Boys hockey: Warriors hope to usher in new era

The Wilton High boys hockey team looks to put last year's 2-17-1 season behind it when the Warriors begin a new era today in their season opener.

Wilton plays Newtown today at 5:30 at Danbury Ice Arena.

With many of their top players back, and with the addition of some talented newcomers, the Warriors have the talent to put last year behind them.

“There’s still that recognition that last year was tough, and they want this year to be different,” said new head coach John Miserendino, who expects some growing pains early on.

“Having a new coach and different system, it’s going to take time. We’ve got a strong core group and a bunch of young kids who have to get acclimated to the competitive level of high school,” he said.

Miserendino replaces Brett Amero, who stepped down as head coach after 11 years at the helm.

Wilton returns 12 players from last year’s team, including its top three forwards and both goalies.

Defense, the team’s strength last season, will be the big question mark with the graduation of top defensemen in Henry Hovland, Jake Tucker, Harrison Koch and Derek Thomas.

The defense does return senior tri-captain Liam Rance, who will team up on the first defensive line with freshman Thomas McHugh, whom Miserendino describes as “a big, strong, really skilled young player.”

Returning juniors Luke Terradista and Jack DiNanno will form the second defensive unit, with senior Michael Lindberg and freshman Kevin Fung also seeing time on defense.

The goal situation is solid, with the team’s top two goalies from a year ago back in junior Chris Randolph and sophomore Alex Sywak — both of whom saw significant action last year.

Randolph will open the season at the No. 1 goalie and has impressed his new coach so far.

“He’s going to be our backbone. He’s really something special. He’s got a lot of responsibility and he’s ready for it,” Miserendino said.

Sywak, for his part, played “lights out” in goal at last week’s jamboree, said Miserendino.

Scoring was a problem last season, with the Warriors tallying only 34 goals in 20 games. It’s something the team is working hard on during the preseason.

“We might have some of the same issues as last year — scoring goals seems to be the big bugaboo. They know what they struggled with last year and they’re trying to work it out this year,” said the coach.

Wilton does return its top two scorers from last year in senior captains Peter Koch and Alec Biegen, who are back on the first line. They will be joined by a “very talented” new sophomore, Brandon Jonsson.

Biegen last season earned Division 2 second-team all-state honors.

Three returning juniors will make up the second forward line — John Fung, Caleb Worley and Jack DiNanno. Sophomores Connor Drake and Henry Murphy will also see shifts on the forward lines.

“We’re going to have to work very hard to find goals. We have some skilled players. We don’t have that one superstar who’s going to score a couple of goals every game,” said Miserendino. “We have to grind it out and find goals. It’s going to be a process, but we’ll find a way to get it done.”
— J.B. Cozens