In terms of quantity, the New Canaan girls hockey team didn't lose much from last season -- just six players to be exact. In terms of quality, that's a different story.

The Rams graduated all three of their captains (Olivia Hompe, Corbett Ripley and Madzie Carroll) along with Kylie Glover and Kit Clemente, while Megan Davis moved away, and anyone who's watched New Canaan over the past several seasons knows that those losses shouldn't be taken lightly.

"You lose 384 points with Hompe, another 100-and-something with Carroll on defense and another 100-and-something with Ridley," New Canaan coach Rich Bulan said. "Those three coming in together have just been through it together, and that's what I see with these three (captains Nathalie Deney, Emma Rosenstein and MacKenzie Lewis). They're going to make a difference."

The good news is that New Canaan returns 15 players from last season's state championship squad, including Deney, the team's captain, starting goalie and lone senior.

"We're solid in goal. Natalie is our only senior and she had a solid year last year," Bulan said. "Defense, Mia Carroll and Emma Patch are returning, and Katie Marciano decided that she wanted to try D this year, and she's actually looked pretty good. One of our freshman, Bella Marciano, is really going to make a difference back there."

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Though the Rams won't play a regular season contest for another two weeks, Deney believes there are some encouraging signs in the preseason's early goings.

"Our locker room is always loud and lively, so there's definitely a lot of excitement which I think is going to give us a lot of positive momentum," Deney said. "It's not going to be the same season that it was last year, but I think that we have a lot of different cards that we're going to be playing and we definitely should not be counted out."

Sophomore forward Catherine Granito emerged as a scoring threat last season, and Bulan may move her around the ice a bit in 2013-14.

"I really only have four defensemen, so I'll throw Catherine Granito down there once in a while -- on the powerplay and the penalty kill and stuff like that and maybe some game situations where we're trying to keep a lead," Bulan said.

Bulan went on to indicate that he and his coaching staff are considering not going with "steady line combos," meaning that everyone will be on their toes when it comes to getting back onto the ice.

New Canaan's assistant captain vacancies will be filled by a pair of junior forwards, Rosenstein and Lewis.

"Obviously we lost many players from last year that were important to our team, but honestly, I think if we work hard, we have a lot of potential," Rosenstein said. "We've got a solid defense and we have a lot of girls that can score."

The new-look Rams are excited to get their season underway, but naturally, there are a few games that tend to jump off the schedule, least of all being border rival Darien, which defeated New Canaan 4-3 in last season's FCIAC championship tilt.

No strangers to one another, the Rams and Blue Wave will meet twice in 2013-14, and that's not including a potential postseason matchup or two. The first of those tilts takes place on Opening Night at the Darien Ice Rink on Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6 p.m.

"We lost some players from last year, but I think we'll come out strong," Lewis said. "I definitely think everyone has an opportunity to step up this year. We're definitely looking forward to our first game against Darien, especially after last year after FCIACs." Twitter: @jchik17