The 2023 CIAC Boys Ice Hockey Midseason Report

The 2023 Ice Hockey midseason report.

The 2023 Ice Hockey midseason report.

Hearst Connecticut Media/Designed by Pete Paguaga

Boys hockey teams are passing the midpoints of their seasons. The CIAC announced where it’ll be playing its championships, and for the first time since 2019 there will be a full championship week in one spot, now at Quinnipiac. Is it too early to think about what that week may look like? Yes, yes it is, but we’ll do it anyway. Here’s one person’s look at the first half of the season; your look may vary.

Top players

Tye Battipaglia, Notre Dame-West Haven: The senior forward missed the No. 1 Green Knights’ first five games recovering from an offseason hand injury. Since his return, going into Wednesday, he had 13 points, including seven goals, in his first five games.

Doster Crowell, New Canaan: The Rams’ junior forward picked up where he left off last year, putting up 24 points in the Rams’ first 10 games, including two goals in their tie with Darien.

Max Festa, Sheehan: On Twitter, @mtshockey posts the Titans’ scoring summaries after games, and Festa always seems to have at least one “(2x)” or “(3x)” or “(4x)” trailing his name under goals and assists. That’s one big reason the sophomore forward is creeping up on 100 points: After the last game, he also had a (96) next to his name on the tweet.

Sean Mercogliano, Housatonic co-op: The junior forward’s 18 points show up on the state leaderboard, and yes, seven in his last game make him a bit more visible, but still: He has 18 points, and his team has 21 goals. Respectable percentage.

Connor Zavory, Fairfield: The co-op is pretty good at pushing the puck the other way and keeping it away from Zavory’s net, but still, the senior goalie is a big part of why the team has just 16 goals against in 11 games and won the Mount St. Charles Holiday Faceoff.

Top teams

Darien: Last year’s runners-up have sat second in the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll all season and get their first of two chances at defending champion Notre Dame-West Haven this weekend. They’re one of only two teams left in the state without a loss, despite a run of three straight ties.

Notre Dame-West Haven: The Green Knights have been No. 1 in the poll for a full calendar year now and unanimously so for most of that time. Deep and potent, they are just about done with an out-of-state schedule that should have them sharp for an attempted repeat.

Fairfield: Again opted out of the state tournament because of CIAC rules for co-ops, the team says it’s focused on other goals. Until a Tuesday loss at Greenwich, it was one of three state teams without a loss, coming off a win over New Canaan, and won a prestigious holiday tournament in Rhode Island.

Newington co-op: Midway through the season, Newington’s top four scorers have 16, 15, 14 and 13 points: tough to share the load more than that. Last year’s Division III champion has just one loss through 10 games, to defending Division II champion Wethersfield. It will have competition but has made itself a favorite to repeat.

North Haven: The Nighthawks have won 31 of their past 32 games. The 32nd was Wethersfield’s victory in the 2022 Division II championship. There’s unfinished business for North Haven on the way to March and unfinished business once it gets there, but on the way so far it has three wins against Division I teams and beat another Division II contender, Woodstock Academy. A Wethersfield rematch, maybe the first of two, waits in late February.

Surprise teams

Conard: Let’s start this five-team list with three that are more surprises of scale than surprises of... surprise. With Conard, you could start in the middle of last season, when the team was 4-8-1, then went on a run to the Division III final. The Red Wolves lost a championship-game rematch to the Newington co-op on opening night and haven’t lost since, taking an 11-1 record into the weekend. A rematch of the rematch with Newington is coming up next week.

New Canaan: Your three-year all-state starting goaltender departs for prep school, and you don’t really miss a beat? The Rams’ two losses at the midpoint are one in overtime and another by one goal plus an empty-netter, and juniors Nick Hussar and Mason Pickering have done fine replacing Beau Johnson in net.

New Milford: The Green Wave were 13-6-1 each of the past two full regular seasons, but no one really called them out in the preseason. They announced themselves pretty quickly with wins over two Division II teams and are 7-2. Senior Theo Dietter has two points a game.

St. Joseph: If 5-7-0 doesn’t scream surprise, consider that the Cadets haven’t had a winning year since 2015-16, when they went to the FCIAC final. They haven’t won seven games in a season since 2016-17. They beat Ridgefield early on and have been within two goals of two top-10 teams, Fairfield and Darien.

Simsbury: Yeah, we should’ve listened: The preseason buzz on the Trojans wasn’t widespread, but where it existed, it ran deep. They hopped into the GameTimeCT Top 10 Poll at new year’s and have hung around since. Even if they’re not playing a top-10-heavy schedule (they’re 1-1 against the top 10, with a loss to New Canaan and a win over Northwest Catholic), they’re still 9-1-1.; @fornabaioctp