By Joshua Boyd / USPHLNCDC.com
We’ll be taking time over the month of June to look at how some NCDC teams are working on building their 2023-24 squads through the acquisition of tenders, commitments from returning players and past draft selections they continue to evaluate.
The Connecticut Jr. Rangers are looking to break through in 2024, pushing to make the playoffs after finishing just shy over the past two seasons. Every year, they put together tough, competitive teams, and the staff including GM Vinnie Montalbano and Head Coach Jim Henkel continue to bring in intelligent, determined players who have gone on to become leaders in many ways at the collegiate level.
All quotations in the sections below are from Head Coach Jim Henkel.
The Jr. Rangers have the potential to return some of their leaders, including a 2022-23 Captain, one of two who would be playing in his third season with the Connecticut Jr. Rangers. Henkel said that “early conversations lead me to believe we will be returning the following players.”
Shea Thibault, an ‘03 defenseman, came out of Connecticut’s Elite Hockey Academy to join the Jr. Rangers at both the Premier and NCDC levels in 2021-22, before playing the full NCDC season in 2022-23 as a Captain. He put up a 1-12-13 line in 44 games from the blue line.
Jex Sheffield, an ‘03 center, was a 2001 NCDC Entry Draft Pick of the Jr. Rangers out of the Team Illinois program. He put up 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points in 50 games last year. “He will most likely be in a leadership position.”
Max Jaldung, an ‘03 right wing from Sweden, returned to North America in 2022 to play a full season with the Jr. Rangers. Playing all 50 games, he put up an 11-19-30 line. His 19 assists were third on the team last year. He also played for the New York Aviators in the USPHL Premier in 2020-21 under current Premier Jr. Rangers Head Coach Mike Stanaway. “He’s a big power forward Sweden who will be looking to return and add to his [2022-23] season’s success.”
Joey Lomtevas, an ‘04 from Huntington, N.Y., put together a strong USPHL Premier season with a 14-19-33 line in 43 games. He also played five NCDC games and scored a goal during his call-up.
“He is another big power forward. Played a majority of the season at the Premier level, but he is poised to take the next step.”
“One thing we were planning on is the departure to college of significant offensive production at the forward position. A few of guys that we were really excited to sign were Alex Ondos, Stanley Bright, Joey Quinn and Colin Richard.”
Alex Ondos – Northfield Mount Hermon School
An ‘04 forward from Pennsylvania, Ondos played this season for both Northfield Mount Hermon (26 points in 28 games) and the GBL Jr. Bruins (28 points in 24 games). He is also a product of the prestigious Pittsburgh Penguins Elite program.
“Alex is a big centerman that can score goals in bunches. We will look to find him a playmaker early on in camp. Generate some chemistry with both Ondos and [Colin Richard] with some returners and we could be in good shape.”
Colin Richard – Thayer Academy
An ‘03 right wing out of Foxboro, Mass., Richard posted 16 points in 25 games in his second post-grad year at Thayer. He had previously played with St. Paul’s School, graduating from that school in 2021. He has also played for the Cape Cod Whalers and South Shore Kings 18U AAA programs.
“Colin is a small, crafty forward that has been a consistent producer offensively at every level, something we will need to start the season.”
Stanley Bright – Berkshire School
The ‘04 forward has a history with the Jr. Rangers, playing for CJR at the Quebec International Peewee Tournament in 2017. Since then, he’s been a productive scorer with Elite Hockey Academy, Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers and Berkshire School. He scored 18 points in 25 games this past season. He also made his first appearance with the Jr. Rangers over six games at Hub City Tampa in 2021. Younger brother Walker Bright (‘06) was a 2023 NCDC Entry Draft selection of the Rangers.
Joey Quinn – Nashoba Regional High School
A 2005 forward, Quinn posted 47 points for Nashoba this year en route to their Massachusetts state championship victory.
“Two more guys that we added that we feel can be very instrumental in our play this upcoming season are Stanley Bright, a local kid from Berkshire, and Joey Quinn, who won the Massachusetts state championship. Both players are coming from very successful programs and seasons. We needed to add some players that know how to compete and win at the highest levels. Adding Quinn and Bright will bring this mentality and added offensive production.”
Leo Adams – Bishop’s College School
Don’t be surprised if this 2023 Draft Pick, an ‘06 forward from Gander, Newfoundland, makes the Jr. Rangers’ 2023-24 roster. He posted a line of 9-33-42 in 52 games for Bishop’s College, a program that very often sees NCAA Division I commitments directly from its players.
“A player from this year’s draft that we are really high on is Leo Adams. While he is young by birth year, his size and physical development speak otherwise. We had the opportunity to grab him early on in the draft. He skated at the Spring Showcase with us and did a very nice job against some older competition.”
The Road Ahead
The Jr. Rangers got right to work following the end of the regular season, and that will not stop until the hockey operations side is fully confident of their Opening Day roster.
“I have been out since the end of March scouting and recruiting. I attended both the NCDC Combines and the USPHL Spring Showcase. I was at the USPHL Premier and Elite Nationals and located a few solid prospects from that level. I was also at the Pre-Draft and will attend the Chowder Cup and Kings of East Coast Showcase.
“We will have our Main Camp in July leading up to the USPHL Summer Showcase.”