Down the Cape the Barnstable High School boys’ ice hockey team is getting a lot of preseason love and hype. MyHockeyLive ranked the Red Raiders inside their preseason top 10, and coach Tim Grace’s team has been the subject of a recent big newspaper feature.
In that same ranking, below the numbered teams, in the “best of the rest,” is where Falmouth High can be found. By the end of the season the Clippers very well could move up that list significantly, and that is the plan.
Coach Paul Moore’s 2019-20 squad has the potential to be one of the better Clipper’ clubs in recent memory. With a strong collection of returning players, as well as an influx of talent from the transfer ranks, this year’s team seems primed for big things.
“I like the kids on this team. We have some quality kids, and good chemistry and the leadership is good,” Moore said. “That to me has more value. It’s a priority, and when it comes together, you can make a special season out of it. I think we have the kids to do it.”
Chemistry and individual responsibility to the collective are major factors, Moore said. The coach brought in a Navy SEAL to speak to and motivate the club this week, and believes that his team can flourish if it sticks to the “core values” that they are laying out together in the days leading up to their opener Saturday, December 14, against Dennis-Yarmouth.
“You can’t win without that stuff, and the team creates those core values,” the coach said.
That roster of players appears to have the makes of a high-scoring unit. When the Clippers have their full complement of talent they are very deep on the forward lines. There will be many games this year where the Clippers will go four lines strong.
Falmouth’s top line will feature the two top scorers from last year’s team, senior co-captain Nick Champani (20 goals, 13 assists) and Stone Devlin (17 goals, 12 assists). The duo have great chemistry together, and their speed is problematic for most opponents. Joining them is former Xaverian forward Eric Wainwright, who moved to Falmouth for his senior year. The former Hawk was the fourth-leading goal scorer for the private school last season, with 11 goals and five assists.
Falmouth’s second line did not produce the numbers that the first did a year ago, but very well could see a nice uptick in production with another year under its belt. Junior Harry Hennessy moved from the wing to the center spot last year later in the season and things clicked for him there. Moore said he’s excited to see what Hennessy can do with a full season at center. On the wings will be Daren McDonald, a sophomore who could be the fastest player on the ice on any given night, and senior Jake McKenzie, who has a big-time shot and lots of skill. McKenzie had seven goals each of the last two seasons.
The third line to start the year has sophomore Kevin Coyne centering Matt Maccini and Max McDonald. Coyne’s dedication to improving during the offseason has been apparent, and with a year of varsity experience under his belt he could be primed for big things. Maccini brings senior leadership and experience to that pairing and McDonald showed flashes of brilliance as a sophomore.
The rest of the forwards could all see lots of ice time as well. Sophomores Andrew DeBettencourt, Cole Johnsen and Aaron Schlezinger are all players who will be relied upon heavily in the years to come. Freshman Cole Spellman was one of the most pleasant surprises of the preseason and has shown promise and senior James Marathas will round out a loaded group of forwards.
On the back end, the Clippers look like they’ve gotten better as well. Senior co-captain Jack Hamilton has been steadily improving throughout his high school hockey career and became one of the most dependable blue liners on the squad last year. Sophomore Kyle Souza played a regular shift last year and was excellent at times, and classmate Tommy Peterson is a standout on the power play and is another Clipper who dedicated himself to improving his game. Newcomer Drew Scolaro is the other transfer from Xaverian, who gives the team an instant jolt of excitement on defense. An offensive defenseman, Scolaro is not afraid to lead the rush and step up into the play to make things happen.
Senior Jonah Schlezinger, freshman Jonny Yarbrough and junior Joe Beaudoin round out the defensive corps for the Clippers. Schlezinger plays physical hockey and has matured as a player; Beaudoin also is not afraid to level a hit and play his spot. Yarbrough turned heads with a strong preseason and could move up the ladder.
In the goal senior North Wilson will have every chance to take the job and run with it. Wilson was Kevin Duarte’s understudy the last two years and hopes to shine as he steps into the spotlight as the starter against D-Y on night one.
Pushing the senior for playing time will be a pair of freshmen who are hungry for playing time. Stephan Mello and Jack Braga are both competing hard to get on the ice, Moore said.
“I look at what we’ve got and I’m excited. Our first line is very good, our top six is very strong and our expectations are high,” Moore said.