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BOYS HOCKEY: Premo, Sharrino to lead Rome Free Academy this season

Steve Jones and Ben Birnell
Sports writers
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Posted 12/1/22

The Rome Free Academy hockey team opened the season Thursday against the Mohawk Valley Jugglers unified team in Utica.

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BOYS HOCKEY: Premo, Sharrino to lead Rome Free Academy this season


The Rome Free Academy hockey team opened the season Thursday against the Mohawk Valley Jugglers unified team in Utica.

Head coach Jason Nowicki’s team was 6-13-3 with a loss to West Genesee in the Section III Division 1 quarterfinals last season. He’s now in his ninth season at the helm.

Senior forward Jake Premo returns after scoring eight goals and collecting a dozen assists last season. He was tied for second in goals and first in assists. His 20 points were second-most for the Knights.

“I expect him to be our leading scorer,” said Nowicki.

Junior forward John Sharrino also had eight goals and added six assists. He played through a wrist injury last season that required off-season surgery, and still produced those numbers, the coach noted.

The team graduated three seniors, none of them on offense, but one other major loss is last season’s leading scorer, then-freshman Tyler Lokker, who scored a dozen goals and had nine assists. He is playing junior hockey in Syracuse this season. “It’s a big loss for us. He’s a great kid. Loved coaching him,” Nowicki said.

Other forwards back from last season and expected to contribute are senior Jack Pylman; juniors Carmen Orton, Logan Waterman, Nicholas Toth-Ratazzi, Nate Van Wie and John Wilson; and sophomore PJ Summa. Wilson missed most of last season. Other forwards are senior Michael Occhipinti, junior Brandon Natale and freshman Jacob Bruno.

While the team lost senior defensemen Antonio Bevilacqua and Josh Talbot to graduation, two others return as four-year starters. They are seniors Tyler Wilson and Jacob Swavely. Junior Jimmy Deangelo moves from forward to defense. “He really gives us a lot in the back end,” Nowicki said, and will likely be leading the breakout as an offensive-minded defenseman.

Other defensemen are junior Luke Haag; sophomores Chris Brement and Tanner Spina; and freshman Steven Mudry.

The team has four goalies this season. “It’s going to be a competition in net,” Nowicki said. Senior Braeden Sturtevant is back, as is eighth grader Donte Sparace, a “very technically sound goalie.” Both made a handful of appearances last year behind Lenny Dormio, a senior last year. New to varsity are sophomore Will Gurley and freshman Jaemeson Keith.

Nowicki said the team has a few key characteristics. “First and foremost, I can see a big difference in the speed we have this season,” he said. “They’ve taken another step forward in their speed and their explosion on the ice.” The team’s forechecking is also strong, he noted. But, “I don’t know if we’re going to have that one goal scorer or a top scoring line.”

Overall, “we have to do the team things well to make sure we put it in their net more than we let them put it in ours.” He continued, “One goal that we can’t measure with winning and losing is I just don’t want our guys to be comfortable with where we’re at. To no be complacent.” He said his annual goal of hosting a playoff game is still at the top of the list, which means the team has to be among the top four schools in Section III’s Division I.

As usual, he said, he expects West Genesee, Syracuse and Baldwinsville to be top teams. “I hope that we can come out and we can skate with those guys. Put some pressure on them,” the coach said.

Said Nowicki: “I’m glad that Mohawk Valley (unified team) has a place that they can basically call their own (playing at the Nexus Center).”

Mohawk Valley Jugglers

Last year’s record: 0-20-1 in Section III Division I.

Head coaches: Todd Manley coaches the unified team.

Next game: 6 p.m. Tuesday at Fulton.

The team has five home games scheduled for the Nexus Center while two others (Jan. 6 and Jan. 7) are scheduled for Kennedy Arena in Rome.

Top returners

Senior Trevor Dziedzic (6 goals, 6 assists last season), Senior forward Alex Talerico (3 goals, assist last season), Junior goaltender Noah Narolis (5.32 goals against average last season), Junior forward Nick Mazza (3 goals, 3 assists).

The coach did not reply to a request for team details.

Whitesboro Warriors

Last season: 10-11-1 in Section III Division 2.

Head coaches: Patrick Gaffney

First game: 6 tonight at Auburn in the league.

Top returners

Josh Bono (19 goals 17 assists last season), senior Kaeden Wood (4 goals, 12 assists), freshman Santino Pedulla (8 goals, 11 assists), senior Kristian Matthews (4.07 goals-against average, .847 save percentage, 7-6-1), sophomore Jax Hall (2 goals).

Other players/newcomers to watch

Freshman Gavin Aceto, eighth-grader Aiden Nofri, eighth-grader Drew Witchley, freshman Brett Purner.

What stands out about Whitesboro this season?

Youth is prevalent on the roster. There are several eighth-graders and freshmen that are expected to play meaningful minutes, according to Gaffney.

What are the expectations for this season?

Gaffney: Return to postseason play and take a step forward by advancing to the Section III finals.

Clinton Warriors

Last season: 3-14-2 in Section III Division 2.

Head coaches: Jon and Stacy Davignon.

First game: 7 tonight at Oswego in the league.

Top returners

Senior forward Caden Hinderling (8 goals, 4 assists last year), senior forward Cooper Kulpa (4 goals, 4 assists), junior foward Aiden Soika (4 goals, 4 assists), senior defenseman Caden Engle (2 goals, 3 assists) and junior goalie Will O’Brien (3-8-2 with a 4.02 goals-against average).

The coaches did not reply to a request for team details.

New Hartford Spartans

Last season: 9-9-4 in Section III Division II

Head coaches: Justin Schachtler

Opening game: 6-1 win Wednesday over Fulton. New Hartford is next scheduled to play Baldwinsville in a non-league matchup at 1 p.m. Saturday at New Hartford Recreation Center.

Top returners

Senior defenseman Garrett Eisenhut (4 goals, 4 assists last season; Had goal and assist Wednesday), Senior Gabe Syeotyski (7 goals, 5 assists last season; Scored twice Wednesday); Junior forward Anthony Falvo (4 goals, 11 assists last season; Scored and assisted on two goals Wednesday); Senior goalie Michael Vetter (4.33 goals-against average in seven games last season); Junior Rowan Gall (2 goals, 6 assists last season; Had goal, assist Wednesday);

The coach did not respond to a request for team details.


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