The defending Division I Hockey Champion Bishop Hendricken Hawks are pumped and poised to defend their title in the 2019-20 winter season.
Hendricken opens the season on Friday, Dec. 13th against the La Salle Academy Rams in an injury fund matchup at Smithfield Municipal Rink at 8:45 p.m. Then, on Saturday, Dec. 14 the Hawks will face off against Prout/Scituate co-op at Thayer Arena at 6 p.m.
Last year, Hendricken also won the 2018-19 regular season with a record of 13-1-1 and finished with an overall record of 17-2-1 for a total of 28 points. After that, the Hawks swept La Salle during the DI Tournament Final and earned their sixth state championship.
But the Hawks lost 14 players from that team with 10 graduating and four transferring out.
On top of that, Hendricken has a new head coach in longtime assistant Mike Soscia, who will take over the reins following the departure of Jim Creamer, who left the Hawks last year after 18 seasons.
Soscia, a ’91 Hendricken alumni, played three years for the Hawks and was an assistant coach for the first eight years of Creamer’s tenure before taking time off. Soscia rejoined the team three seasons ago.
Soscia was born and raised in Cranston and he currently teaches at Cranston West.
This will be Soscia’s first high school head coaching job, but he has head coached at the youth level for 10 years now.
“I’ve got a great staff behind me helping me out with Coach Rick Angeli, who’s been there for 24 years, Coach David Exter, who will run the JV, he’s been there for about 15 years, and I’ve got two new guys Kris Omicioli, who’s also an alumni, and Ryan Perry,” Soscia explained.
“So, I‘m pretty excited,” Soscia said. “Some big shoes to fill following in coach Creamer’s footsteps, but we’re looking forward to the challenge of getting the kids ready and moving to the next level.”
And with 14 players now gone, Hendricken will have to find some new players to lead the team.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys looking to step up to the challenge and fill those roles,” Soscia said. “We don’t have a prolific goal scorer, but we do have quite a few guys that can definitely fill the roles to get us to the next level.” Therefore, Soscia does not expect the team to have a bridge year, but instead to battle for a second straight title.
“We're going to be able to compete,” Soscia said. “I think the boys are excited. They’re ready. We have some kids that have been waiting to prove themselves, so it should be a fun year for the kids.”
Some of Hendricken’s key players include junior forwards Nate Palumbo and Harrison Giuliano, as well as Cam Adamec, a senior defenseman, who are all returning.
“We’re going to be looking to Nate Palumbo and Harry to help us out offensively, and then Cam Adamec is going to help maintain defense at the blue line,” Soscia explained. “They’ll be a major impact on our team.”
Joining Palumbo and Giuliano at forward will be Ryan Mitchell, a senior, and Owen Leahy, a freshman.
“We’re very excited to have him come aboard,” Soscia said on Leahy. “He should have a major impact on our team as well.”
Leading the defense along with Adamec will be fellow senior Will Healy.
Jack Drohen, a junior transfer from Cranston West, will also be in the mix on defense along with a sophomore core that Soscia believes will be ready to help out the team.
That sophomore group will include Alex Giuliano, Rocco Biafore, Bob Corkery and Cam Warrener.
Competing for the job at starting goaltender will be Zach Marzano, a senior, and Drew Carr, a sophomore transfer from Smithfield.
“It’s going to be a competitive season at practice time and whoever competes the most and does the best job is going to play on the weekends and prove themselves,” Soscia said. “So, it should be a fun season and that’s what it’s all about - getting them ready, competing, and preparing them for life in general.”
As usual, Soscia expects La Salle, Smithfield, and Mount St. Charles to be among the Hawks biggest competition this season.
”They’re always very competitive,” Soscia said. “They always put out a solid team. So, it should be a very competitive season.”
With all the turnover that Hendricken has incurred, some chatter has risen from other schools who are unconvinced that the Hawks can repeat as champions.
But Adamec and Harrison Giuliano do feel the team has what it will take to get back to Brown University for another Finals appearance and they feed off the opportunity to prove the cynics wrong.
“I believe that if everyone has the same mindset as Cam and I, we will be back at Meehan,” Giuliano said. “Some doubt, and to the two of us, we love that, as it drives us. No matter the situation, the team is always trained to go. I have full faith in myself and the other 18 kids in the locker room. It’s not about Friday, but for March.”