BURLINGTON — Over the last decade or so, the Burlington boys’ hockey team has been a model of consistency during the regular season and a shoe-in for the postseason, including Super 8 appearances and Division 1 state titles back in 2012 and 2013.
Burlington finished the season 12-6-2 last year and won a Division 1 North tournament game against Newburyport before falling to Andover in the quarterfinals.
The Devils are ready to reload again as Bob Conceison enters his 33rd season at the helm and heading into the 2019-20 season, the team is bolstered by strong goaltending, a core of returning defensemen, and a solid group of top six forwards including a potential league MVP.
Last season, the Devils came into the season with a question mark at the goalie position which was ultimately taken over by sophomore Joe Trabucco. He seems to be the answer to start the season after a stellar season last year, winning 13 games including three shutouts, with a goals against average of 2.14.
Seniors Michael Graham and Michael Morcos will be ready should Trabucco falter.
Burlington will return five defensemen led by senior assistant captain Spencer Reith. Reith played a regular shift last year including special teams as did junior Colin Browne, who provides a physical presence.
Senior Trevor Janis was second in defensemen plus/minus rating of +12 last season and will be a top four defenseman. Sophomore Anthony Andriolo and junior Ray Magliozzi will provide valuable minutes and senior Seamus Gallagher will see his first varsity minutes on the back end.
“We are kind of the opposite of last year that we now have experienced goalies,” said Conceison. “We have five very good defensemen that can play all situations.”
Up front, the Devils offense starts with captain Ryan O’Halloran. The senior was one of the top players in the Middlesex League last year tallying 13 goals and 33 assists for 46 points in 23 games. He anchors the Devils power play and is the team’s best penalty killer. He is on track to be perhaps the top player in the Freedom Division.
Senior assistant captain John Condon had a breakout year last season with 17 points. His skill will also be on display on the power play, as well as killing penalties.
Other returning forwards include seniors Cam Costa (5-5-10), Jacob Vozikis (5-6-11), and juniors Sean Malone (4-4-8), and Zach Auble.
The Devils will miss junior Dalton MacKinnon who was projected as a top six forward, but his season is lost to a knee injury suffered during football season.
Burlington will need some newcomers to fill out the forward lines and those players include senior Luke Sheehan, juniors Jack Jay and Brian O’Neill, and freshmen Brendan Janis and Nick Berglund.
“We are expecting a lot from our top six forwards and they are the nucleus of our team,” said Conceison. “We are going to need to put together a third line. Our program is in a real good position in that we have a real strong JV program and we have been able to replenish kids that leave.”
Conceison knows the rigors of playing in what most say is toughest public high school league in the state, in the Middlesex League.
“Our goals always start with being competitive in our league and as far as our division Melrose is the best team on paper,” said Conceison. “The Liberty Division is loaded with strong teams and I think Arlington leads that group. Winchester and Reading are both really good and we open against a Woburn team that beat us last year.”
Outside of the league, the Devils have a strong non-league schedule including games against Billerica, Newburyport, Hingham, Walpole, Barnstable, and Malden Catholic.
The Devils open the season on Saturday at the Ice Palace hosting Woburn. Puck drop is set for 6 p.m.