Tournament Result: Lost as (12) seed 6-3 to (5) LHK in the CIAC Division 3 First Round
Coach: Rusty Granacker (16th season)
Key Contributors: Tanner Trew (F, Sr.), Colin MacNevin (F, Sr.), Patryk Fancher (F, Jr.), James McCarthy (D, Sr.), Mikey Morlock (D, Jr.), Stephen Fanning (G, Sr.)
Big Losses: Andrew Almeida, Luke Newman, Jack Wallin, Doug Alfidi
Impact Newcomers: Joe Stefanelli (G, So.), Conor McVey (F, So.), Tommy Delafield (F, So.)
Goalie Situation: Expect Coach Granacker to give the senior Fanning the first go at the job but sophomore Stefanelli looks primed to go toe to toe and battle for crease time.
Outlook: BBD will be better than they were last year. Some of the additions that Granacker brought in should help contribute right away, pair that with a solid returning core and BBD should have no problem making the tournament and potentially fighting for home ice. Included in those new bodies are talented netminder Joe Stefanelli and impact forwards Conor McVey and Tommy Delafield. It’ll be interesting to see who the IceCats opt to go with in net. This is a team who dropped eight games by two or less goals last year. Naturally, some of those will turns into W’s this year.
Tournament Result: Did not qualify
Coach: Galen Byram (2nd season)
Key Contributors: Kyle Camello (F, Sr.), Luke Slater (D, Sr.), Sean Power (F, Jr.), Kyle Johnson (F, Jr.), Kyle Pesco (F, Sr.)
Big Losses: Connor Morton
Impact Newcomers: Jack Terrance (D, So.)
Goalie Situation: Looks like senior Liam Keleher will be the full time keeper for BCR. Freshman Derek Leshak will be backing him up.
Outlook: Coach Byram is focusing on the second year of his rebuild of BCR. BCR went winless over their final 11 games of the 2016-17 season, with the lone non-loss coming in the form of a scoreless tie against Newington. Hindering this rebuild is the loss of the versatile leading scorer Connor Morton. Look for senior defenseman Luke Slater to take on a major leadership role this year in hopes to improve BCR’s two win season from a year ago.
Daniel Hand (9-10-1 *Division 2)
Tournament Result: Lost as (11) seed 5-1 to (6) Cheshire in the CIAC Division 2 First Round
Coach: Luke Galvin (1st season)
Key Contributors: Paul Gagliardi (D, Sr.), Ian Rice (D, Jr.), Griffin Fitzmaurice (F, Jr.), Jason Rossi (F, Sr.), Mike Halloran (F, Sr.), Michael McKeon (F, Jr.), Thomas Paraiso (F, Jr.), Matt Belliveau (D, Sr.)
Big Losses: Rob Smith, Matt Rice, Tristan Sorensen
Impact Newcomers: John Gagliardi (D, Fr.), Domenic Montesi (D, Fr.), Brendan Ryan (F, So.)
Goalie Situation: It would appear that Mike Anderson is the guy. Reports out of the NIP have him as the only goalie on the roster. Anderson is a senior who has not seen any varsity action up until now. Should be a steep learning curve.
Outlook: Luke Galvin takes over as the head guy at Hand after a long career in various areas of hockey, most notably as an AHL referee. He’s a hockey guy and comes in with high expectations. He’s been handed a group that should be sound defensively. Paul Gagliardi excelled at the Division II level, which makes him even scarier at the DIII level. The loss of Matt Rice, Hand’s leading scorer from a year ago will hurt for sure, but with the move down to DIII and Galvin at the helm, I think the Tigers will be okay if they can keep the puck out. With a new, inexperienced goalie, this is a big if.
Eastern CT Eagles (4-16)
Tournament Result: Lost as (15) seed 6-0 to (2) WMRP in the CIAC Division 3 First Round
Coach: Randy Craig (6th season)
Key Contributors: Kevin Close (F, Sr.), Ryan Huta (F, Jr.), Quentin Dean (F, Sr.), Zach Bradley (F, Sr.), Trent Hughson (F, Jr.), Han Sherman (D, Sr.), Riley Jordan (D, Jr.)
Big Losses: Troy Moeller
Impact Newcomers: Devon Jordan (D)
Goalie Situation: With Moeller graduating the door has opened up for a new face to take charge. Reports out of Eagles camp claim there are two lead candidates for the job but nothing has been determined yet.
Outlook: Since co-oping, the Eastern CT Eagles have yet to tally more than four wins in a season, something they’ve done each of the last three years. This could very well be the year they do it. 13 seniors and juniors highlight a roster that has some serious top end talent. Junior Ryan Huta comes back after leading the Eagles in goals and senior captain Kevin Close returns for one more go after leading the team in points last year. If the Eagles can play a defensively competent brand, they will be able to score goals this year, which should get them over that four win mark.
Enfield Co-op (4-12-2 *Division II)
Tournament Result: Did not qualify
Coach: Frank Genovese (16th season)
Key Contributors: Cam Gaylor (D, Sr.), Jason Morin (F, Sr.), Robby Vose (F, Sr.), Ryan Murphy (D, Sr.), Patrick Flemming (F, Jr.)
Big Losses: Mason Holt, Joey Partridge
Goalie Situation: Losing Holt hurts the co-op from an experience standpoint. Just like many other teams this fall, two goalies will be battling it out to see who becomes the guy. Ryan Groshans and Spencer Albano will answer the bell and see which can rise to the top spot.
Outlook: Enfield dropped down to Division II this year and should really benefit from doing so. While last year was a debacle for the co-op, Genovese’s boys went 4-4-2 against D3 competition, which included a 1-0-1 mark against D3 runner up Hall-Southington. Returning Gaylor is huge, as he is one of the best defensemen at the D3 level. Should Enfield shore up defensively (allowed 5+ goals nine times last year), they’ll have a smooth adjustment to a more realistic level of competition.
Tournament Result: Lost as (3) seed 6-1 to (6) Hall-Southington in the CIAC Division 3 Quarterfinals
Coach: Dean Diamond (13th season)
Key Contributors: Connor Toffey (F, Sr.), Jack McCauliffe (F, Jr.), Cam Wilhelm (D, Sr.), Matt Murray (G, Jr.)
Big Losses: Finn Bambery
Impact Newcomers: Luke Molica (F, So.), Tyler Calhoun (D, Fr.)
Goalie Situation: Matt Murray is their guy and the “backbone of the team,” according to senior captain Connor Toffey. Murray is as dependable as they comes and is expected to have a huge season for Housy. He comes in to this season as one of the best DIII goalies out there.
Outlook: Any Dean Diamond coached group is going to often outwork their opponents. Diamond rolls out one of his stronger rosters this year led by 23 goal scorer Connor Toffey. He is anchored nicely by junior Jack McCauliffe who’s coming off a 23 point season last year. Add the aforementioned Murray and Housy is looking at a solid year.
Joel Barlow (4-15-1)
Tournament Result: Lost as (16) seed 11-0 to (1) Woodstock Academy in the CIAC Division 3 First Round
Coach: Bob Stearns (4th season)
Key Contributors: Andrew Powell (D/F, Jr.), Vin Marsili (F, Sr.), Ryan Lauter (F, So.), Matteo Naclerio (D, Jr.), Danny Rooney (D, So.)
Big Losses: Kyle Converse
Impact Newcomers: Luke Dube (F, Fr.), Teddy Blanchard (D, Fr.)
Goalie Situation: Senior Zach Gormley would appear to be the Falcons main option in net. Gormley posted a 5.46 GAA and a .833 save percentage last year. Cas Koopmann will backup Gormley.
Outlook: After finishing the 2016-17 season getting outscored 31-1 over their final three games, defense had to have been a point of emphasis this off season for Coach Stearns. To make things worse, All Stater Kyle Converse has graduated after posting over 150 points for his career. Junior Andrew Powell (20 points) and senior Vin Marsili (19 points) look to pick up the slack after a solid 2016-17 campaign. It'll be interesting to see how those two fare without Converse drawing a lot of coverage away.
Lyman Hall-HK-Coginchaug (10-10)
Tournament Result: Lost as (5) seed 6-0 to (1) Woodstock Academy in the CIAC Division 3 Semifinals
Coach: Richie Minnix Jr. (5th season)
Key Contributors: Scott Bradley (F, Sr.), Kyle Roberts (F, Jr.), Connor Satton (F, Jr.), Matt Pettit (F, So.)
Big Losses: Chris Blanchard, Hunter Boileau, Finley Van Houten
Impact Newcomers: TJ Arduini (F, So. Elite), TJ Isleib (F, So. CT Wolfpack), Andrew Sacco (G, Fr. CT Chiefs)
Goalie Situation: Van Houten graduates leaving Coach Richie Minnix with a vacancy that he believes he has filled competently. Freshman Andrew Sacco enters the crease with high upside.
Outlook: LHK looks strong. They return a solid core lead by Scott Bradley who posted 39 points last season. He’s joined by juniors Kyle Roberts (36 points), Connor Satton (21 points) and sophomore Matt Pettit (18 points) on the front end. With help from talented newcomers TJ Arduini and TJ Isleib, Minnix has a potent offense that should produce plenty of goals. LHK comes in as a favorite in D3 once all the new pieces start to gel.
Tournament Result: Lost as (8) seed 6-2 to (9) Trinity Catholic in the CIAC Division 3 First Round
Coach: Andy Townsend (13th season)
Key Contributors: Colin Raymond (F, Sr.), Casey Bowler (F, Sr.), Nikita Kuzmitski (F, Jr.), Kyle Cirillo (F, So.), Tom Sudora (D, Sr.), Brendan Andros (D, Jr.), Will Ferraro (D, Jr.), Tag Weiss (G, Jr.)
Big Losses: Elijah Begin, Adam Montague
Goalie Situation: Tag Weiss played nearly the entire season for the Panthers last year. That trend should continue this year. Weiss should be among the upper echelon of D3 goalies this year.
Outlook: Begin and Montague graduating leave a gaping hole in the Panthers’ offense. With their departure you’re losing senior leadership as well as 79 of the team’s total 175 points last year. Junior Casey Bowler looks to pick up the slack, as he is the team’s leading scorer out of all returnees, potting 16 points and 9 goals last season. Tag Weiss will carry this team but depth could become a problem and should be a storyline moving forward. Masuk always figures out a way to be relevant though and I think they'll be in the mix at the D3 level.
Newington Co-op (3-14-3)
Tournament Result: Lost as (11) seed 4-3 OT to (6) Hall-Southington in the CIAC Division 3 First Round
Coach: Dave Harackiewicz (22nd season)
Key Contributors: Cade Palladino (F, Sr.), Matt Lavoie (F, Jr.), Patrick Doherty (D, Jr.)
Big Losses: Logan Matteson, Alex Borselle, Matt Roberts
Impact Newcomers: Justin Stergos (D, Jr. Springfield Rifles Elite)
Goalie Situation: Seniors Adam Belair and David Mix are set to battle it out. Belair played more minutes last year and was largely more successful finishing the year with 568 minutes played to Mix’s 288 and a 3.20 GAA compared to Mix’s 4.80.
Outlook: Newington Co-op is in a weird place. A once proud program, winners of back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013 and now they’ve won only ten games over the last two years combined. Veteran Head Coach Dave Harackiewicz is one of the best out there. His 305 wins are no accident. But the fact of the matter is, the co-op just hasn’t had it the past few years. So, the fact that Newington is returning two of their top three scorers in Cade Palladino and Matt Lavoie has to make some people around the program very happy. I think Belair will ultimately win the goalie job and look for the co-op to be sound defensively with the junior Patrick Doherty and new arrival Justin Stergos from the Springfield Rifles Elite.
Tournament Result: Lost as (13) seed 5-2 to (4) Tri-Town in the CIAC Division 3 First Round
Coach: Dale Wehmhoff (2nd season)
Key Contributors: Kevin Remson (F, Sr.), Remy Gibson (F, Sr.), Dylan Persons (Sr.), Brian Denke (Sr.), Jeb Boyrer (F, So.), Cory Acevedo (F, Sr.), Bobby Gummer (D, Sr.)
Big Losses: Will Haskell, Derek Lue, Quinn Sandor, Patrick Auz
Impact Newcomers: Max Vitucci (G, So.), Fin Bean (D, So.), Cooper Gibson (D, So.)
Goalie Situation: With nothing final and like many teams nothing really figured out, we see junior Wyatt Machette and sophomore Max Vitucci as two possible candidates for the co-op.
Outlook: Norwalk-McMahon is a tricky in terms of predicting success. I’ve ridden them early in the past including last year where they beat Barlow 6-1 out of the gate only to allow 22 goals over their next four games against all D3 competition. Call me a sucker for a sweet hockey sweater, but I’m cautiously backing NorMc again. Remson enters his senior year after an impressive junior campaign, which saw him, pot 19 goals. Gibson had 31 points last year while Dylan Persons contributed 22 points of his own. If they can lock down a goalie, they’re going to be better on the defensive end with some new additions who should play right away. They very well may win five games again, they’ve fooled me before. I just think this might be a better year for Norwalk-McMahon.
Tournament Result: Lost as (7) seed 3-1 to (2) WMRP in the CIAC Division 3 Quarterfinals
Coach: Jim Motyka (3rd season)
Key Contributors: Andrew Bannon (F, Sr.), Brayden LoVetere (F, Sr.), Ryan LoVetere (D, So.)
Big Losses: Hunter DeSaulnier, Bryan Guetens, Ben Amor, Max Tapia (CT Chiefs)
Impact Newcomers: Hunter DeSaulnier, Bryan Guetens, Ben Amor, Max Tapia (CT Chiefs)
Goalie Situation: Ben Amor really shone last season for the Redhawks and was a @CTHSHockey DIII Goalie of the Year finalist. Spencer Flynn, a junior, will have some big pads to fill.
Outlook: With DeSaulnier and Guetens moving on, third year Coach Jim Motyka is going to have a hard time finding adequate replacements. To make matters worse, Ben Amor has graduated leaving a definite hole in net. The Redhawks put together a nice year last year before eventually bowing out in the quarterfinals to WMRP. This was the furthest the Redhawks have gone since 2013. This success will be hard to replicate this year, but there has been a bit of a dip in talent at the D3 level with Woodstock, Hall-Southington and Newtown moving up, so crazier things have happened.
Tournament Result: Lost as (10) seed 5-4 OT to (7) Redhawks in the CIAC Division 3 First Round
Coach: Dave Festa (9th season)
Key Contributors: Tyler Robertson (G, Jr.), Jake Festa (F, Jr.), Tyler Jackson (F, Sr.), Alex Ficcorilli (D, Sr.), Nick Gonzalez (D, Sr.), Nick Spina (F, Jr.), Dayton Aldridge (F, So.)
Big Losses: Patrick Budds, Jimmy Notarfrancesco, Ben Naser
Impact Newcomers: Luke Festa (Fr.), Joey Richo (Fr.), Brendan Connery (Fr.), Joseph Romano (Fr.), Anthony Romano (Fr.)
Goalie Situation: Tyler Robertson comes in a year older, a year wiser. The junior posted a respectable .909 save percentage last year with a 3.32 GAA. He will be a reliable backstop this year.
Outlook: The Titans started the 2016-17 season going 5-4. Things were looking up, and then they went 1-9-2 after that. Festa returns a roster that has to inspire some confidence this year, though. They’ll rely again on coach’s kid Jake Festa who will be joined by freshman Luke Festa this year. Look for guys like Tyler Jackson, Alex Ficcorilli and Dayton Aldridge's play to elevate a level as well. Also, the latest development has twin brothers Joseph and Anthony Romano playing for Sheehan this year after much speculation that they would continue to play on their junior bantam team at Yale. I have Sheehan improving vastly from their 6-12-2 2016-17 campaign and wouldn’t be against putting them in state title contender conversation.
Tournament Result: Did not qualify
Coach: Michael Gorra (8th season)
Key Contributors: Alex Thornberg (G, So.), Colby Fowler (D, Jr.), Tucker Redstone (D, Jr.), Tyler Wagner, (D, Jr.)
Big Losses: Will Slohm
Impact Newcomers: Coleby Bunnell (F, Jr.), Michael Classey (D, Jr.), Cazden Brenner (F, Fr.)
Goalie Situation: Sophomore Alex Thornberg saw vital action as a freshman behind the talented Will Slohm, logging just over 175 minutes last year. This will be huge if Shepaug has a chance at improving this season.
Outlook: Just three seasons ago, the Shepaug-Litchfield-Nonnewaug co-op was attempting to shock the state as the Division III 12-seed in the state semifinals against #1 overall EO Smith-Tolland. The Spartans would lose that game, but I don't think anyone could imagine what would come next. After that loss and right up until the puck drops for this 2017-18 season, Shepaug has dropped 39 consecutive games, going winless over the last two years. Gorra returns some experience on defense with Colby Fowler, Tucker Redstone, and Tyler Wagner returning. Thornberg takes over for the highly regarded Will Slohm. Hopefully, for Coach Gorra and Shepaug's sake, some of their new bodies can put the puck in the net as the Spartans were shutout 12 times last year, 22 times over the last two years.
Staples (5-14-1 *Division 2)
Tournament Result: Did not qualify
Coach: Chris Avena (2nd season)
Key Contributors: Sam New (F, Sr.), Ryan Purgay (F, Sr.), Matt Bidgood (F, Sr.), Zack Bloom (G, Sr.)
Big Losses: Sam Zaritsky, Evan Mancini, Hunter Wilson (Jr. Rangers)
Goalie Situation: 12 times last year the Wreckers allowed 5+ goals. While some of this has to obviously fall on Zack Bloom, he didn’t have much help in front of him. Bloom is experienced though and will to make his senior season one to remember.
Outlook: Sam New is an incredible talent, a talent that in all honestly has me surprised that he's still playing D3 CIAC hockey. He can take over a game at will and should be looked at as one of the best D3 players returning. The drop down to D3 for Staples is coming at the right time. Avena returns a senior, experienced goalie in Zack Bloom and some decent help with complementary guys like Purgay and Bidgood. The problem areas for the Wreckers lie on the back end. Heading the list of losses is junior Hunter Wilson who left Staples for the Jr. Rangers. The Wreckers are only a year removed from playing for the Division III title. Potentially, they could shake up a very watered down D3 field this year.
Tournament Result: Lost as (4) seed 3-2 to (5) LHK in the CIAC Division 3 Quarterfinals
Coach: Kyle Fijalkowski (1st season)
Key Contributors: Michael Shuman (F, Jr.), Andrew Gaines (F, Sr.), Zach Roy (F, Sr.), Ben Kingsbury (F, Jr.), Dan Bell (F, Sr.), Connor Roberts (D, Sr.), Peyton Emrick (G, Jr.)
Big Losses: Kevin Gaidos, Nick Tshonas, Sam Greenberg
Impact Newcomers: Alex Knisley (F, So. CT Chiefs)
Goalie Situation: Peyton Emrick will be the starter after going 10-4-1 in goal last year. He will be backed up by senior Zack Vargo.
Outlook: I actually think Tri-Town is going to be very strong this year. The Terrorcats and Jesse Peters (now one of us), parted ways. New Head Coach Kyle Fijalkowski inherited a heck of a lot of talent from last year. This includes 85% of the Terrorcats' scoring from a year ago and six of Tri-Town's seven leading scorers. This group includes junior Michael Shuman who scored 24 goals last year and senior Andrew Gaines who potted 20. Add guys like seniors Zach Roy (20 pts) and Dan Bell (14 pts) and junior Ben Kingsbury (18 pts) and Tri-Town should have no problem getting contributions. Senior captain and defenseman Connor Roberts will anchor the TT D. Peyton Emrick, a junior, will get the go in net after going 10-4-1 as a sophomore. Look for Alex Knisley former of the CT Chiefs to make an immediate impact for Coach Fijalkowski.
Trinity Catholic (7-13)
Tournament Result: Lost as (9) seed 11-1 to (1) Woodstock Academy in the CIAC Division 3 Quarterfinals
Coach: Tucker Grose (1st season)
Key Contributors: Jake Levato (D, Sr.), Logan Healy (D, Sr.), Jack Kinahan (F, So.)
Big Losses: Quinn Thompson, Connor Scanlan, Zack Lockwood, Shane Haggerty (Canterbury), Kyle Bernard (Westhill-Stamford), Shane Sexton (Westhill-Stamford)
Impact Newcomers: Lance Lippman (G, Jr. Greenwich), Emmett Donoghue (F, Fr.)
Goalie Situation: Lippman looks to be the guy first year coach Tucker Grose will turn to in net. The Crusaders lost Zack Lockwood to graduation last season.
Outlook: Trinity Catholic is a team that I like to root for. It'll be easier with long time @CTHSHockey supporter and first year coach Tucker Grose taking over. But the rooting and admiration comes from these kids continually putting it together with small numbers. At press time, Grose claims that the Crusaders only have nine healthy skaters. Normally this would have me totally burying a team and giving them no chance at anything this year but this is where Trinity Catholic is different. The bodies that Grose does have are damn good. Senior defenseman Jake Levato might be the best defenseman at the D3 level. Sophomore Jack Kinahan had a great freshman season and newcomer Emmett Donoghue looks to pick up where Kinahan left off with sights set on Rookie of the Year. Hurting the Crusaders cause were some early exits and junior Billy Schaner being out for the year with a torn ACL. This will be a very interesting team to watch. Conditioning had to be a point of emphasis this offseason for Coach Grose.
Tournament Result: Lost as (14) seed 4-1 to (3) Housatonic-NW-Wam in the CIAC Division 3 First Round
Coach: John Miserendino (2nd season)
Key Contributors: Alex Sywak (G, Jr.), Brandon Jonsson (F, Jr.)
Big Losses: Peter Koch, Alec Biegen
Goalie Situation: Alex Sywak will be the Warriors starting goaltender. Sywak was a 2nd Team All-FCIAC D3 selection last year.
Outlook: Wilton went 4-16 in their first D3 season after toiling for many years at the D2 level. Over the last five years the Warriors have gone 25-71-4. Alec Biegen will be a big loss. The forward was a 2nd Team All State & All-FCIAC D3 pick last year. Look for Brandon Jonsson to have a big year after picking up the team's Rookie of the Year award last year.
Tournament Result: Lost as (2) seed 1-0 to (6) Hall-Southington in the CIAC Division 3 Semifinals
Coach: Dennis Tulimieri (32nd season)
Key Contributors: Ben Mroczka (F, Jr.), Trevor Piecewicz (D, So.), Braydon Mertens (D, Sr.)
Big Losses: Stevie Vaughan, Zac Forrest, Paul Wheatley, Paul Ciarcia, Tyler Piecewicz
Impact Newcomers: Luke Reynolds (F, Sr. CT Wolfpack)
Goalie Situation: With Stevie Vaughan gone, Coach Tulimieri will look to junior captain Jake Peckrul to man the crease. Peckrul saw only 20 game minutes last year spelling Vaughan.
Outlook: What WMRP did last year was admirable and simply fun. We're talking about a team that won a total of six games the prior two seasons combined winning 17 regular season games and two more in states before running into a hot goalie in the semis. The season earned 32 year Head Coach Dennis Tulimieri the @CTHSHockey D3 Coach of the Year. However, this year it'll take a lot to replicate any of that success. The Eagles lost four of their five leading scorers from a year ago. Also gone is stalwart goalie Stevie Vaughan who was fantastic for the co-op last year. Tulimieri will look to junior captain Jake Peckrul who has had very limited time in net at the varsity level. Look for junior Ben Mroczka, sophomore D-man Trevor Piecewicz, senior D-man Brayden Mertens and senior Luke Reynolds, an addition from the Wolfpack to carry the load. WMRP will be in the mix and should be a certain playoff team but to think they can duplicate what they did last year would be foolish.