H.S. hockey / 2018-19 preview capsules

Eastern Connecticut's Evan Tower, left, skates past Tri-Town's Michael Shuman during last season's CIAC Division III championship game at Yale University's Ingalls Rink in New Haven. Tower is back to help lead the Eagles, who won their first state title in 2017-18 by defeating Tri-Town 7-3. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Eastern Connecticut's Evan Tower, left, skates past Tri-Town's Michael Shuman during last season's CIAC Division III championship game at Yale University's Ingalls Rink in New Haven. Tower is back to help lead the Eagles, who won their first state title in 2017-18 by defeating Tri-Town 7-3. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

Eastern Connecticut Eagles

Coach: Randy Craig (6th season)

Key returnees: Sr. F Ryan Huta, Sr. F Trent Hughson, Jr. F Will Cannella, Jr. F Kyle Jacobson, Jr. F Evan Tower, Jr. D Jake Verbridge, So. D Devyn Jordan, So. D Kyle Marino, Jr. G Rylin Fowler, Jr. F/D Ashton Baltes.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Alex Mann, So. D Miles Hinckley, So. G Wes Williamson, Fr. F Anthony Gesino.

Outlook: The Eagles started the 2017-18 season with four straight wins and never looked back, finishing 19-3-3 en route to winning the Nutmeg Hockey Conference tournament title and the CIAC Division III championship with a 7-3 win over Tri-Town in the final. The team, a cooperative program featuring athletes from Fitch (host school), East Lyme, Ledyard, Stonington, Waterford, Wheeler, Griswold and Hale-Ray, moves up to Division II this season but returns plenty of firepower and should be a factor at the conference and state level again. The Eagles "should be another high-scoring, fun team to watch," said Craig, whose offense features dangerous forwards Huta, Tower, Jacobsen and Cannella, while Jordan and Marino anchor a defense in front of the veteran Fowler.

Redhawks

Coach: Jim Motyka (4th year)

Key returnees: Jr. F Ryan LoVetere, Sr. G Spencer Flynn, Sr. D Colin Larkin, Sr. F Chris Samek, So. F Steve Turchetta.

Top newcomers: Sr. F Justin Rezaz, So. D Joe Cafro, So, F Jimmy Enos.

Outlook: The Redhawks, a cooperative program featuring players from NFA (host school), Bacon Academy, Killingly, Lyman Memorial, Montville, Norwich Tech and St. Bernard, went 4-16 last season and were hit hardest by graduation losses to their top scorers. They do return Flynn, an all-state pick, in goal, and a dangerous player in LoVetere. Motyka said the key will be how quickly some of the program's talented newcomers develop.

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