The Norwalk High-Brien McMahon co-op hockey team is optimistic for the coming season. After all, the hometown skaters are entering their second season with a Norwalk rink -- the SoNo Ice House -- to call their own, and coach Dan Feighan sees interest in the sport growing among potential future high school players.
"I'm so excited. The culture that this building is presenting is wonderful," said Feighan, while his team got off the ice and a group of beginner players laced up their skates for practice on an early December afternoon. "We're building a hockey culture here."
Feighan is hopeful this growing interest results in success for the high school program in the near future.
The Norwalk team won only two games -- both out-of-conference tilts -- last year, and wins have been few and far between in recent winters.
Something that bodes well for the short term success of the program is that Feighan has more experienced players and depth than the high school team has put on the ice in a long time.
"I'm really excited. We've got a lot of newer players that will help out," said senior captain and left-winger Ryan Suchsland. Among those up and coming players is sophomore Matt Cavanagh, Feighan said.
Junior Jake Flewellyn will center Suchsland on the top line. The defense is anchored by senior Jimmy Beirne.
Although the program has struggled to win and stands to continue to have its hands full against tough FCIAC teams, Norwalk high school hockey has maintained an ability to churn out standout goaltenders year in and year out.
Starting netminder Anthony Chiaramonte earned all-state honors a year ago, marking the seventh consecutive season in which a Norwalk goalie earned those accolades, Feighan said. The coach added that he expects his senior goalie to follow in the footsteps (make that skate strides) of Mike Diaz, Richie Henderson and Danny Diaz as two-time all state honorees. And backup Phillip Uva is already showing promise to be a future standout in net.
Right now, the focus is on the 2013-14 campaign. The season gets underway with a home game against the Fitch-East Lyme-Ledyard-Old Lyme team, which Norwalk defeated twice a year ago.
"I'm excited for this year. It should be a good one," Chiaramonte said.