Hopes are high for CVU hockey teams12/4/08

Dec. 4, 2008

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

There is definitely no chill on the 2008-09 outlooks for the Champlain Valley Union High boys and girls hockey teams as the new season opens.

First out of the team room were coach Tom Ryan’s girls, who opened their campaign Wednesday (after press deadline) when they hosted Hartford High at Cairns Arena.

Coaches Doug Hopper and Will MacKinnon will debut their boys team Friday at 8 p.m. in Burlington’s Leddy Arena when they skate against Rice Memorial High in the opening round of the annual Burchard Tournament. Depending on the outcome, the Redhawks will play in Saturday’s championship or consolation round.

Hopper said early this week that the entire cast of 22 players and coaches has been impatiently counting the 252 days since they got nipped by Essex High in last season’s Division 1 title match.

Seventeen skaters are back from that team. Good news in one sense, but Hopper and MacKinnon had some tough decision to make when some 44 athletes tried out last month.

“That was the most we have ever had for tryouts,” Hopper said.

Graduated from the state runners-up are co-captain Jon Ingalls, an all-division honorable mention at forward, all-second team goaltender Brian Thomas and forwards Sam Ross, Justin Teator and Scott Goodwin.

“They were all quality guys,” Hopper said of the graduates.

The Redhawks have had preseason scrimmages against Essex and Colchester in which Hopper termed CVU’s performances “fair to middlin’”.

“We have a lot of team speed,” Hopper said, leaving the impression that on many nights the Redhawks will turn Cairns into Zip City.

Leading the go-go will be sophomore forward Robbie Dobrowski, an honorable mention all-division player a year ago. Seniors Ben Soll, Sam Spencer, Wes O’Brien and Brady DeHayes, junior Nate Lacroix and sophomores Kyle Logan and J.P. Benoit are among talented returning attackers. They’ll be joined by senior Tim Reichert, who missed his junior year, playing instead with the Green Mountain Glades.

In combination with the up-front speedsters is a defensive group that Hopper unabashedly calls, “The best in the state.”

Seniors Chris Howard (first team all-division) and Owen Smith (honorable mention) anchor the back line along with juniors Eric Robinson (honorable mention) and Cully Millikin.

Seeking to replace Thomas between the pipes are three juniors — Mark Albertson, Miles Grunvald and Chris McGinnis.

Looking at the schedule, Hopper sees a tough Metro Division.

“All the teams this year are very even,” he said.

He was pleased to announce that Max Danis is returning as team manager.

Girls put veteran team on the ice

After the opener Wednesday against what Ryan termed “an always tough” Hartford team, the CVU girls hockey team will return to the ice wars at 6 p.m. on Saturday against South Burlington High at Cairns 1.

In assessing the Redhawks, Ryan said, “We are very solid from the goal mouth out.”

In the nets once again is senior Nicole Bonneau, considered by the coach to be one of the best goalies in the state.

In front of Bonneau is a solid group led by junior Kate Ford and sophomores Amanda Lacillade, Gillian Shelley and Lizzy Betz. Also in the mix are junior Emmaleigh Loyer and senior co-captain Amanda Kaminsky.

Cranking up the goal production will be freshman Lexie Milliken, sophomore Alyx Rivard and junior Addie Peterson. Other contributors will include sophomores Hannah Johnson, Molly Howard and Amanda Armell, juniors Chrissi Whitaker, Maggie Ryan and Sasha Gunther and senior Marissa Parente.

Joining Bonneau and Kaminsky as captains is junior sharpshooter KK Logan, who will be sidelined for the season as she recovers from a knee injury suffered during the fall field hockey season.

“Scoring will be an issue for us,” said Ryan.

With just three seniors, and only two players (Robin Hart and Susan Levesque) graduated from a year ago, the Redhawks remain youthful — but with experience in a bountiful supply.

But Ryan warned that the division is solid this season.

“We hope to be right there in contention,” the coach concluded.