Tri-Town, Tolland reloaded

When it’s cold outside, that means it’s cold inside, too. At least when it comes to ice hockey rinks across the state, as the 2013-14 season begins for teams in North-Central Connecticut.

Tri-Town (East Windsor/Somers/Ellington)

After just one win last season, the Tri-Town hockey team expects a pretty big increase in wins after a down year in 2012-13.

Three captains, one per school, look to  lead the way as Somers’ Connor Wylie will take the reigns as locker room leader with assistants Nick Violette, from Ellington and Rudy O’konis, from East Windsor.

The three forwards will lead a team that is in great shape for the new campaign ahead.

“Our strength is conditioning and discipline in all aspects of the game,” head coach Jesse Peters said prior to his first game as the head coach, “including teamwork, game plan and penalties.”

Peters has volunteered with the program since 2001, was a full time Assistant in 2003 leaving for two seasons 09-10 and 10-11. He was also a player on the inaugural Tri-Town team in 1990.

“Our success will depend on our ability to get production from all three lines on a nightly basis,” the coach said. “We need to be unselfish and score the less glamorous goals in front of the net.”

Tri-Town is young, and will need to replace 10 departed players from last year.

“We have lost double digit players the past two plus seasons to graduation, private schools and Junior Hockey,” he said. “Our team is young so we will be relying heavily on our experienced players.”

Some other key returnees include forward Ryan Gaidos, goalie, Alex Bliesner,  defenseman, Tom Burgess, forward Jay Skorulski and forward Ryan Sherba.

E.O. Smith/Tolland

Ross Brancati returns to help lead a talented Tolland squad looking to improve on an 11-9-1 campaign last year.

Brancati was a second team all-state choice last year and tallied 24 points offensively. His teammate Pete Mayer is the leading scorer from 2012-13, having posted 28 points as a sophomore.

“We have an opportunity to improve on last year’s quarterfinal appearance,” head coach John Hodgson said. “Brancati and Mayer have good scoring punch, as does Aaron Lassow from the point. [Justin] Gagnon and Benjamin [Lassow] are a veteran stay at home defensive pair. Matt Schoen had a solid season as a starter in goal last year as a sophomore.”

The only weakess for the squad is its depth, but the team could have enough talent to challenge Bolton-Coventry-Rockville and Newington in the Division III tournament if the Bucks live up to their potential.

“With BCR and Newington coming off their meeting in the D3 final,” the coach  said, “with Farmington Valley coming into our division, and with Hall-Southington coming off of a quarterfinal appearance, we should have a very competitive league. We hope to be in the mix with those four teams.

Rockville

Three key players return for the Rams, with big defender Liam McGrath serving as defensive captain on a team that is strong at the blue line.

“We have a fairly solid defensive core returning, head coach Christian Stevenson said, “and the knowledge that we are capable of competing in Division II.”

The other two impact players to watch for in 2013-14 are Kevin Morton and Eddie Bates, both senior forwards.

Mortin was a junior All-Star and all-conference choice last year, while Eddie Bates has a nack for finding nylon.

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