The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders have their heart and soul back on the bench as the 2022-23 season begins. Head Coach Mike Marcou fought cancer for much of the 2021-22 campaign. He has returned and is energized to have another strong year, following the Jr. Islanders’ recent path of winning records since Marcou was named Head Coach ahead of 2019-20. Players have been flocking to Long Island to be a part of this upward trajectory – and very often staying until their NCAA path is clear.
“I am very excited for this upcoming season. We have a great core group of eight returning players from last year’s team,” said Marcou. “We have had a great turn out with our summer recruiting. There are a lot of highly talented young players coming in to join our team for this upcoming season.”
Don’t expect much to change except for the very welcome visage of Marcou back on the bench. After all, with eight returners making up nearly half of a 21-man game day roster, the 2022-23 Islanders will look quite a bit like their predecessors. The Jr. Islanders kick off the season on Friday, Sept. 23, visiting the Mercer Chiefs for their first-ever NCDC game and home opener.
With that, the team has named as their captains goaltender Cam Smith (a St. Lawrence University recruit for 2023-24) and forward Luca Leighton, an ‘03 who had 45 points in 48 games as an NCDC rookie last year. As skilled as those two players are, that’s not what put the “C” on their chests.
“Here at P.A.L., we look beyond the hockey skill. We look to bring in guys that will fit in with the culture. Both Cam and Luca are great character guys. They uphold our standard of building a family here at P.A.L.,” Marcou said. “Both players had a lot of success on the ice last season – especially Cam getting a call-up to the USHL and committing to St. Lawrence. Both players lead by example on and off the ice. Their loyalty to the program and determination to come to the rink and get better everyday is contagious.”
Joining Leighton as returning forwards up front are Shane Zarcone (a top 10 scorer with 17 points last year), Carter Hanrahan, Ty Broad and Jeffrey Lee. On defense, watch for Zach Hahn and Tyler Rolston to lead the way as veteran voices.
The team has welcomed Coleson Hanrahan, an ‘05 “highly-talented defenseman – I am very excited to watch him develop and grow as a player and as a person.”
Both Hanrahans are products of the Springfield Pics, and both won USPHL 16U American titles – Carter in 2020 and Coleson in 2021.
Up front, watch for new forwards Donovan Powell, Owen Vilhauer and David Levkus.
“All were top players on their past teams and I think they will have a lot of success at the next level,” said Marcou. “All the newcomers uphold the P.A.L. standard in terms of character and attitude.”
The P.A.L. squad also continues to employ its Premier and Midget teams to help build up a player pool that can make the Tier II jump.
“We have brought up two players from last year’s Premier team,and we are also using our Midget program to help develop the players to get them ready for the next level,” said Marcou.
Playing regularly in the same division with the two-time Dineen Cup Champion Jersey Hitmen and an ever-rising Rockets Hockey Club can only hone the P.A.L. team to its sharpest edge. So sharp, in fact, the Jr. Islanders hope to be holding up the Cup by the time April comes up.
“Our expectation for this upcoming season is to build a championship-caliber team. The past three years, we have finished in the top of the league making playoffs every year,” Marcou added. “The South division is a very tough division. Every game is up for grabs. I am very excited to start the upcoming season, and to continue watching the NCDC grow.”