The landscape of Northern Conference and Section 10 Division II Hockey has been reshaped for the 2012-13 season with Salmon River electing to move up to the Division I ranks and Thousand Islands-Alexandria Bay dropping back to Division II. But for Ogdensburg Free Academy, the goals remain the same, win the NAC D2 title and win the Section 10 D2 title to move on to the New York State Tournament. Last season, the Blue Devils finished at 15-6 and ranked ninth in the final state poll after losing to Salmon River in the sectional finals.
Despite the absence of Salmon River, OFA Coach Jon Frederick feels that the challenges will still be formidable with 2010 champion St. Lawrence Central, perennial stalwart Norwood-Norfolk and the Islanders (TI-Alexandria), who defeated Canton and Tupper Lake over the weekend, to contend with.
St. Lawrence and Norwood-Norfolk are always contenders and TI-ABay played in the Division I Championship game last year, says Frederick speaking for himself and Associate Coach Matt Morley who will lead their team into a new season on Wednesday at Tupper Lake.
And Tupper Lake and Malone should be much improved this season.
The Blue Devils will be led by a core of veterans featuring one of the NACs premier offensive players in senior Brandon Mullin and one of the most talented goalies in sophomore Dave Prudhomme.
Mullin earned first team All-NAC honors last season after producing 13 goals and 20 assists while Prudhomme fashioned a .940 save percentage while showing the ability to play at his best in the biggest of tests.
Jake Garrison (9 goals, 16 assists), Jon Tayler (9 goals, 8 assists) and Drew Costigan, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, will also be counted upon for major offensive leadership. The defense will take shape around major blue line scoring threat Joe Giglio (4 goals, 11 assists) and the versatile Gian Rufa who played both offense and defense last season.
The veterans will be called upon to replace the leadership of Second Team All-NAC selection Dustin Harper, Trey Lawrence, Drew Hilborne, Andrew LeBeau and Alex Hewko.
Burke Comeau, David Middlemiss, Austin Putman, Don Swan, Matt Sholette and Jared Berg will contend for regular blue line duty with Bantam players Jordan Macauley and Zach Weston providing more depth while adapting to the speed of the varsity game.
Looking to find a spots on the forward lines are: Nolan Rufa, Andrew Roddy, Mark Morrow, Dylan Jock, Austin Morley-Sloan, Zach Barr, Austin Putman, Isac Sovie and Hayden Woods. Bantam players Jared Barr, Jacob Awan and Aidan Putman will also be practicing with the varsity. Gaetan Pothier will be the backup goalie with Bantam netminder Adam Bouchey also practicing with the varsity.
Our keys this season will be the defensive play by the forwards in the D zone, to stay out the penalty box and capitalize on scoring opportunities, said Coach Frederick.
Our seniors have a sour taste in their mouths after losing to Salmon River and St. Lawrence in the last two sectional championship games and they are really hungry. Going into the season we are in good shape. Coach Morley always does a great job conditioning players on the ice.