1. Cheverus/Kennebunk/Old Orchard Beach: The defending South champion Stags (19-2) return eight regulars among their 14 skaters, including two Telegram All-State selections, senior defenseman Zoe Mazur and junior forward Abby Lamontagne (72 points last year). Mazur, along with senior defensemen Sarah Noyes and Terryn MacDonald, make for a solid D-corps, and senior Sophia Pompeo (38 points), junior Hannah Woodford and senior Abby Enck add to the offense. Sophomore forward Lucia Pompeo is out for several weeks with a labrum injury, and senior forward Caitlin Wolff (torn ACL) is out for the year. Sophomore goalie Trinity Atwater, a transfer from Biddeford, will start in net.

2. Portland/Deering: The Bulldogs made huge strides last year with a 14-6 record and appearance in the South championship game. Of the team’s 16 skaters this season, nine were regulars last year, including All-State forward Emily Demers (62 points last year), a senior. Another All-State selection, defenseman Emma Merrill, transferred to a prep school. Junior Elena Clifford is back on defense. Last year’s back-up goalie, sophomore Christiana Gannon, is the starter after logging 157 minutes last season. Sophomore Caroline Lerch (44 points), senior Inez Braceras (19 points) and sophomore Lucy Howe (28 points) bring experience to the offense.

3. Scarborough: The Red Storm experienced a rare down year (9-10-1) although they made the South semifinals. They received an instant boost this year with 13 freshmen, giving Coach Caitlin Jordan 24 skaters and two goalies. Senior Courtney Brochu and sophomore Kathleen Murphy return as experienced defensemen. Senior Taylor Veilleux and junior Carrie Timpson are the top returning forwards. Among the freshmen to watch are Evelyn Boardman, Maya Sellinger and Calynn Gendreau.

4. Cape Elizabeth/Waynflete/South Portland: The Capers finished third in the South last year (10-9-1). Their reward is a tougher schedule, which includes two games apiece against North powers Lewiston and St. Dominic. Of the Capers’ 17 skaters, 12 are returning, including senior forward Sophia Venditti. Most of the top returning players are sophomores – forwards Koto Yamada and Nicolette Coupe, and defensemen Annie Guimond and Abbey Agrodina. Keeping up the youth movement is freshman Katherine Blackburn, the Capers’ starting goalie.

5. Greely/Gray-New Gloucester: The Rangers are the defending state champions (18-3) and Coach Nate Guerin is challenged to be a contender again. Greely lost most of its offense and returns only four players. Three of them will anchor the defense – senior Jayme Morrison, junior Leah Walker and sophomore Camilla Lattanzi. The other returner is sophomore forward Madison Pelletier. Senior Linnea Koivisto, a foreign exchange student from Finland, may be an unexpected boost. Two juniors, Meghan Abel and Zahria McLean, are first-time goalies. Greely has a roster of 17.

– Kevin Thomas

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