Junior Brogan Hurst is the captain for the Belmont-Gilford hockey team this season, and the defenseman is expected to be one of the top players in Division III. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 16, 2013REGION – Jay Londer says it's the deepest team he's had during his tenure with the Belmont-Gilford hockey team. There's experience and talent up and down the Bulldogs lineup, traits that will hopefully get the squad back to the Final Four after a quarterfinal loss ended B-G's season just a bit short last winter.
"We're definitely motivated," said Londer, whose team lost to Kennett in the quarters after a 12-7 season. "We've got key character guys in leadership positions and we're able to roll three lines with six (defensemen) for the first time ever."
B-G has certainly had a run of success in recent years, as the squad reached the Final Four two years ago before falling to Alvirne in overtime at Everett Arena in Concord. The 'Dogs will look to return, though the team will have to replace five seniors lost to graduation. That includes 100-point scorer Jeremy D'Amour, the team's leading scorer a season ago.
"We're looking to be a threat with everybody this year," Londer explained. "We got into the playoffs against Kennett last year and their goal was to shut (Jeremy) D'Amour down and we lost the game. We're hoping when we get into March, we have a well-rounded team that they can't really focus on any one player."
B-G does have a star in a position of power this winter, as junior Brogan Hurst (Gilford) is the team's captain after two standout years for the Bulldogs. The defenseman will anchor a blue line unit that is loaded with experience, though he will likely see time all over the ice.
"He's our captain, best player and hardest worker on our team," lauded Londer of Hurst. "Everything comes through him so he doesn't have to say much, people just watch. He did a lot stuff in the offseason and I think all-around he's the best player in the league – someone's going to have to really prove me wrong. But he's going to be unstoppable, he can play any position and he can play a whole game if he had to. I couldn't speak higher of our captain."
Joining Hurst on the top defensive pair is classmate Daryll Cahill (Belmont), who provides a physical presence but can also find the back of the net from distance.
"In my opinion, they're the best two defensemen in the area," Londer said. "They play very well together and they'll play a ton of minutes."
Joining the pair on defense is senior Will Mahoney (Gilford), junior Nikolai Fernandez (Belmont), freshman James Buckley (Gilford) and junior Powell Wilson, who returns after not playing as a sophomore.
That unit will be charged with protecting senior goalkeeper Calvin Davis (Belmont), who returns between the pipes after a solid junior season.
"He's been good," said Londer of Davis. "He's lightyears ahead of last year and he does a lot of offseason stuff, plays all season long. The better the competition, the better he plays."
The offense is deep with several returning starters. Sophomore Caleb Drouin (Belmont) played on the top line as a freshman, and he's grown both physically and skill-wise in between seasons.
"He's night and day from what he was last year," said Londer of Drouin. "He's going to be a tough kid to handle and he's got a rocket for a shot."
Junior Andrew D'Amour (Belmont) also returns, and he'll be a steady playmaker up front for the Bulldogs once again next to Drouin. Sophomore Dylan Treamer (Belmont) saw key minutes as a freshman, and Londer has high hopes for his young forward.
"He might be our best forward to be honest with you," Londer said. "He's been playing out of his mind so far. He and Drouin have chemistry and I wouldn't be shocked if they put up 50 points each this year. They'll score goals against key teams as well."
Senior Jason Taylor (Belmont) will center the third line, and the steady veteran presence will log a lot of minutes, especially on the penalty kill.
Senior Brandon Sheppard (Belmont), juniors Jamie Gill (Gilford), Kris Shepard (Gilford) and Beck Stecher (Gilford), sophomores Jeremiah Freeman (Gilford), Christian Karagianis (Gilford) and Sarah Lachapelle (Gilford) and freshmen Nate Bowler (Belmont), Bailey Defosie (Gilford) and Ethan Becker (Belmont) round out the roster, making for a very deep squad that Londer will be able to utilize in a variety of ways. Becker and Bowler will jump into the mix right away as freshmen.
B-G will aim for a top four seed this winter, though Division III is expected to be a well-balanced league once again.
"I think the league is pretty deep," Londer explained. "You've got teams like John Stark, Kennett and Souhegan up there and then Laconia and Portsmouth will also be pretty good. It's going to be a good year."
The Bulldogs were slated to open the season at Laconia Ice Arena against Kennett last night, though they'll miss out on a scheduled game this Saturday because Hollis-Brookline has dropped its program for the winter. B-G will then compete in the Kennett Hockey Invitational on Dec. 27 and 28, with Kennett, Berlin and several Maine teams participating at Ham Arena. The regular season kicks back into gear against Laconia on Jan. 4 at LIA.