WETHERSFIELD - The Wethersfield High School ice hockey team has been trying to build in recent years, but now, they might have to rebuild.
The Eagles will skate into this season without goaltender Nathan Peterson between the pipes. Peterson’s departure leaves a hole that Wethersfield hopes will be filled by Domingo Rodriguez and Tyler Godlewski, two underclassman that, for freshman, saw a decent amount of playing time last season in a system that split time evenly between the three goaltenders.
Eagles Head Coach Dennis Tulmieri is not sure if any one of his remaining goalies will emerge as a designated starter.
“If one of them just comes up and gets a shutout, stay with that guy,” Tulmieri said. “We really won’t know til we get ‘em on the ice.”
The Eagles will look to improve on last year’s 2-3-1 league record without the leadership of Brett Fortin and Matt Lis, last year’s captains. The two defensemen added a scoring touch--Lis led the team in scoring with 11 goals and seven assists last year and Fortin added five goals and eight assists on the season.
“They were huge,” Tulmieri said. “They were very important to us; we’ll miss ‘em.”
The absence of last season’s veteran defensemen will place more responsibility on the shoulders of Trevor Nyren and Matt Carcia, underclassmen who have already made their presence felt. A freshman last year, Carcia had two goals and four assists, and Nyren has been known to double as a defenseman and a forward.
The Eagles will also lose some size, with the loss of George Stevens, the 6’3”, 201-pound forward who tallied nine goals and seven assists last season.
This year’s Wethersfield team will be led by three seniors, including forward Patrick Dowd, a playmaker who led the Eagles in assists last year with 18. The Eagles will also look for leadership from senior forwards Joe Accarpio and Nick Laurito.
“You always rely on your seniors, and those three guys are going to have to carry a lot of weight for us,” Tulmieri said.
The seniors should have plenty of help from a roster of underclassmen throughout which offensive contributions were spread pretty evenly last year. Notable returnees include sophomore forward Noah Thulen, who tallied five goals and two assists last season. They will be looking to junior Billy Connor to continue where he left off last year--the forward scored four goals and had 10 assists on the season.
The Eagles, who have sat near the bottom of Connecticut Central East’s standings for the past couple of years, may have a chance to climb the ladder now that powerhouse Windsor/Farmington/Avon High School saw the departure of a senior class that led it to 6-1-1 record last season.
The Warriors will be without captains Dominic Bazzano, Max Leopold and Nick Berns. They also have a big void to fill out goaltending now that they have lost net minder Kyle Krajick, who posted a 2.2 GAA last year, to graduation.
The Eagles open their season on home ice against Northwest Catholic Jan. 5. The Indians finished second in the CCE standings, at 4-2-0. The two teams split the season series last year, with The Eagles grabbing a 5-2 win at ewington arena in the first matchup, before getting blown out 5-0 in their second meeting.
When it comes to playing teams like Northwest Catholic, solid team defense is key, Tulmieri said.
“Block a lot of shots, get the puck out, [and] don’t allow a lot of sustained pressure on the net,” he said.