Ice Hockey preview: Goals at the net

Hall-Southington goaltender Noah Behrens-Gould pounces on a puck in the crease during a scrimmage last Saturday.

By KEVIN ROBERTS

STAFF WRITER

There could be some high-scoring games in the upcoming Hall-Southington boys ice hockey season. The Warrior-Knights will put some in the net, but they’ll also give some up.

“We’ve got a number of [players] that can definitely do some work up front,” Hall-Southington coach Brian Cannon said following last Saturday’s scrimmage against Sheehan. “We’ve got a lot of forwards available, and we’re not bad up there, but they’ve got to produce. We’re going to need them to score goals, because we’re going to give up goals every game.”

Senior captain Mike DiPietro scored the first goal of the Sheehan scrimmage and figures to be a key cog in the Warrior-Knight offense. Senior Natahalan Zmarlicki, junior Christian Mohr and sophomore Bobby Allan will also be looking to put the puck in the net.

Hall-Southington lost 11 seniors to graduation from a 13-8-2 team that played in the postseason.  The Warrior-Knights made it to the CCC South final, losing to the Enfield co-op. Hall-Southington then lost to rival Conard in a Division II first round state game played at Veterans Memorial Rink.

“We didn’t get decimated, but it’s a pretty big clearance,” Cannon said of the graduations.

By sheer numbers, the worst losses would appear to be at forward, where there were six seniors who graduated. Defense is actually the area that took the biggest hit. The Warrior-Knights lost their top three defensemen and both of their goalies. Cannon was encouraged by the play of sophomore goalie Noah Behrens-Gould, even in a 5-3 loss to Sheehan.

“I thought he played really well today, we’re going to be depending on him immensely,” Cannon said.

Gambardella will be the cornerstone of the defense in front of Behrens-Gould. Some younger, more inexperienced players will need to help Gambardella, especially if senior Ethan Penn can’t return from an injury he sustained in the Sheehan scrimmage.

“We’re not terrible on ‘D’, but I can’t say that we’re great on ‘D’,” Cannon said. “I’d say our strength is in the offensive lines, but they’re going to have to put the puck in the net because we’re going to give up some goals.”

Hall-Southington was more interested in mixing in different players on its lines than winning a scrimmage. The Warrior-Knights will look to have their lineups set once the season gets underway. Hall-Southington opens up at North Haven on Saturday at 5:45 p.m. at the Northford Ice Pavilion.

In the Sheehan scrimmage, Cannon saw an opponent that was really quick and anticipated well. For Hall-Southington to compete, it will need to play faster and make better decisions.

The Warrior-Knights will again be playing in the CCC South Division, but it has changed somewhat. Hall-Southington’s fellow division members are EO Smith-Tolland-Windham; Newington-Berlin-Manchester; Wethersfield-Rocky Hill-Middletown; Rockville-Bolton-Coventry-RHAM; and Enfield-East Granby-Stafford.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com

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