connor Rice, sr., forwards
A note: The Trojans ended their two-year postseason drought last season with a surprising run to the CCC North final and the first round of the Division I tournament. But they ended their memorable season with two straight losses to rival Glastonbury and four overall. This season, they'll try to change that record and prove the return to the postseason wasn't a fluke. Anchored by forwards Carpenter and Rice, Simsbury is a solid contender for the division and another winning season.
Coach: Neil Rodman
Last year: 12-10
Top players: Chris Jones, sr., forward; Chris Gionfriddo, sr., forward; Josh O'Neal, sr., forward
A note: Just like Glastonbury, the Bobcats have a tough assignment this season. They've lost a lot of starters and bring back little experience from last year's quarterfinal team. But they've had success as an underdog before and almost prefer. South Windsor will remain tough and physical and one of the area's best teams despite the absence of a true go-to-player.
Coach: John Hodgson
Last year: 7-13
Top players: James Allanach, jr., forward; Justin Gagnon, jr., defense; Ben Lassow, jr., goalie; Darryl St. Onge, sr., forward
A note: After two lean seasons, which saw them win just 13 games combined, the Bucks could be set for one of the biggest turnarounds in Division III. Lassow and Allanach give them experience and skill at the two most important positions in high school hockey. But they'll have to get added scoring from their entire roster if they're going to make the leap back to the postseason.
Coach: Brian Cannon
Last year: 8-13-1
Top players: Kevin Cop, jr., forward; Owen Kantor, sr., forward; Trey Lerner, sr., forward; Justin Rose, sr., forward
A note: After falling in the CCC South final last season and the first round of the Division III championship, the co-op has plenty of motivation this season. But more importantly, they have the parts necessary to be a dark horse in the division. Anchored by a scoring core of returning forwards, the co-op has the potential to be a very tough out come tournament time. They just have to make sure they shore up their defense and goalie situation after the departure of John Gradante.
Coach: Sean Cole
Last year: 7-13
Top players: Scott Mocko, so., forward; Brendan Quirion, sr., forward; Kolby Sprague, sr., forward; Kyle Whalen, sr., forward
A note: The year started with plenty of promise for the co-op and second-year coach Cole. But with a roster lacking in depth, RMR struggled down the stretch and couldn't find a way into the postseason. This season, Cole is trying to make sure that won't be the case. Led by Quirion and Whalen, two of the best players in Division III, RMR won't have trouble scoring and staying in games. But had quickly its defense matures and improves will be the key to success.
Coach: Christian Stevenson
Last year: 11-10 (BCL) and Rockville (9-12)
Top players: Seth Alexanderowicz, jr., forward; Cam Earle, sr., goalie; Mike Leardi, sr., forward; J.R. Piretti, sr., forward
A note: Five years ago, Rockville joined up with its rival Manchester and won a state title the following March. This season, the Rams will try to do the same thing with a new rival. After dropping Manchester, Rockville has joined up with Bolton, Coventry and Lyman Memorial. Now the two programs, which played in a memorable final in 2008 when Rockville won, will have to bury their rivalry and play together. If they're able to do that, another title run could in line. Together, the two programs have the type of skill and experience necessary for a championship.
Coach: Dave Harackiewicz
Last year: 22-2
Top players: Hunter Blais, sr., goalie; Drew O'Leary, sr., goalie; Brendon Richard, sr., forward; Jeff Rossman, sr., defense
A note: Harackiewicz got his first championship in 20 seasons with a 2-1 victory over Northwest Catholic last March. Now, his players will try to pick up another title for him. The co-op enters the season with a balanced group that can score and defend with the best teams in Division II and III. It also has the longest win streak in the state at 21 games.
Coach: Drew Clarkin
Last year: 7-12-2
Top players: Max Bogini, sr., defense; Evan Cedrone, sr., defense; Vinny Genovese, sr., forward; Matt Urrichio, sr., defense
A note: The Eagles once again have questions on offense. But it appears the depth and blue line is there to once again contend in the division and beyond. After just seven wins last season, the Eagles should be one of the more improved teams in middle part of the state.
NORTHWEST CATHOLIC-WEST HARTFORD
Coach: Don Melanson
Last year: 19-5
Top players: Alex Hunter, sr., defense; Jeff Greenwood, sr., forward; Patrick Melanson, sr., forward; Demitri Yao, jr., forward
A note: After four straight trips to the semifinals, the Indians finally broke through in Division III by getting to the state championship. Although they would eventually lose to Newington/Berlin, the message had been sent. Northwest Catholic likes a challenge. And this season that should certainly be clear. In a season where a handful of teams dropped down a division, the Indians became the only team to move. Northwest Catholic will play in Division II and with its top notch offense fans and onlookers should expect them to compete with anyone.
Coaches: Mike Barone and Scott Percival
Last year: 13-7-2
Top players: Jeff Demers, sr., forward; A.J. Georger, sr., defense; Austin Grouten, sr., forward; Aaron Taplin, sr., defense
A note: It is back to Division II for the co-op, which failed to get out of the Division I qualifying round last seasons. But that's where they belong. And it will show. The Generals still have plenty of talent in place despite losing 10 players to graduation and should be able to avoid a major drop-off this seasons. Behind Demers and Grouten, they're more than a capable of sticking around a little while in Division II tournament.
Coach: Karl Sundquist
Last year: 11-10
Top players: Tom Dupont, sr., defense; Tyler Lima, sr., forward; Scott Romano, sr., goalie; Luke Vendetto, jr., forward
A note: By most measures, Sundquist's first season on the job at Cheshire was a success. He guided the Rams to the Division I state tournament in their first season up a division and remained extremely competitive with the toughest teams in the state. But this season, the energetic coach will really have his work cut out for him. Cheshire lost eight starters, including one of the best goalies in the state Tyler Carbone, and most of its offense, which was low-scoring to began with. They can remain above .500 in the league but they will have to get better around the net.
Coach: Ryan Hardy
Last year: 13-7-2
Top players: Ryan Bell, sr., forward; Chase Briggs, jr., goalie; Matt Oman, sr., defense; Ben Solin, so., forward
A note: Despite a surprising loss to Branford in the Division II quarterfinals, the Tigers, who had the second best record in division, had a successful season. This season, they'll be hard pressed to top it. The Tigers have a new coach in Hardy and have to replace 12 seniors, who were regular contributors. Still, they should remain competitive in league play.
Coach: Tim Belcher
Last year: 6-13-1
Top players: Nick Baccorro, sr., forward; Kaden Batzinger, sr., forward; Derek Lyon, sr., forward; Kyle Stoddard, so., defense
A note: With just 14 players on its roster, the first-year co-op could be in trouble late in games. But with Batzinger leading the way up front and solid core of forwards, it has the ability to compete offensively.
Coach: David Festa
Last year: 8-13
Top players: Joe Boyle, sr., goalie; Cody Albert, sr., forward; Ryan Kiernan, sr., defense; Will Valleau, sr., goalie
A note: Anchored by the All State pair of Cody Albert and Ryan Kiernan, Sheehan could be set for a strong year in Division III. It lost just three seniors from last seasons and one starter and feels it has the talent and experience to compete for the state title.
Coach: Paul Dowe
Last year: 6-13
Top players: Cam Pape, sr., defense; Cam Pinkham, sr., goalie; Cullen Roberts, sr., forward; Cody Roy, sr., forward
A note: The co-op of Ellington, Somers and East Windsor finally makes the switch to Division II after struggling the last two years in Division. And led by talented goalie Cam Pinkham, the move should work in the wins and losses department. Pinkham will keep the co-op in games as it tries to improve its overall team defense and find a better scoring touch.
Coach: Nick Boorman
Last year: 12-10
Top players: Drew Ash, sr., forward; Kasey Buchholtz, sr., forward; Jake King, so., defense
A note: Boorman has built the co-op into an aggressive and efficient team in his two years on the job. And that won't end this season. Led by Drew Ash and Kasey Buchholtz, who is new to the program, Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks will be in all its games and once again a difficult opponent come tournament time.
AVON OLD FARMS
Coach: John Gardner
Last year: 19-6-1
Top players: Mason Krueger, sr., forward; Griff Martin, sr., defense; Vincent Russo, sr., forward; Armand Uomoleale, sr., forward
A note: In his 38th year at the top prep hockey program in New England, Gardner has another team capable of making a run at the Founders League title. But as well as the Winged Beavers can skate and score, they'll need to fine tune their defense if they want to get it done.