Milford Indians came ready to play hockey

As soon as his players emerged from their locker room last week and hit the ice for their first practice in anticipation of the 2015-16 high school hockey season, Milford Co-op boys hockey head coach Sal Follo saw early signs that he hasn’t seen in years.

Right away, it produced an air of confidence with him and his coaching staff of Bob Riordan (11 years) and Vinnie Corso (9 seasons).

“These kids got out there and they were ready to go,” said Follo, who enters his 22nd season at Milford and 25th (three at East Haven) overall. “They had their legs under them right away. We went to work and got started. We were able to do things early on that we’ve hadn’t been able to do in years. It makes you feel good.”

The Indians will need a quick start in order to establish themselves among the best of teams in the state’s Division II rankings. Traditionally, it’s the strongest and deepest division among the three in Connecticut.

They’ll need to do coming off a season in which seven seniors graduated. Milford has qualified for the Division II state tourney the past four seasons, reaching the semifinals in 2013-14 before losing to Amity Regional, 5-4.

There are gaps that will need to be filled following the departure of goalie Sean Rowland (900 minutes played, 64 goals allowed and a 3.20 goals-against percentage), defenseman Charles Knights, Jarrod Butts and Jon DiPascale, forwards Bray Dennigan (11 goals, eight assists), Colin DiPisa (eight goals, two assists) and David McLenithan (six goals, three assists). DiPascale contributed 16 points, including 14 assists from his defense position and Knights added another nine.

Two years ago, behind high-goal production from Zach White, the Indians scored 86 goals. Last year, that total was down to 56.

“Our biggest loss was in goal,” Follo said. “Sean started every game and played pretty much every minute.”

Follo will have four goalies, a luxury among high school teams, however. In the group are junior Kevin Kwalek (Foran); sophomore Edward Watt (Platt Tech) and a pair of freshmen in Doug Tangredi (Jonathan Law) and Luke Alfano (Foran).

“We’ll need to be strong defensively to offer those goalies some protection,” Follo said. “I’m confident that we’ll do that.”

Back on defense are senior Nash Ericson (Law) and sophomores Jake Burwell (Foran) and Jason Lavallee (Foran).

The strength of the team lies in its offense, where the Indians should be able to skate three lines.

“I like what we have back there,” Follo said. “Right now, those lines aren’t set as of yet. We’re still doing some tweaking.

The top candidates up front are senior captain Brandon Argyros from Law (12-8-20), junior Andrew Gobany of Platt Tech (7-4-11), senior Jacob Comeau of Law (4-7-11) and fellow senior Luke Gibbs of Foran. Freshman Tommy Kuryla of Foran will also figure into the picture.