Hockey Team Lined Up To Renew Acquaintances With Division III Foes In Playoffs
A season after falling just short of qualifying for the Division II state playoffs (with a 7-12-1 record), and following the graduation of a half dozen skaters, Newtown High School’s hockey team will compete at the D-III ranks this winter.
Coach Paul Esposito notes that while there is not much difference between the divisions, especially because of multi-school makeups of many of the D-III programs — and despite Newtown’s long-term goal is to get to D-I status — this is a rebuilding year, and the coaches and parents made a mutual offseason decision for a step back to D-III. A benefit of this, Esposito notes, is renewed rivalries with D-III conference rivals during the South-West Conference/ Southern Connecticut Conference playoffs.
Although Newtown took on some of their D-III foes, such as Masuk of Monroe and the Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury team last season, the Hawks will play a D-III-heavy schedule and would face some of the same teams again the in the conference playoffs, potentially in the state bracket as well, this time around.
“We want to do what’s best for the program,” the coach said.
Esposito likes the team’s work ethic and said it shows that players put in hard work during the offseason.
“We think we have a really strong team. We think this team can make a big run in both the conference and state playoffs,” the coach added.
“Staying healthy, doing all the right things every day in practice, cutting no corners,” will be keys for success, Esposito anticipates.
He added that continuing conditioning, focusing on nutrition, and maintaining strength throughout the long grind of the campaign will be necessary for entering into the playoffs ready to go.
The Hawks are led by captains David Brestovansky, Andrew Gardner, Matthias Paltauf — all forwards — and Jetson Ku, a defender.
Markus Paltauf, a freshman, will be the starting goaltender. Key returnees include forwards Phil Makris, John Radatovich, and Jack Stanton and defender Adam Kliczewski. Senior defender Mike McCann returns after two seasons in the program, then a year away due to transfer. Sophomore newcomer Aidan Bepko is a forward Esposito expects to contribute.
There is some versatility in the lineup with Mccann, a strong skater who can contribute on a forward line; Kliczewski providing speed; and Makrais, a solid two-way player who not only plays a solid forward position, but also chips in well defensively, the coach said.
Esposito believes this lineup is strong in all areas of the game and is looking forward to seeing what the Nighthawks can do.
The regular season begins Wednesday, December 12, when the Hawks take on Staples of Westport at Milford Ice Pavilion for a 6 pm puck drop. Following a visit to Mount Everett of Massachusetts on December 15, beginning at 3:30 pm, Newtown plays its first home game; the Milford co-op squad visits Danbury Ice Arena on Wednesday, December 19, at 4:10 pm.
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