Jesse Peters, December 19, 2019
MIDDLETOWN- When I asked new Xavier Head Coach Karl Sundquist what he has been up to since his departure from Cheshire a few years ago, he began to tell me about time spent away from the rink, refocusing and recharging. “I was on my boat off of Martha’s Vineyard,“ said the longtime respected Connecticut high school hockey coach when I asked him where he was when he knew he wanted to make a comeback.
A part of what got his passion for the game refueled was a text he had received. “I got a text message from a former player thanking me. He was a role player for us at Avon." He texted to thank the coach for all of the lessons he had learned on and off the ice from high school hockey and Coach Sundquist himself. This included life lessons that have helped him along the way. To Sundquist this is the most important part. “The players are why we coach.”
Coach Sundquist had been out of the game for a few years but had an eye on what was going on at Xavier last season. The Falcons had an in season coaching change and then rallied showing tremendous resiliency that led to a stunning post season victory over a previously undefeated Ridgefield squad.
“The assistant coaches (Kyle Heins & Rick Longobardi) did an amazing job last season” said Coach Sundquist. Sundquist was quick to praise the entire organization top to bottom. The feeling around this club coming into the season is one of hope and confidence with some old faces leaving and some new/old faces joining.
I began to get into the makeup of this year’s Xavier Falcons team but I had to ask about the loss of their number one defenseman and Division 1 NCAA Baseball commit Luke Lappe who has committed to play baseball at the University of North Alabama. Coach Sundquist said when describing Lappe “He’s a great kid but you can’t blame him. It hurts to lose your number one defensemen."
I then asked about the return of Aden Hotchkiss who returns after a year away at The Gunnery. “The puck sticks to his stick and he makes everyone around him better,” Coach Sundquist said. Sundquist described Aden as refocused and getting better every day in the classroom and on the ice. This is a scary thought for a kid that was filthy his freshman year at Xavier garnering @CTHShockey Freshman of the Year honors and just as strong his sophomore season.
This year’s Xavier team is made up of 16 seniors, 6 juniors, 5 sophomores and zero freshmen. While describing his full complement of players and how he plans to approach this season from behind the bench, Coach Sundquist described his lineup as loaded. “We want to roll four lines consistently” and Sundquist says he's confident they have the depth to do so.
Coach Sundquist also says he plans on playing all three of his goaltenders a minimum of two starts each to “keep everyone in the mix." This is just another example of the depth Xavier brings to the table this year.
I went on to ask about some names everyone may not be familiar with. At forward, sophomores AJ Guzzardi and Matt Kraus have impressed and on defense keep an eye out for sophomores Will Monroe and Adam Chasse who coach described as “a bull on D” to be anchors this season. Senior co-captains Justin Child in goal and JJ Ford on defense will provide leadership as well to round out a very deep roster.
I believe Xavier has the right mix behind the bench and on the ice this season to challenge for the one thing missing from this program, a state championship. A 2-1 overtime victory against D1 power Greenwich at home Wednesday has them on their way. Fly Falcons Fly.