Monadnock captain Luke Gay (11) takes the faceoff as Justin Joslyn (21) gets set for action against Sanborn last winter at Keene ICE.

A core of returning players will lead the Monadnock-Fall Mountain Huskies into the Division III ice hockey season beginning Wednesday against Kearsage-Plymouth. Puck drop is at 6:40 p.m. at Keene ICE, 380 Marlboro St., Keene.

Team captains Luke Gay and Will Lepisto, along with fellow seniors Brayden Ring and Joe Lotito provide veteran experience, while junior netminder Cam Olivo holds down the defensive end.

“We have a couple of promising freshmen,” said first-year head coach Art Johnson in an email. “We are thin in numbers, but go into the year cautiously optimistic and raring to go.”

Although this is Johnson’s first year has head coach, the Nashua native has been a part of the Monadnock-Fall Mountain hockey program as an assistant coach under that previous three head coaches.

Johnson got his start with the program after running into current Monadnock athletic director Tom Cote at the ice rink and they got to talking.

“He realized I could contribute to the program,” Johnson said. “I’ve been here ever since.”

Johnson played high school hockey at Bishop Guertin in Nashua, then served as a player/coach at the University of Virginia after high school.

After his graduation from UVA, Johnson coached summer league hockey and eventually ended up back at UVA.

Then, Johnson found himself as an assistant coach at this alma matter Bishop Guertin before eventually moving to Keene.

“I sort of just fell into it,” Johnson said. “I enjoy teaching the kids.”

Johnson takes over for Eric Sandstrum, who will be staying with the program as an assistant coach.

“It’ll be an interesting process,” Johnson said. “We’ll have some adversity, but it’s how you face it that determines the season.”

The Sentinel will be providing full coverage of Monadnock-Fall Mountain’s season opener on Wednesday against Kearsage-Plymouth. Follow Chris Detwiler on Twitter at @Chris_Detwiler for live updates during the game, and visit SentinelSource.com for results following the game.