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2020-21 Season Preview: Newtown-New Fairfield Nighthawks

Updated: Feb 7

Conference: SCC/SWC

2019-20 Record: 9-11-0

Head Coach: Paul Esposito (17th season)

Key Returning Players: Phil Makris (F, Sr.), James Celentano (F, Jr.), Eli Kirby (D, Sr.), Jack Benzing (F/D, Sr.), Ronan McCallister (D, Jr.), Tyler DiMartino (F, Sr.), Markus Paltauf (G, Jr.)

Impact Newcomers: Jack Benzing (F/D, Sr.), Cam Gouveia (F, So.), Gio Cucco (F, So.)

Goalie Situation: Junior Markus Paltauf has emerged over the years as one of the state’s best goalies regardless of division. Now, with some added reinforcements from New Fairfield, look for Paltauf’s play to be at an all-time high. Sophomore Chris Liguori of New Fairfield will definitely push Paltauf in a healthy competition setting.

Key Losses: Jack O’Connell, Adam Kliczewski, Jack Stanton (all to graduation)

Outlook: Newtown adds New Fairfield to the mix and becomes a co-op for the first time. New Fairfield, formerly part of the NFI co-op with Immaculate will immediately add some much-needed depth onto a Newtown roster that is top-heavy with some serious talents. Senior Phil Makris (20 G, 17 A, 37 Pts) is coming off a monster year and is the third leading returning goal scorer at the Division III level. Also upfront, Newtown junior James Celentano (18 G, 19 A, 37 Pts) and New Fairfield senior Jack Benzing round out a trio that is impossible to match at the Division III SCC/SWC level. On the backend, senior Eli Kirby (2 G, 15 A, 17 Pts) and the newly-added junior Ronan McCallister will dominate on the defensive side of the puck. In net, the well-chronicled Markus Paltauf is back and will put in a great effort night in and night out. Head Coach Paul Esposito believes firmly in this group and their potential if this season is done right. “We hope to get the full season in and can win a title together for the two schools. Everyone is buying in and understands we’re playing defense in terms of staying healthy and doing the small things like wearing masks, distancing, and appreciating the opportunity to be able to play,” Esposito told CTHSHockey. Newtown had some nights last year where the population on the bench was sparse, but the talent was never questioned. Now that the reinforcements have arrived, I think Newtown-New Fairfield is the favorite to win the SCC/SWC DIII title.

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