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2017-18 high school hockey preview

By: Warren Mayes


It’s time to drop the puck again on the high school hockey season.
CBC will be attempting to win the Challenge Cup for the fifth consecutive year.
Coach John Jost begins his 20th season leading the Cadets, who have won 12 titles in his tenure. Jost was recently inducted into the St. Louis Hockey Hall of Fame.
In player news, one sophomore and one junior already has given a verbal commitment.
MICDS goalie Jack Williams has announced he will sign with Michigan State when he is old enough. Westminster Christian Academy junior Cole McWard has committed to play in college with the to University of Michigan.
MICDS coach John Mattingly Jr. is happy to have Williams in net for the Rams. He believes his Rams will contend for the Wickenheiser Cup championship this winter.
Marquette coach Gary Tockman welcomes back most of his Mustangs from last year’s squad that won 14 games in reaching the second round of the Wickenheiser Cup. This year, Tockman wants to see his Mustangs play well and be good enough to get into the Challenge Cup.
There are two new coaches this winter for West County teams.
Chris Durso takes over behind the bench at De Smet Jesuit after Dan Heffington left after one season with the Spartans. Durso inherits a 14-win team that has several veterans returning to play.
Dean Penberthy is the new coach at Westminster Christian Academy. Westminster won the Wickenheiser Cup last season for its first championship. Former coach Mike Richards stepped down after last season to pursue his career with the AAA Blues 14U and the 2005 AAA Blues teams.
Penberty has 10 players back from last year’s squad along with nine newcomers.
Here is a look at the teams in alphabetical order:
CBC CADETS
2016-17 record: 23-5. Won Challenge Cup for fourth consecutive year with a 4-1 win over St. Louis University High.
Coach: John Jost. Entering 20th year as head coach at CBC.
Assistant coaches: Nick Carosello and Randy Staub. All coaches are CBC hockey alums and have been together for 19 years.
Returning number of players: Returning 20 players from last year’s 30-man roster. Fourteen dressed in the championship game last year.
Team captains: Senior Eric Brown. Assistant captains: seniors Joe Gagan, Drake Nickolaison and Van Kraemer.
Players on team to watch for this winter: Senior Jack Caruso will be a huge part of any success CBC will have this year along with forward Eric Brown and defensemen Van Kraemer. Leadership will be critical for us.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Have seven freshmen on the team this year, which could be the most ever. Defenseman Brogan Rumpf and forwards Tom Ramer, Hunter Bulger and Coby Weber should make an impact right away.
Players who have committed to college: None.
Team strengths: Goaltending is our biggest strength along with team depth.
Goals: Like every year, our goal is to improve as a team where we are playing our best hockey heading into February.
Municipal Conference teams: CBC, Chaminade, De Smet Jesuit, Edwardsville, Kirkwood, Lindbergh, Oakville, St. Louis University High and Vianney.
Favorites to win conference: SLUH.
First game: 9 p.m. Nov. 6 versus Edwardsville at Affton.
Final thought: We have a very young team this year so as coaches we are very excited about our group. We have practiced very well as a team so really looking forward to getting the regular season started.
CHAMINADE RED DEVILS
2016-17 record: 9-13-2. Did not get out of pool play in Challenge Cup.
Coach: Kiley Hill. Entering fourth year as head coach at Chaminade.
Assistant coaches: Steve Giacin, Chris Peterson and Matt Lashoff.
Returning number of players: Have 20 players returning who played a varsity game last season.
Team captains: To be determined. Looking for the seniors to provide leadership and we will be naming our captains soon.
Players on team to watch for this winter: Senior forwards Adam Trunko and Alex Stewart along with Vince Servizzi and Daniel Howard. On defense, Jack Kremer and Jacob Behnan. In net, Nick Jacoby, Hampus Blomdahl and Jonathan Struckoff.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Tim Delaney who is a defenseman and transferred to Chaminade.
Players who have committed to college: None
Team strengths: We will rely on our speed and work ethic this year to get us to where we want to go. The kids understand what they need to do this season to get ready for playoffs when it really counts.
Goals: Have a successful season and get better every time we are on the ice. Our expectations like every year are to win; however, there are a number of good solid teams this year which makes it important for these kids to be focused when they touch the ice.
Municipal Conference teams: CBC, Chaminade, De Smet Jesuit, Edwardsville, Kirkwood, Lindbergh, Oakville, St. Louis University High and Vianney.
Favorites to win conference: SLUH.
First game: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 versus Eureka at South County Rink.
Final thought: I am looking forward to seeing the progression our players have made going into the season. Our players understand what is expected and they are hungry to avenge the tough loss to CBC to end our season last year. For our school to be successful, there cannot be a shift taken off and must outwork each team we play this year.
DE SMET JESUIT SPARTANS
2016-17 record: 14-8-1. Did not get out of pool play in the Challenge Cup.
Coach: Chris Durso. Entering his first season as De Smet’s varsity head coach.
Assistant coaches: Casey Ott and Nick Blase.
Team captains: Senior forward Nick Thorpe, junior defenseman Justin Reynolds. Alternate Captains: Senior forwards Owen Benben and Stephen Randazzo and senior defenseman Kenny Gibson.
Players on team to watch for this winter: Senior goalie Will Oliver, senior forwards Nick Thorpe and Owen Benben, junior forward Jack Estes, defensemen Justin Reynolds and Kenny Gibson.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Sophomores Cameron Osdieck and Jacob Kausch and freshmen Jed England and James Wiley.
Players who have committed to college: None.
Team strengths: The team is very deep from top to bottom and will be strong up front and on the defensive end. The team’s goaltending should also be a great strength.
Goals: The team’s goal is to reach a consistent level of play every game and be difficult to play against. This team should have a scrappy identity that we hope will take us all the way to the Challenge Cup final at Scottrade Center.
Municipal Conference teams: CBC, Chaminade, De Smet Jesuit, Edwardsville, Kirkwood, Lindbergh, Oakville, St. Louis University High and Vianney.
Favorites to win conference: SLUH and De Smet Jesuit.
First game: 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 versus Fort Zumwalt West at Queeny Park rink.
Final thought: This is my first year as the varsity head coach at De Smet Jesuit and I’m very excited to be working with a talented coaching staff and a great group of skilled players. We have been working hard during the offseason to create a winning culture both off and on the ice. I think that will help our guys get through the grind of the season and come out on the other end successful. Our conference is tough and there are no easy games. So, we’re going to have to come ready to play each game.

EUREKA WILDCATS
2016-17 record:
9-11-3. Did not get out of pool play in Wickenheiser Cup.
Coach: Kevin Markovitz. Entering eighth year as head coach at Eureka.
Assistant coaches: Scott Brandenburg and Sam Boyer.
Returning number of players: 15 returning with six new to varsity.
Team captains: Senior forward Max Alizadeh and junior forward Mitch Gabel. Alternate captains: Senior defenseman Alec Floyd and senior forward Kyle Waters.
Players on team to watch for this winter: Senior forward Max Alizadeh and sophomore defenseman Jimmy Franklin.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Freshman defenseman Jacob Heuerman.
Players who have committed to college: None.
Team strengths: Team speed. Will be strong defensively.
Goals: Strive for solid three-period effort per game, use team speed from all positions on the ice to create offensive opportunities.
Suburban Conference teams: Eureka, Ladue, Lafayette, Marquette, Parkway South, Parkway West, Summit, Seckman and Westminster Christian Academy.
Favorites to win conference: Marquette and Westminster.
First game: 7 p.m. Thursday versus Chaminade at South County.
Final thought: I am most excited about the makeup of the team from a character standpoint. From player one through 20, we have a group of upstanding, respectable, hardworking players who realize an outstanding effort will lead to positive results.

 LAFAYETTE LANCERS
2016-17 record: 7-13-3. Lost in the first round of the Wickenheiser Cup.
Coach: Jim Carrico. Entering second year as head coach at Lafayette.
Assistant coach: Lafayette hockey graduate Elliot Corwin and Jeff Hansen.
Returning number of players and starters: 14 players. 8 starters.
Team captains: Adam Brown, Nick Hoffman, Matt Schlueter and Drake Waidmann.
Players on team to watch for this winter: The four captains and juniors Markus Kivisikk, Chase Morgan and Colin Stewart.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Junior transfer Markus Kivisikk, who is from New Jersey.
Players who have committed to college: None.
Team strengths: Depth. The forward position as we have many returning starters.
Goals: A positive learning environment for our kids and to continue to improve our skills and hockey understanding each and every day.
Teams in Suburban Conference: Eureka, Ladue, Lafayette, Marquette, Summit, Parkway South, Parkway West, Seckman and Westminster Christian Academy.
Favorites to win conference: Marquette.
First Game: 8:30 p.m. Oct. 30 versus Fort Zumwalt East
Final thought: I am very excited for the season to begin. I know our kids are ready to accept the challenge in front of them.
MARQUETTE MUSTANGS
2016-17 record: 14-7-6. Lost in second round to Edwardsville in Wickenheiser Cup.
Coach: Gary Tockman. Entering second year as head coach at Marquette.
Assistant coaches: Craig Campbell, Gregg Rohlfing and Mikey Selvy.
Returning number of players and starters: We have a couple new faces on our roster this year but for the most part, most of the roster had some sort of varsity experience last season. We have two seniors that will be counted on heavily. Zak Benedek sat out last year and Andres Zonies had only a couple games so that is exciting for them both and to date, they have done a great job.
Team captains: Seniors Sam Mudd, Ethan Natzke and Jake Rapp and junior forward Ben Chase will wear the “C” this year but we expect all our players to lead in some capacity.
Players on team to watch for this winter: As in the past, we are building from the net out. Junior goalie Nik Stewart has waited in the wings for two years playing behind two superb graduated seniors and he now gets his well-deserved chance. He is a dynamic goalie and I don’t think we miss a beat from last year. Our defense is solid and has good size and experience, led by Sam Mudd and Ethan Natzke. Natzke is a former goalie so is solid defensively and Mudd is dynamic and can frustrate other teams defensively and then make offensive plays that leave you scratching your head. Junior Daniel Fridman is a physical force that keeps opposing players honest and logs a ton of minutes for us. Senior forward Jake Rapp is a true power forward and there is a host of younger, very talented forwards. Junior Ben Chase and Trevor Keune are difference makers and juniors Blake Zimmer and Sam Wheeler have really stepped up their games and should have positive results for us. I don’t normally give air time to sophomores and freshman but sophomore Adisen Brueck is a player to watch as he has power, speed and skill that can really turn a game. We have a large sophomore class and each one of them brings something different to the table. They are still growing and maturing but I expect them all to contribute heavily.
Newcomers expected to contribute: We have two younger siblings on the team, Riley Brueck, whose skill and speed will certainly make a splash, and Justin Rapp, who has great hockey sense and grit. Both, while undersized at freshman, have the abilities to play from day one and help us compete. Junior forward Conner Jones is on the roster this year and he is a big, powerful forward that provides a physical presence.
Players who have committed to college: None.
Team strengths: We have been and are again blessed with great goaltending in Stewart and backup Mac Beatrice, who would be a starter at most schools. We spend most of our time teaching and preaching defense to take advantage of our goaltending. Our forwards are young but we have good speed and great skill so I expect them to grow as the season goes on and they get more experience. We do have quite a number of schemes (offensive, defensive and special teams) that keep us from being too predictable so we hope that will give us an edge when we need it.
Goals: As coaches, our goals never change. We want players to come together, support each other and compete every shift of every game. We believe that our game planning and development approach in practice will keep us competitive. We know that when players buy into our systems and the team comes together, winning will take care of itself. As players, I can tell you that they expect to win every game: Win the conference. Win the Silver Skate game versus Lafayette and then be in the Challenge Cup. We can have lots of goals but we stress focusing only on things we can control so try to keep everything in check.
Suburban Conference teams: Eureka, Ladue, Lafayette, Marquette, Parkway South, Parkway West, Summit, Seckman and Westminster Christian Academy.
Favorites to win conference: Not sure there is a favorite to win the conference and we have not done much homework at this point. It is hard to look at the caliber of other teams as there are so many players that miss games or are injured, so the caliber of every team can change greatly from game to game. Where we have had success is in our ability to have in-game adjustments to play against whatever line-up a team has that night. Our players understand our systems and can adapt as needed so I believe that can put us in a position to win the conference.
First game: 8:15 p.m. Oct. 30 versus Summit
Final Thought: This should be a great season for us. We are young but I would not say this is a rebuilding season by any stretch. We have the talent to win and compete with any team in the league so my expectations are still high. We have a lot of work and learning to do but if we didn’t, my coaches and I wouldn’t have anything to do at practice for the next four months right? It is a great group of kids and when they buy in, they will excel.”
MICDS RAMS
2016-17 record: 12-9-4. Lost to eventual champion Westminster Christian Academy in Wickenheiser Cup quarterfinals.
Coach: John Mattingly Jr. Entering second year as head coach in his second reign at MICDS. Previously with MICDS for five seasons and four at De Smet Jesuit as a head coach.
Assistant coaches: Charlie Mohr and Spence Myer, an alumun from class of 2010.
Returning number of players: 20 players.
Team captains: Timmy Meier. Assistant captain: Jacob Lefton.
Players on team to watch for this winter: Sophomore goalie Jack Williams, senior forward Timmy Meier, junior forwards Matt Cowley and Ross Danforth, and junior forward/defense Jacob Lefton.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Freshman J.T. Williamson will be a significant addition to the offense.
Players who have committed to college: Sophomore Jack Williams has committed to Michigan State.
Team strengths: Goaltending will be a core strength as well as a veteran group of forwards and defense.
Goals: To win the Wickenheiser Cup.
Central Conference teams: Clayton, John Burroughs, Lutheran South, MICDS, Northwest, Priory, St. Mary’s, Webster Groves and Whitfield.
Favorites to win conference: The Central should be evenly matched with only a few outliers.
First game: 8:30 p.m. Nov. 11 versus Vianney at Affton.
Final thought: I feel like MICDS is positioned to be a strong Wickenheiser Cup contender this season. We have a very balanced three forward lines and six defensemen. Add in an elite goaltender like Jack Williams, and solid backup with newcomer Riley Clinton, MICDS should have a very exciting season.”
PARKWAY SOUTH PATRIOTS
2016-17 record: 9-7-4. Did not get out of pool play in Challenge Cup.
Coach: Jim Taylor. Entering second year as head coach at Parkway South.
Assistant coaches: John Ferrara, Jon Ranney, and Pat Gifford.
Returning number of players and starters: 12 Players. 6 Starters.
Team captains: Senior forward Daniel Campbell and senior defenseman Jack Taylor. Assistant captains: Senior forward Blake Becker.
Players on team to watch for this winter: All of the returners are capable of major contributions.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Freshmen Jason Gifford and Jack Litteken will be newcomers who will have opportunities to contribute.
Players who have committed to college: None.
Team strengths: Strength will be speed and experience. Have solid senior leadership and a strong junior class that should have a big impact on the offense when the full roster is available.
Goals: Our first goal would be to have a winning record in conference play and earn consideration for another appearance in the Challenge Cup.
Suburban Conference teams: Eureka, Ladue, Lafayette, Marquette, Parkway South, Parkway West, Summit, Seckman and Westminster Christian Academy.
Favorites to win conference: Marquette should be strong again.
First game: 9:30 p.m. Oct. 30 versus Lindbergh at South City.
Final thought: This group has been very coachable so far this season which would typically indicate they’re going to receive and execute systems and game plans very well. They seem committed to each other and to the success of the team rather than the individual so I’m hopeful that will be step one to achieving our goal of an improved conference record and a solid playoff performance to follow.
PARKWAY WEST LONGHORNS
2016-17 record: 3-15-1. Reached semifinals in Founder’s Cup, losing to Francis Howell Central, who had eliminated the Longhorns in the Wickenheiser Cup the year before.
Coach: Nic Zamora. Entering second year as head coach at Parkway West.
Assistant coaches: Andy Mueller, Chad McConnell and goalie coach Mike Poepping.
Returning number of players and starters: As one of the youngest teams in the league last year, the Longhorns only graduated two seniors in the offseason leaving a team with a lot of game experience.
Team captains: To be determined.
Players on team to watch for this winter: Top line is junior Tarek Baig, senior Austin Gast and senior Declan Turin. Defensively, senior Gene Behrens, junior Andrew Aydt, senior Patrick Brawley and sophomore Cole Waddell.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Ty Waddell has already shown the capability of being a key playmaker as a freshman and other players such as junior Jordan Wilkins, junior Rahul Tallam, junior Keegan Sidwell and sophomore Joey Bannister have all stepped up and shown the capability of contributing on the second and third forward lines. Goaltending was the biggest strength of last year’s team and will be again as the Longhorns are returning both of their starting goalkeepers in junior Luke Leahy and sophomore Andrew Meek.
Players who have committed to college: None.
Team strengths: Overall in three preseason games, the Longhorns have proven to be a fast and physical team that displays a blue-collar attitude on the ice.  The most exciting thing about this year’s team is depth.
Goals: Compete in Suburban Conference
Suburban Conference teams: Eureka, Ladue, Lafayette, Marquette, Parkway South, Parkway West, Summit, Seckman and Westminster Christian Academy.
First game: 8:15 p.m. Nov. 3 versus Northwest at Queeny Ice Rink.
Final Thought: Our goal this season is to compete at the highest level in every game that we play and ultimately compete for a championship. These kids are hungry to prove that they belong in the Suburban Conference and they are eager to show the league that the Longhorns are well on their way to bringing the Parkway West hockey program back to glory. We are playing in a tough conference again with two Challenge Cup teams from last season (Parkway South and Marquette) and both of the finalists in the Wickenheiser Cup (Ladue and Westminster).
PRIORY REBELS
2016-17 record: 12-6-3. Did not get out of round robin in Wickenheiser Cup.
Coach: Jeff Smith. Entering fourth year as head coach at Priory.
Assistant coaches: Jason Getz, Sal Revetta and Ryan Atkinson.
Returning number of players: 11 returning skaters and 1 returning goalie.
Team captains: Senior Scott Berni.
Players on team to watch for this winter: Senior forward Scott Berni; juniors Chris Friemel, Sean McAtee and Jesse Au; and sophomore Sawyer Lownsdale.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Sophomore forward Logan Boatright, junior goalie Sam Benoist.
Players who have committed to college: None.
Team strengths: Very balanced team with improved scoring depth and experienced goaltending. Good speed on the blue line.
Goals: Find better consistency and improve the out of conference record. Primed for a deeper playoff run.
Central Conference teams: Clayton, John Burroughs, Lutheran South, MICDS, Northwest, Priory, St. Mary’s, Webster Groves and Whitfield.
Favorites to win conference: Priory and MICDS.
First game: 7 p.m. Nov. 3 versus Wentzville Timberland at Wentzville Ice Arena.
Final thought: While still a relatively young team with only two seniors, we’ve seen overall improvement over the last three seasons. This group has shown great promise at younger levels leading up to this year. We hope that success carries over to the varsity level this season. This is a skilled, energetic squad playing with confidence right now. We’re looking forward to a lot of fun this season.
WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN ACADEMY WILDCATS
2016-17 record: 15-8-6. Won first Wickenheiser Cup championship by defeating Ladue 3-2.  
Coach: Dean Penberthy. Entering his first year as head coach at Westminster.
Assistant coaches: Tom Canfield, 
Sam Canfield, Gannon McWard.
Returning number of players: 10. Have nine first-year players.
Team captains: Seniors Andrew Tipton and Levi Wright. 
Assistant captains are juniors Jack Canfield, Cole McWard and Joe Schroeder.
Players on team to watch for this winter: Levi Wright, Cole McWard, Jack Canfield, Joe Schroeder and Sam Haupfear.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Jeremy Regeon, Jack Bystrom, Michael Woll & Jack Thomas.
Players who have committed to college: Junior Cole McWard has committed to University of Michigan.
Team strengths: Good number of talented upperclassman who will be good leaders to very young team.
Goals: Win Suburban Conference title and be playing best hockey by end of season.
Suburban Conference teams: Eureka, Ladue, Lafayette, Marquette, Parkway South, Parkway West, Seckman, Summit, Westminster Christian Academy.
Favorites to win Suburban Conference: Marquette.
First Game: Monday (Oct. 30) versus Lutheran South at Queeny.
Quote: “This year we will feature a very young lineup, with almost half our roster being made up of freshmen,” Penberthy said. “The kids are working hard on and off the ice to be better players and stewards of the game.  Our expectations are high and we anticipate to compete in a very tough conference and mimic the success we enjoyed last season and years before.  We are fortunate and blessed to have the great support and backing from the Westminster Christian Academy community including students, faculty, and administration.  We look forward to the challenges that face us as a young team and we are excited to see how our young men will grow in ability and confidence as the season progresses.”
WHITFIELD WARRIORS
2016-17 record: 6-13-2. Reached round robin in the Wickenheiser Cup.
Coach: Andrew Kantrovitz. Entering second year as head coach at Whitfield.
Assistant coaches: James Feuerbacher, Ray Schwartzman and Pat O’Connor.
Returning number of players and starters: 10 Players. 6 Starters.
Team captains: Gray Barnes, Eric Dalton, Ari Singer. Alternate captain: Jack Goddard.
Players on team to watch for this winter: Senior defenseman Eric Dalton.
Newcomers expected to contribute: Junior forward Jonathon Nathan. Freshmen forwards Sam Rubenstein and Alex Tischler. Freshmen defensemen Collin McCarthy and Niko Yannakakis.
Players who have committed to college: None.
Team strengths: Great leadership from the juniors and seniors. Above average team speed. A strong group of defensemen. Athletic goaltender. A dangerous group of two-way forwards.
Goals: To have fun and get better every single day. To develop and thrive as hockey players on the ice and as people off of the ice.
Central Conference teams: Clayton, John Burroughs, Lutheran South, MICDS, Northwest, Priory, St. Mary’s, Webster Groves and Whitfield.
Favorites to win conference: I think the conference is much more competitive top to bottom this year. Priory and MICDS should be especially tough.
First game: 7:45 p.m. Nov. 11 versus Clayton at Brentwood Ice Rink.
Final thought: I’m incredibly excited about working with this group of players. We have a good mix of youth and experience and everyone on the roster has a true passion for the game of hockey. We have an excellent group of coaches, parents and players. This is a team that will not be out-competed. I foresee a lot of our players making a significant jump this year and becoming household names around the league.
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