The Founders is once again a top-heavy Division, but some new challengers will be making strides this season. Last year saw four teams make the playoffs, but this year a lot will hinge on a youth movement. Big senior classes have graduated and some committed players have moved to the USHL, but the path to success may be paved by which incoming class can make the quickest impact. We expect Avon Old Farms, Loomis Chaffee and Salisbury to be the odds on favorites to secure playoff berths. Here are our capsules for all 10 teams in the upcoming season, ranked in order of predicted finish.
Avon Old Farms Last season was a successful one record-wise (21-2-4) for the Winged Beavers, but ended in a tough semifinal loss to eventual Elite 8 Champion Gunnery. Many of last year’s big names have moved on: F Patrick Harper (BU freshman), D Adam Karashik (UCONN commit), F Jamie Armstrong (Northeastern) and D Ben Mirageas (Providence). To be successful, Avon will need to see players like F Tyler Madden (Northeastern) and F Matt Allen (Providence) step up as offensive kingpins. They will also have many, many young weapons to mentor including: 99 F Nick Wildgoose (St. Lawrence), 99 D Ben Pirko (Union), 00 F Drew Elser (UCONN), 00 D Mac Wiseman (UCONN) plus 4.25 star BU recruit 01 F Trevor Zegras. They also welcome smooth skating defenseman Jack Babbage from the Don Mills Flyers in the GTMMHL who had a strong summer at the National Development Camp in Buffalo, NY. Oh and let’s not forget one of the best goalie prospects in the country: 4.5 star 01 Spencer Knight (BC). While this next kid might not get the press of some other blue chips listed above him, don’t count out Will Christensen, a speed/energy forward who may not dazzle on the stat sheet but he’s a high motor, no-quit type that skilled teams need. The future is very bright for Avon Old Farms and Coach John Gardner but the present isn’t to be taken lightly.
NZ’s Take: No team in prep school lost the talent Avon did this past year and that might be an understatement. Patrick Harper has been one of prep’s finest players over the past two years and Armstrong and Karashik gave the typically skilled team a physical presence. Mirageas was arguably the best pro prospect in the league and was key to their blue line in every situation. With that being said, they have a highly talented group coming in including six division one commits; led by BC recruit Spencer Knight and BU recruit Trevor Zegras. Both are ‘01s and could take some time to adjust, but they are likely the no.1 and no.2 prospects in all of prep school. Returners Matt Allen and Tyler Madden are coming off strong years and look to take their games to the next level. With a healthy mix or returning and incoming talent, Avon could be the team to beat, not only in the founders league, but in all of New England prep. Time will tell but talent is certainly on Avon’s side. Avon should return to the Elite 8 again this season despite taking on the heavy loses to departures, but with the talent more spread out it could actually benefit the Winged Beavers instead of being a one-line dominated team.