Saturday December 15, 2012

Mount Everett

Coach: Joe Milan

Last season: 0-12-2

Returners: Erik Derwitsch, Sr., D; Peter Lovejoy, So., D; Taylor Neil, Sr., F; Aaron Norton, Jr., F; Will Carroll, Sr., D; Jacob Malicky, So., F.

Newcomers: Sam Riva, Fr., G; Nate Tracy, Sr., G.

Things you should know:

n Milan believes the Eagles will have to put a lot of pressure on opponents to improve in the Hennessy League, and sees that pressure coming from different players in different ways. "Our defensive group has made tremendous strides, starting with Erik Derwitsch," he said. "Peter [Lovejoy] is a strong skater, and he's been consistent with that."

n Milan is asking Carroll to play more defense than forward so far this season. "He's learning the position and making strides," the coach said.

n The Eagles will carry two goalies: freshman Riva and senior Tracy. Riva played all of Everett's Wednesday loss to Taconic. "[Sam is] playing great for a young kid," Milan said. "He's learning every time he steps on the ice, playing against more competition." St. Joseph's

Coach: Tim Kelly

Last season: 7-10-1

Returners: Andrew Leitch, Sr., G; Eric Leitch, Sr., F; Derek Romejko, Sr., F; Cody O'Dowd, Jr., D; Luke Perry, Sr., F; Lance McColgan, Jr., D; Brett Pecor, So., D.

Newcomers: Nick Lillie, Fr., D.


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Things you should know:

n Andrew Leitch, the 2010-11 All-Eagle MVP, gives the Crusaders a major advantage in goal. He took an early bump in Wednesday's loss to Wahconah, suffering a neck injury and being removed on a stretcher in the second period. Kelly expects him to be OK.

n With just one game behind his team as of Wednesday, it's hard for Kelly to determine where the Crusaders fit in the county pecking order at this point. "We've got some pretty good goals, just to be in the hunt for everything," he said. "I know we can. We have some great speed on this team, some good young players and cagey veterans."

n The top line will most often be Eric Leitch, Perry and either Romejko or Andy Cella. Kelly told the North Adams Transcript that he expects to use "a lot of quick shifts" this season.

Taconic

Coach: Stephen Terpak

Last season: 10-10-1, lost in W. Mass. Division III-A quarterfinals

Returners: Brian Bonacquisti, Sr., F; Shane Johnson, Sr., D; Ryan Bateman, Sr., D; Austin O'Neil, Sr., F; Corey Frydel, Jr., D; Hunter Hoag, Jr., D; Connor Conant, So., F; Matt Gingras, So., F.

Newcomers: Brendan Leary, So., G; Hunter Stanton, Sr., F; Jacob Carlson, Sr., F; Nick Whittaker, Jr., F; Brian Henault, Fr., F; Connor Carey, Jr., F; Anthony Wasuk, Jr., F.

Things you should know:

n In his first season, Terpak instituted his system, as well as the attitude and discipline he wanted in the program. Now the goal is to move forward from a Western Mass.-qualifying season. "We focus on the systems I put into place," Terpak said. "We've got about four systems we're going to play at any given time. The guys are really coming around."

n Leary starts the season in net, with freshman Derek Johnson as his backup and Nolan Plouffe as the No. 3 goalie. Johnson started the Braves' season-opening rout of Mount Everett.

n The Braves will face a number of early-season tests, including fellow 2012 Western Mass. qualifiers Belchertown (Dec. 28), Wahconah (Jan. 2) and West Springfield (Jan. 5).

Wahconah

Coach: Don Disbrow

Last season: 17-3-2, league champions, lost in W. Mass. Division III-A semifinals

Returners: Ryan Ouimet, Sr., F; Nick Montferret, Sr., F; Lane Grogan, Sr., F; Austin Poulton, Sr., D; Chris Darroch, Sr., F; Ryder Fairbank, Sr., D; Patrick Jamross, Jr., D.

Newcomers: Roger Stedman, Jr., G; Devon Battaini, So., F;
Jeff Hancock, So., D;
Andrew Beaudoin, Fr., F;
Nate Lapine, Fr., F.

Things you should know:

n Ouimet, the defending All-Eagle MVP, was one of Massachusetts' most prolific scorers last season. He's showing no signs of slowing, scoring four goals in Wednesday night's win over St. Joseph's. "He was always really good down low; he's got good hands," Disbrow said. "Now he's getting the puck and getting some shots."

n Montferret, a career 100-point scorer, and Grogan -- who is fresh off a Super Bowl championship as quarterback of the football team -- are part of what Disbrow calls a "blue-collar" line. "They work their butts off in the corners, they dig pucks out, they get traffic in front, they bang away," he said, "and when they find a loose puck in front of the net, they usually bury it."

n Stedman, who started with Mount Everett but moved north, takes over between the pipes. "Joe Milan is a great coach, and his son [Corey] played Division I hockey as a goalie, so he worked a lot with Roger," Disbrow said. "Roger has a bit of a foundation. He's probably learned a lot more in his first two years than a lot of people would. Athletically, he moves well, and he's a big kid, so he takes up a lot of net."

-- Berkshire Eagle Staff