When you lose nine games in one season, then say good-bye to 13 players who either graduated or transferred, it's not exactly a recipe for a championship the following season.
"We lost a lot, but we've got a good group coming back," Hickey said. "We've got some people who can really play."
The Rams were 13-9-1 last season while Ridgefield was beating Darien for the FCIAC championship. Not bad for a lot of teams. But the Rams lost a combined five games the two previous seasons (22-4 in 2009-10 and 25-1 in '10-11). So, while many FCIAC teams would give anything for a 13-win season, it was considered a down year at New Canaan.
Factor in that this season's team is filled with sophomores and the word "rebuilding" comes to mind. In reality, Bo Hickey doesn't know the meaning of that word.
"It's really a good group of sophomores who are going to be really good," Hickey said.
Hickey should find out a lot about his team when the Rams open against perennial state power Notre Dame of West Haven Wednesday. As usual, the Rams will have one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the state.
"I don't schedule anybody I can beat," he said. "What good does that do? But we will separate fact from fiction Wednesday. We'll find out quickly how good we are."
Five teams to watch
1. Ridgefield: The Tigers won 11 of 12 FCIAC games last season and then beat Darien to win the title. With high-scoring forwards Chris Morrow and Vin Rella back, a repeat is not out of the question.
2. Darien: The Blue Wave at least followed their loss to Ridgefield in the FCIAC final by knocking arch-rival New Canaan out of the state tournament in the first round. Nice, but this time they want more.
3. St. Joseph: The program has come a long way in a short time but lost in the first round of the state tourney, and is still in search of its first FCIAC title. It's time to take the next step up the ladder.
4. New Canaan: A list of FCIAC contenders can't be complete unless it includes the Rams. They're young but they're deep and talented and determined to bounce back from what was, for them, a down year.
5. Fairfield Warde/Ludlowe: It's not easy cracking the top echelon of the FCIAC but this team has virtually everybody back, an experienced senior goalie in Conor Frawley and great size on the blue line.
Sleepers: Greenwich, Trumbull, Stamford, Trinity Catholic.
Five players to watch
1. Brendan Hathaway, Darien: One of the top snipers in the league after scoring 22 goals in 24 games last season. Stop him and the Blue Wave are beatable.
2. Christian Keator, St. Joseph: One of the top playmakers in the FCIAC after recording 44 assists to go with 18 goals in 19 regular-season games last season.
3. Chris Morrow, Ridgefield: On an offensively balanced team, he might not post big numbers but he is the most dangerous of a dangerous group of Tigers.
4. Steve Lambranakos, Trinity Catholic: The high-scoring forward was one of the main reasons the Crusaders did so well (8-4) in the regular season.
5. Dana Wensberg, Darien: At 5-foot-10, 165, he is not the prototypical bruising defenseman. But he can hit, and added four goals and six assists.
Five games to watch
1. Darien-Ridgefield, Feb. 16: Just like last season, there's a good chance this will be the first of at least two meetings between the league's top powers.
2. New Canaan-Darien, Feb. 18: The two rivals also play on Dec. 19, but this is the regular-season finale and the Rams remember last year's state tourney opener.
3. St. Joseph-Trumbull, Jan. 23: This rivalry was built on other sports, but with St. Joe's emergence and Trumbull winning the Division II title, that's all changed.
4. Trinity Catholic-Stamford, Feb. 6: Westhill may have something to say about it, but a city title and possible Tier I playoff berth should be on the line.
5. Greenwich-New Canaan, Feb. 2: A late season battle between the two old warriors who have regularly dominated the league is always worth watching.