SHSHL Ice Hockey Season Preview (2021-22)

By Jared Roberts

The Suburban High School Hockey League is celebrating its 49th season. There is a lot to expect in the upcoming season from each division, and here is what we are looking at.

Continental Division

Central Bucks East: East is coming off of a season in which they went 6-5-1-1. Under Head Coach Jeff Mitchell, the Patriots will look to blend the old and the new players. Key players include junior Goalie Matt Mangiacapre, who enters play with a 4.24GAA, as well as senior Forward Phil McIntyre with 1 goal and 1 assist on the season. East, currently 1-2 on the season, will take on rival Central Bucks West on Wednesday (Nov. 24).

Central Bucks South: South went 8-6-1 last season under eight-year Head Coach Shaun McGinty and looks to remain sharp out there, with the young players looking to the veterans to set the stage for them. If successful, the Titans will be a force to be reckoned with in the division. Key players include senior forward Daniel Kvecher, who has 3 assists on the season, mixed with sophomore forward D.J. Lindenmuth, who has 2 assists of his own on the season. South currently sits at 0-2-1 and will look to capture their first victory of the season on Nov 24 against North Penn.

Central Bucks West: West comes into the season hoping to have amnesia from last year, a season in which they went 0-10 under 18-year Head Coach Dave Baun. The optimism is there with young talent mixed with senior leadership, which seems to be the ultimate recipe for success. Key players include senior forward Evan Hee, who has logged 1 goal and 2 assists this season, mixed with sophomore defenseman Grant Funseth, who has 1 goal and 5 assists on the season. West is currently 2-1 and will look to carry the momentum into their next game against rival Central Bucks East on Nov 24.

Pennridge: Another team that was not ravaged by graduation was Pennridge, only losing four players from last season’s squad. Head Coach Jeff Montagna looks to replicate what the Rams did last season when they were 10-6 and advanced to the Class 2A Flyers Cup semifinals. He will look to players like senior goalie Ryan Pico, who is 2-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .939SV%, as well as junior forward Aeryk Lehrhaupt, who has been active in the young season, scoring 3 goals and having 1 assist so far. Pennridge has yet to lose this season, currently at 3-0, and will look to stay perfect when they take on Souderton on Nov 24.

Souderton: With any young team, there are bound to be growing pains, and Souderton certainly felt that last season, a season in which they went 2-8. However, Head Coach Ryan Uchniat, who is entering his fourth season, looks to guide the young team towards success. Uchniat will look to junior goalies Noah Connor and Liam Kelly, who combined have a 2.92GAA, as well as freshman forward Nicholas Smith, who has 4 goals so far this season. Souderton sits at 2-1 and will look to take first place when they play division leader Pennridge on Nov 24.

North Penn: North Penn comes into the season losing only one member from the team last year due to graduation. The Knights are coming off a season where they went 6-9-1-1. Head Coach Kevin Vaitis will look to lead this group to make a deep run, relying on the young players to step up. Forward Justin Yothers has shown promise early in the season, as he has 1 goal and 2 assists, as well as defensemen John Stinson, who has logged 1 goal and 1 assist. North Penn is still looking for their first victory of the season, sitting at 0-3, and will look to capture it on Nov 24 when the Knights take on Central Bucks South.

National Division

Bensalem: Bensalem is starting with the one of the youngest teams in the SHSHL.  Although they had no varsity team last season, first year Head Coach Jordan Roth looks to right the ship and remain optimistic about their shot in the division with key players such as sophomore goalie Ricky Gonzalez with a 1.45GAA and a .930SV% on the young season and sophomore forward Alex Hood, who has 4 goals and 1 assist this season. Bensalem looks to make a name for itself when they take on Wissahickon on Dec 1.

Pennsbury: Pennsbury is coming into the season as the defending SHSHL Class AA champion and shows no signs of slowing down this season. After going 12-2 last season, Head Coach Ryan Daley ensures that the team is as sharp as they can be, and they fully intend to stick to the gameplan that they had last season with young sophomore goalie Aaron McDaniel, who is 2-0-1 with a 0.94GAA and a .926SV% on the season, as well as senior forward Shane Siegmund, who has 4 goals and 4 assists on the season. Sitting at 2-0-1, Pennsbury will look to continue its win streak on Nov 24 when the Falcons take on Neshaminy and look to take first place.

Council Rock North: Similar to Bensalem, Council Rock North did not have a varsity team last season; however, they will make their return under first year Head Coach Greg McDonald. Another young team, North only has one senior on their team, captain Wilton Pasch, who has logged 1 assist on the young season. Another notable name is freshman defenseman Nicholas Hahn, who has 2 goals and 4 assists so far this season and shows no signs of slowing down. Council Rock North is currently 1-1 on the season and will look to continue their rise in the division as they take on Council Rock South on Nov 24.

Council Rock South: South is coming off of a season in which they went 9-5-0-2 and played for the SHSHL AA title under Head Coach Joe Houk, who is entering his sixteenth season with the club. With most of that team returning for the season, there is not much doubt that they should carry over that success into this season, relying on players such as senior goalie Carson Lopez, who sports a 1.88GAA and a .915SV% in 2 games this season, as well as defenseman Kevin Koles, who has been lighting it up with 4 goals and 3 assists on the year. Council Rock South is currently 2-0-1 and will look to add another W on Nov 24 when the Golden Hawks take on Council Rock North.

Neshaminy: Neshaminy comes off a season that was a learning experience for the younger players on the team, going 6-6-1. With the same group, now juniors, they look to make a serious run this season under fifth year Head Coach Matt DeMatteo. Led by senior goalie Brian Nelson, who has a 2.45GAA and a .904SV%, the team also will lean on junior forward Max Gallagher who has been dominant, scoring 3 goals and 2 assists in 3 games. Neshaminy currently sits atop of the division at 2-0-1 and will attempt to hold onto first place when they take on Pennsbury Nov 24.

American Division

Abington: Coming off of a season in which they went 7-4 and went to the SHSHL American Division title game, Abington, under fifth year Head Coach Ken Brzozowski, will look to continue their dominance. Rolling up on the season with an experienced lineup is always a big key to success, and Brzozowski has a lineup filled with experienced players. Junior Forward Matthew has been sharp over the course of the early season, contributing 5 goals and 2 assists, and add senior Forward Joe Stelacio who has been just as electric, scoring 2 goals and adding 5 assists on the season. This team is hungry to win, and the seniors will have one last chance to bring it all home and will look to prove it when they take on Hatboro-Horsham Dec 3.

Hatboro-Horsham: First year Head Coach Shane Smith will have his work cut out for him on the season. Hatboro-Horsham went 4-5-1-1 under Gianni Lafratta last season and will have some experience with some of the players, such as senior goalie Mason Rush who is 1-1 with a 4.85GAA and a .853SV%, as well as senior forward Tarek Elsabbagh, who has 2 goal and 2 assists on the year. Hatboro-Horsham, currently 1-1, will look to bounce back in the W column when they take on Moreland New Hope Nov 24. With the seniors leading this team, the younger players and the new coach should have a real shot of making some noise in the division.

Plymouth Whitemarsh: Josh Aiello will enter his eighth season as head coach of Plymouth Whitemarsh, and coming off of a season where the team went 7-5, they will also be looking to make some noise in their division. Expectations are high this season; however, that added pressure adds fuel to the fire. Senior goalie Kolton Galie, who is 2-0 with a 3.50GAA and a .879SV%, looks to carry the dominance throughout the rest of the season. Also feared on the team is senior forward Luke Weikel, who has 3 goals and 3 assists on the year. Plymouth Whitemarsh will look to stay undefeated when they take on Quakertown on Dec 1.

Quakertown: Looking to bounce back after a 1-10-0-1 season, Head Coach Keith Krem enters his third season with a majority of the same team he has coached for the past three seasons. With a good blend of young and old, Quakertown looks to build on the foundation of youth and to have the experienced players pass the torch to their younger players. Junior defensemen William Shaw has turned some heads in the early going of the season, scoring 3 goals and adding 1 assist, as well as senior forward Anthony Pagliei, who has 2 goals and 1 assist of his own. Quakertown is currently sitting at 0-3 and will look to capture their first win when they take on Plymouth Whitemarsh on Dec 1.

Upper Dublin: Upper Dublin looks to get back into the mix of the SHSHL after being on a two-year hiatus due to roster issues; however, they went 12-4 last season as an independent team. Head Coach Anthony Richichi is entering his sixth season with the team, and his second stint as the head coach, and he will lean on the seniors to be beacons for the younger players. Sophomore forward Jack Bocul has had an electric start to the season, with 7 goals and 1 assist, and the same could be said about forward Louis Gamburg, who has 5 goals and 1 assist. Upper Dublin is currently 1-3 on the year and will look to carry momentum into their Dec 1 game against Council Rock North.

William Tennent: Vincent Rosica enters his first season as head coach of William Tennent, taking over for Nick D’Aurizio, and needless to say, there is a lot to overcome this season. William Tennent went 4-5-1-1 last season under D’Aurizio, and the team also lost a lot of players to graduation with all three of last year’s captains gone. Rosica has a lot of work to do with this team. Forward Frank Rosenberry has been a spark in the offense so far this season, posting 5 goals and 3 assists, and paired with forward Matthew Castan’s 3 goals, the team certainly has the offensive prowess to make a statement. William Tennent currently sits at 0-3 and will look to capture their first victory on Nov 24 when they take on Archbishop Wood.

Wissahickon: Wissahickon comes off of a season where they went 12-2, and the Trojans are looking to defend the SHSHL American Division Class A title. Head Coach Ken Harrington, entering his seventh season, will have his work cut out for him, dealing with some graduation losses; however, the optimism is that they can repeat. Seniors Will and Nick Hussa will be heavily relied on with Will having 8 goals and 5 assists in 3 games this season and Nick with 2 goal and 9 assists in the same time frame. Another big name to watch out for is freshman forward Danny Hussa, who has 6 goals and 2 assists on the season, a good sign that both the younger and older players are mixing well together. Wissahickon currently stands at 2-1 and will look to stay undefeated when they take on Bensalem Dec 1.