Sunday, March 4, 2012
Lawrence, Berkshire, KU take NEPSAC titles
By Marc Thaler
SALEM, N.H. -- If coach Kevin Potter was nervous before his Lawrence Academy boys' hockey team took the ice Sunday, he didn't show it while chatting in the media room before the puck dropped.
Potter's players didn't skate like the moment was too much for them to handle, either.
Harvard-bound forward Devin Tringale buried the eventual game-winning goal 18 seconds before the second intermission, classmate Nate Heilbron protected the lead to perfection in a pulsating third period, and the fourth-seeded Spartans knocked off No. 2 seed Noble & Greenough, 3-2, to capture the New England Prep School Ice Hockey Association tournament championship.
“We're a veteran team. I said, 'Let's not worry about Nobles. Let's worry about how we play,” said Potter, whose program, like Nobles, sought its first title in the high-stakes Stuart/Corkery tourney at the Icenter. “Except for the second period against Belmont Hill, out of the nine periods, we played our game. We dictated.”
LA also capitalized on Nobles' costly defensive breakdowns.
Perfect example: a span of 2 minutes, 25 seconds late in the second period. That's when LA struck twice to turn a one-goal deficit into the lead Heilbron was charged with protecting.
“That was huge. We always talk about the last 2 minutes of every period being important,” Potter said. “To get those two big goals there … that was big time.”
First-line wingers Tyler Whitney and Tringale fueled the surge watched by a full house, including more than 50 coaches from the college and professional ranks.
Whitney's one-timer from the back side was set up by Tringale's decision to hold the puck low in the left-wing circle. Conor Maher (30 saves) was forced to hold his position near the right post.
Tringale slipped the pass to his linemate for the open look. Tie game with 2:43 until the break.
Courtesy of the to-be Crimson skater, the contest didn't stay tied for long. Tringale teamed with Whitney and William Messa to generate the go-ahead goal with 18 seconds on the clock.
“Messa kept the puck in on the forecheck,” LA's 6-foot 1-inch, 195-pound winger said. “He made a nice pass to Ty Whitney, who made a really nice dish to me. It was just me and the goalie, and I went 5-hole.”
Tringale's tally capped a tremendous swing in momentum. Nobles answered the game's first goal, a first-period marker by Matthew Baldino, with two scores.
Cal Burke capitalized on LA's lone mistake of the opening stanza: a defensive zone turnover.
Will Sleeper gave Nobles its only lead barely 3 minutes after the first break. Heilbron's kick-save generated a rebound that Sleeper stuffed home.
Midway through the period, Colin White had a quality chance to dig LA a deeper hole. He used his body and a burst of speed to gain a step on Robert Klein. But Heilbron's left leg denied a low shot from the right-wing circle.
The save sparked LA, which increased its intensity in the offensive zone. It led to the two-goal flurry that altered momentum.
“We didn't have a very good last three-and-a-half minutes in the second period, obviously,” Nobles coach Brian Day said. “That was the difference in the game.”
Heilbron (28 saves) was a difference-maker, too.
Outshot through two periods, 26-14, the Bulldogs fired 16 of the third period's 23 total shots. Several attempts were within feet of LA's stopper, who wasn't fooled once.
“They put a lot of pressure on us. They threw a lot of pucks to the net. They gave us everything they had,” Heilbron said. “But my team and I, we stuck in there. We played our hearts out.”
Of the many near-markers Nobles launched, none came closer to lighting the lamp than PJ Falvey's blast from the left point. Falvey fired into heavy traffic, and a tremendous screen from teammate Max Franklin.
Heilbron, somehow, never lost sight of the puck. He gloved it, with Franklin towering over him.
In the end, though, no team this season is towering over Lawrence Academy.
“It's crazy,” Tringale said of the post-game scene inside and outside LA's locker room. “We got the coach with the bucket of water.
“We're all on top of the world right now. On top of New England.”
BERKSHIRE 4, ST. SEBASTIAN'S 3 (OT) Brendan McGovern made the most of his open-net opportunity in the second sudden-death minute of the Martin/Earl tournament. It netted top-seeded Berkshire the large-school championship.
McGovern made St. Sebastian's goaltender Gordon Donnelly pay for an aggressive decision. Donnelly left the crease with an all-out dive to poke-check a rebound toward the right boards. But the puck stayed in the slot, and the forward from Centerport, N.Y., fired a strike.
Fifty-one seconds earlier, Donnelly (38 saves) made a dazzling glove save to keep second-seeded St. Sebastian's in the fight. Charlie Corcoran split two defenders and, with an open look at the net, snapped off a wrister from the low left-wing circle.
Berkshire built a 2-0 lead, courtesy of first- and second-period goals by Gus Harms and Greg Smart. But St. Sebastian's closed the second period sandwiching markers around a tally by Berkshire's Corey Wisnowski.
Those bookend goals, from Tommy Kelley and Danny O'Regan, pulled St. Sebastian's within 3-2.
David Loughborough delivered the equalizer at the 6:59 mark of the third period. He beat Patrick Feeley (27 saves) with a power-play goal.
KIMBALL UNION 3, HOLDERNESS 2 (OT) Nick Roberto ended the Piatelli/Simmons tournament, lifting top-seeded KUA to the small school championship with 1:27 left in overtime.
Casey Miller forced a critical turnover along the boards and sent Roberto up ice, who beat Holderness goaltender Andy Monroe (40 saves) for the championship-clincher.
Both Monroe and KUA netminder Ryan Lund (28 saves) made several timely stops after third-seeded Holderness tied the final at 2-apiece. Gavin Bayreuther recorded the equalizer with a power-play blast from the blue line at the 9:43 mark of the third period.
Early in the third frame, KUA's Niko Rufo charged in from the right-wing side to snap a 1-1 deadlock.
Nick Renzi staked Holderness to its only lead, burying a second-period rebound at the 9:01 mark. The lead lasted less than 4 minutes as Jonathan Charbonneau connected on a breakout chance to knot the score.
Stuart/Corkery tournament championship
Lawrence Academy 3, Noble & Greenough 2
Lawrence 1-2-0 – 3
Nobles 1-1-0 – 2
First: L – Matthew Baldino (William Messa) 13:45; N – Cal Burke (Andrew Doane) 16:10
Second: N – Will Sleeper (Max Franklin, Doane) 3:08; L – Tyler Whitney (Devin Tringale, George Hunkele) 15:17; L – Tringale (Whitney, Messa) 17:42
Saves: L – Nate Heilbron 28; N – Conor Maher 30
Martin/Earl tournament championship
Berkshire 4, St. Sebastian's 3 (OT)
St. Sebastian's 0-2-1-0 – 3
Berkshire 1-2-0-1 – 4
First: B – Gus Harms (Kevin Rooney, Brian Brown) 15:28
Second: B – Greg Smart (Charlie Corcoran, Brown) 5:24; S – Tommy Kelley (Corey Ronan, Danny O'Regan) 5:52; B – Corey Wisnowski (Brown, Smart) 8:42; S – O'Regan (David Loughborough) 11:47
Third: S – David Loughborough (Stephen Brown, Cam Askew) 6:59 ppg
Overtime: B – Brendan McGovern (Rooney) 1:25
Saves: S – Gordon Donnelly 38; B – Patrick Feeley 27
Piatelli/Simmons tournament championship
Kimball Union Academy 3, Holderness 2 (OT)
Holderness 0-1-1-0 – 2
KUA 0-1-1-1 – 3
Second: H – Nick Renzi (Bailey Walsh, Gordon Borek) 9:01; K – Jonathan Charbonneau (John Macleod) 12:28
Third: K – Niko Rufo (Macleod, Charbonneau) 1:44; H – Gavin Bayreuther (William Kendrick, Matthew Thomas) 9:43 ppg
Overtime: K – Nick Roberto (Casey Miller, Rufo) 16:33