Head coach: Brendon Herr, eighth year (71-68-11 career record)
Last year: Chatham had an uncharacteristically down year, as it finished 5-14-1 with a 2-6 record in the Mennen. It defeated Madison late in the season to clinch the fourth-seed in the Mennen Cup, where it took Morris Knolls-Hills to overtime behind a 46-save performance from Michael Park. Unfortunately, it fell, 3-2 in the extra session to end its season.
Key losses: Michael Park, G (.860 sv%); Danny Koehler, F (8 g., 4 a.); Tommy Sennett, F (2 g., 7 a.); Timmy Triano, F (6 g., 5 a.).
Top returners: Ryan Burke, D, Sr. (8 g., 13 a.); Doyle Curry, D, Sr. (1 g., 7 a.); Ronan Curry, F, Sr. (4 g., 1 a.); Dillon Gagliardi, D, So.; Matt Nacinavich, D, So. (10 g., 4 a.); Isaac Suh, F, So. (3 g., 7 a.); Connor Gilleece, F, Jr. (5 g., 5 a.); Nate May, G, Jr.
Potential incoming impact players: Nikita Konevych, D, So.; Snowden Lange, G, Fr.
Burning question: Can Chatham take a big step forward this season?
The Cougars had one of its toughest years in recent memory, with a combination of injuries and inexperience leading to struggles. This year though, it has a very strong group of players coming back which should continue to improve. The pieces appear to be in place for a quick turnaround.
Outlook: Chatham will have as good of a defensive group as you’ll find in the area, between Burke, Doyle Curry, Nacinavich, and Konevych. The forwards should also provide some pop as well with Ronan Curry, Isaac Suh, and Connor Gilleece. Goalie Nate May will have the unenviable task of taking over in net from a standout in Michael Park, who nearly willed this team to the Mennen Cup final last winter.
Chatham has a long tradition of being a solid program that can make deep runs in the state tournament. Last year was an exception, and expect this team to find itself right in the mix in the Mennen Division as well as in the state tournament once again.
E-mail Mike Gurnis at firstname.lastname@example.org
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