COVID be Damned: Slapshots, Wristers & Checks ‘Bout to Drop
2021 Ice Hockey Preview Edition
RAY GALLAGHER/ANDY JACOBS/ROB DIANTONIO PHOTOS
Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays & Rob Diantonio @RJD_Photos
Ice time is always tough to come by for Section 1 hockey teams, which have to scramble for any available rink access they can find during a normal year. Throw in a pandemic, a high-risk label and an assortment of political obstacles and you have the makings for a chaotic, abbreviated 2021 hockey season. While it’s been tough on everybody associated with Section 1 ice hockey to have been labeled high-risk, superintendents, athletic directors and coaches have jumped through hoops to ensure live action beginning Feb. 16 with the regular season to conclude on March 9. Players and coaches are excited for the opportunity, which is expected to conclude with culminating regional events soon thereafter.
“I had faith that we would play this season back in early January, but I just didn’t think it would take this long to get going,” said Coach Joseph Lopane of the combined Brewster/Yorktown/Somers/North Salem squad. “I am beyond happy, especially for our seniors, that we are finally having a season for them. It really would have broken the coaching staff’s heart if we were cancelled, but we do understand that putting safety first, along with everyone’s health, is the most important factor. I wish the coaches and teams around the league the best of luck this season.”
Those leagues will also have a regionalized flavor this season as districts will attempt to keep players and coaches safe by keeping them closer to home while also cancelling state and sectional tournaments in lieu of regionals: Putnam-Northern Westchester; Southern Westchester; Rockland. Whatever system is approved by the Section 1 Athletic Council and Executive Committee is totally chill with the players, so long as they take the ice in “healthy” competition.
“We are definitely excited to get back out on the ice to start playing games next week,” Mahopac junior captain Matt Luczkowski said. “After a long time waiting, I think the whole team can agree that we are happy we are getting the chance to finally play and that has shown this week in practice. I loved being back around such a hard working group of kids, and I can’t wait to be one of the leaders of the team and help everyone get better as a player and a person.”
MAHOPAC Coach Donaghy’s Indians had a rare down year last season, one they expect to bounce back from with several experienced returnees, including captains Ryan Caraher, Matt Luczkowski and Nick Biagini, who can all carry and score effectively.
CARMEL will come strong up front with a pair of talented scoring threats in junior forwards Luke Golisano and Brendan Murphy, plus a back line bolstered by senior Graham Ludwig. With high-scoring forward Steven Mount having graduated, the Rams will look to build upon a superb regular season that ended in quarterfinal disappointment against Rivertown after a 7-6 opening round win over a perennially strong WHITE PLAINS club.
OSSINING sophomores Anthony Cappello and Jacob Miller are legit scoring threats for a Rivertown club that humbled Carmel in last year’s quarterfinals. FOX LANE has been steady throughout the years and look to build upon a solid season behind the Della Penna bros. and a defensive leader, fittingly, named Leader. The CORTLANDT Rebels have some high hopes after winning the league title last year, but league realignment has not been kind to them with Carmel, D-II runnerup John Jay CR and DI semifinalist HORACE GREELEY in the mix. The Quakers are coming off a solid campaign, having played well against some of the toughest competition in the section. The other local league, which is also up for grabs, features Mahopac, BYSNS, Fox Lane and Byram Hills.
During a normal Section 1 season, hockey coaches usually prescribe to the theory that it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, but with nothing more than six regular season games and a TBD regionalized playoff on the horizon, the 2021 campaign is nothing short of a Usan Bolt-like dash to the finish. There will be no time for downshifting as the season will be over in the blink of an eye, even sooner if programs can’t stay out of quarantine. We reached out for thoughts and insight below.
2019-20 record and playoff result: 14-7-2 (most wins school history), beat White Plains in opening round, lost to Rivertown in quarters
Coach: Michael Chiacchia, 7th season
Key departures: Chris Cieciura, Gavin Golisano, Jack Lagan, Steven Mount
Key returners: Brendan Murphy, jr., F, All Section HM; Luke Golisano, jr., F, All Section HM; Graham Ludwin, sr., D
Key newcomers: Christian Buckner, fr., F; Noah Jettelson, fr. D
By the numbers: Golisano (25G, 34A, 59P), Murphy (20G, 36A, 56P); Noah Richardson (15A)
Team goals: Win our league and regional playoff tournament.
Team strengths: We have above average defensive depth, goaltending, and top level scoring this season.
Coach’s comments: We are very excited to have been approved to have any sort of season. The players have worked extremely hard and are committed to making this season the best it can be. Our program has been trending in the right direction for several years now. We continue to have high expectations and strive for excellence. With only three seniors this season, we are hoping to build off of last year’s success and make a run at a title this year and beyond.
BREWSTER/YORKTOWN/SOMERS/NORTH SALEM (BYSNS)
2019-20 record and playoff result: 9-13, lost in the first round of sectionals to Clarkstown, 5-3.
Coach: Joseph Lopane (3rd season in this organization)
Key Departures: Frank Vigiletti from Brewster, Steven Fernandez from North Salem
Key Returners: Connor Brooks, Brewster, sr., D; Matthew Gergley, Brewster, sr., G; Ashley Goodliffe, Brewster, sr., F; Tim Froessel, Brewster, sr., F; Jesse Frey, Brewster, sr. F; Ian Woloshyn, North Salem, sr. F; Brien Suchanek, Somers, sr., D; Carson Brunco, Somers, sr. F; Ryan Cinderich, North Salem, sr., F
Key Newcomers: TBD
Team Goals: We would like to see more quality shots taken this season, become an aggressive offensive team by putting lots of pucks in the net and getting a bit stronger in front of the opposing goaltender. We need more offense, bottom line.
Team Strengths: Our goaltender has been our strength both on and off the ice, with a few veteran defensemen. He keeps us in the games on a daily basis, makes the players around him more determined and hungry to succeed. Our veteran defensemen are very smart with the puck, have great awareness anywhere on the ice. They come on a daily regimen and take on whatever is thrown at them. I’d like all of them to be more vocal this year, wherever they can be.
Coach’s Comments: I had faith that we would play this season back in early January, I just didn’t think it would take this long to get going. I am beyond happy, especially for our seniors that we are finally having a season for them. It really would have broken the coaching staff’s heart if we were cancelled but we do understand, putting safety first along with everyone’s health is the most important factor. So here we are, I wish the coaches and teams around the league the best of luck this season. I’d like to say a big thank you to the section 1 committee, who worked tirelessly to make the season happen, along with all of our athletic directors and anyone else behind the scenes. Just from our first practice back last night, you can tell the kids were excited to be back and to see their hockey family. It is a sense of relief for everyone, to get back into the groove.
2019-20 record and playoff result: 2-17-1
Coach: Tim Donaghy, 4th season
Key departures: Adain Martin; Danny Shum; Cooper Betancourt
Key returners: Nick Biagini, sr. F; Ryan Caraher All-League HM sr., F; Matt Luczkowski, jr., F; Rich Gosniowski, sr., D; Chris Stiller, sr., D; Shane Moody, sr., F; Mike Horan, sr., G; John Bosio, sr., F; Sean McKee, sr., D; Jake Roberts, sr., D; Jordan Donatone, jr., F
Key newcomers: Jonny Martirano, so. F; Nick Stiller, so., D; Tommy Poniros, so., F; AJ Pfeifer, so., D; Matt Dulyk, fresh., F; Mike Sciarabba, fresh., F
By the numbers: Caraher, Biagini two leading returning scorers
Team goals: The opportunity to play games this season, which a few weeks ago seemed impossible.
Team strengths: Great group of guys that will not be outworked and have a desire to improve.
Coach’s comments: This year has been so tough dealing with trying to get a season together in just a couple of weeks but that moment the team touched the ice together made it all worth it. Everyone coaches and players are enjoying the chance to be together as a team.
CORTLANDT (Lakeland/Panas/Hen Hud/Putnam Valley/Haldane)
2019-20 record and playoff result: League 3 champs (4-0-1), 11-8-2 overall, lost first round sectionals
Coach: Bart Mucci, 21st year
Key departures: PJ Kowal, and Nick Perez 2 capts. from last season
Key returners: Sr., F, All-League captain Jack Tuite; sr., F, All-League captain Joe Jimenez; Andrew Dzubak Jr. fwd;. D Colin Cody; D Fox Perelsom; junior G Aaron Hathaway
Key newcomers: Nick Miele, so., G
By the numbers: Jimenez (26 G), Dzubak, Tuite (25A), all 3 over 40 points
Team goals: Repeat as league champs.
Team strengths: We can score with anyone and have 2 strong goalies and now our D is 10th and 11th graders this season instead of 9th and 10th last year even in this weird year their development will be a big part of our success.
Coach’s comments: My expectations are high with this group. The new league alignment will be a challenge. Greeley, Jay and Carmel are all excellent, well-coached teams. I think the kids are excited to be back together playing and are doing what we need to to stay safe. More than anything I’m happy we are having a season kids deserve it.
2019-20 record and playoff result: 10-10, lost in the first round of the playoffs to Rivertown.
Very short bench in a very tight game.
Coach: Dan Mulvey (second season as head coach, third with team).
Key Departures: Adam Maiorano, Michael Gallary, Max Rauch, Steve Mains.
Key Returners: Charlie Della Penna, sr., D; Dan Leader, sr., D; Jake Wollman, sr., F; Henry Wallace, sr., F; Mikey Toole, so., F; Henry Della Penna, fr., F
Key Newcomers: Sheldon Rothfleisch, fr., D
By the Numbers: Charlie Della Penna is our most productive and consistent returning player from last season. Charlie finished his 2019-2020 campaign with 14 goals and 10 assists. He had a point in all but two games that he played in. He missed the last two games including the playoff game due to injury. He is a very underrated hockey player.
Team Goals: Given all that people are dealing with, we just want to have fun and enjoy hockey. Of course we’d like to win games, but that is secondary. We want our players to enjoy every last minute of this season, especially our seniors.
Team Strengths: We have some very talented players. It seems like our main strength is our blue-liners. They’re tough defensively and they can create offensively. We also have a bunch of guys that are willing to do the dirty work and scrap for points.
Coach’s Comments: I’m psyched to be back behind the bench with Tom McGinn (our other coach). It’s been such a rollercoaster ride trying and hoping to get back on the ice. I hope our kids have a great season, despite the fact that it will look and feel very differently. I hope they are willing to make the best of the situation, and I hope we’re able to assist them in doing so. I certainly wish this could be a “normal” season, but it’s certainly better than no season at all. Mostly, I hope everyone engaging in athletics of any kind stays safe and healthy. I hope everyone is able to finish their season as it is currently laid out. I wish everyone the best of luck.
2019-20 record and playoff result: 13-9, beat Pearl River 5-0 in quarterfinals, lost to John Jay-Cross River 4-1 in the semis.
Coach: Dan Perito (fourth season)
Key Departures: Jake Potter, Tony Girardi, Matt Maitland, Evan Scott
Key Returners: Dylan Mutkoski, sr., D; Arye Wolberg, sr., G; Gabe Adams, jr., F; Ben Cohen, jr., F
Key Newcomers: eight freshmen
By the Numbers: Leader in assists Mutkoski; leader in goals Cohen; leader in points Adams
Team Goals: Win the league.
Team Strengths: The majority of our top scorers return and will be leaned on heavily throughout the abbreviated year. We also have a great group of experienced seniors who will help guide this team.
Coach’s Comments: We are very excited to finally be back on the ice playing and competing in the game we love. Twenty games, 10 games, six games, it doesn’t matter. All we wanted was a chance to play and luckily we have been given that opportunity.
2019-20 record and playoff result: 9-12, lost to Carmel 7-6 (OT) in first round of playoffs
Coach: Howie Rubenstein (24th season)
Key Departures: Devin Garnett, Jason Manorqui, Marcello Cappello
Key Returners: John Myers, sr., F; Dan Cardozo, jr., F; Teddy Hauser, jr., D; Jason Monte, jr.,D; Jason Katz, sr., F; Jack Chetti, sr., F
Key Newcomers: TBD
By the Numbers: John Myers (62 points), Dan Cardozo (31 goals), John Myers (34 assists)
Team Goals: Compete, work hard, have fun.
Team Strengths: We return a lot of players with experience. We have good leadership, hard workers and commitment to the team.
Coach’s Comments: With COVID, just being able to play games and let the players, especially the seniors, have some sort of season is really what this is about.
2019-20 record and playoff result: 18-5, last year we finished third in the league (CHSAA-A Division) and lost in the quarterfinals.
Coach: Matthew Hogan (8 years head coach, 19 with program).
Key Departures: top three forwards Stephen Stackhouse, Aidan McDonough, Luca Fanelli, who had played four years of varsity and each collected All-League honors.
Key Returners: Chris Spano, sr., G, four-year varsity starter, individual honors as league all-star (first team); A.J. Falciglia, sr., F, among the team’s leading scorers the past two years; we return three defensemen who have been varsity starters since sophomore year.
Key Newcomers: Christopher Stackhouse, so., F; Andrew Girolamo, so., F
By the Numbers: A.J. Falciglia at forward leads in goals amongst active players, assists and overall points go to sophomore Christopher Stackhouse.
Team Goals: With the season being what it is, freelance schedule and no playoff competition, the seniors have made it their goal to play a challenging schedule of teams in the league, and higher, to demonstrate that the program would have been a highlight contender this season under regular circumstances and that they are leaving the team in great hands for the future. We will be graduating nine senior skaters and two senior goalies which will undoubtedly impact our program in the short term, but with promising underclass players and the prospect of talented new players with a bunch of opportunities to step into key minutes next season, it won’t be long until Stepinac is back to our normal high standards of competition.
Team Strengths: As with all Stepinac sports programs, we are a family. Stepinac is a team of individually talented, yet unselfish players who play for their brothers in uniform.
Coach’s Comments: My heart breaks for all student-athletes in all schools throughout the CHSAA and New York, but it is especially heavy for the senior class that we have this year. Eleven players, most of which have played varsity for all four years, helping to build the program to a championship contender and they will not get a chance to put another banner in our gym. But I know and they know, that the program will be better because they contributed and set such a great example.
2019-20 playoff result: did not qualify for playoffs
Coach: A.J. Cloherty (ninth season)
Key Departures: Sarina Oliveira
Key Returners: Lucca Conigliaro – 12/F; Daniel Fontana – 12/D ; Joe Cipriano 12/D; Ben Sfarra 12/G
Key newcomers: Erik Cipriano – 9/F, Javier Benefiore – 9/F
Team goals: Play as many games as possible, develop our youth, and have fun as a family.
Team strengths: Speed & Youth
Coach’s comments: It is a privilege to be able to play varsity ice hockey this year. We consider ourselves lucky and will cherish every opportunity we are able to gather as a family both on and off the ice. Our young players have some great seniors to look up to. Let’s all go out and enjoy ourselves as best we can.
2019-20 record and playoff result: 7-12-2, lost to Mamroneck in opening round
Coach: Greg Antash (first season)
Key Departures: Mike Donoghue, Daniel Leddy, Ben Bottiglieri
Key Returners: Robert Crisculio, Pleasantville, sr., D; Noah Whitney, Pleasantville, jr., F; Nick Delia, Valhalla, so., F