2020-21 Season Preview: JBWA Knights
2019-20 Record: Bob Stearns (7th season)
Head Coach: 7-12-1
Key Returning Players: Dante Esposito (F, Sr.), Ronan Duffy (F, Sr.), Ted Blanchard (D, Sr.), Duncan Craine (D, Jr.), Ben Wolff (F, Jr.), Connor Sweeney (G, Sr.)
Impact Newcomers: Spencer Thomas (F, So.), Emitt Arees (D, So.), Theo Spitzer (F, So.), Ryan McCabe (D, Fr.), Kai Smith (F, So.)
Goalie Situation: Connor Sweeney returns for his senior season in net for the Knights. Sweeney has his fair share of struggles early on in his career but has rounded out as a dependable backstop for the co-op. With the point production lost in the offseason, his performance night in and night out will be huge for JBWA.
Key Losses: Ryan Lauter (graduation), Daniel McKiernan (Williston Northampton), Luke Dube (Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks)
Outlook: The lede here is Daniel McKiernan. Sorry, not sorry. After an electrifying junior season, McKiernan has taken his talents to Williston Northampton and left a 72-point, 47-goal void in his wake. McKiernan’s career, while short, at JBWA will go down as one of the most impressive in Connecticut High School history. I mean the kid had a hat trick (or more) in half of the Knights games last year and easily earned our 2019-20 Division III Skater of the Year award. He’ll be missed greatly. Unfortunately for JBWA, he’s not the only one that left early. Luke Dube, after a 30-point season of his own, left the high school ranks for the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks. Senior Dante Esposito (10 G, 16 A, 26 Pts), a monstrous human being, ranked third on the Knights in scoring last year and we should see an uptick in his production this season. He’s joined upfront by fellow senior Ronan Duffy (2 G, 5 A, 7 Pts) and junior Ben Wolff (3 G, 1 A, 4 Pts). On the backend, senior Teddy Blanchard (5 G, 6 A, 11 Pts) and junior Duncan Craine (4 G, 11 A) should prove to be two of the more offensive-minded blueliners at this level as they both finished in the top six in scoring for the Knights last year. Senior Connor Sweeney will need to be on his game this year as the offense will unlikely be able to bail out the defense as it did many times last season. The Knights allowed opponents to score 5+ goals an eye-popping 13 times last year. It’s not going to be an easy season for the Knights but I think there will be some positives. I think Dante Esposito becomes a household name now that he’s out of the McKiernan shadow and I think the Knights return a decent blueline core. After that, it’s a crapshoot.