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Brian Boyd, Editor, Shore Publishing/Zip06.com

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July 8, 2020
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1

Senior captain Jack Dacey recorded 42 points on his way to garnering All-SCC First Team accolades on behalf of the Guilford boys’ ice hockey squad this year. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior captain Jack Dacey recorded 42 points on his way to garnering All-SCC First Team accolades on behalf of the Guilford boys’ ice hockey squad this year. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

2

Alternate captain Tyler Considine was one of three seniors who provided exemplary leadership for the Indians throughout the 2019-’20 season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Alternate captain Tyler Considine was one of three seniors who provided exemplary leadership for the Indians throughout the 2019-’20 season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

3

Senior alternate captain EJ Vickerman and the Guilford boys’ ice hockey team fought hard following a slow start in order to qualify for the Division II State Tournament. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Senior alternate captain EJ Vickerman and the Guilford boys’ ice hockey team fought hard following a slow start in order to qualify for the Division II State Tournament. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

4

Sophomore Michael Torre is one of several underclassmen who gained critical experience for Guilford throughout the recent season. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Sophomore Michael Torre is one of several underclassmen who gained critical experience for Guilford throughout the recent season. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

5

Junior Steven Tortora and the Indians picked up a big win by earning a 5-2 victory over the East Haven co-op late in the campaign. File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier

Junior Steven Tortora and the Indians picked up a big win by earning a 5-2 victory over the East Haven co-op late in the campaign. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/The Courier | Buy This Photo)

Young Indians Make Strides on the Ice

Published Apr 19, 2020 • Last Updated 04:13 pm, April 19, 2020

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The Guilford boys’ ice hockey team has seen a great deal of success throughout its tenure with Head Coach Ralph Russo, who’s been behind the Indians’ bench for the past 19 years. Although the 2019-’20 campaign didn’t start off so great for Guilford, the team rallied to qualify for the Division II State Tournament on the strength of excellent veteran leadership and some promising underclassmen. The Indians were led by senior captain Jack Dacey, along with senior alternate captains Tyler Considine and EJ Vickerman this winter.

“We were very competitive for significant parts of many games this year. That is a big positive,” Coach Russo said. “The difference is playing more complete games in all aspects, offensively and defensively. That will be my goal for returning players next year.”

The Indians started off their season by losing four of their first five games, but bounced back to notch either a win or a tie in four of their next five contests. Guilford posted victories over St. Joseph (4-3 in overtime), Amity (6-4), Watertown-Pomperaug (6-3), and the Eastern CT Eagles (2-0) to go with a 4-4 draw against North Branford during that stretch. The young Indians wound up finishing the year with an overall record of 7-13-1 after taking a 7-0 loss to Hand in the first round of states.

“Of our 20 players this season, 12 were new to the team and eight were freshman, so there was definitely a learning curve to be expected with these guys,” said Russo. “I wanted to be able to work guys into the lineup, and the challenge will come this offseason for the younger players. They are going to have to work hard if we want to try and make a run at the playoffs next year.”

Guilford also earned victories against North Branford, E.O. Smith-Tolland, and the East Haven co-op this season, defeating all three teams by a 5-2 score. The Indians also lost a few close contests to some solid squads during the year.

“We played in a lot of close games,” Russo said. “Once we finally got over the hump and started winning and closing games out, that was a good boost in confidence for us.”

Coach Russo noted two victories that stood out as defining moments for the Indians. One of those wins came early in the season, while the other one marked Guilford’s final win of the campaign.

“I thought our 4-3 overtime win against St. Joseph in the beginning of the season was great,” said Russo. “And I also was happy to see us beat our rink rival East Haven toward the end of the year.”

Dacey led the Indians in points with 42 by netting 31 goals to go 11 assists on the season. Dacey, who earned All-SCC First Team honors, finished his high school career with 172 points, which is the second-most in team history.

“Jack was a real leader on the ice and the definition of a competitor,” Coach Russo said. “Any time we needed a spark, it sure seemed like Jack was there to give us a goal or an assist to get us back in a game.”

Aside from Dacey, Vickerman and Considine were the only two seniors on Guilford’s roster. Coach Russo appreciates how much this trio has contributed to the program by continuing the Indians’ winning tradition.

“We will miss our seniors. They provided a high level of competitive spirit that we can learn from,” said Russo. “We have qualified for the state playoffs 14 of 19 years that I’ve coached. We’ve played in six State Tournament Final Fours and four state championship games, winning two of the four in 2010 and 2017. In league play, we won the regular season title 2011 and 2018 and have won the league tournament titles in 2017 and 2018. These guys have seen a lot of success and have a lot to be proud of.”

Guilford’s roster also included juniors Steven Tortora, Zach Sperry, Thomas Ring, and Kent Mackowiak; along with sophomores Gavyn Litvyn, Thomas Booth, James Murray, Thomas Ziemba, and Michael Torre; and freshmen Shane Considine, Ryan McMahon, Mitchell Ward, Jacob Ellison, William Petrick, Sean Melvin, Gabriel Mongelli, and Eric Lawton.

Coach Russo said that he saw a lot of promising young athletes take the ice this year. Russo viewed the season as a success in the sense that he was able to get this new group of players ready for what’s to come in future campaigns.

“Every season is different, and every season has its own unique challenges. I’m going to miss this group a lot, but I’m looking forward to seeing how we progress next year,” Russo said. “Freshman defender Shane Considine and sophomore goalie Gavyn Litvyn each got some valuable experience for us this year, and I expect them both to carry bigger loads next year. I also see sophomore forward Mike Torre as a very promising player. He didn’t play for Guilford his freshman year, but this past season as a sophomore rookie, he made an impact, playing as one of our top six forwards.”

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