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Bishop Guertin prep hockey teams off to a strong start in 2021

For the first week of the season, they’ve been the only hockey game in town.

Yes, the Bishop Guertin High School boys and girls teams, thanks to virus concerns, etc. have been the only local hockey teams to be playing right now.

Not bad for teams that just over a month ago were scrambling looking for a home, is interstate protocols (quarantine rules, etc.) prevented them from being able to play at their usual home, Skate 3 in Tyngsborough, Mass. Now, both call Cyclones Arena in Hudson their home.

Both won their first two games of the season; the Cardinal girls had a mid-week game scheduled with Brady-Trinity-West and both teams had games slated for this weekend.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Guertin boys coach Gary Bishop said. “I want them to move the puck … This (the opener) was our first scrimmage of the year and it looked like it. … We had done nothing except scrimmage against one another; you go out there and get hit for real.”

Hollis Brookline-Derryfield will get back into action this Wednesday after having two teams – Merrimack and Nashua South-Pelham – unable to play them in a season opener due to being on pause.

Merrimack and the South-Pelham Kings are back on the ice for their openers on Jan. 30; North-Souhegan is slated to play Feb. 1. Alvirne-Milford, also on pause, is hoping to play its first game also on Jan. 30.

“Despite all the (virus) distractions, we are hoping to have as ‘normal’ a season as possible,” new Nashua North-Souhegan coach Bill Kotsifas said. “The kids are just happy to be on the ice, they’re staying positive and working hard.”

Campbell players have also seen action on the Pembroke-Campbell co-op team as well.

Here’s an update on the locals hopes:

BOYS DIVISION I

The Cardinals, 14-10 last year, have gotten plenty of scoring thus far, with keys being Derek Amaral, Mike Kiely, Sean Kelley and Dan Woodford thus far. The Cards have not been shy at putting the puck on the net. The other question mark was goaltending, and thus far John Casey has manned the net well, giving up two goals each in the first two games.

North-Souhegan has some key returnees from a team that made the tourney for the first time last year as a co-op, finishing 6-10-3. Senior forward Mike Dodge, plus the top senior defensive pair of Ryan Charest and Peter Lenox, and junior goalie Colin Duckless are mainstays. There are six other seniors led by senior forward Ryan Catalano.

“We have an experienced team with good senior leadership and strong goaltending,” Kotsifas said.

Nashua South-Pelham got a week or so of practice in before being paused under new coach Jordan Sarracco. The keys will be returning senior forward Tyler Martin, Sean Connors and Dylan Nutter, plus defensive returnees senior Cam Cole and Stephen Robbe. Cam Reinbold is the lone returning goalie, but there are newcomers vying for the job as well. With just five seniors, the Kings will be building.

DIVISION II

Merrimack, after a 14-5-1 season that ended in the semis, won’t be able to open until Jan. 30, and of course will have to find a way to replace the scoring of graduated Telegraph Player of the Year Zach Stimeling.

“It’ll be hard to replace Stimeling,” Tomahawks coach Dan Beliveau said. “The keys will be team defense and goaltending, good team chemistry, and more power play goals.”

The goaltending is solved with All-State senior goalie Ben Hardy (2.31 GAA, .918 save percentage, three shutouts), and he has senior defensemen Joe Pillsbury and Jason DeBeaucourt, plus sophomore Kyle Dunn, to help.

Offensively, senior forwards Dom Carozza (14-17-31) and Dylan Sadowski (10-12-22) should help, as will sophomore forward Evan Roy (16-17-33). Of cours, this team has a mission to do well after dedicating its season to popular late assistant coach Gary Moore, who passed away from cancer over the summer.

As for Alvirne-Milford, the Admirals are hoping for improvement from a 2020 season in which they had just one senior. They could have as many as six this year, led by forward Corey Girouard, who led the team in scoring last season. Sophomore Matt Ryan was third on the team in points last year as a freshman.

DIVISION III

The Warriors likely can’t wait to get out there, as they are one of the favorites in the division, returning some 20 players from a 13-4-1 team that was upset in the first round of last year’s tourney.

Keys will be senior forwards Sal Vella, Cole Giersch and junior Paul Vachon, while defensive mainstays are goalie Rylan Morgan and senior defenseman Joey Oetjens.

“Our keys will be to remain focused and emphasize team play in all three zones while limiting our mistakes,” said Warriors coach Joel Sanborn, “especially in the defensive zone.”

Campbell has more players co-oping with Pembroke this year, led by senior forwards Matt Dexter and Andrew Durfee, plus junior forward Nathan Perry and sophomore forward Joey Sullivan. There are a few freshmen as well to give coach Marc Noel some depth.

GIRLS HOCKEY

Break up the Cardinals. They outscored opponents 16-3 in their first two games, a plethora of scoring. The impressive thing is that their first win came over the team that eliminated them in the quarters last year, Concord, and was on track to perhaps win the state title before the plug was pulled on the finals last March.

The Cardinals have several key returnees, including senior defensive leader Lindsay Hult and senior goalie Sarah King, plus junior forward Julie McClaughlin and senior forwards Brooke Yabroudy and Kathryn Simpson. All have figured prominently in the scoring thus far.

Newbies Jenna Lynch (sophomore forward), Gracie Menicci (freshman defenseman) and Jasmine Shattuck (freshman forward) should help out.

“We have depth that we never had before,” Guertin coach Scott Ciszek said. “We should be a competitive team in our division.”

That’s Souhegan’s hopes after not being able to get started until last week. The Sabers had a tough one with St. Thomas-Winnacunnet-Dover and are scheduled play STWD again at Saint Anselm College’s Sullivan Arena (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.).

Theylost some key players to graduation, but expected to return is senior forward Abby Hawkes, plus senior defenseman Avery Karavas.

The strong non-locals? Perrenial title team Hanover has a 6-0 win over Lebanon under its belt, and St. Thomas is 2-0 to start the year. Time will tell with the rest.

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