Hawks return solid core, shoot for states
The Bishop Hendricken hockey team closed the regular season with 11 consecutive wins last year and made a strong run in the playoffs. Ultimately, the Hawks came up short on their quest for a state title, getting swept by Mount St. Charles in the finals, but many of the players knew they’d be back for another run.
They’re ready to get it started.
“I like the team and I like where we are,” said head coach Jim Creamer. “We’ve got a real good core of kids back, starting with our goaltenders out. We’ve got five defensemen and about eight forwards back. It’s a good group, and they work hard.”
The Hawks were young last year, with just three seniors on the roster, but the 11-game winning streak was a sign that their young players were coming into their own. Though several of the young players left to play at higher levels, a strong nucleus returns. The improvement should only continue – these Hawks won’t have to spend much time searching for an identity.
“I think they’ll carry it over from last year,” Creamer said. “They’re real good character kids, and from a coach’s perspective, it’s a great group to be involved with everyday. They work hard, and I think we’ll flow into it pretty smoothly.”
Offensively, the Hawks are led by their explosive top line of senior Robbie Buehrer and juniors Paul Filippone and David Mitchell. That group emerged as a force last season and was one of the biggest reasons why the Hawks caught fire. Buehrer ranked ninth in Division I in points last season, and Filippone was 10th.
“In the Injury Fund game last weekend, Filippone was out and that line still scored three of the four goals,” Creamer said. “I think they can continue that and have a pretty good season.”
Buehrer is a captain for the Hawks, along with forward Justin Finan and defenseman Nick Bodziony.
Finan will center the second line for the Hawks, flanked by sophomore Andrew Fera and freshman Matt Creamer. Senior Paul Trask, junior Ed Markowski and sophomore Liam Watkinson are on the third line, with sophomores Tucker Alberigo, Jonathan Finelli and Josh Olson on the fourth line. Senior Ryan Amalfitano is currently out with an injury, but he’ll also be in the mix.
“We lost a couple but we’re pretty fortunate that we always have some pretty good numbers,” Jim Creamer said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who were here and maybe didn’t play as much, and they’re going to get a pretty good opportunity this year. I don’t think anybody’s going to feel bad for us offensively. I think we have a number of forwards who have the potential to have a pretty good year.”
The Hawks have plenty of experience on defense. John McCarthy was lost to graduation, but the rest of the unit is back. Seniors Bodziony and Dan Nolte lead the way, with junior Austin Navarro also bringing back a lot of experience. Sophomores Jack Cute, Sam Boulanger, Garrett Quillen and Chris Shalvey are also pushing for time.
“We’ve got a lot of depth there,” Creamer said.
There’s also some depth in net. Last year, Bill Palmer and Mitch Proulx both saw a lot of action and even alternated starts during the playoffs. The situation could end up being the same this year, but there’s even more of a logjam with junior Craig Colson making waves.
“Right now, Billy and Mitch are one and two, but Craig Colson looks great,” Creamer said. “We’ve got a lot of depth there. It’s a good problem to have.”
The Hawks will play in a tweaked Division I. Ten teams are still in the league like last year, but they’re playing unbalanced schedules and will end up shooting for two different championships. Hendricken, La Salle, Moses Brown and Mount St. Charles will play each other four times each, and will play the other six schools once each. Based on power ratings, the top four teams in the league will play for the Division I championship.
Creamer likes the setup, but the bottom line is that the Hawks will still be shooting for the same goal.
“They want to be in the state championship, and they want to win it,” Creamer said. “It’s been a good start so far. I’m looking forward to the year.”