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BEST OF THE BUNCH: Lace ’em up! We’ll skate four a side

BEST OF THE BUNCH: Lace ’em up! We’ll skate four a side

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MERIDEN — Like any sensible hockey organization, we loaded up our All-Record-Journal team with explosive forwards, solid blue-liners and a veritable stonewall in net.

Now that we’ve got to winnow that team to four finalists for Ice Hockey Player of the Year, we’re sticking with the formula.

We’ve got two guys who amassed over 100 career points, a defenseman who anchored a state championship team and a goalie named a state Player of the Year.

We like our chances in a pickup game. We don’t like having to pick just one winner out of the four.

All four are seniors; all four are All-State. Three won their team’s Hobey Baker Award for sportsmanship. The one who didn’t was edged out by a teammate who is among this group.

They are our four: Sheehan forward Devin Napoli, Lyman Hall Co-op forward Matt Pettit, Lyman Hall Co-op defenseman Mike O’Toole and Cheshire goalie Nick Maringola.

Maringola will soon be on his way to Manchester, N.H., where he’ll be playing junior hockey with the New Hampshire Avalanche of the Eastern Hockey League.

The goaltender is coming off a season that, by one definition, is without peer in Cheshire hockey history, which is saying something, given that Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Leetch launched his career at Cheshire High School.

Maringola was named the state Division II Player of the Year by the Connecticut High School Coaches Association. That was a first for a Cheshire ice hockey player.

Maringola’s numbers warranted the recognition. Sparked by 45- and 48-save games in December against Sheehan and the Lyman Hall Co-op, Maringola turned aside 718 of the 765 shots he faced during the regular season.

Quick math shows that’s a save percentage of .938. Quick math also shows Maringola faced an average of better than 38 shots a game.

One three occasions, it was 50-plus. The season high was 62.

Cheshire was a team that struggled to score and was young on defense, so it was the goaltending of Maringola that got the Rams into the Division II state tournament at 8-10-2.

The Lyman Hall Co-op also got into the postseason in its first season back in Division II after winning the D-III state championship in 2019.

Matt Pettit and Mike O’Toole were catalysts of both teams. This year, they were senior captains. Both wound up on the All-State and All-Conference Division II Second Teams.

O'Toole scored four goals and assisted on seven along with leading the defense. Pettit was the scoring leader with 18 goals and 17 assists. Those 35 points gave Pettit 150 on the nose for his career.

Devin Napoli also went over 100 points in a career that started at Notre Dame-West Haven and concluded at Sheehan.

With the Titans, Napoli joined an offensive juggernaut and sent it into overdrive. He was on the 2019 state runner-up team as well as on the 2020 squad that cranked out 150 goals in a 19-3-1 season that featured a third straight SCC/SWC Division III conference crown and the No. 1 seed in the CIAC Division III state tournament.

Napoli scored 26 goals and assisted on 19 this season. He wasn’t Sheehan’s leading scorer, but arguably the team’s most indispensible piece.

The postseason accolades speak to that. Napoli was named All-State Division III First Team, All-Conference First Team and the SCC/SWC Division III co-Player of the Year.

Also a standout lacrosse player, Napoli will be playing that sport in college at Division II North Greenville University in South Carolina.

The Record-Journal “Best of the Bunch” awards video airs on Thursday, June 18 on Facebook at 6:30 p.m. and will be on myrecordjournal.com afterwards. Finalists will be unveiled now through June 18. Up next: Boys Indoor Track.

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