2019-20 Season Preview: Shepaug
Shepaug Valley Spartans
2018-19 Record: 4-16
Tournament Result: Did Not Qualify
Head Coach: Michael Gorra (10th season)
Key Returning Players: Cazden Brenner (F, Jr.), Patrick Boylan (F, Sr.), Harry Forbes (D, Sr.), Mike Ianucci (F, Sr.), Alex Thornberg (G, Sr.)
Impact Newcomers: Stanley Ambruso (D, So.), Nick Sacciomani (F, Fr.), Connor Ross, (F, Fr.), Jake Conway (D, Fr.),
Goalie Situation: Senior Alex Thornberg and his stellar .942 save percentage is back for another year. Thornberg saw the bulk of the ice time last year for the Spartans. Sophomore Jewell Austin did log 231 minutes in net, as well. But Thornberg is the guy. Like Will Slohm before him, Thornberg will go down in the record books as one of the most battle tested goalies in the state, often seeing 40, 50+ shots a game.
Key Losses: Coleby Bunnell, Colby Fowler, Tyler Wagner, Tucker Redstone, Abby Gorra (all to graduation)
Outlook: Shepaug posted a four win season last year and didn’t qualify for the state tournament and somehow that really was a step in the right direction considering they won a total of one game the previous three seasons combined. We’ll start with the good news for the Spartans who have now missed the playoffs for four straight seasons since making an improbable run as a 12-seed to the semifinals in 2014-15. Junior forward and last year’s leading scorer Cazden Brenner is back. Brenner finished last year with 12 goals and 16 assists and is really a hidden gem for the Spartans. Additionally on the positive, Shepaug is fielding roughly a 20 player roster which is one of the biggest they’ve seen. Now for the negative. Shepaug’s 2nd-5th leading scorers from a year ago have graduated. Coleby Bunnell, an all stater on D, as well as fellow defensemen Colby Fowler, Tyler Wagner and Tucker Redstone fill out this list. Add in forward Abby Gorra and that’s 60% of Shepaug’s point production gone. If you take Brenner’s production out of that number, Shepaug returns only 12% of points and six goals from returning players. Because of this, Head Coach Michael Gorra is eagerly looking forward to the play of freshmen Nick Sacciomani, Connor Ross and Jake Conway as well as sophomore Stanley Ambruso. Ultimately, and we saw this last year, Shepaug’s backbone is the aforementioned Alex Thornberg. Losing those four defensemen in front of him, his performance in his senior season will be magnified even more.