Kimball Union Academy (NH) leads in the first NZ Prep Poll of the season after starting undefeated with a 5-0-0-0 record to start the year. Below are the Top 10 ranked teams in New England Prep based on their performance to date; NOT their projected performance at year end.
#1 Kimball Union (NH) – Kimball Union (5-0-0) has been a dominant force thus far this season outscoring their opponents by a 29-5 margin. The Wildcats are deep at every position from the net out and will be tough to compete against. Best win thus far was against Kent at the Exeter Invitational and since their first game of the season they haven’t given up more than 1 goal against. Returners Jackson Krykostas, AJ Noel and Michael Sullow lead the way up front complimented by a quality recruiting class from Coach Whitehead including Sam LeDrew and Jack McMinn from Nova Scotia, Daniel Tokariwski from Manitoba and Jack Sadowski from Massachusetts. In net they are led by UVM commit Daniel Heroux. Next Up: Flood Marr Tournament (Nobles & Greenough, Westminster and Hotchkiss)
#2 Avon Old Farms (CT) – Avon (4-0-0) lost a lot off last year’s roster including 5 NCAA D1 prospects in Nikita Nikora (Dartmouth), Matt DiMarsico (Penn State), Sam Court (New Hampshire), Conor Callaghan (Princeton) and NHL Draft pick Brennan Ali (Notre Dame/ Detroit Red Wings). However, they return a strong nucleus led by Joe Connor, Nick Capasso, Jordin Palmer and Hudson Miller to name a few. For newcomers, Stephen Peck has been outstanding between the pipes as the Winged Beavers have given up just 1 goal through 4 games this season while averaging over 5 goals per game. Next Up: Deerfield (Sunday) then Avon Christmas Tournament (Tabor, Kent, St. Paul’s).
#3 Frederick Gunn School (CT) – Frederick Gunn (6-0-0) returned a lot of talent from last years squad including prep’s leading scorer Jacob Rothman and anchor to their blueline Christian Wood. Newcomer Mitchell McCusker in net has been excellent with a .957 SV% through 5 starts and perfect 5-0-0 record giving up just 7 goals through 5 games. Like KUA, their best win was against Kent School but their others have been agianst sub .500 teams so we’ll learn a lot about this team at the upcoming Avon Christmas Tournament (Berkshire, Trinity Pawling, Loomis). Next Up: Avon Christmas Tournament (Berkshire, Trinity Pawling, Loomis Chaffee).
#4 Loomis Chaffee (CT) – The Pelicans (4-0-0) are off to a fast start this season running the table in all four matchups and while they aren’t scoring at a high level, they aren’t giving up a ton either led by returning netminder Andrew Heinze. They may not have the star power of the teams ahead of them but they have solid depth and nice combination of returners in Reardon, Anastasio and Tarjmo to go with incoming talent Ethan Woolcott from California and Yale commit Ryan Staples from Rhode Island. Strength of schedule has not been overly competitive thus far so they’ll be tested in the upcoming Avon Christmas Tournament. Next Up: Choate; Avon Christmas Tournament (Trinity Pawling, Berkshire, Frederick Gunn).
#5 Westminster (CT) – The Martlets (3-0-0) may not have played as many teams as those ranked above them but they have the most quality wins beating a talented NMH team at home and then going on the road to beat Brunswick coming from behind and winning in overtime. They are led by a pair of RPI commits and returners in Ryan Shaw and Matt Hanscom and backup goalie last year Matteo De Luca is off to a hot start. They welcome a new crop of talent in Blake Burke (CT), Patrick Dotson (NY) and Derek Rhodes (MA). They’ll have a great opportunity to prove themselves with a tough schedule at the Flood Marr playing #1 ranked KUA and #9 ranked Nobles & Greenough in the round-robin play. Next Up: Flood Marr Tournament (Kimball Union, Hotchkiss, Noble & Greenough).
#6 Nobles & Greenough (MA) – Nobles (3-0-1-) lost their leading scorer in NHL Draft selection Ben MacDonald and top defender Aidan Lyons (Bowdoin) but they return a lot of depth in the middle of their lineup, most importantly, the top goalie in the league Thatcher Bernstein who turned down a roster spot on the US National Development team. The team added Liam McCarthy from South Shore Kings and the McAusland brothers from Dexter to add to their offensive firepower. They don’t have a true top line but they have more depth than they have in years past and can get scoring from up and down the lineup. They have quality wins over defending prep finals runner up Belmont Hill and most recently Dexter and a tie against #7 Tabor on the road. Next Up: Flood Marr Tournament (Hotchkiss, Kimball Union, Westminster).
#7 Tabor Academy (MA) – The Seawolves (3-0-1) are off to their best start in years led by a core group of returners who are building off last season. They have 3 wins and a tie which came against #7 Nobles & Greenough. Tabor is averaging just short of 5 goals per game led by returners Jack DesRuisseaux, Alec O’Connor, Xavier Valliancourt and Cole Estey as well as newcomers Cam Gaffney and Tommy Sheehan. Veteran netminder Gus Ackerman returns for his senior year and playing his best hockey yet with a .944 SV% thus far. Next Up: Avon Christmas Tournament (Avon, St. Paul’s, Kent).
#8 St. George’s (RI) – St. George’s (4-0-0) have gone undefeated through their first four games of the season with the most recent win against a talented Millbrook team. The Dragons come off their best season in years but lost their top four scorers in NCAA D1 commits: Frias brothers, Kursonis and Ryan Buckley. They recruited Colin Walsh, Max Donatelli and transfer from Avon Tate Pecknold and defender Everett Baldwin to replace some of what they lost offensively and return the Buckley’s and starting goalie Ryder Shea. They host their own Christmas tournament and will be the heavy favorite to win and keep their perfect record into Christmas break. Next Up: Winchendon; St. George’s Holiday Tournament (BB&N, Wyoming Seminary; Brewster).
#9 Deerfield Academy (MA) – The Big Green (3-0-0) have only played in three games thus far but have two quality wins over Brunswick and NMH as well as a rivalry game victory against Choate. They have been a pleasent suprise out of the gate with strong contributions from first year players Justin Tavares and Jakub Kohn as well as returners Ben Cook and Tom Molson. Starting goalie John Tolve has been a major reason for the early success and he’ll certainly be tested later today (Sunday) against #2 Avon Old Farms and at Flood Marr Tournament. Next Up: Avon; Flood Marr Tournament (Milton, Salisbury; Avon).
#10 Cushing (MA) – The Penguins (2-0-3) may only have 2 wins on the season but they are unbeaten after five games. Cushing has plenty of talent up front inclduing returning standouts Landan Resendes and Ethan Gardula and have added Emerson Marshall, Dan Markevych as well as defenders Zach Rizzo, Davis Ross and Tyler Russo. With a new starting goalie and a lot of new faces on the blue line they are a team that will likely get better and better as the season goes on. Next Up: Lawrence/Groton Holiday Tournament
Honorable Mentions: Kent School, Milton Academy, St. Marks, Tilton, Taft
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images