YORKTOWN, N.Y. – Joey Bonitatibus, a 2010 Yorktown graduate and All-League winger in his senior year, is back with the hockey program, this time as a coach.
Bonitatibus, who was a four-year varsity player, is one of three co-coaches, along with Joe Lopane (Brewster) and John Veteri (North Salem), for the combined “BYSNS” squad, which consists of Brewster, Yorktown, Somers and North Salem.
“We will be pronouncing it Bisons, like the animal,” Bonitatibus said of his team’s name.
Bonitatibus said it’s an honor to be coaching for his alma mater.
“I come from a big Yorktown family,” said Bonitatibus, who previously was head coach for the Bedford Bears Bantam team. “We bleed green.”
Those who played for Yorktown last year were members of the combined Brewster/Yorktown squad.
That team finished 8-13-1, which including a 4-1 victory as the No. 9 seed, in the opening round of the Section 1 Division 1 Tournament, against No. 8 White Plains at Brewster Ice Arena, before falling to host No. 1 Suffern 8-0 in the quarterfinals.
The top returnees from Yorktown are sophomores, Sava Makarenko and Matthew Mancuso, who Bonitatibus says will each have a strong impact leading the team from the front.
“They both have great skills and a strong sense for the game,” Bonitatibus said. “I expect them to be two of our top performers this year.”
A top newcomer from Yorktown is sophomore Hart Nullet.
“I expect Hart to play a strong role on defense,” Bonitatibus said. “His size and skills should certainly come in handy.”
Francesca Manglone, Allen Rondel, Michael D’erasmo, Oleksandr (Alex) Helyukh, Cal Duff, Dylan Delaney, and Hawken Hellebo, are the other players from Yorktown who the BYSNS will rely on.
One of the BYSNS’ strengths as a team is their diversity.
“We have a lot of variety, given all the schools coming together,” Bonitatibus said. “We have strong goaltending, and our team is very young, leaving a lot of room to grow.”
The expectations among the team are high.
“The expectation among the coaches is to win a section title,” Bonitatibus said. “Our goals are above that.”
The BYSNS will start their season at 8 a.m. Friday, Nov. 29 against Rye Town in the Guy Matthews Thanksgiving Invitational Hockey Tournament, at Ebersole Hockey Rink in White Plains, then play Mahopac the following day at 9 a.m.
Their Dec. 1 matchup will depend on the results of the first two games.
A big key in getting off to a good start will be how the players come together as a team, Bonitatibus said.
“It will just be a matter of time until they can figure out each other’s play style and adapt,” Bonitatibus said.
Lakeland/Panas, which includes players from Lakeland, Walter Panas, Hendrick Hudson, Haldane and Putnam Valley, also opens the season at the same invitational in White Plains.
The Rebels were scheduled to start their season on Nov. 27 against Horace Greeley and then play Clarkstown at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30.
Like the BYSNS, the Rebels’ Dec. 1 matchup will also depend on their first two games.
“This should be a fun year,” said Bart Mucci, Lakeland/Panas’ 20th-year coach. “I’m excited about this group.”
Lakeland’s P.J. Kowal, a senior defenseman, and junior forwards, Joseph Jimenez and Jack Tuite, and Hen Hud’s Nick Perez, a defenseman, are the Rebels’ top returning players.
Kowal, Jimenez and Tuite are the Rebels’ captains.
“We expect them to lead by example and play the right way,” Mucci said. “All three are very capable players who we will count on all season,” Mucci said.
Two freshmen, Lakeland’s Frankie Kowal (forward) and Hen Hud’s Colin Cody (defenseman), and Putnam Valley sophomore forward Andrew Dzubak, will be needed to replace the production lost to graduation, Mucci said.
John Corso, Anthony Colasanti, Billy Goss, A.J. Knopf, Nick Mele, and Brendan Morea, are the other players that will be counted on from Lakeland.
“We are a good skating team that can push the pace,” Mucci said. “Up tempo is how we like to play, which should translate to goals.”
Lakeland/Panas will look to build on last season, where they finished 6-13-1.
As the No. 12 seed, they lost to No. 5 Mahopac, 4-2, in the Section 1 Division 1 Tournament, at the Brewster Ice Arena, after clinching a playoff berth with a 7-4 victory against Fox Lane in their regular-season finale.
One of the Rebels goals this season is to win their league.
“We are in League 3 this season, it’s a step up for us,” Mucci said. “We also want to qualify for the Section 1 Tournament and win a game or two.”