Indians have the experience to succeed

The Milford Indians are preparing for the rigors of the recently merged SWC-SCC ice hockey conference that will feature eleven Division II teams.

Head coach Sal Follo is optimistic about the Indians chances of another post-season run.

“We did lose a few players to graduation, Robert Buskey and Gerald Villecco, along with Jay Sleath and Corbin Cuggenheim,” said Follo of his 12-9 squad. “But for the most part we have our entire defense back and our leading scorer.

“We have twenty-eight kids, the team is healthy and we can roll out three solid lines. Our strength will be in our overall balance as a team.”

The Indians followed up the 2011-12 campaign that saw the Indians go 13-9 reaching the quarterfinals of the Division II playoffs, by putting on a late run last season winning five straight to reach the postseason for the second year in a row.

Milford showed a lot of potential early on, putting together a pair of three-game winning streaks. The Indians did lose two games by one goal and four more by two goals, and they are looking to turn those decisions around with a squad that gained a lot of experience.

Senior captains Zach White, Will Vitelli and Ben Lavallee will lead the way for the Indians, who also return two senior goalies with John DePalma and Noah Ericson.

White was the area’s scoring leader with 61 points last season, and Vitelli proved to be a capable scorer with 15 goals and 11 assists.

Joining the scoring attack is junior Jonathan DePascale, who will move from defense to wing after putting up 16 points last season.

“We can put three solid lines together with our leading scorer White, along with Vitelli and DePascale,” said Follo. “I really think the competition in the conference will be fierce with the merger of the two leagues.

“That is where we are going to lean on our defenders to get us through. DePalma and Ericson have both done well in the preseason and they have experience. I have a lot of confidence in both of them in the net for us.”

Lavallee leads the defensive unit. Three juniors — Charles Knight 6-4, 178 pounds, Colin DiPisa 5-10, 195 pounds and David McLenithan 5-10, 175 pounds — can certainly clear the way out in front.

Junior Jarrod Butts proved to be a tenacious defender last year and adds to the units’ overall experience.

The Indians will also have some experience on the wings, with seniors Danny Cyr, Larry Shea and Dylan Hallett adding to the scoring strength of the three lines.

Junior Brady Dennigan and sophomore Brandon Argyros will also be key components in the Indians’ scoring success.

“I think the league is going to be wide open and a lot more competitive than it has been in a while,” Follo said. “The league will have Division I, Division II and Division III teams.”

“Our guys have been working hard in the preseason and we have done pretty well so far. We do have some depth and we are looking for some of the younger kids to step up and fill some roles.”

The Indians were slated to get the season under way with Trinity Catholic on Dec. 18.

On Saturday at 1 p.m., Milford will host North Branford at the Milford Ice Pavilion.