BURLINGTON — For the better part of the last decade plus, the Burlington boys hockey program has been a legitimate Division 1 threat and a potential Super 8 contender on any given season with the ability to reload its roster year after year.
However, as legendary Burlington coach Bob Conceison enters his 35th season behind the Red Devils bench, he may have more questions than answers when it comes to the makeup of his roster this season.
The first and most vital question is who mans the cage as Burlington has an intense goalie battle going in camp between senior Chris Busby who served as the team’s junior varsity goalie last season and freshman Camden Shanahan.
“I think it’s a situation where both of these kids are going to get opportunities,” said Conceison. “It has been a good battle in camp, and I think it’s been a very positive experience for both kids so far.”
Whomever seizes the reigns in the Burlington will have a solid group of defensemen in front them as Conceison calls the defense, “the strength of our team”.
Leading that group will be senior captain Anthony Andriolo who fits the mold of big, physical, offensive left shot defensemen much like years past the way Josh Boulos, Shane O’Halloran, and others provided.
Junior Lucas Magliozzi, sophomore Charlie Andriolo, and junior Dylan O’Reilly round out the top four defensemen and will log heavy minutes. Senior Patrick Casey and freshman Brady Yutkins will see minutes on the back line as well.
“I do believe the defense is the strength of our team with those four returning guys,” said Conceison.
Perhaps the biggest questions are where the goals will come from this season. Burlington scored 31 goals in their shortened ten game regular season last year, just five of those 31 goals came from returning forwards to this year’s roster.
Burlington will be looking for players to elevate their games up front including returning seniors CJ Hacker and Ricky Sheppard. A trio of juniors including Ryan Kane (hurt most of last year), Will Curtin, and Koby Sloan will look to fill up the scoresheet.
Sophomores Will McLean (two goals last season) and Jackson Powers will see more time as well as newcomers, junior Alex Healey, and freshmen Seamus Mcmakin, Alec Robbins, and Charlie Hanafin.
The Devils will once again run through the rigors of the tough Middlesex League schedule with games against the always tough Liberty Division.
In their own Freedom Division, Conceison expects it to be an even division with a surprise team to watch.
“I think Watertown has the most back and I feel they are going to have a strong season,” said Conceison. “I feel like all the other teams in our division are on par, but we need to keep our attitude strong and get better as the year goes on.”
Burlington’s schedule will conclude with their annual Cahoon tournament with Medford, Chelmsford, and Framingham and the Devils will be part of the new and improved Ed Burns tournament this season with 16 teams in the field which will be power seeded late in January.
Their schedule also includes a home and away set with Bridgewater-Raynham.
The season gets underway this Wednesday night when the Devils host Winchester at the Burlington Ice Palace for a 5 p.m. puck drop.