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The States of Hockey: Anniversaries, Changes Highlight Vt., N.H. Campaigns on Ice

  • Hartford boys hockey players Brandon Gaudet, left, and Cory Harriman wait to go out on the ice at Barwood Arena in Hartford, Vt., on Nov. 14, 2013. The team had a captains' practice, one that players organize and chip in to buy ice time at the rink. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Hartford boys hockey players Brandon Gaudet, left, and Cory Harriman wait to go out on the ice at Barwood Arena in Hartford, Vt., on Nov. 14, 2013. The team had a captains' practice, one that players organize and chip in to buy ice time at the rink. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover's Matthew Goff, center, defends goal during hockey practice at the James W. Campion III ice skating rink in West Lebanon, N.H. on November 27, 2013. The team will play more than two weeks of scrimmages against teams in Vermont and Massachusetts before their regulation season begins in December. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

    Hanover's Matthew Goff, center, defends goal during hockey practice at the James W. Campion III ice skating rink in West Lebanon, N.H. on November 27, 2013. The team will play more than two weeks of scrimmages against teams in Vermont and Massachusetts before their regulation season begins in December. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hanover's Tom Peters skates during hockey practice at the James W. Campion III ice skating rink in West Lebanon, N.H. on November 27, 2013. The team will play more than two weeks of scrimmages against teams in Vermont and Massachusetts before their regulation season begins in December. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

    Hanover's Tom Peters skates during hockey practice at the James W. Campion III ice skating rink in West Lebanon, N.H. on November 27, 2013. The team will play more than two weeks of scrimmages against teams in Vermont and Massachusetts before their regulation season begins in December. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hartford boys hockey players Brandon Gaudet, left, and Cory Harriman wait to go out on the ice at Barwood Arena in Hartford, Vt., on Nov. 14, 2013. The team had a captains' practice, one that players organize and chip in to buy ice time at the rink. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)
  • Hanover's Matthew Goff, center, defends goal during hockey practice at the James W. Campion III ice skating rink in West Lebanon, N.H. on November 27, 2013. The team will play more than two weeks of scrimmages against teams in Vermont and Massachusetts before their regulation season begins in December. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)
  • Hanover's Tom Peters skates during hockey practice at the James W. Campion III ice skating rink in West Lebanon, N.H. on November 27, 2013. The team will play more than two weeks of scrimmages against teams in Vermont and Massachusetts before their regulation season begins in December. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage)

Happy anniversary to you. And you, too.

Two of the Upper Valley’s nine high school boys and girls hockey programs undergo significant birthdays this winter. Hanover boys hockey has already held an 80th anniversary celebration, while Hartford girls hockey moves into its 20th year of existence with just the second head coach in program history. The Hurricanes are also members of Vermont Division II for the first time, having spent the previous 12 years of VPA sanctioning in D-I.

The Hanover girls are going out-of-state to up the competitive level, playing teams from New York, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Minnesota as they seek to extend their New Hampshire dominance. The Lebanon and Hartford boys both hope the vagaries of youthful rosters last winter will bear the fruits of success this time around. Program numbers remain an issue with several teams, although the Woodstock girls — with a new coach plucked from the youth ranks — can see a bright future with more girls picking the game up at a younger age.

A capsule peek at the area’s teams:

Boys

Hanover

Coach: Dick Dodds (32).

League: NHIAA Division I.

Last Year: 6-10-5, lost to Bishop Guertin in first round of state tournament.

Returnees: Seniors — Worthy Gardner (D), Ben Carson-Turner (D), Sam Carey (F), Jordan Levin (F), Shawn Cavallaro (F), Tom Peters (F), Ben Hartman (F), Andrew Huizenga (F). Juniors — Gavin Ratliff (F), Jin Kim (D), Ben Acker (F), Gus Lyons (F), Kordell Lindsay (F).

Newcomers: Seniors — Matthew Goff (D), Matthew Leskovar (F). Juniors – Mike Stinson (G), Peter O’Leary (F), Austin Thum (D), Ben Chaimberg (D). Sophomore — Jonathan Goff (F). Freshman — Luke Ratliff (G).

Departed: Eight graduated, fronted by leading scorer Joe Cravero (15-7—22) and goaltender James Montgomery.

Strengths: With size and strength on their side, the Marauders expect to control

play in the offensive end below the goal line and along the wall.

Weaknesses: Hanover struggled with scoring and special teams last year and needs to improve in both areas.

Three (or More) Stars: Dodds points to his 10-player senior core as the key to success this winter. “If they want to lead the team to a terrific season, they can,” the veteran coach said. “But they will have to earn it.”

Toughest Foes: St. Thomas, Manchester Central, Manchester Memorial, Pinkerton, Concord, Bishop Guertin, Trinity.

Etc.: The 2013-14 season marks 80 years for the Hanover High boys hockey program.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: Patience will be the Marauders’ virtue this season, according to Dodds. “It’s important,” he said, “that we continue to take every day as an opportunity to get better as a team.”

Hartford

Coach: Todd Bebeau (16).

League: VPA Division II.

Last Year: 12-9-0, lost in quarterfinals to Burr & Burton.

Returnees: Seniors — Andrew Atkinson (F), Jeff Lyford (F), John Borchert (F), Nick Terino (F), Riley Horan (F), Jeremy McGlone (D), John Lewis (D), Mak Lyford (G). Juniors — Mark Rogenski (F), Cam Lemieux (D), Will Gardner (D). Sophomores — Ethan Scribner (F), Nate Lemieux (F), Will Mayfield (F), Zach Caron (F), Gavin Shropshire (F), Brandon Chiasson (D), Brandon Gaudet (D), Teighan Meeker (G).

Newcomers: Sophomore — Griffin Shaw (F). Freshmen – Ben Rouillard (F), Jordy Allard (F), Jordan McReynolds (F), Richie Morrill (G).

Departed: Hartford lost just one player to graduation, defenseman Josh Harrington. Forward Brandon Gardner transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy.

Strengths: The top line of Andrew Atkinson, Jeff Lyford and John Borchert combined for 47 goals and 56 assists last season and is back intact to terrorize defenses again.

Weaknesses: Bebeau needs his young players to transition into varsity roles quickly and effectively to provide depth and balance to the roster.

Three Stars: 1-2-3. The Lyford-Atkinson-Borchert line. The Hurricane trio ranked 1-3-4, respectively, on the Upper Valley scoring chart last year.

Toughest Foes: St. Johnsbury, Woodstock, Mount Mansfield, Northfield.

Etc.: With the additions of Stowe, Middlebury and Missisquoi, Division II expands to 16 schools this season.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “The expectations are very high for this group,” Bebeau said. “Our success will be predicated on whether the kids are willing to remain humble and never losing sight on getting better every day.”

Kearsarge

Coach: Michael Fisher (1).

League: NHIAA Division III.

Last Year: 4-14-0, missed D-III playoffs.

Returnees: Seniors — Will Aufranc (F), Shayne Cashin (D), Steven Ricker (F). Juniors — Ryan Beattie (D), Kelsie Dalton (D), Ben Newbern (F), Delaney Stone (D-injured). Sophomore — Elliot Tucker (D).

Newcomers: Juniors — Bryson Barthol (F), Zach Wesoja (F). Sophomores — Duncan MacIntyre (D). Freshmen — Madelyn Folcik (D), Jakob Arnold (F), Caleb Cochran (F), Cody Rowe (G).

Departed: Fisher takes the helm from Mark Cashin, who helped the Cougars get their program going and guided it through its first three seasons at the varsity level. Five players graduated, while a handful of other underclassmen from last season — including Kearsarge’s top two scorers — didn’t return.

Strengths: Despite the roster turnover, the Cougars have shown signs of being more cohesive off the ice than other teams Fisher has coached at other levels. Defense provides the most on-ice experience.

Weaknesses: Kearsarge needs to rebuild its offense and has minimal experience in the net.

Three (or More) Stars: 1-2. Seniors Will Aufranc and Steven Ricker will be counted upon to lead the offense. Ricker’s 13 points lead Cougar returnees. 3. Ryan Beattie, who will lead a small but mobile crew on the blue line. 4. Freshman goalie Cody Rowe “will play as large a role as any student-athlete in controlling the team’s on-ice success,” Fisher said.

Toughest Foes: Berlin, John Stark-Hopkinton.

Etc.: Kearsarge officials contemplated shutting down the program or committing to a junior varsity-only schedule this winter before deciding to forge ahead. Numbers remain a challenge for the Cougars.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “With the off-ice adversity and uncertainty our program faced during the fall, the players and coaching staff are excited to begin a new season,” Fisher said. The new coach wants to present “the opportunity to be a team that no one in Division III looks forward to playing and that will be the epitome of grit, determination and effort each and every shift.”

Lebanon

Coach: Gary Smith (5).

League: NHIAA Division II.

Last Year: 3-17-0, missed D-II playoffs.

Returnees: Seniors — Dylan Gaudette (capt./D), Joe Grout (G). Juniors — Ryan Dube (G), Jack Whitaker (D), Tanner Simms (D), Riley Sleeper (F), Cameron Broughton (F), Ryan Damren (F). Sophomores – Nick Haidari (F), Noah Gaudette (D), Brendan Kelley (F), Cal Garland (F), Nathan Kriplin (D), T.J. Barber (F), Tate Singleton (F), Cam Perron (F), Chad Fazio (G).

Newcomers: Sophomores — Tony Vaitkunas (F), Cormac Coyle (F). Freshmen — Nate Damren (F), Nate Gariepy (F), Sam Lawrence (F), Jordan Hammond (G).

Departed: The Raiders graduated Ryan White (team-leading 19 points), Donncha Coyle and Michael Servant. Greg Surgenor transferred to Kimball Union Academy.

Strengths: Goaltending and defense. Joe Grout returns to start in net, and six of last year’s seven defensemen are back after a year of seasoning.

Weaknesses: Lebanon remains young up front, without a senior on the forward lines.

Three (or More) Stars: 1. Grout. Smith: “Joe has a chance to be a top goaltender in D-II this season.” 2-4. Lebanon’s “Blue Line” of Ryan Damren, Tate Singleton and Nate Gariepy. Damren is the Raiders’ top returning scorer (15 points). “They have the chance to be one of the best lines we have had in a few seasons,” Smith said. 5-6. Dylan Gaudette and Tanner Simms. While defense is their calling card, both have offensive skills that should help a young attack.

Toughest Foes: Bedford (Smith: “They might not lose a game this season”), Dover, Spaulding.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: As the youngest team in D-II last year, Lebanon lost four games in overtime and numerous other one- and two-goal affairs. “Hopefully, all of the players returning from last year will build off that experience and be able to play a full 45-minute game,” Smith said.

Woodstock

Coach: Charlie Hancock (6).

League: VPA Division II.

Last Year: 9-12-0, lost to Union-32 in state tournament.

Returnees: Seniors — Nick Donaldson (D), Ben Orr (D), Alastair Bones (D), Conor Joyce (F), Brady Stewart (G). Juniors — Connor McCarthy (F), Will Gault (F), Haven Lantz (D), Levi Vigh (F). Sophomores – Braden McCarthy (F), Brian Townley (F).

Newcomers: Seniors — Tom Baumann (F), Dylan Kuhn (F). Sophomore — Kevan O’Connell (F). Freshmen — Connor Black (G), Liam VanHerwarde (G), Jason Drebber (G), Daniel Robinson (F), Luc Issa (F), Jack Kamb (D), Ben Beaudoin (D), Jacob Sawyer (F), Evan Hotchkiss (F).

Departed: Forward Hunter Schmell was the Wasps’ sole graduation loss.

Strengths: Woodstock has shown well in the defensive end of the ice early in the campaign.

Weaknesses: Special teams.

Three Stars: “All returning players will be keys because of what we went through last year with short numbers,” Hancock said. “With us having the depth this year, that should help considerably.”

Toughest Foes: Northfield, Hartford, Missisquoi, Union-32, Mount Mansfield, Middlebury.

Etc.: The 23-player roster is one of the largest of Hancock’s tenure and nearly double that of last season (12).

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “I would like to see us play a complete game of hockey through the year,” Hancock said. “If we do that, I think we will finish well. We have a great group of young men this year, and that will make it a lot of fun for everyone.”

Girls

Hanover

Coach: John Dodds (9).

League: NHIAA Division I.

Last Year: 21-1-0, won fourth consecutive state championship and fifth in the six years that the NHIAA has sponsored the sport.

Returnees: Seniors — Emily Acker (capt./D/F), Grace Tecca (asst. capt./F), Caroline Howell (asst. capt./D), Sarah Muller (F), Emily Gougelet (G). Juniors — Margeaux Baker (D), Sarah Wagner (F), Delia Nahabedian (D), Emma Malenka (D), Katie Fenton (G), Sarah Polidor (F-injured). Sophomores — Eliza Laycock (F), Kelly Brigham (F), Matti Hartman (F), Julie Montgomery (F).

Newcomers: Sophomore — Ella Williams (F). Freshmen — Mahler Meyerrose (F), Maddie Lyons (F), Lillian Stout (F/D).

Departed: The Marauders lost goalie Kelly Gaudet and defenseman Katrina Menard to graduation.

Strengths: Experience, team speed, ability to move the puck quickly from defense to attack.

Weaknesses: Getting the whole team familiar with systems, especially given the presence of four newcomers.

Three (or More) Stars: 1. The tougher schedule means goalie Katie Fenton is likely to see a lot more rubber this year. 2. Matti Hartman (team-high 46 points) exploded onto the scene last year and more is expected this year. Dodds: “The kids kind of look up to her.” 3. Sarah Wagner, center of Hanover’s second line, which will need to play strong in both directions with defenses keying on the Marauders’ scoring line. 4. Caroline Howell, Hanover’s best offensive-minded blueliner.

Toughest Foes: Bishop Guertin, Lebanon, Oyster River, Berlin-Gorham.

Etc.: Hanover has added out-of-state foes in Beekmantown (N.Y.), Acton-Boxboro (Mass.) and Andover (Mass.) to its schedule, games that will count toward determining the Marauders’ NHIAA playoff seeding. (This month’s trip to the Schwan Cup in Minnesota will not.)

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “This group will face some tough challenges this year with a more competitive schedule,” Dodds said. “Our success will depend on our ability to learn and grwom from these opportunities. The girls must commit to improving individually and collectively each time they step on the ice.”

Hartford

Coach: Marc Gattie (1).

League: VPA Division II.

Last Year: 4-15-1, lost to CVU in state tournament first round.

Returnees: Seniors — Erin Hudson (capt./G), Jenna Yee (capt./D), Caroline Miller (capt./F). Juniors — Courtney Murray (F), Morgan Morrill (D; attends Thetford). Sophomores — Meghan Boardman (F; attends Oxbow); Amanda Nelson (D), Christine Miller (F), Julia Anderson (D), Heather Dexter (G; attends Rivendell).

Newcomers: Senior — Devanne DeFelice (F; attends Rivendell). Juniors — MaryKate Langille (F), Cadence Loney (G), Colleen McDermott (F). Sophomore — Morgan Steadman (F). Freshman — Summer Parkhurst (F).

Departed: Gattie replaces the only head coach the Hurricanes have known, Nelson Fogg, who stepped down after 19 seasons to concentrate on his job as high school assistant principal. Last year’s graduation class included Alexandra Fogg, Haley Grigel, Elizabeth Bergeron, Allyson Mullen, Ossia Dwyer and Elizabeth Potter.

Strengths: Strong core of returnees owning a year of Division I experience.

Weaknesses: Three Hurricanes are new to the game of hockey, and three others are returning after taking time off from the ice.

Three Stars: 1. Erin Hudson, who inherits extra playing time with Elizabeth Potter’s graduation. 2-3. Courtney Murray and Morgan Morrill. Gattie hopes both gain confidence in their ability to score while using their speed to attack the net.

Toughest Foes: Northfield.

Etc.: The Hurricanes have dropped to Division II for the first time since the VPA began state sanctioning in 2002. While Hartford has remained competitive in D-I, the program has had to rely on member-to-member participants from other schools to fill out a roster for several years.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “Our success will directly relate to our ability to come together as a team and develop our players that are new (or) returning to the game of hockey,” Gattie said. “We have the pieces to be a legitimate contender in Division II, but we need to stay healthy and grow together to form an identity as a team.”

Lebanon

Coach: Brad Shaw (5).

League: NHIAA Division I.

Last Year: 13-4-2, upset by Oyster River in state semifinals.

Returnees: Seniors — Aubrey Mazurek (capt./D), Micaela Schones (capt./F). Juniors — Samantha Roberts (D), Sierra Rogers (D), Natalie Cartier (F), Emma Forman (F), Erika Moffitt (G), Karli Swensen (F), Loren McEwen (F), Kyra Taylor (F), Emily Courtemanche (G). Sophomores – Elle Brine (F), Lauren Goodell (D).

Newcomers: Sophomore — Isabelle Walker (D). Freshmen — Sage Ballard (F), Isabella Harriman (F).

Departed: The Raiders’ two graduation losses were big ones, all-time program leading scorer Chrissy Drake and fellow 100-point scorer Amelia Gage. Forward Sabrina Huett transferred to Rice Prep in South Burlington, leaving Lebanon without three of last year’s top four scorers. MacKenzie Knights also transferred.

Strengths: Defense and goaltending have experience. Move of senior Micaela Schones from defense to first-line center should help offense that lost a lot from last year.

Weaknesses: A lack of depth will make good conditioning a must. Shaw: “We have three pretty good lines, but in bigger games we’ll run primarily two. I’m hoping our third line is stronger than we’ve had in the past.”

Three Stars: 1. Schones. “She’s one of the hardest workers in practice,” Shaw said. “She has great speed and a hard shot.” 2. Mazurek, the rock in Lebanon’s defensive plans. Because of her skills, she most likely will be paired with a lesser-experienced partner. 3. Loren McEwen, who will be one of Schones’ wings on the top line. Shaw: “She’s extremely capable of getting good rebounds and shots in front of the net.”

Toughest Foes: Hanover, Berlin-Gorham, Oyster River, St. Thomas-Dover.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: As they have in recent years, the Raiders will be in the conversation for a top spot in the NHIAA standings. “Depth is going to be an issue for us,” Shaw said. “It’s going to be whether or not our third line holds up and is in big games. It’s a test; we’ll see in the first three or four weeks if we’re able to be a three-line offense or a two-line offense.”

Woodstock

Coach: Ian Coates (1).

League: VPA Division II.

Last Year: 0-18, missed playoffs.

Returnees: Seniors — Taylor Smith (capt./D), Hannah Tobey (capt./F). Juniors — Ashley Sigl (asst. Capt./F), Logan Smith (D), Rachel Surrell (F).

Newcomers: Freshmen — Holly Weglarz (F), Hannah Milstone (D), Teale Bohen (F), Miranda Johnson (F), Courtney Barcomb (D), Heather Blanchard (F), Stephanie Hendrick (G).

Departed: Coates assumes the top job from Jeff Sailer, who stepped down after two seasons. Five graduated from last year’s team.

Strengths: The Wasps are bringing the right attitude to a rebuilding program. “I pretty much told them from the get-go that the realistic thing for this bunch is to make sure we’re having fun and learning the sport,” Coates said.

Weaknesses: Inexperience and small numbers.

Three Stars: 1. Taylor Smith. Coates: “She’s making sure she’s strong in our own end and working the puck out of the zone, getting to the offense and being creative.” 2. Stephanie Hendrick, a first-timer to the world of goaltending. “She’s the only one to volunteer,” Coates noted. “Props to her for doing that.”

Toughest Foes: Union-32.

Etc.: While taking his first crack at high school coaching, Coates is continuing his work with the Woodstock Youth Hockey U12 girls, who won a Vermont state title last winter. “I see big growth,” said Coates, whose daughter, Hannah, plays on the U12s. “We have a healthy bunch of girls going through the program that will trickle to the high school. I see us having decent results in the next few years.”

Coach’s Final Thoughts: While wins may still be elusive, Coates hopes to make the experience enjoyable for the Wasps. “I want the girls to want to keep playing hockey through their lives,” he said. “It’s just an excellent sport. I think the best thing for this group of girls is to be passionate about the sport, not focusing on scoring and results. … It’s that sort of excitement that helps fuel the passion.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.