GROTON — Veteran Groton-Dunstable hockey coach Paul Palmer is hoping for improvement this season with a roster consisting of seven seniors, eight juniors, eight sophomores and three freshmen. The team was dealt a setback when strong defenseman Kirk Bingham suffered an injury that will sideline him for much of the season, and must overcome graduation losses that cost the services of Mike Flewelling, Matt Kerwin, Pat Mahoney and Alex Cedrone, but Palmer is ready to go to battle.
“Our goals are to make Districts, to improve offensively, to see the team develop and play as a team, and to compete in every game,” said Palmer. “I like our size, our goaltending, the depth we have at forward, and the competition I have seen during practices. We have a tough schedule and we are the smallest school in the top two conferences but we are ready to go.”
Palmer is high on both sophomore goaltenders, Dylan Tardiff and Brendan France.
“Both are strong goaltenders and they are in a battle for the number one job,” said Palmer. “They will start in a rotation but one will emerge as the number one guy. Both of them have the ability to keep us in games. Dylan is a strong skater and has great skills. He is sharp on angles and has a strong catching glove. Brendan is poised under pressure and is coming off a strong season. He is skilled and technically sound.”
The first forward line will be senior wings Tom Semeraro and Andrew Dhionis, flanking freshman center Kyle McCullough.
“Tom is physical and competitive and is a strong two-way player,” said Palmer. “He is a playmaker and an opportunistic scorer. Andrew didn’t play last season and has been a pleasant surprise. He has size, good hands and is a natural scorer. He is a key on this team and could be our go-to guy. Kyle has size and good skills and he earned this spot with a strong pre-season. He is capable of scoring and I’m expecting good things from him.”
The first defensive pairing will consist of senior Michael Haynes and freshman Aubrey Solomon.
“Michael is a strong skater with great size,” said Palmer. “He is coachable, sees the ice well and has a hard shot. Aubrey was the best freshman in tryouts and he goes full speed all the time. He handles the puck well and is positionally strong and disciplined. He was a great find.”
The second forward line consists of three juniors, Bobby Enright on left wing, Daniel Ierardi at center and Jim McLean on right wing.
“Bobby has great hands, a quick shot and has an instinct for scoring,” said Palmer. “Daniel was with the varsity last season and is ready to emerge. He is a playmaker and solid two-way player. Jim is strong in the corners and on the boards. He is a physical forechecker and backchecker and does the hard work.”
Making up the second defensive pairing will be juniors Brandon Stubbs and Alex McCabe.
“Brandon is converting from forward and he adds speed to our defense,” said Palmer. “He is physical, skates well and is poised and confident. Alex has great talent and has shown more maturity and confidence this season. He can do a little bit of everything.”
The third forward line will be seniors Will Fedyk on left wing, Jack Brady at center and Reeve Fidler on right wing. They bring strong defense to the table.
“Will uses his body well and pounces on loose pucks,” said Palmer. “Jack is the fastest player on the team, is coachable and disciplined and helps make his teammates better. Reeve plays with a contagious energy and always gives 100 percent effort.”
The third defensive pairing will be juniors Eric Ankerud and Dylan Cedrone.
“Both Eric and Dylan have size and see the ice well,” said Palmer. “They are both unselfish and complement each other well. Eric is a strong skater with great puck skills while Dylan is a natural leader and has a hard shot.”
The fourth forward line will consist of sophomores Riley Baxter at left wing, Tommy Beal at center, and Chase Lundgren at right wing.
“Riley is tough and enthusiastic and has been a pleasant surprise,” said Palmer. “Tommy is the best athlete in the sophomore class and he is poised, disciplined and confident. Chase is a natural goal scorer, who skates well and has a strong shot. I love this line as they have a strong skill set.”
Other forwards looking to create a niche are freshman Derek Madden and sophomore Jake Druziako.
The fourth defensive pairing is sophomore Jared Jones and junior Mike Doran.
“Jared has good size and is a strong positional player who has earned a spot on the team,” said Palmer. “Mike is an improved skater who has made great progress.”
Two other defensemen looking to contribute will be senior Jon Hartzell and sophomore Sean Hunter.
“Jon has good size and skates well,” said Palmer. “He is unable to play right now and is working hard to contribute later in the season. Sean has good size, a strong work ethic and a solid attitude.”