Roxbury 2021-22 preview: Defensemen key for young roster

ROXBURY GAELS

Head coach: Jon Benbow, 18th year (206-165-39 career record).

Division: Halvorsen

Last year: Roxbury finished 7-7 overall with a 3-5 record in the Halvorsen Division. It reached the Halvorsen Cup final, where it lost, 5-0 to Madison.

Key losses: Ryan Callahan, G; Randy Depalma, F; Kyle Jenkins, D; Jake Kooyenga, F; Nick Thomas, F; Brian Westergaard, F.

Top returners: Gavin Barooah, D, So.; Jake Calanni, F, Jr.; Joe DiDomenico, D, Sr.; Stephen Ellison, F, Jr.; Sean Hardy, F, So.; Stephen Keane, F, Sr.; Chase McGowan, D, Sr.; Tyler Petersen, D, Jr.; Gavin Woudenberg, D, Jr.

Newcomers: Mikey Guadagnino, G, Fr.; A.J. Mancuso, F, So.; Julianna Pizzo, F, Jr.; Ryan VanZile, F, Fr.

Outlook: There will be significant holes to fill after graduating 11 seniors, including its two top scorers in defenseman Kyle Jenkins and forward Nick Thomas. In total, the team graduated 29 of its 37 goals from last year.

Roxbury figures to be inexperienced up front, but will have a strong defense which will be counted on to hold the fort for the Gaels in 2021-22. That defense is led by senior captain Joe DiDomenico (3 g., 1 a.), along with senior Chase McGowan (3 a.), sophomore Gavin Barooah, and juniors Tyler Petersen and Gavin Woudenberg. Their ability to get the puck out of the zone quickly will be of the utmost importance to make things easier for freshman goalie Mikey Guadagnino.

Up front, the team’s top returning forward is junior Jake Calanni (4 g., 1 a.). Junior Stephen Ellison, sophomore Sean Hardy, senior Stephen Keane will all be counted on to step up this season. Look for newcomers in A.J. Mancuso, Julianna Pizzo, and Ryan Vanzile to also have an impact on a position that will be very important after graduating so much offense from last year.

Roxbury appears to be a team with a very promising future with so many underclassmen expected to contribute this year. If this team is going to have a say in how the Halvorsen Division shakes out, it will need to find a way to replicate the offense it lost from last year, and it will need to play strong defense- which is the most experienced aspect of the team.

E-mail Mike Gurnis at michaelgurnis@gmail.com

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