Coach: Dave Meisinger (seventh season)
Last season: 7-11-1
Key players: Nick Law, jr., F, led team with 20 points; Alex Long, jr., G, 0.68 GAA in five starts; Everett Valtin, sr., F, six goals and seven assists
Outlook: Air Academy lost six seniors and five others from last year’s squad, so Meisinger isn’t sure what to expect. The Kadets will have raw talent and their success depends on polishing that talent into on-ice results. Air Academy lost seven games by one or two goals last season and needs to be better in close game situations.
Coach: Erik Austin (second season)
Last season: 5-12-2
Key players: Grant Payne, sr., G; Garrett Hodson, sr., F; Tyler Taylor, jr., D; Nick Lacayo, so., F; Ryan Case, so., F
Outlook: The 2011-12 season is one that the Indians would like to quickly forget. For the first time in its 65-year history, Cheyenne Mountain missed the playoffs. The Indians lost their top two scorers, Brockton Ward and Jerry Lacayo, but should return enough talent to start a new playoff streak this season.
Coach: Greg Lehmann (first season)
Last season: 3-15-1
Key players: Tucker Bloom, sr., F, 33 points; Max Lovato, sr., D; Dylan Roche. sr., F; Alex Thomas, sr., D; Cody Johnson, sr., F
Outlook: Along with Pine Creek, Coronado was the only area team to collect less than six points in the conference standings last season. However, the Cougars return several talented players who should allow them to be more competitive this year. Bloom was the team’s second-leading scorer with 10 goals and Johnson was fourth on the team in points with 14 last season.
Coach: Will English (second season)
Last season: 7-11-1
Key players: Jared Wolf, sr., G, 2.89 GAA; Dusty Kachel, sr., F, 14 goals, 11 assists; Evan Weidner, sr., F, 17 points; Cam Komrofske, sr., D; Ty Snyder, so., D
Outlook: In addition to returning senior goalie Wolf, the Spartans have three of their top six scorers coming back in Kachel, Weidner and Komrofske. Doherty was in rebuilding mode with a new coach last season, but this year it should have a potent offensive attack and strong defenders.
Coach: Mike Payne (sixth season)
Last season: 14-5, lost in first round of state tournament
Key players: Trevor Shott, sr., F, 2011-12 Gazette Player of the Year, 20 goals and 24 assists; Jakub Myska, jr., F, 11 goals, nine assists; Sage Marshall, jr., F/D; Aleksi Pulkkila, jr., D; Lucas Huerga-Marin, jr., G, 3.06 GAA, led state in wins
Outlook: While the Danes may have lost four of their top five scorers, they have one of the best players in the state back in Shott. Fountain Valley will not be a deep team this season, so staying healthy is going to be a key to success. With a high-powered offense and solid goaltending, look for the Danes to be toward the top of the league again.
Coach: Steve Fillo (seventh season)
Last season: 13-6, lost in state quarterfinals
Key players: Matt Prudhomme, sr., D; A.J. Schaefer, jr., D; Brandon Roseboro, sr., F; Lucas Palonen, sr., G
Outlook: After winning back-to-back state titles two seasons ago, the Rangers took a step back last year. They were an overtime goal away from returning to the state semis and have their nucleus intact. L-P won’t be as prolific scoring this season, but will be much improved on defense and in the net, led by Palonen. The Rangers could very well be the best team in the city again.
Coach: Mark Tabrum (third season)
Last season: 13-6, lost in first round of state tournament
Key players: Alex White, sr., G, 7-1, 3.45 GAA; Alex McAfee, jr. D, first-team all-state; Matt Myers, sr., F; Mason Salazar, so., F
Outlook: Liberty lost its top five scorers and returns just six upperclassmen. The Lancers will be very young and feature eight freshman players. If this team can survive the early part of the season and learn to play together, it will have a chance to be successful. Having White and McAfee anchor the defense will certainly help.
Coach: Paul Bingham (first season)
Last season: 11-8, lost in first round of state tournament
Key players: Sam Horning, jr., C, nine goals, nine assists; R.J. Haenze, jr., C; Zach Donovan, so., F; Tyler Elwell, sr., D; Kline Donley, sr., D
Outlook: After snagging one of the final playoff spots last season, Palmer is looking to build on its first-round exit and take the program to the next level. Bingham believes his Terrors will be a fast team with a lot of talent, and although they are young, they are ready to take the next step. Horning will be the go-to guy, while the pair of senior defensemen will be a big help.
Coach: Ken Martel
Last season: 4-15
Key players: Zach Zimmerman, so., F, returning leading scorer; Ty Smith, sr., F, returning second-leading scorer; Logan Stein, fr., F; Riley Gregory, fr., F; Ryan Parent, jr., D
Outlook: The Eagles will still be a young squad, but should be a much-improved team from the past few years. For the first time in three years, Pine Creek will have sufficient depth on its roster to be able to compete. The key will be a fast start. It will need to gain some points in the standings early while maturing and gelling.
Coach: Joshua McIntosh
Last season: 5-13-1
Key players: Ian Johnson, sr., F, 17 goals; Byron London, sr., F; Walt Perea, sr., D; Steven Coffey, sr., D; Josh Baker, sr., D
Outlook: The Rams will be a senior-heavy bunch this season and they return two of their top three scorers in Johnson and London. The defense will be seasoned as well, with plenty of senior experience. Rampart finished five points out of a playoff spot last season and should be a better team this time around and could make it to the state tournament.