State powers eye return to the TD Garden

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After realignment among Div. 3 and Div. 4 boys hockey teams, the 2023-24 season will see rivalries new and old ignited along the way to the TD Garden. With Nashoba Regional moving out of Div. 3, there will be a new champion come March, while a strong Norwell team aims to defend its title against improved competition with eyes on the Div. 4 throne.

Division 3

Scituate played in the state final last year, losing to Nashoba Regional 2-1 in OT. Senior captain James Sullivan will lead the charge after collecting 16 goals and 36 assists during the last campaign, amassing 100 career points.

Goaltender Thomas McMellen returns for the Sailors after minding the net in the run to the final.

An ever-dangerous Lynnfield team was in the quarterfinal last season and the semifinal two years ago. The Pioneers return 18 players, including 12 seniors, in a campaign “deliberately put together against top tier D1 and D2 teams” to tune them up for the tournament, according to coach Jon Gardner.

Watertown made it to the Final Four and should be primed for another deep run. Led by a strong core defensive core and “one of the best first lines” the team has seen in years, the Raiders’ success hinges on “playing three zones,” said head coach John Vlachos.

Wakefield moves to Div. 3 after being eliminated in the Elite 8 of the Div. 2 tournament. Coach Jon Vater believes this year’s team possesses “a core that has the passion to push hard and get deeper than last year.”

The Warriors will need to play with pace, led by speedster forward Frank Leone, who is “brings a ton of energy” to a skilled offensive unit, Vater said.

Methuen was eliminated by Lynnfield last season, but returns 13 players, including junior netminder Owen O’Brien, who posted a 1.90 GAA in his sophomore campaign.

Marblehead is new to Div. 3 after a stint in Div. 2, and should find leadership from senior defenseman Hogan Sedke and senior forward Charlie Grenier.

Led by senior Colin Underwood, Dracut/Tyngsboro features a balanced lineup that believes it can get beyond last year’s run to the Sweet 16. The team will need to be successful on special teams to get over the hump.

Division 4

Norwell is aiming for a repeat of last year’s championship campaign when it went 25-1-0. Experience and leadership will come from senior captains Nolan Petrucelli (F), Charlie Booras (D) and Aedan Coyle (D), who will be leaned on heavily. Fellow senior Quinn Simmons will be looked to for goal scoring.

The Clippers play a difficult schedule, including two against their opponent in last year’s title bout, Sandwich, which is hungry to return to the Garden.

A pair of four-year varsity players on the Sandwich roster, seniors Christopher Cardillo (career 57 goals, 39 assists) and Jack Connolly (career 32 goals, 33 assists) should be among the most dynamic threats in the state.

Hanover has joined Division 4 after getting bounced in the Div. 3 Sweet 16. A tough schedule and leadership from three-sport captains John MacDonald and Mehki Bryan should make it a serious contender in a new division.

Martha’s Vineyard boasts a balanced core and plays a “no frills” style of defense, according to head coach Matt Mincone. With strength and depth on the blue line, the Vineyarders should contend against anyone. If they can find their scoring touch they could make a deep run.

The Nauset roster may be even stronger than last year when it reached the Elite 8. With several new pieces, coach Connor Brickley believes the team boasts more depth and a team identity that will carry over from last season.

Winthrop is a quick and skilled team led by Northeastern Conference MVP Petey Silverman (29 goals and 27 assists). The Vikings are a historically stingy unit that can test any opponent. They are a team to watch down the stretch when defense matters most.

Dennis-Yarmouth was knocked out in the Elite 8 and should be a tough out again, while Cohasset will look to get out of the Sweet 16 come this season’s tournament.

Div. 3 Players to Watch

Colin Underwood, Dracut/Tyngsboro, sr. (F)

Mikey Desmarais, Dracut/Tyngsboro, sr. (F)

Drew DuRoss, Dracut/Tyngsboro, sr. (F)

Matt Lesniak, Dracut/Tyngsboro, sr. (D)

Joe Raffa, Lynnfield, sr. (F)

Jack Carpenter, Lynnfield, sr. (D)

Owen O’Brien, Methuen, jr. (G)

Noah Kneeland, Methuen, sr. (F)

Zachary Anderson, Methuen, jr. (F)

Hogan Sedke, Marblehead, sr. (D)

Charlie Grenier, Marblehead, sr. (F)

James Sullivan, Scituate, sr. (F)

Johnny Donahue, Scituate, sr. (F)

Jackson Belsan, Scituate, sr. (F)

Dylan Richman, Scituate, sr. (D)

Thomas McMellen, Scituate, sr. (G)

Frank Leone, Wakefield, sr. (F)

Liam McNeil, Wakefield, sr. (D)

Brian Precell, Wakefield,  sr. (F)

Trevor Veilleux, Wakefield, jr. (D)

Joe Cavaluzzi, Wakefield, fr. (F)

James Erickson, Watertown/Wayland, sr. (F)

Alec Banosian, Watertown/Wayland, sr. (F)

Jack Ali, Watertown/Wayland, sr. (D)

Mauricio Souza, Watertown/Wayland, sr. (D)

Div. 4 Players to Watch

Matt Reynolds, Hanover, sr. (D)

John MacDonald, Hanover, sr. (D)

Billy Radzik, Hanover, sr. (F)

Mehki Bryan, Hanover, sr. (F)

Liam Conley, Martha’s Vineyard, sr. (F)

Aidan Conley, Martha’s Vineyard, sr. (D)

Hunter Johnson, Martha’s Vineyard, jr. (F)

Nathan Averill, Martha’s Vineyard, sr. (F)

Logan Poulin, Nauset, sr. (F)

Joe McManus, Nauset, sr. (D)

Julian Krivos, Nauset, sr. (F)

Cam Connery, Nauset, sr. (F)

Nolan Petrucelli, Norwell, sr. (F)

Charlie Booras, Norwell, sr. (D)

Aedan Coyle, Norwell, sr. (D)

Quinn Simmons, Norwell, sr. (F)

Christopher Cardillo, Sandwich, sr. (F)

Jack Connolly, Sandwich, sr. (F)

Shane Corcoran, Sandwich, sr. (D)

Petey Silverman, Winthrop, sr. (F)

Philip Bonocore, Winthrop, jr. (F)

Billy Hayes, Winthrop, sr. (D)

Hunter Fife, Winthrop, sr. (D)

Colin O’Leary, Winthrop, soph. (D)

Michael Donahue, Winthrop, jr. (G



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