EO Smith-Tolland Bucks
2018-19 Record: 15-5 (as EO Smith Panthers)
Tournament Result: As 8-seed lost in the Division II First Round to 9-seed WMRP 3-1
Head Coach: John Hodgson (15th season)
Key Returning Players: Will Russell (F, Sr.), Matt Abery (F, Sr.), Aidan Bayne (F, Jr.), Bryan Roy (F, Jr.), Brady McNulty (D, Sr.), Blake Alexander (D, Jr.), Matt Schoen (G, Sr.), Harry Cook (G, Sr.)
Impact Newcomers: Cam Sterling (F, So. CT Chiefs)
Goalie Situation: Seniors Harry Cook and Matt Schoen each had moments last year where they were really strong. Down the home stretch, Cook seemed to take the lead and ended up playing in all three postseason games for the Panthers. Schoen appeared in nine games for EO Smith last year. Both goalies are qualified should their numbers be called.
Key Losses: Owen Stacey, Gavin Till, Ross Lennon, Tyler Harakaly (all to graduation)
Outlook: Well, the end of an era lasted one year. The Bucks are back baby! Wait, what? They’re this year’s SGWL Wildcats or NFI Mustangs. Unfortunately, this is true. The Bucks, while back, are ineligible for the Division II tourney as they “opted out” in order for the Tolland kids to have a place to play. With this, they get back senior forward Matt Abery and senior defenseman Brady McNulty, both Tolland kids. This will be a major help for a team that lost Owen Stacey, Ross Lennon, Gavin Till and Tyler Harakaly all to graduation. That’s a big chunk to make up. Look for senior Will Russell and juniors Bryan Roy and Aidan Bayne to pick up some of the offensive slack. On D, besides McNulty, EO returns junior Blake Alexander. Their strength lies in their goaltending double headed monster of Harry Cook and Matt Schoen. I am having trouble getting a read on how good the Bucks will be this year. It’s certainly heartwarming that one of our favorite co-ops has reunited but rather lousy that they can’t really play for a state title. Given the amount they lost on offense, I’m not sure this would be a possibility anyway but that’s a moot point. Fear the deer. The Bucks are back and I think they’ll be a tough out any given night.