Hockey revs up for new season

Area preview: Nor’hegan brings back key players this year

It’s a hockey season of change for 2016-17, espe­cially for area high school boys teams.

Several boys teams ei­ther have changed div­sions, coaches, or co-op arrangements, and the hope is all those moves will have a positive im­pact on the season.

Perhaps the biggest change will be for Nash­ua South, which will co-op with Pelham and the new nickname will be the Kings. They could have as many as 29 players, which means about nine play­ers won’t dress from one game to the next.

"There’s no guarantee that guys who dress for one game will play the next game," Kings coach Shawn Connors said, his team paced by the re­turn of senior Michael Fournier, who can cer­tainly score. "Hopefully that will keep these guys moving. … I’m impressed with how they’ve come to­gether so quickly."

North-Souhegan has some key returnees, but will need its goaltending to get experience in a hur­ry. Of course, the area’s premier Division I team is Bishop Guertin, and the Cards have several play­ers back from a year ago after losing to Bedford in the finals, while they must adjust to life without graduated offensive lead­er Justin Pearson. Still, they could make another strong run, with of course the Bulldogs and Concord being the other top con­tenders.

"There’s 14 teams and probably 10 or 11 who could all probably be as good as each other," Cards coach Gary Bishop said.

In Division II, Alvirne is undergoing a triple change. First, there’s a new coaching regime, as last year’s assistant, Adam Vi­gneault, joins with a local coach, Nick Bundzinski, in a co-coaching approach. Next, the team is going back down to Division II solo after ending its two year co-op with Pelham. It’s the Broncos again.

"Going down to Division II absolutely helps from our side of things," Bun­dzinski said.

Merrimack will hope to be as good as last year’s 14-win team, although it may not be as high scor­ing. The Tomahawks will rely on pace but also de­fense. The return of goalie Greg Amato helps.

"I think it’s a different game for us," coach Matt Davis said. "A lot of times we had the goal scoring last year; we don’t have that now." Davis feels Keene is the Division II favorite, with Windham and Bow also in the mix.

Finally for the boys, Hollis Brookline/Derry­field remains a co-op team with a new head coach as well, and a new division. Kurt Mithoefer stepped down for family reasons, and his assistant last year, Rindress MacDon­ald, takes over a team that went 0-18 in Division II. But, the squad will now be in Division III this season, which should help.

"I really have high ex­pectations," MacDonald said. "We have the kids, they just need win that under belts."

In girls hockey, last year was a huge step forward for the Souhegan High School program, which made the tournament for the first time after going 10-7. But the Sabers have to move on from gradu­ated two-time

Telegraph Player of the Year Elizabeth Silvia- Chandley and a couple of other top players.

Bishop Guertin, mean­while, has a good mix of returnees and newcomers to improve off last year’s .500 showing.

"We lost some good players a year ago but the difference is this time we’ve got some new play­ers in who I think can re­place them," coach Scott Cizek said.

Hanover remains the favorite in the 13-team di­vision, along with likely Lebanon-Stevens. The St. Thomas-Dover co-op folded but Keene is on the scene while Con-Val co-oped with Conant.

Here’s a capsule look at the local boys and girls teams:

BOYS DIVISION I

NASHUA NORTH/SOUHEGAN

COACH: John Coughlin (second year).

LAST SEASON: 4-14, did not qualify for tournament.

RETURNING REGULARS: Jacob Holmes, sr. def; Dean Pa­quette, jr. def; John Natala, so.fd; Jeremiah Latham, sr. fd; Brendan Martin, sr. fd; Chris Constant, jr. def.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Evan Soucy, fr.fd; Cade Facey, jr. fd-def; Jon Gaffney, sr. def-fd; Matty Es­kensas, so.fd; Brandon Hugh, so.def; Jared Egersheim, so.fd; Brendan Gaffney, so. fd.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Griffin Masseur, fr., fd; Ryan Dan­coes, fr., def; Robbie Morell, so., goalie.

COACH’S COMMENTS: "We’re just trying to field a team," Coughlin said. "It hurts when you don’t have experienced goaltending. It’s going to be a challenge."

BOYS DIVISION III

HOLLIS BROOKLINE /DERRYFIELD

COACH: Rindress MacDonald (first year).

LAST SEASON: 0-18, did not qualify for Division II tourna­ment.

RETURNING REGULARS: Stew Arend, sr. def; Cam Bishop, jr. fd; Connor Glosner, sr. def; Pat MacDonald, jr. goalie/ fd; Alec MacEachen, so.def; Andrea Mello, sr. def; Bryce Newsham, sr. def; Brendan Ouziel, jr. fd; Sam Poisson, sr. fd; Max Porter, so. Def; Dylan Terenzon, jr. fd.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: None.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Nick Dapolito, fr. Fd; Nik Rirenzo, fr.goalie; Aiden Chretien, fr. Fd; Jared Sanborn, fr.fd.

COACH’S COMMENTS: "I’m really excited," MacDonald said. "We only lost one senior, so we have a lot of chemistry back. We need the freshmen to learn from that chemistry, and we have solid goaltend­ing."

GIRLS

SOUHEGAN

COACH: Kelli Braley

LAST SEASON: 10-8, lost to Exeter in quarterfinals.

RETURNING REGULARS: Eliza Cullen, sr. fd; Anna Tobin, sr. def; Margaret Dix, jr. def; Shannon Paquette, so.fd; Julia Charest, jr. def; Makayla Lachance, jr. goalie.

OTHER RETURNING LETTER WINNERS: Isabel Blume, jr. fd; Madeline Boyea, sr. fd; Hunter Baum, sr. fd.

PROMISING NEWCOMERS: Clare Woodford, fr.def; Simonne Dodge, fr.fd; Ryleigh Tobin, fr.fd; Julia Pinkham, fr.def.

COACH’S COMMENTS: "I love the young talent we’ve picked up," Braley said. "They’re coming in eager and skilled. Our chemistry is great."