New Hampshire Boys D2 Preview: Defending Champ Keene Should Score; Dover In The Mix
Defending champion Keene and St. Thomas Aquinas have emerged as the early favorites in the New Hampshire Division 2 race.
Fresh off the program’s first D2 State title, the Blackbirds return abundant firepower for a title defense. The challenge for coach Chris McIntosh and his staff will be to re-tool the defense and identify the successor to graduated goalie Myles Ditkoff, an All-State selection as a junior and senior.
The talented forward group features juniors Brian Langevin (14-23-37), Joe Walsh (14-19-33) and Ben Brown (19-8-27) and senior Dimitri Seger (11-8-19). Walsh will miss the start of the season due to injury but is expected to return in short order. Add talented junior Northfield Mt. Hermon transfer Jerred Tattersall, to the mix up front. Sophomore Peter Haas anchors the defense after taking a regular shift as a freshman. It is anticipated that freshman Robbie Nowill will log ample time on the back line. Sophomores Jacob Russell and Taylor Panik move up from the JVs to compete for the goaltending job.
“Once again we look to put a competitive team on the ice that will be in every game we play. Our goal is always to play for that chance at a championship. We know that won’t be easy – each night will be a tough task and we confidently look forward to the challenge,” McIntosh says.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (19-5-0)
The Saints came oh so close to claiming the program’s first State title last March, falling to Keene in OT, 3-2, in the title game. This year’s team blends key returnees from that club and newcomers looking to make an immediate impact.
Coach Wayne Sheehan likes the way STA’s defense sets up. Senior Chris Eno returns in goal and will be supported by an experienced crew of defensemen that includes senior Keegan Youngclaus and juniors Brendan Tersolo and Will MacLean. New junior goalie Hannes Demegard provides back up.
Six experienced senior forwards return – Paddy Vetter, Mike Somerset, Zach Talbot, Alex Anderson, Geoff Smith and Matt Barnes. New junior Mathis Savard and Chase Gagnon look to take on regular roles.
“I expect experience in net and on defense to carry the team early while young forwards grow into top nine roles. [I] hope for balanced scoring among top three lines,” says Sheehan.
Following a successful year that saw them reach the quarterfinals, the Raiders will be very young this season as several players opted for prep school and the Junior ranks.
“Coming together early as a team will be very important. It will be important to give the new players an opportunity to acclimate to this level of hockey,” says coach Jim Damren. “They will be asked to step in and take on more responsibility that we normally anticipate.”
Junior Jon Cloud and sophomores Aidan Yates and Andrew Duany return as the top forwards. Senior Joey Dupree and sophomore Trey Chickering are the top defensemen. Expect junior defensemen Tristan Ouellette, freshman defensemen Luke Greene and Nathan Stark, freshman forward Liam Ouellette and freshman goalie Sebastian Yates to push for playing time.
The Knights caught some opponents by surprise last year. That’s not likely to be the case this season following their quarterfinal upset of Windham in the tournament. Coach Mike Potenza expects his club to be in the top half of the division while bidding for a return to post-season. The trio of senior Sam Danais (18-18-36), sophomore Nick Potenza (17-10-27) and junior Colby Clegg (8-9-17) forms a formidable first line with Danais in the middle. Freshman wing Cody Emerson projects at an immediate impact player.
Seniors Cole Emerson (6-6-12) and Erick Skelley are an experienced pair on the back line. Expect senior Joe Vetanze to be solid in the cage.
Perhaps this is the year the Warriors make an impact. At least that’s the hope of coach Jude Logue, who says: “Most of the juniors and seniors on this year.s team have seen a ton of playing time since they were freshman. The returning core group is very experienced and are hoping to make a run at a State Tourney bid this year.”
Top forward junior Braden Logue is a physical presence with soft hands at 6-0, 197 pounds. Senior forward Danny Giocoloni is the team’s captain. Freshman Cooper Kinnaly will likely split time between forward and defense as needed.
At 6-2, 200 pounds, sophomore goalie Jack Ellis returns for his second year as the starter. He doesn’t provide opponents with many good looks. Senior Cole Woodman and junior Tanner Holt return to lead the defense.
SOMERSWORTH/COE BROWN (9-11-0)
The Bearcats return to D2 this season and coach Shane Maurice couldn’t be more enthused. “We’re excited to be back and renew some of our local rivalries. We will rely heavily on our junior class who all saw ample time as sophomores. If they progress to potential and our young talent fills in, we will be in good shape,” he says.
The forward group features senior Matt Kelley and juniors Cam Frank, Daniel Sturm and Gage Gagne. Freshmen Jake Pelletier and Aaron Bono should add to the mix. Junior goalie Kevin Baker returns as to junior defensemen Colby Walsh and Cole Perra. Freshman Will Sawyer should add to the depth on defense.
Anchored by the goalie tandem of juniors of Tim Bedard and Joshua Petrin, the Owls could push for a post-season berth this winter. Coach Steve Costa is hopeful returning core players are poised to take the next step in their development.
A large group of seasoned forwards is back, powered by seniors Bill Downes, Jared Knight and Glenn Sansoucie. Juniors Jake Murphy and Colin Scully and sophomores Cam Rouleau and Matt Licata provide quality depth.
Senior Chris Longchamp and sophomore James Clarke return as the top defenders in front of Bedard and Petrin. Junior Aiden Kiley should see regular action.
Coach Matt Sampson is optimistic this first-year co-op will make a strong impression. “The kids have put a ton of off-season conditioning and strength training in. We’re adding some solid year-round players to the program and will be a very physical team,” he says.
The forward group will feature Alvirne seniors Jake Natola (22 points), Levi Griffin (19 points) and Damien Barahona (16 points). Key contributions are expected from the Milford duo of Isaac Rogers and Anthony Viola.
Alvirne senior Jackie Dowd returns in goal and will team with Milford’s Zach Partridge. Bobby Pace and Dylan Jillson look to be the top defensemen.
OYSTER RIVER (12-9-0)
The Bobcats hope to offset the graduation of a first line that produced 31 goals a season ago with a more balanced approach this winter.
Look for big things from senior forward and captain Max Carpenter (14-14-28). Junior Eric Donovan (4-7-11) shifts up from defense to add depth to the group that also includes senior Shane O’Connell (5-10-15) and juniors Liam Spurling (5-9-14) and Lucas Hamilton. New sophomores Aidan Janetos and Alden Swiesz could emerge.
Senior captain Wyatt Carlson and junior Declan Daubney lead the defense. New sophomore Corum Nichols could play a role while senior Nick Milano and junior Colin Clark return with experience in goal.
The ClipperMules lost seven games by a single goal. Coach Bill Widi is hopeful that experience contributed to enhanced mental toughness “that will make us a tough game every night.” One thing seems clear – this year’s squad is significantly deeper than a year ago.
Defense projects to be a strong suit, anchored by four-year senior standout Freddie Holmes (5-12-17). Freshman Mike Durkin figures to step into the top four. Solid senior keeper Brad Weit returns and will be backed by freshman Jack Bussiere.
The trio of Jack Suhesky, Andrew Madden and David Blodgett – all juniors – will be counted on to lead the offense. Freshman Luke Suhesky could be an immediate contributor.
The Red Raiders return a fair number of veterans looking to bounce back from a rugged season. Coach Jamie Ferullo says that turnaround starts with mental toughness.
“We’re going to win or lose games with work ethic and determination. Mental toughness and a willingness to play in all three zones will be vital to team success,” Ferullo stressed.
The back end looks solid with senior captains Tanner McDougal (3-7-10) and Kaleb Ducharme the top returnees on the blue line. They will be joined by returning junior Nick Stone while freshman Nick Gagnon could make an impact. Senior Brendan Stanley and junior Matt Lacey could share time in goal.
Senior captain Ryan Ellis (9-18-27) returns as one of the division’s more creative forwards. Sophomore Hunter Camire (8-3-11), senior Zach Shaw (3-3-6) and junior Adam Enscoe (4-2-6) join Ellis up front. Depth will come from a group moving up from the JVs – juniors Levi Karolian and Ryan Hatfield and sophomores Riley Ducharme and Brady Blaisdell.
The Green Wave will roll out a senior-laden team that combines depth and firepower at forward with a veteran defense backed by a duo of solid goaltenders. It’s a mix that works for coach Mike Young, who said the team’s commitment to its off-season regimen should pay dividends.
Senior co-captain Jameson Goodridge (11-27-38), senior forward Aiden McDonough (12-13-25) and junior forward Wyatt Allaire (15-13-28) will drive the attack. Experienced seniors Nick Marchuk and Trevor Gnall also return. The wildcard could be senior Luke Westcott, who returns to the program after a year of Junior hockey.
A deep corps of defensemen includes senior co-captain Josh Ball as well seniors Jake Leclerc, Axel Post and Garrett Barton. Junior Austin Gilbert and sophomore Devon Lapierre will man the goal.
The Tomahawks could be poised for a big move this season under coach Dan Beliveau. Though young – there is just one senior – this team earned valuable experience under fire a year ago.
Talented sophomore Ben Hardy takes over full-time in goal after seeing action in a reserve role last year. Junior defenseman Matt Warrington (8-10-18) is a mobile puck mover and is one of the club’s top returning scorers. He will be joined on the back line by three sophomores and a freshman.
Scoring will come from junior forwards Zach Stimeling (15-11-26) and Andrew Frothingham (8-8-16) and sophomore Dominic Carozza (6-10-16).