EAST PROVIDENCE — In anticipation of its season opener later this week, the East Providence High School hockey club skated past the Johnston-North Providence cooperative, 7-4, last Saturday night, Nov. 30, in the teams’ annual Injury Fund non-league contest played at the Route 146 rink in North Smithfield.
The expected top forward line for the Townies this winter — Kyle Marquis, Jared Estrella and Ryan Costa —combined for six goals and five assists in the contest. Defenseman Ryan Galvao added a goal and an assist and fellow blue liners Sean Feeney and Andrew Gordon each chipped in with an assist.
East Providence begins its Division III regular season slate with a pair of games this weekend: Friday, Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m. against defending league champ West Warwick at the West Warwick Civic Center and Saturday, Dec. 7, against Ponaganset at the Levy Rink in Burrillville at 7 p.m.
The Townies are coming off a 13-2-1 regular season record a year ago, which was good enough to place them second in the D-III standings. East Providence, however, suffered a disappointing loss to Tolman in its semifinal playoff series.
The 2013-14 Townies are led by senior captains Josh Letendre (8 goals, 7 assists, 15 points) and Feeney (1-3-4), along with junior captain and 2012-13 All-Division selection Marquis (8-15-23). Letendre returns to the lineup after missing the final month of last season with a broken wrist. Marquis moves from defense to center the top E.P. forward line made up of himself and juniors Costa (14-14-28) and Estrella (6-8-14).
“I think they’re going to be one of the most dynamic lines in the league,” East Providence Head Coach Kevin Croke said of the Marquis trio.
Letendre centers the Townies’ second line with junior Tyler Maxwell (1-4-5) and sophomore Brynne Costa (7-19-26).
“They’ll score their share of goals, but I want that second line to be our checking line. I’m going to match them up against the top lines of the other teams as much as I can,” the coach added about the Letendre-led grouping.
The rest of the forward continue includes juniors James Carlson (1-0-1) and Michael Allienello; sophomores Jacob Crombie (2-1-3), Cody DeCastro (1-2-3) and Derek Silva as well as freshman Cameron Maxwell.
Of note, Estrella missed the last six weeks of the 2012-13 season due to injury, Marquis and Maxwell are moving from defense to forward and Allienello is moving out of the net and will be skating shifts on defense this season.
The Townies expect their defensive corps to be led by Feeney along with juniors Galvao (1-5-6) and Gordon (1-5-6). They’ll be joined on the blue line by senior Shawna Carlson and freshman Rachel LaValley.
East Providence, according to Coach Croke, is also expected to lean heavily on junior goaltender Marc LaValley, who is seeking a return to the championship form he exhibited as a freshman. He is expected to be pushed by newcomer, sophomore Dylan Bochichio.
For the Townies to reach their full potential, they’ll have to return to their blue collar roots and outwork the opposition, according to Coach Croke.
“Obviously our goal is to win the championship,” the coach added of the season ahead. “We want to improve upon our record of last year. We want to go deep into the playoffs. And of course we want everybody to stay safe and healthy the whole season.”
Division III, the fourth tier of hockey in the state, is down to seven teams with the dissolution of the Tolman and Cranston East programs. Tolman players are now part of a cooperative with Scituate, which remains in D-III. East merged with cross-city Cranston West, which plays in the second tier, Division I-A ranks. The Townies and the rest of D-III have an 18-game regular season schedule, playing each of the other six clubs three times.