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2023 Beast Tournament Series:18U

By Gary Demopoulos, 08/25/23, 7:30AM EDT


Taking A Look At Some U18 Programs To Watch This Fall

The 2023-2024 hockey season will be starting up soon, with the first of five Showcases kicking off the sixth year of the Beast Tournament Series, which again will feature top talent from all over representing numerous organizations.

The Beast will again have competition at the U18, U16, U15, U14 and U13 levels, culiminating in playoff weekends in late October and November.

The first event on the docket will be the Neponset River Rats Showcase, which will take place August 27-29 at five Massachusetts arenas:  New England Sports Village in Attleboro, Canton Ice House, Foxboro Sports Center, Rodman Arena in Walpole and the Arthur Valicenti Rink at Thayer Academy.

As many as 35 teams could participate in at least one Showcase this fall. U18 Playoff champions from a year ago include the Yale Jr. Bulldogs (Platinum), Boston Hockey Academy (Gold) and Connecticut Chiefs (Silver).

Here is a preview on several of the U18 Beast teams:

The U18 Gold Division champions a year ago, Boston Hockey Academy will look for another successful fall. The team now calls the Breakaway Ice Center in Tewksbury, MA as its home base.

Key returners up front are senior Maxim Qi (Russia), senior Artem Chepil (Ukraine), senior Logann Vigneault (Tros Riviere, QUE) and junior Sheldon Alexander (La Quinta, CA). Newcomers to watch are senior Xavier Charron (Mount Academy) and senior Jacob Shearholdt (Anaheim Ice Dogs).

Seniors Tyler Kirchner (Crystal Lake, IL) and Jacob Heron (Chevy Chase, MD) should be anchors on defense, where newcomer Ludovick Fillon (Cyclones Academy) joins the club. A returning goaltender is senior Dalton Seasholtz (Hingham, MA).

Coach Eric Walsh: “I think the key to our team’s success will be our compete level. There are a lot of talented players in the Beast Series, having  a team that competes hard every shift will give us a great opportunity to win a championship this fall.”

Keep an eye on the Yale Jr. Bulldogs, who possess a nice mix of returners and talented newcomers.

In the forward ranks, a strong nucleus of returners includes Charles Blanchard and Alex Pelletier from Avon Old Farms, Gio DiGiulian (Cornell commit) from Kent and Derek Tremblay from Taft. New to the squad this fall will be the Avon Old Farms duo of Ryan Flaherty (Holy Cross commit) and Cooper Snee, and Ethan Wollcott from Loomis Chaffee.

An experienced blue line has Avon Old Farms products Hudson Miller (Yale commit) and Drew Pitts, Andrew Anastasio from Loomis Chaffee, and Braden Pohlman and Denver Damphousse from Kent. Blake Jones (Avon Old Farms) and Brody Andriole (Loomis Chaffee) join the fold.

In goal, the Bulldogs can turn to either Mitchell McCusker (Frederick Gunn) and Kyle Ozgun (Lawrenceville).

Coach Shawn Conner: “We are fortunate to return most of our team. We will look to take the next step leaning on all four lines and defense pairs to produce and defend at a high level. Our players are eager to get back together and improve on last year’s finish.

The Neponset River Rats National entry brings back plenty of talent from last year’s club.

Expect to see scoring from senior returners Cam Russo (Governors Acad – Brown commit), Ryan Staples (St. George’s – Yale commit), Ty Wood (Lawrence Acad.), Jack Roberts (Kent) and Sam Ciappa (Canterbury). Three new guys ready to chip in are senior Sam Pfefferle (Wolfpack), senior Duncan Stewart (Delbarton) and junior Duncan Thompson (Ridley College).

The team welcomes back six blueliners in seniors Teddy Mallgrave (Kent-St.Lawrence commit), Nico Pasquale (Berkshire), Jake Stevens (Canterbury) and Zach Skowronek (Andover Acad.), and juniors Peter Luecke (Thayer) and Josh Williams (Berkshire).

Senior Ben Skowronek (Andover Acad.) is a returning netminder.

Coach Ross Pasquantonio: “I think depth is real important, especially when you are playing 2-3 games a weekend. The ability to roll four lines is huge.”

With an older club, the Neponset River Rats Showcase squad will be a formidable opponent.

Scoring shouldn’t be a problem with the likes of seniors Cam Gaffney (Tabor), Dalton Kane (Millbrook), Kai Roberto (Tabor) and Sean Gray (Tilton). Kristian Gingras returns to the lineup. Dylan McEvoy moves up after leading the U16 team in scoring last fall.

On defense, seniors Ben Stavaridis (St. Sebastian’s), and Logan Goodman (Canterbury) and junior Nick Brandano (Milton Academy) will hold down the fort. GP Giamartino is a key returner as well. Returning senior Jason Delehoy (Rivers) and new junior Marty Pierce (Tilton) will be the goaltenders.

Coach Randy McDougall: “We have a good group of forwards that we expect to score. If we get good defense and goaltending play we should have a great season.”

It should be another solid Fall for the Connecticut Jr. Chiefs National outfit.

Key returners to the program up front are Florida native Noah Lasker, and Max Gerasimov (Glastonbury, CT). A newcomer to keep an eye on is 2006 Anders Morrison out of the Colorado Rough Riders.

An important cog on defense is Pariker Cox (Candia, NH), while Noah Merrick (Florida) should be a factor between the pipes.

Coach Trent Samuels-Thomas: “Playing the system, Special teams (PP and PK), Being opportunistic, Responsible on D side will be keys to succcess.”

The Long Island Gulls National are ready for a big fall.

Heading up the forward lines for the Gulls will be Thomas Zocco, Richie Rucireto, Joey Macrina, Jack Genovese, Will Tomko and Ryan Whactel.

Defensively, keep an eye on seniors Daniel Dalessandro and Eric Kald, as well as newcomer Andrew Cowgill. In goal, senior Willum Braun looks for a big fall.

Coach Mark Lotito: “Scoring at even strength and playing the game 200 feet (will be keys to success).”

The Gulls also possess a Long Island Gulls Showcase team that looks to open some eyes in Beast Series Showcase play.

On the attack, look for seniors Aaron Leach-Wilson and Lucas Goldstein, and junior Ronald Kemly to be key offensive contributors. Seniors Tyler Grinell, Jesse Lemza and Hudson Schnatter add to the solid mix.

Senior Jack Mancini is an anchor on defense, Senior Nico Lamano is a veteran presence between the pipes.

Coach Nick Annunziato: “We need to win the even strength battles, and have shot quality control, both offensively and defensively.”

New Jersey Titans Showcase will be one of three teams from the Titans organization partaking in Beast Series showcases.

Senior Anthony Ostrowski (Bolingbrook, IL) and juniors Francesco Donahue (CBA) and Brendan Rovito headline the offensive group.

On the blue line, senior Patrick Kelly will be a key fixture. Senior goaltender Kiefer Mulvey is expected to play a major role between the pipes.

Coach Gary Biggs: “For us to have success we will have to pay attention to our details and play a 200-foot game. We will need guys to provide scoring at all levels. We rely on our solid goaltending, solid team defense and timely scoring to carry us.”

Entering its second season with the Beast Series is Atlantic Coast Academy, which plays out of the William Foote Memorial Arena in North Adams, MA.

Key forwards project to be Christian Testa, Jack Freiser and Jovanni Smeriglio.

A deep defense features Brenden Sanchez, Max Tauoa, Garrett Church and Andre Romano. There is also depth in goal with Leo Legault, Vaughn Freiser and Daniel McGowan.

Newcomers looking to make a splash are Alek Leonelli, John Macellef, Josh Angese and Daniel Obenesser.

Coach Paul Traynor: “Staying healthy and using our depth and size will be keys.”

The core of the New Jersey Bears have played together since they were little as the team makes its debut with the Beast Series.

Assistant captains Griffin Meyer, a senior, and Michael Catalano, a senior, will power the offensive attack. A newcomer to watch is Kevin Yousefpour from the California Wave program.

Captain Harveer Kamboj and senior assistant captain Evan Vadola will provide the necessary leaderhip on defense.

The Bears have two strong goalies in seniors Matthew McMillin and Nathan Mayer.

Coach Jackson Brassieur: “Team chemistry is certainly a strongpoint for us. We play hard, fast and physical. We are hard on pucks and we never stop pushing the pace. We are led by strong goaltending.”

The New Jersey Rockets are always a formidable bunch and this fall should be no exception.

The offense will work around Christian Chouha, Max Pendy and Vin Bronzo.

On defense, look for Han Shin, Ryan Lukko, Joe Fenton and Andrew Check to lead the way. Jason Cai, who led Delbarton to a New Jersey state title, is back to man the nets.

Coach Noel Rubin: “We need to play good, sound two-way hockey and be disciplined.”

Hoping to compete hard are the Red Bank Generals.

Post-grads Dylan Batko and Drew Jarkowsky, and seniors Justin Ferlanti and Cole Kroeper will spearhead the offense. Look for Ryan Cook, Sean Guinnessey and Vinny Barba to chip in as well.

Owen Oglevee, Dion Gargagliano and Troy Mullholland, all 2006s, will form the leadership group on the blue line. Liam Forster, another 2006, joins the group this fall.

Hunter Galgani will be a key fixture in the Generals’ net.

Having good team chemistry will be a key for the Valley Forge Minutemen.

A quartet of seniors – Dean Carvalho, William Carpenter, Anthony Catana and Tristan Winata – will power the Minutemen’s offense.

Defensively, senior JJ Benz, from the Jr. Flyers program, and senior Thomas Doucet are the cornerstones. PG Aries Carangi (Mercer Chiefs) is ready for a big fall between the pipes.

Other key players include Zander Robinson, Justin Zapata, Jeremy Kagan and Ty Simonet.

Coach Joseph Slowik: “Team chemistry is number one. We need to play a sound defensive system and be a more potent offensive team.”

A new program at the U18 level is the New Hampshire Mountain Kings. The team will improve as the fall goes along, with players getting acclimated to a demanding level of hockey.

Some forwards to keep an eye on are senior Sam Neville, who played at Tilton last year, and a pair of 06s from Russia in Alex Ravikovich and Danila Lapshov.

Anatoliy Pogosbekyan, an 06 from Russia, and 2007 Julien Avignon-Bourque from Melbourne, QUE will look to make a splash on defense. The goalies are Brayden King (Milford, NH) and Oscar Pupillo (St. Louis, MO)

Coach Ed Seney: “In most cases, team leaders will emerge once the team has been involved in some tough competition which will put a spotlight on their attitudes and their mental capacity to battle through adversity.”

Another new program that will see action in some Beast Series events are the Maine Jr. Mariners.

A forward nucleus will include post-grads Michael Longmire (Chicago, IL) and Michael Yorba (Billerica, MA), seniors AJ Iwinski (Batavia, IL) and Wesley Jones (Stratford, NH), and junior Nick Downing (Peoria, AZ).

Defensive leaders project to be 05 Henry Rozhkov (Belarus), senior Kylo Stinson (Gilette, WY) and juniors Nick Miller (Nottingham, NH) and Eddie Hannan (Exeter, NH).

Seniors Gannon Krug (Hunstville, AL) and Cole Currier (Shirley, MA) are tasked with the goaltending duties.

Coach Zachary Lebowitz: “The goal with our organization is development, progress and promotion. We will be a very defensive-minded team with our fast transition game as our points of strike. Out goaltending and D will be the two focal points with lots of speed up front to help create offense.”

Stocked with several members of last year’s U16 squad, Seacoast Performance Academy is looking for a big Fall season.

05s Jaden Duprey and Areseniy Zharikov, and 06 Jack Martin are expected to ignite the offense for SPA.

A defensive nucleus includes Max St. Pierre, Cam O’Connell and Deke Davidson, while Logan Perez and Danill Cepov will be in the goaltending rotation.

Coach Ed Harding: “All players will be held accountable to lead on and off the ice. I’m looking for strong positional play and compete level.”

North Shore Academy will look to make some noise this fall under the direction of head coach Bob Corkum.

A key forward will be New Brunswick native Brayden Campbell, who led North Shore’s U16s in scoring last year. Another solid performer up from the 16s is Nate Brissette.

Keep an eye on 6’3″ netminder Elik Radovanivic, who hails from Switzerland.