Yorktown’s ice-hockey squad won the League I-B title before competing in the Section 1 Division 2 playoffs, falling as the No. 3 seed to No. 6 Pelham 7-1 in the quarterfinals to finish a successful 14-8 campaign last year.
The Huskers will be led this winter by senior captains, all-league forward Liam Donnelly, all-league honorable mention forward/defenseman Shaun Benson and all-league goalie Madison Drezek.
Donnelly and Benson will lead an offense that can put the puck in the net.
“They are two solid players who move the puck well,” Yorktown eighth-year coach Bob Fritsche said. “They will be skating on a line together with Anuj Gupta. My second line is going to be just as good. We have two solid lines and three lines total. We are low in numbers this year like last year but I feel that throughout our league schedule we should be OK. We have to take it one game at a time, that’s all we can do.”
Drezek will give the Huskers someone in goal who can effectively stop the puck.
“She’s coming off an ankle injury from the summer but in practice she’s looking like Madison,” Fritsche said. “She should have a good year as long as we get the defense in front of her. She just signed with Adrian University out in Michigan to play hockey.”
Gupta, a junior forward, senior defenseman Jean-Marc Groux, junior defenseman Sepp Boeschl and sophomore forward Cian Keohane are the Huskers’ other key returning skaters with freshman forward Justin Groux, Jean-Marc’s brother, being a key newcomer.
Yorktown starts its season in the White Plains Tournament. The Huskers will play at 8 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 27 against White Plains, then take on Rye Town/Harrison at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28 before finishing with Clarkstown at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29.
Looking to turn things around after a rebuilding campaign last season is Lakeland/Panas and it has the experienced talent returning to do just that.
“Our main team goal would be to qualify for sectionals,” Lakeland/Panas 16th year coach Bart Mucci said. “Last year the experience they all got is going to be huge. They realize they needed to step it up and you can tell a lot of them did a lot of work in the offseason. We are a little bigger, faster and stronger. Expectations I wouldn’t say high but a lot better than they were last year, for sure.”
Leading the Rebels are senior co-captains, all-league honorable mention goalie Jimmy Rathschmidt and defenseman Tim Rucci.
“They are strong leaders,” Mucci said. “Jimmy has been a good goaltender, this is his fourth season now. Timmy is also a four-year letterman, he’s making the switch to defense. He’s been a forward before this year. He’s showing the leadership and sacrifice to change up and play defense where we need him.”
Key returning players from the Rebels’ junior class are forwards, alternate captain and all-league honorable mention Anthony Cappello, Matt Silcocks and Kyle Carroll.
“They are going to be the guys carrying the load scoring wise,” Mucci said. “Last year they did it as well and now as 11th graders they should really be starting to come into their own.”
Forward Paige Sullivan, a returnee from the Rebels’ sophomore class, will also provide solid offensive play at her forward position.
“Paige is really the first female that we’ve had in the program that’s really made an impact,” Mucci said. “She’s a tier one player with the Colonials in New Jersey, with her travel program. She’s a real smart hockey player, she will put the puck in the net.”
Lakeland/Panas starts its season at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29 at the Brewster Ice Arena against Brewster.