2017-18 Boys Hockey Preview
FAIRFIELD - There is a banner at the Wonderland of Ice showcasing Fairfield Prep’s nine state championship titles. And if all the dominos fall the right way this season, the Jesuits just might be adding a 10th title to that banner.
To put it mildly, Prep is loaded. A total of 16 players, including 10 seniors, return from last year’s roster that went 12-10 and lost to eventual state champ Ridgefield in the second round of the Division I tournament. And if you think that coach Matt Sather isn’t looking forward to seeing what transpires this season, think again.
“This team is deep,” Sather wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “Offensively, we should be balanced with six 7-goal scorers returning. It is a well-balanced group.”
Led by senior co-captains Ryan Eckert and Skyler Celotto. Eckert scored eight goals and added 10 assists last season while Celotto netted seven goals and had 11 assists. Top scorers Kevin Oricoli and Joe Mancini - who each had 10 goals - also return.
But that’s not all. Seniors Devin Blanchette (7 goals, 15 assists), Cole Casl (1 goal, 9 assists), Matt Kernaghan (1 goals, 6 assists), Carter Kral (7 goals, 12 assists), and Evan Uva (1 goal) all return as does goaltender Jack McGee (2.38 GA, .927 save percentage, 6-4 record). Juniors Calyb Reeves (3 goals, six assists), Anthony Clericuzio, Chandler DuMont, Connor Boyle, Jack Carroll and Jake Walker also return.
“Look for a breakout season from Calyb Reeves, who came on strong at the end of last year,” Sather wrote. “Cole Casl is one of the state’s best two-way players and Jack McGee is an all-state caliber goaltender.”
Sather, now in his 19th season behind the Jesuits bench has a career record of 285-117-7, along with 10 SCC crowns.
“We have a great core of returning seniors,” Sather wrote. “If we fully buy into the team concept and continue to improve throughout the year, we should be a tough team to beat in the tournament.”
After winning the Division II tournament in 2016, the Mustangs moved up the ladder, played a much-tougher Division I schedule last season and won 14 games, including making the FCIAC tournament and the Division I state tournament, losing to West Haven - and incredible feat considering that starting goaltender Charlie Capalbo was unknowingly fighting cancer.
Captain Will Von Brauchitsch, who scored eight goals and added 17 assists to earn All-FCIAC first team status, returns, as does co-captain Kyle Mazza (13 goals, six assists). Sam Shepard and Jackson Seymour will be alternate captains.
“We should have a good year, thanks to 10 returning players,” coach Carl Larouche wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “The addition of (transfer) Sawyer Coseglia and Rhys Davies will also contribute to the success of the team.”
New coach John Longo takes over a Lancers’ squad that went just 4-15-1 last season, so there’s nowhere to go but up.
“We have the potential to surprise a lot of teams this season if we take care of our business every day,” Longo wrote in his prospectus to the Citizen. “However, teams do not go from winning four games to winning 12 to 15 games simply by ‘showing up’ a year older. We have a lot of work to do to get this program back on the right track.”
First and foremost, Longo has to decide on a starting goaltender as the competition is strong between senior Andrew Jones and junior Kacy Adams.
“Early in the season, each will get the opportunity to showcase their ability and establish themselves as the starter,” Longo wrote. “As a coach, it’s a good problem to have. Both have proven themselves capable of filling that role.”
There is additional experience returning in senior defenseman Jason Ziegler and senior forward Christopher Becker. Ziegler played in 19 games last season, registering 12 assists and Becker saw action in 15 games, scoring two goals and adding four assists. Junior defenseman Justin LaSella played in all 20 games and had two goals and seven assists and senior forward Austin Allen played in 10 games with two goals and six assists.
“We have some highly skilled, hard-working, young players who may need time to adjust to the speed and physicality of the high school game,” Longo wrote. “But they have the potential to make an immediate impact on our team’s success this season. Many of our returning sophomores and upperclassmen are more than capable of taking that next step toward becoming elite level players in the state.”