1. Falmouth: The defending Class A South champions (16-4-1 last season) are still “looking OK,” according to Coach Deron Barton, even with the graduation of the Armitage brothers (26 goals), and the transfers of two defensemen and goalie Spencer Pierce. Theo Hembre, Brendan Hickey, Marcus Cady, Louis Mainella and Jack Kidder combined for 40 goals, and former back-up Iyendae St. Louis steps in as the starting goalie. Garrett Tracy will be the top defenseman for the Yachtsmen, who look ready to contend again.

2. Cheverus: The Stags again could be Falmouth’s chief opponent in the South (losing to the Yachtsmen, 3-2, in last year’s regional title game). Cheverus returns the nucleus of a 15-6 team, including the state’s best goalie tandem of Jason Halverson and Colby Benway, and top defensemen Mike Hatch and Marco Giancotti. The Stags lost three of their top forwards to graduation or prep school, but return several regulars, including Colby Anton, Cam Dube, David Woodford and Luke Church.

3. Biddeford: With a recent history of early playoff losses, and the graduation of leading scorers Ricky Ruck and Brady Crepeau, there is reason to doubt the Tigers’ outlook. But Biddeford returns 11 experienced seniors and looks ready to contend again. Colin Lavigne, Logan Magnant, Colin Petit and Curtis Petit are all solid scorers. Defenseman Liam Turner is strong on both ends, and goalie Owen Sullivan had a 2.20 goals-against average and .900 save percentage last year.

4. York: The Wildcats return several standouts from their Class B South championship team (17-3-1), but York will find Class B South again full of parity. Leading scorers Tommy Carr (off to club hockey) and Julius Ludgren (graduated) are gone, but potent forwards Jake Martin, Spencer Pickett, Dalton McCann and Andrew Bertolini return, as do defensemen Joe Graziano, Mark Engholm, Marshall Ford and Max Pickett. Goalie Keenan Gamache had a 1.40 goals-against average and .921 save percentage last year.

5. Thornton Academy: The Trojans hope to bounce back after finishing 4-14 and missing the playoffs. The last time they had failed to make the playoffs (2015), they reached the regional semifinals the following season. The Trojans can get back to the postseason with some unexpected help. Not only does Thornton have stalwart forwards Luke Chessie and Chandler Bilodeau back, but two players are returning after being in juniors – Reagan Wintle and Owen Dubois. Plus, Adam Charbonneau is a senior transfer from Quebec.

– Kevin Thomas

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