Bethlehem enters the 2016-17 Capital District High School Hockey League season as one of the favorites to win it all. Spotlight file photo
The 2016-17 Section 2 high school hockey season is set to begin Thanksgiving weekend with several non-league games, including Shaker/Colonie’s annual Thanksgiving Tournament at the Albany County Hockey Training Facility.
The tournament is set up as a round robin, with Shaker/Colonie and Bethlehem trading off out-of-section opponents. Shaker/Colonie plays Cortland-Homer Friday, Nov. 25, while Bethlehem takes on Mamaroneck. The tournament concludes Saturday, Nov. 26.
There are two Capital District High School Hockey League games on tap for next weekend. LaSalle travels to Glenville Friday, Nov. 25, to play Guilderland/Mohonasen/Scotia-Glenville. G/M/SG meets Christian Brothers Academy Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Albany County rink.
Here is a team-by-team breakdown of the CDHSHL:
Last year: 12-2-0 league (second place), 14-7-0 overall
BC is one of the favorites to win it all as it begins the season. The Eagles return several key players, including their top two scorers from 2015-16 — Thomas Liebold and Brian Harder — and their starting goaltender, Alex Breiner, who posted a 2.85 goals against average last year. With last year’s champion, Saratoga Springs, rebuilding, Bethlehem has an opportunity to skate its way to the top.
Burnt Hills/Ballston Spa
Last year: 10-3-1 league (fourth place), 16-5-1 overall
BH/BS is also in position to make a run at the Sectional title. Geordan Buffoline, last year’s top scorer in Section 2, returns to anchor a high-powered offense. The biggest question for BH/BS is who will replace Mark Stocker as its starting goaltender. Right now, the battle is between junior Trevin Tidmarsh and sophomores Kyle Grace and Zack Maddalone. How well one or more of them play could determine how high BH/BS will climb.
Last year: 9-6-0 league (fifth place), 10-11-0 overall
CBA is another team returning a lot of talent from last season. Goaltender Justin Bryar is coming off a solid sophomore campaign when he posted a 10-9-0 record and a 3.10 goals against average, and sophomore Hunter Pemrick is poised for another strong season after recording 18 goals and 15 assists in 2015-16. With only seven seniors on the 27-man roster, the Brothers are still young, but they’re ready to make a move.
Last year: 0-12-0 league (last place), 2-15-0 overall
The Storm continues to make strides toward competitiveness. The roster has swelled to a record 30 players, including five newcomers from Voorheesville and two from Schalmont, which will help the team endure the typical bumps and bruises of the hockey season. Whether it helps them earn any league wins is another matter.
Last year: 4-10-1 league (seventh place), 7-15-1 overall
The Cadets have leading scorer Logan Discanio back for another season, but they must replace starting goaltender Zach Hurst, who posted a 3.69 goals against average last season. The battle for that position is between brothers Kyle and Zac Rentz.
Last year: 3-10-0 league (ninth place), 6-15-1 overall
Things don’t figure to get much better for the Mohawks this season after they lost leading scorer Kevin Canty and starting goaltender James Blanchfield to graduation. Junior Joey Laurange is the leading returning scorer after posting 9 goals and 23 assists last year, while Tony Cotugno takes over as the everyday goaltender.
Saratoga Blue Streaks
Last year: 13-0-0 (league champions), 19-5-1 overall
Let’s be clear: the cupboard is not bare in Saratoga Springs. The Blue Streaks still have two of their top four scorers from a year ago — Jake Fauler and Jonathan Luse — and a wealth of young, talented players coming up through the youth league pipeline. Where they may be vulnerable is between the pipes following the graduation of Tom Fornabia, who posted a 14-3-1 record an a 2.05 goals against average last year. If the goaltending becomes shaky, Saratoga’s reign as champs could be in jeopardy.
Last year: 2-9-1 league (10th place), 4-16-1 overall
The rebuilding process continues in Colonie, as the Jets must overcome the graduation of key offensive players Jimmy Morrison and Mark Egan. Sophomore Tyler Wilson will look to improve on his freshman season, when he scored 11 goals and added 14 assists, while junior Ali Caruso returns between the pipes after splitting time with Connor Harris last season.
Last year: 8-3-0 league (third place), 9-12-0 overall
The key factor for Shen is the return of head coach Juan de la Rocha from a one-year sabbatical. If de la Rocha can get his young team playing the way some of his previous teams have played, the Plainsmen will be a force to be reckoned with once again.
Last year: 3-9-1 league (eighth place), 3-17-1 overall
The one player who kept the Spartans competitive last year — goaltender Teddy Nolan — graduated. So now, the Spartans have to hope leading scorers Ryan Mosher, Austin Gordon and Erik Conboy can raise their levels of play to give them a better attack after accounting for a total of 20 goals and 20 assists in 2015-16.
Last year: 6-6-0 league (sixth place), 11-12-0 overall
Jared Thomas is back for his junior season with the Rivermen after tying Saratoga’s Jake Fauler for second place among the CDHSHL’s scoring leaders (22 goals, 29 assists). Junior Jordan Willis (13 goals, 16 assists) gives Tri-Falls a strong second scoring option.
Associate editor/sports editor