By Joshua Boyd / NCDCHockey.com
The Northern Cyclones want their NCDC team to be a force to be reckoned with all year. But Head Coach Bill Flanagan is specifically looking to build a team that is tough to beat especially in February?
Why not September, November or January? Because February will mean that his team has continued to improve and develop during the season, and improved over the course of the next five-plus months. That’s the Cyclones’ aim every day – develop their players to be better on and off the ice today than they were yesterday. And better in February than the prior mid-September.
“We are going younger this season. We have good skill, speed and Division I potential players,” said Flanagan. “We will be a very good team in February.
Although younger, the 2023-24 Cyclones that will open up the overall NCDC season this coming Friday afternoon (against the South Shore Kings) are bigger and have a better overall skill package than the 2022-23 team. “But the biggest difference is age,” according to Flanagan.
The Cyclones ended the 2022-23 season as the third-oldest team in the NCDC, at 19 years and 354 days old. Their current roster has an average age of 18 years and 190 days, essentially 18 months younger across the board. Ironically, they also have the third-most experienced team in the NCDC, among the more than dozen teams that have posted their 2023-24 rosters already. Cyclones players have a total of 324 NCDC games under their belt.
Defenseman Charlie Ross has more than one-third of that total, playing 112 career NCDC games so far (including 85 the last two years with the Cyclones). He returns to the blue line, while other leaders and returning veterans include Anthony Dalessio (85 NCDC games) and Gavin Lissebeck (34 games).
“We are still evaluating” which additional returning players will be hitting the ice and can bring veteran leadership to the NCDC team.
Charlie Zetterqvist ranks among the top newcomers this year, an ‘06 from Sodertalje SK 18U who had 22 points in the Sweden Junior 18 league last year. Brendan Boring is an impressive ‘05 out of the Bishop Kearney Selects program, where he was a teammate of current Cyclones Paul Dalessio and Trevor Berg.
Another great success story from within the Cyclones organization is the promotion of Premier Champion and All-Star goaltender Jeffrey Fillion moving up to the NCDC this season. He posted a .932 save percentage in the regular season and then posted the exact same over eight playoff games, including going 4-0 at Nationals.
Again, it’s a long season so the importance in Hudson, N.H., is on the longview on all the ‘ments’: development, advancement, improvement.
“We will be a good team in February,” Flanagan added, “with players that have seen growth in all aspects of on-and off-ice life.”