Boston High School: Aaron Clancy

Super 8 tournament primer and picks

March, 2, 2014
Mar 2
2:06
AM ET
There are less than 24 hours remaining before the puck drops on the Super 8 tournament Sunday at TD Garden.

So we’re taking this opportunity to break down the final eight. We’re taking a look at the head-to-head breakdowns for each series first-round, best-of-three series, along with predictions:

Series: No. 1 BC High (14-2-4) vs. No. 8 Xaverian (12-3-6)

Players to watch: BC High – F Steve DeForge, F Patrick Kramer, F Jake Lemanski, D Billy Roche, D Ryan Shea, D Sam Topham, D Trevor Davis, G Brandon Payzant; Xaverian – F Jon Beniers, F Andrew Durkin, F Antonio Marini, F Connor McCarthy, F Tim Sweeney, D Ricky Smith, G Aidan Murphy.

Previous meetings: 2-2 tie, Jan. 4; BC High, 5-1, Jan. 22.

The skinny: The top-seed Eagles take on their Catholic Conference rival Hawks, who endured a double-overtime classic against Archbishop Williams to slide in as the No. 8 seed. Xaverian will have to take a page from the playbook of Duxbury – which handed BC High a loss in its season finale at the Buddy Ferreira Classic – playing a tight-checking game through the neutral zone to stick with the Eagles’ slick transition game. Murphy has shown flashes of brilliance in his freshman campaign and the Hawks will have to rely on him and a big series from All-State hopeful Marini if they want to keep up with BC High.

X-factor: Payzant. The Eagles’ sophomore netminder has performed admirably in his first season taking the reigns from All-Stater Peter Cronin. But until a goaltender sees his first rubber in the playoffs, the book is still out.

Prediction: BC High in two.

Series: No. 2 Malden Catholic (16-4-0) vs. No. 7 Catholic Memorial (10-7-4)

Players to watch: MC – F Matt Filipe, F Ara Nazarian, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Jake Witkowski, D John McLean, D Nick Rolli, G Alex Reissis; CM – F Aaron Clancy, F Anthony Panaggio, F Mike Stathopoulos, D Frank Cosolito, D Tim Weinstein, G Brandon Collett.

Previous meetings: CM, 3-2, Jan. 25; MC, 11-0, Feb. 14.

The skinny: Once again the Lancers went on a February run, going 7-1-0 in February, despite a loss to Cathedral in the teams’ season finale at the Panthers vacation week tournament. Meanwhile, on the flip side, the Knights back their way into the tournament, having been blanked in the final month of the season, as CM didn’t win a game until Monday’s play-in game victory over Braintree in a one-goal game. However, as one-sided the matchup between Catholic Conference rivals might seem, CM does have the blueprint on how to take down MC, evidenced in the Knights’ 3-2 win in the teams’ first meeting at Walter Brown. In that game, CM was able to harass the Lancers breakout with an aggressive forecheck. In order to skate with MC, the Knights will have to repeat that performance or risk having their first-round series resemble more of the teams’ second meeting.

X-factor: Filipe. The Northeastern commit has provided a strong presence throughout the season on the Lancers’ second unit. While teams have a difficult enough time contending with MC’s vaunted top line, with Filipe and the second unit rolling, the Lancers’ attack is that much more difficult to match up with, defensively.

Prediction: MC in two.

Series: No. 3 Springfield Cathedral (15-2-5) vs. No. 6 Duxbury (16-2-3)

Players to watch: Cathedral – F Peter Crinella, F Johnny Leonard, F D.J. Petruzzelli, F Riley Prattson, D Dan Petrick, G John Liquori, G Keith Petruzzelli; Duxbury – F Nick Marrocco, F Matt Murphy, F Shayne O’Brien, F Trevor O’Brien, F Matt Saia, D Shawn Errasti, D Tyler Powers, G Tucker Kelly.

Previous meetings: N/A.

The skinny: In perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the first round, the high-flying Panthers offensive juggernaut squares off against a sound, defensive-minded squad from Duxbury. Cathedral enters the tournament ranked among the statewide leaders in just about every statistical category and host two of the top scorers in the state in Crinella (28-26-54) and D.J. Petruzzelli (21-32-53). Meanwhile, the Dragons played their best hockey down the stretch, beating BC High in the Buddy Ferreira Classic final to punch their Super 8 ticket. John Blake’s group excels with countering the team’s speed through the neutral zone, so the Panthers could be in for some tough sledding.

X-factor: Crinella. A contender for the Mr. Hockey award this season, the Holy Cross commit is capable of taking games over – something to be said on a roster full of Division 1 commits. This could be his coming out party on a statewide scope.

Prediction: Cathedral in three.

Series: No. 4 Austin Prep (13-4-4) vs. No. 5 Central Catholic (16-3-3)

Players to watch: AP – F Bobo Carpenter, F Eric MacAdams, F Jake McKennelley, D Andrew Cross, D J.J. Layton, G Elijah Harris; Central – F Zach Cote, F Richie Greenberg, F Lloyd Hayes, F Alex Lester, F Eric Robbins, F Corey Webber, D Conrad Jepson, D Cam Smith, G Colin Soucy.

Previous meetings: Central, 4-1, Jan. 1; AP, 3-2, Feb. 3.

The skinny: In a rarity with non-league opponents, the teams faced off twice during the regular season and, somewhat predictably, split the series. The teams are near carbon copies of each with a mix of top-flight offensive skill, depth and quality goaltending. AP, a Super 8 finalist last year, is a bit of an unknown commodity this season, as the Cougars lost multitudes of man games to injury through the year. In fact, AP didn’t even practice with its full fold of players until February, so we likely haven’t seen the Cougars’ attack at its fullest potential. Meanwhile, the Raiders can consistently roll three lines, with little drop off from the first to the third. So this one will be about as close as you can find.

X-factor: The goaltending. Both Harris and Soucy made names for themselves at last year’s Super 8. Regarded as two of the top goaltenders in the state, both offenses will be hard-pressed to find room to shoot.

Prediction: AP in three.

Super 8 play-in: CM 2, Braintree 1

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
2:17
AM ET


STONEHAM, Mass. – It was so familiar yet so different.

Last year, it was Malden Catholic back-stepping into the Division 1A tournament as a 10-seed and using its play-in win to jump start a third straight title run.

Last night, it was a previously free-falling Catholic Memorial squad that plugged the holes, righted the ship, and came back to defeat Braintree 2-1 at an overflow Stoneham Arena to advance to a first-round series against the aforementioned Lancers.

Knights captain Aaron Clancy played up to the moment, scoring a pair of goals less than three minutes apart in the third period to power CM into the Super 8.

“It was a quality win over a quality opponent,” Catholic Memorial coach Bill Hanson said. “We finally played the system we should be playing, and we got great goaltending.”

The Knights fell flat on their facemasks in the first period, but Brandon Collett carried them through it. The sophomore goaltender, celebrating his 16th birthday Monday, let a Wamp goal past him but locked down and stopped six shots in the period. Collett stopped 14 Braintree shots in total.

“Kid stood on his head,” Clancy said of Collett. “Without him we wouldn't be here. He's peaking at the right time, and that's all you need in playoff hockey.”

The Wamps came out guns blazing in the first period. Kevin Howard put Braintree up late in the period when his shot from the point deflected off a body and went in. Braintree used the body early and often to dictate tempo and looked as if it would turn the game into a replay of Friday's 3-0 win over the Knights.

However, CM streamlined its strategy in the final two periods and were able to turn the tide, in all facets of the game, on the Wamps. Braintree outshot CM 7-1 in the first but was outshot 18-8 during the final two periods.

“I thought in the first period we had a jump in our step, I thought we were playing well,” Braintree coach David Fasano said. “For some reason, the second period we did too much standing around; we were on our heels a little bit. Against a good team like CM you've got to go at them, force them to make mistakes.”

As the game progressed CM chipped pucks deep and forced Braintree to play a 200-foot possession, and the Knights were able to slop up the middle of the ice enough to break up the Wamps' passes. Braintree's physical, crisp game of the first period was unable to thrive once CM adjusted.

“They were great in the neutral zone and we adjusted by coming back a little deeper, getting the red line, and playing dirty, ugly hockey,” Hanson said.

“We stepped up our physical presence. We actually simplified what we did the second and third period. All's we wanted to was get the red line, try to take center ice away, and then get it in and make us play with their backs to us.”

CONTROVERSY: The game's most memorable moment was a disallowed Braintree goal in the first period that will be dissected for the rest of the tournament.

Wamps forward Brian Gallagher sliced through the CM defense and roofed a shot over Collett. The goal light went on, the Wamps celebrated, and the Knights looked to regroup. However the referee, who was just to the right of Collett waved the goal off.

After a meeting with the other officials, followed by a meeting with the goal judge, the call stood.

STILL POTENTIAL GLORY: The silver lining in Braintree's loss is that the Wamps are still playing hockey. Braintree will slot into the top seed in Division 1 South and will face either Falmouth or Walpole this weekend in the sectional quarterfinal.

Fasano said that tough odds were a manageable task for his team.

“These guys have responded all year,” Fasano said. “We lost opening night. We were 5-4-1 at one time and weren't sure what way we were going to go. We had a nice team meeting and we decided to go the right way. They've battled through some adversity.”

The Wamps will enter a wide-open South bracket that includes Marshfield on their side and possible opponents Archbishop Williams and Barnstable on the other side.

“Our guys got to keep their heads up, and hopefully we can make a run at in the Division 1 tournament,” Fasano said. “I think we've got enough talent to make a serious run. We didn't do any shame out here tonight. We'll be back at it.”

Recap: No. 7 Central Catholic 4, No. 3 CM 3

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
1:17
AM ET
BOSTON – Central Catholic rallied from three one-goal deficits to defeat Catholic Memorial, 4-3, on the heels of Lloyd Hayes' breakaway goal with 1:58 left in Monday’s duel of Super 8 hopefuls at Walter Brown Arena.

“It's huge for us moving forward,” Central coach Mike Jankowski said. “That's the type of game we've been looking for. The tight ones when we haven't been able to pull away and separate ourselves, and today we did.”

Hayes led the way for the Raiders on the ice and on the boards. The senior first-liner set the tone physically from the start and played like a bulldozer for the full 45 minutes. To go with his goal, he had an assist on Central's third goal earlier in the third period.

“That's the way we have to play – going to corners, getting pucks, and getting traffic to the net,” Hayes said. “That's the way we're going to win these teams, especially against good teams like CM.”

The Knights were led by senior captain Aaron Clancy who scored a goal and added a pair of assists. Linemate Mike Stathopoulos had CM's first goal and had the primary assist on Clancy's.

CM coach Bill Hanson had less to say about his team's offense and more about his team's lack of consistency on the back end.

“We had an assist on every one of their goals except for the power play,” Hanson said. “We had two blatant turnovers which they, as a good team, capitalized on. It's just the lack of mental toughness and mental athleticism to make the mistakes they make contrary to the way that they're coached.”

The Raiders found numerous ways to deflate the Knights.

Hayes' goal popped the balloon, and Colin Soucy made several spectacular saves to keep CM from pulling away. Christian Thompson's fluke goal, which was blockered away by CM goalie Brandon Collett only to bounce over him and in, with 91 seconds left in the second period was another guy punch for the Knights.

Central's recent rejiggering of its lines seems to have paid off. Breaking up the original top line of Hayes-Alex Lester-Corey Webber has allowed for other players to step up for the Raiders and jell in different ways.

“I think we've done a lot of different changes and everyone puts certain guys together,” Jankowski said. “It helps to get everyone in the game, and we've seen it game in game out. Everyone's finishing, getting some goals.”

Jankowski was pleased with his team's performance, but Hanson, who gave credit to Central for its performance, was anything but.

I take no positives out of this at all,” Hanson said. “We are killing ourselves.”

ROBBINS RISES: Sometimes it's good to have a Batman and sometimes it's good to have a Robin[ns].

Central's Eric Robbins, who was slotted onto the first line alongside Hayes and Zach Cote, stepped up in a big way. Robbins assisted on Central's first and third goals and was omnipresent throughout the game.

“Whenever coach switches up the lines we try to do something new,” Robbins said. “We usually jell pretty early and we were doing good out there today. I try to help the team out as much as I can. If I get moved up I get moved up.”

Robbins first assist came when his initial shot was cleaned up by Richie Greenberg, who has played alongside Robbins for most of the season.

“We always seem to find each other whenever we're on the ice,” Robbins said.

Jankowski said Robbins' best ability was being able to play with poise anywhere on the sheet.

“He gets his points here and there, but honestly he's a great two-way player,” Jankowski said. “He's a defensive center. He's really made each line move whenever we've moved him around. We talk about mixing the lines to find the best recipe to move forward and he allows us to do that.”

Recap: No. 6 Catholic Memorial 3, No. 2 MC 2

January, 26, 2014
Jan 26
12:48
AM ET


BOSTON – Against a team as fast and skilled as Malden Catholic, the margin for error in the neutral and – in particular – the defensive is slim.

That’s why Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson spent the lead-up to Saturday’s Catholic Confrence clash emphasizing responsibility through those two zones and the principle of taking away time and space from the Lancers’ forwards.

The Knights delivered on that promise, and combined with a 37-save performance from sophomore goaltender Brandon Collett and a couple of timely goals from senior winger Mike Stathopoulos, the No. 6 Knights delivered a 3-2 win over the second-ranked Lancers.

“We worked a lot on executing, getting the puck out of the zone,” Stathopoulos said. “If it’s not in the zone, they’re going to have trouble scoring, so we just wanted to get the puck out of the zone and really lock down the neutral zone, then make sure we work the puck down deep in their zone.”

Despite their attention to detail, the Knights (8-1-2, 2-0-1 Catholic) emerged a bit flat-footed in the first, while being outshot by MC (8-3-0, 2-2-0) by a 12-2 margin.

The opening stanza is when Collett turned in perhaps his finest work, keeping CM in the game while stopping a number of Lancers’ scoring chances. None was finer than his stop on an Ara Nazarian back-hander off a partial breakaway with about three minutes remaining in the first.

“Territorially, in that first period, they did what they do best, they attack the net,” Hanson said. “Our goaltender had to play real well in the first period to keep us in the game.”

The Knights turned the territorial battle in their favor in the second, propelled by an early goal from Stathopoulos. Just 11 seconds into the period, Stathopoulos floated a wrister from the right wing circle past Alex Reissis (16 saves).

CM outshot the Lancers, 10-5, in the stanza, but MC was able to head to the room all square after Matt Filipe’s tally at 8:46.

The Lancers claimed the lead at 4:26 of the third period on a Jake Witkowski goal. The lead was shortlived, however, as Aaron Clancy responded for CM just 36 seconds later.

The Knights reclaimed the lead with 7:58 remaining on Stathopoulos’ second of the game. CM defenseman Frank Cosolito earned his second assist, firing off a shot from the point with Stathopoulos putting back the rebound off the initial save.

“He’s playing with confidence and he’s an intelligent kid,” Hanson said of Stathopoulos. “There’s no nervousness in him.”

Little things add up: On the Knights’ methodology for success Saturday, Hanson outlined it to be: “We just didn’t want them to get odd-manned situations against us.”

Hanson lauded the efforts of his top defensive pairing of Cosolito and Tim Weinstein, which was rolled out each time MC’s top line touched the ice.

But defense is a team game, and the Knights forward shared in the responsibility – much of which was left to junior center Anthony Panaggio, who went toe-to-toe with the reigning Mr. Hockey award winner in the circle.

“He got in his shirt just enough to not let up that extra step,” Hanson said of Panaggio. “I thought he was tremendous tonight. [Nazarian] skates as well as anybody, but he was in his kitchen.”

Conversely, Lancers head coach John McLean thought his team was outworked and unable to get the greasy kind of goals required to win a tight Catholic Conference game.

“You get pucks on net, get to the net and good things happen, but we’re not doing that enough right now,” McLean said. “We’re kind of shooting and watching, there were a lot of rebounds that we weren’t in the dirty areas to get to.

“When you have a good, hard-working defensive team like that, you have to take your lumps to get a goal.”

Work in progress: On that first line of Malden Catholic, it took another new look on Saturday, as the Lancers look to find the right combination heading into the pivotal month of February.

Filipe, skated the right wing alongside Nazarian and Tyler Sifferlen to start the game, with the trio combining on the Lancers’ first goal.

Witkowski stepped back onto the line, as the MC’s top line was again on the ice for its second goal.

“We’re doing what we did last year, trying to fine the right combination and who gels well,” McLean said. “[Filipe] is an outstanding center, but wherever he goes, he’s an outstanding player.”

Recap: Catholic Memorial 5, Hingham 1

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
1:49
AM ET
HINGHAM, Mass. – Zach Sullivan scored twice in the first period and Anthony Pannagio added a pair of goals in the second period to propel Catholic Memorial to a dominating 5-1 victory over Hingham at the Pilgrim Skating Arena on Saturday night.

The visiting Knights (5-1-0) got off to a strong start in the first period, forcing Hingham goaltender Jack Santilli into eight saves before Sullivan opened the scoring. The puck found the junior forward in left circle and he fired a wrister past the goalie. Gunnar McKenzie had the assist.

The Harbormen (1-5-1) had a solid scoring opportunity in the first period Ethan Iaria has a shot from the slot go narrowly wide. Three minutes after opening the scoring Sullivan made it 2-0. The puck was shot in from the point by McKenzie and Santilli’s save landed on the stick of Aaron Clancy who sent a pass behind the goalie through the crease to a wide-open Sullivan.

The Knights controlled most of the attacking play and had a 12-2 advantage in shots after the opening period, which head coach Bill Hanson noted is becoming a pattern for his team – even if it was not a perfect game.

He said, “We’ve been consistent in that style of play all year. You know, our effort and the intensity was there, but physically we were a day late and a dollar short a lot of times.”

Hanson added, “We didn’t have our best legs at all tonight, but the power play worked well and our discipline was fabulous. We beat a pretty good hockey team.”

The Knights added to their lead in the second period with a power play goal two minutes in by Pannagio, who knocked home a loose puck at the side of the net. Hingham responded by turning up the pressure and got its reward when freshman Matt Demelis followed up a rebound on a shot from Luke McInnis that trickled through the pads of CM goalie Brandon Collett.

Unfortunately for the Harbormen, any momentum that the goal could have given them was taken away by another penalty and another power play goal by the visitors. Again it was Pannagio that provided the lift with a point-blank, one-timer on a centering pass by Michael Stathopolous that made it 4-1.

“The penalties hurt us,” said Hingham head coach Tony Messina. “They’re not good penalties and you just can’t win against a team like CM when you’re taking those kinds of penalties.”

He added, “We’ve been having a little bit of trouble generating offense lately. But, you know, I thought at times we played very well tonight and we’ve had moments where we give up easy goals and that’s what happened tonight.”

Hingham held an 11-9 advantage on shots in the third period, but most of those shots came from long distance and were little trouble for Collett. Messina thought the team played well in spurts but admitted the Harbormen need to try and create more solid scoring opportunities.

“We’re trying to get the guys to drive to the net,” he remarked. “I thought we had some decent moments where we created chances but a lot of the shots were from the perimeter. I think we out shot them in the third, but most of them were harmless.”

Catholic Memorial wrapped up the scoring with eight minutes remaining on an unassisted goal by Eion Hurley to make it 5-1. Hansen was pleased with the result ahead of a tough stretch that includes games with conference rivals St. John’s Prep and Xaverian.

He commented, “In this building, it’s hard to play. I think they have a little advantage when they play here. We’ll take 5-1 at this point.”

Recap: No. 10 Catholic Memorial 9, Natick 1

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
12:07
AM ET


BOSTON – Catholic Memorial doesn’t have a true superstar, but the Knights are a deep team that can run four lines and continuously attack their opponents. That was evident on Monday afternoon at Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University.

Junior captain Aaron Clancy, senior Michael Stathopolous and sophomore Paul Hardiman each scored two goals as the No. 10 Knights cruised past Natick, 9-1.

Hardiman and Stathopolous scored first period goals to take a 2-1 lead over Natick after 15 minutes. It was the only period that Natick mustered any offensive charge against CM and goaltender Brandon Collett.

The story of the night might have been the effectiveness of the second line for the Knights. Longtime Catholic Memorial coach Bill Hanson put Hardiman, Stathopolous and junior Anthony Pannagio together on the second line, and the trio displayed good chemistry and the ability to create offense.

“[Stathopolous] is a senior. It’s the first time he’s had a good night offensively. His engine, he’s playing hard and he’s getting after it,” Hanson said.

“Hardiman and Pannagio were our best penalty killers last year as freshmen. They played a ton for us last year. They weren’t good offensively as freshmen because it’s hard to play as freshmen. They’ve taken the next step. They’re good hockey players.”

The onslaught was on from there as CM scored seven times in the final 30 minutes to win going away. Zach Sullivan, Tim Weinstein and Will Conroy also added goals for Catholic Memorial.

The Knights improved to 2-0-0 on the young season, and are averaging 7.5 goals per game despite losing UMass recruit Liam Coughlin, one of the best offensive players in the state last season to graduation, and Cornell recruit Beau Starrett to juniors.

“We have a lot of the same cast of characters back from last year. My concern coming in was that they played so well last year making it to the [Super 8] Final Four, were they going to make that next step?” Hanson said. They really have exceeded my expectations. I’m pleasantly surprised. Their confidence factor is right where it should be.”

Hanson continued, “We don’t have Liam. We roll four lines. I firmly believe we have eight to nine guys who are 10, 12 goal scorers. The intensity and energy that we play with has to make up for Liam’s loss.”

Notes: Maine associate head coach Jay Leach and Los Angeles Kings scout Bob Crocker were both in attendance to take in the action at the former home of the Boston University Terriers … Clancy, the team’s top returning scorer, showed why with his quick release and ability to work well in traffic… Senior Will Conroy looked more like a skilled forward on his nifty breakaway goal to cap off the scoring… Catholic Memorial is off until Dec. 27 when it takes on Framingham in the Silverback Hockey Classic.

Super 8: Catholic Memorial 3, BC High 2

March, 11, 2013
3/11/13
1:54
AM ET


STONEHAM, Mass. -- It was too smooth. It was too easy. It was Liam Coughlin.

With less than 30 seconds left, Catholic Memorial’s Coughlin scooped up the puck behind BC High goalie Peter Cronin and circled around the net. With Cronin sprawled out and the BC High defense desperately out of position, Coughlin spun around, reset himself, and calmly lifted the puck over Cronin to put the Knights up 3-2 with 22.5 seconds left.

That’s how the game would end as CM defeated BC High 2-1 in the opening round of Super 8 to advance to Wednesday’s semifinals against Malden Catholic.

Coughlin, who led the Catholic Conference in scoring, had been held in check the first two games of the series before exploding for a pair of goals yesterday. He also had CM’s first goal.

“I was getting pucks to the net but they weren’t going in,” Coughlin said. “So I knew I had to go high. I always shoot low; I went high today and it worked.”

Coughlin and the Knights may have advanced to play on, but they did not make it easy on themselves. A slew of head-scratching penalties kept the Eagles power play on the ice, especially early in the game.

BC High made the Knights pay late in the first period when Patrick Kramer punched home a rebound past Brandon Collett.

“We did take a couple of needless penalties,” Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson said. “The first one was a bad play by our kid, there was one down behind the net. We’ve been good at killing penalties all year long. We survived it.”

The Eagles assaulted Collett, peppering the freshman with 24 shots, but Collett buckled down when he had to and kept Tom Besinger & Co. at bay.

“It’s a BC High, CM game,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “A bounce one way, a bounce the other way, and it’s a difference in the game.”

Peter Cronin had a solid, 18-save showing in his final high school game. Flaherty said that he was sorry that Cronin, and the Eagles’ four other seniors, wouldn’t have a chance to continue on.

“Not every team makes it this far and I’m proud of my team for making it this far,” Flaherty said. “Disappointed for all my seniors; I think they deserved a better fate. Wish they could have a few more.

“I wish we could have him for more. [Michael] Brooks, [Ryan] McDonough, those guys have been around for a long time. They mean a lot to the program. They’ve done a lot of things for the program.”

Chris LaLiberte feathered a lazy wrist shot through some bodies and into the goal to put BC High up 2-1 early in the third. Catholic Memorial’s Aaron Clancy scored less than three minutes later to tie the game and set up the chaotic finish.

YOUTH IS SERVED
Collett does not yet have his driving license, but he already has the poise of a seasoned veteran.

Collett’s 22- save performance, in the biggest game of his fledgling career, earned much praise from his coach.

“He’s good,” Hanson said. “This is not a figment on anybody’s imagination, he can play the game.”

Hanson compared Collett to a couple of former CM greats.

“Jim Carey, Tom Noble they could have done it as freshmen, but didn’t have the opportunities to do it,” Hanson said. “This kid is the only freshman I’ve ever had that has played a full season of [varsity].”

A NEVERENDING RIVALRY
After going through the grinder of playing against each other three times in a week, both coaches had varying opinions about the new format used in the Super 8 tournament.

“BC High and CM, that rivalry of schools actually supersedes the hockey game,” Hanson said. “We compete with them in everything.”

After competing with the Knights for more than 230 minutes of hockey spread over five games, Flaherty said that the new tournament format might create too much of a good thing.

“If they don’t like how it works, I’m sure they’ll change it,” Flaherty said. “It’s something new, something different. I think playing someone five times is a lot, but it is what it is.”

Super 8 tournament primer and picks

March, 2, 2013
3/02/13
4:52
PM ET
There are less than 24 hours remaining before the puck drops on the Super 8 tournament Sunday at UMass-Lowell’s Tsongas Center.

So we’re taking this opportunity to break down the final eight. As the tournament takes on a best-of-three format for its first-round matchups this year, we’re taking a look at the head-to-head breakdowns for each series, along with predictions:

Series: No. 1 St. John’s Prep (17-2-1) vs. No. 8 Central Catholic (14-5-3)

Players to watch: Prep – F Brian Pinho, F Tyler Bird, F Andrew Brandano, F Jack McCarthy, F Cam Shaheen, D Brent Murray, G Billy Price; Central – F Lloyd Hayes, F Corey Webber; D Nick Gorski, D Alex Lester, G Colin Soucy.

Previous meeting: Central 2, Prep 1 on Dec. 26.

The skinny: Central fought its way into the eight-team field with an improbable comeback against Hingham in Monday’s play-in game. But they’ll have to be ready to go out of the gate against the top-seeded Eagles. Prep is deepest team in the field — from its forwards to its defensemen — and the Raiders will have to weather the Eagles’ ability to wear teams down by consistently rolling four lines (Claude Julien surely would love this Prep team). The goaltenders will also be under the spotlight in this series with both Price and Soucy making their debuts in taking over for tournament stalwarts David Letarte and Kyle Williams, respectively. The play of both goaltenders has been a strength for their teams this year.

X-factor: Can the Raiders parlay some momentum gained from their dramatic play-in game overtime victory into a Game 1 win against the Eagles? Also, what kind of a factor will Central winger Mike Kelleher be?

Prediction: Prep in two.

Series: No. 2 Springfield Cathedral (16-1-4) vs. No. 7 Malden Catholic (12-6-3)

Previous meeting: MC 2, Cathedral 1 on Feb. 21.

Players to watch: Cathedral – F Peter Crinella, F Dominic Blad, F D.J. Petruzelli, F Johnny Leonard, D Matt Foley, D Jack Williams, G John Liqouri; MC – F Mike Iovanna, F Ara Nazarian, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Pat Wrenn, D Casey Fitzgerald, D Nick Rolli.

The skinny: While the Panthers enjoyed some down time this week, MC set about making a statement in its 9-1 dismantling of Archbishop Williams in Monday’s play-in game. Perhaps no team in the state has been hotter than the two-time defending Super 8 champion Lancers and they’d like to prove that, once again, this is their time of the year. There will be plenty of top-tier talent on the ice when the team’s top forward units face off with Cathedral’s line of Crinella-Artie Potter-Blad opposed by MC’s Iovanna-Nazarian-Sifferlen troika. The key to this series, however, will be which team’s second and third lines come to play.

X-factor: Cathedral goaltender John Liquori. As we saw in the Panthers’ game against St. John’s Prep in the final week of the regular season, he’s capable of stealing points and games for them. He’ll need to be at his best to curb the Lancers’ attack.

Prediction: Malden Catholic in three.

Series: No. 3 BC High (14-3-3) vs. No. 6 Catholic Memorial (12-6-2)

Previous meetings: BC High 5, CM 1 on Jan. 16; BC High 4, CM 3 on Feb. 2.

Players to watch: BC High – F Tom Besinger, F Pat Kramer, F Steve DeForge, F Chris LaLiberte, D Sam Topham, D Ryan Shea, G Peter Cronin; CM – F Liam Coughlin, F Jack O’Hear, F Kevin Hock, F Aaron Clancy, D Dennis Medeiros, D Sean Heelan, G Brandon Collett.

The skinny: Can’t get much better than this, right? Right up there with Bruins-Canadiens. The teams will add another chapter to their storied history in the 50th-anniversary year of their hockey rivalry. While the Eagles claimed both meetings against their Catholic Conference counterparts during the regular season, the play was largely even (minus one second-period outburst in BC High’s 5-1 win in January). So expect more of the same in this series.

X-factor: Liam Coughlin. The Eagles had success neutralizing the rangy center during their regular season appearance, both in the offensive zone and in the face-off circle. But we’ve seen Coughlin (25-16-41) take control at times this season, and he’ll have to do so for the Knights to advance.

Prediction: BC High in three.

Series: No. 4 Austin Prep (13-1-6) vs. No. 5 Reading (16-1-5)

Previous meeting: N/A.

Players to watch: AP – F Nolan Vesey, F Bobby Carpenter, F Jake McKenelley, F Eric MacAdams, F George Sennott, D Andrew Cross, D J.J. Layton; Reading – F Rob Devaney, F Mike Thomson, F Jake Barbera, F Mark Dente, G Evan Morelli.

The skinny: The Battle of Reading is just one subplot to a group of first-round series rife with context. The high-flying Cougars attack will have to break through a sticky Reading forecheck that can give opponents fits. AP does enter tournament having played some of its best hockey of the year in the final week of the season, wrapping up a Cape Cod Classic championship. The Rockets, meanwhile, will gain the fan bases of the rest of the state as the lone remaining public school entrant in this year’s field.

X-factor: Nolan Vesey. Has the potential to be the best player in the tournament. For a young squad such as AP, however, Vesey’s leadership will be vital for their long-term Super 8 chances. He needs to set the tone.

Prediction: Austin Prep in three.

Recap: No. 4 CM 2, No. 15 Barnstable 2

January, 20, 2013
1/20/13
1:05
AM ET
HYANNIS, Mass. -- Officially they didn’t win the game, but try to tell that to the Barnstable Red Raiders.

The MIAA does not sanction overtime, so No. 15 Barnstable and No. 4 Catholic Memorial — by the books — played to a 2-2 draw tonight the Kennedy Rink in Hyannis in the first round of the Nate Nickerson Invitational. Unofficially, the Red Raiders (5-2-3) scored the only goal in a shootout, after a scoreless overtime period, to advance in the winner’s bracket of the Nate Nickerson Invitational, to win the game 3-2. They will play Falmouth (Maine) tomorrow for the tournament title.

Ultimately, the tie could serve as a win for the Red Raiders, in a different way. Barnstable scheduled the game to increase the degree of difficulty on their ledger this year in hopes of impressing the Super 8 Selection Committee. Playing in the Old Colony League, the Raiders historically don’t have a very difficult road to the state tournament. But, this year, they’ve gone out of their way to play against tougher competition in hopes of getting to the toughest tournament at the end of the year.

“For us, it goes as a tie, but it feels like a win,” Barnstable head coach Scott Nickerson said. “In our minds, it’s a win, and it’s as big a win as we’ve had in this program maybe in 50 years, as long as it goes back.”

If Saturday night’s effort can be used as a measuring stick, the Raiders have made a pretty convincing case that they belong.

Behind a 38 save effort by junior goaltender Kevin Huska, Barnstable hung tough all night long. The home team survived a kitchen sink second period that saw Catholic Memorial (8-3-1) score twice, and outshoot them (17-2) to give themselves a chance at crunch time.

They made the most of that chance.

Seconds after Huska had skated for the bench, for an extra attacker, the Red Raiders struck to tie the game with just 1:27 left in regulation time. Senior center Max Willman forced a turnover just outside the CM blue line, stealing the puck away and sending it deep. Barnstable worked the puck around and it found the stick of junior winger Connor Fries, who flung a low wrister at the net from the right wing circle that circumvented traffic and found space between CM goalie Brandon Collett’s pads to tie the contest up at two aside.

“We fought back, we never gave up,” Nickerson said. “We pulled the goalie, we were able to get the equalizer and I thought we deserved that. I thought we deserved at least that. No doubt, they’re a great team, that’s a good program. We outworked them in the third period, which for us is where we wanted to be.”

Huska shone brightest in the shootout. After Willman collected the only goal by either team in the shootout, on a beautiful backhander that he lifted to the top shelf, the goaltender stopped three straight penalty shots, with each save prettier than the one before it. First, he used his leg pad to deny Jack O’Hear, then he slid right to left to stymie Liam Coughlin. Finally he ended the game with a brilliant glove save on a shake and shimmy move by Beau Starrett before being pig-piled on by the entire Barnstable bench.



“[Huska] isn’t a very good technical goalie, he absolutely isn’t, but he does whatever he has to do to stop the puck,” Nickerson said. “That’s what wins games. I thought he played great.”

Huska said it doesn’t matter if it looks pretty, as long as the puck isn’t behind him.

“I just go around and try to stop the puck any way I can,” Huska said. “I’m not really a butterfly goalie, I just try to stop it any way that I can.”

After a first period that saw Catholic Memorial carry most of the play, but leave the ice down 1-0 thanks to a nifty shorthanded goal by Eric Rogorzenski, the Knights took the ice with purpose in the second and dominated the action. CM came at Barnstable with purpose, and popped the tying goal just two minutes into the period when O’Hear flung one from the right wing circle that beat Huska to the glove side. The Barnstable goalie said after the game that that was the one shot that he wished he’d had a do-over on.

CM grabbed the lead a little over five minutes later, at the 7:40 mark of the second as they scored on a break-in. Huska made the initial save on a wrister by Starrett, but Tim Weinstein pushed in the rebound on the weak side pipe to put the Knights up 2-1.

CM had chances to pad their lead late in the period, but Huska made certain that they didn’t, and he also got a little bit lucky. The junior, who plays the position in a very unorthodox manner – he compares himself to Tim Thomas – made two great stops late in the second to keep his team within one. He stoned Starrett on a tip shot, sliding across the crease and then gloved a wrister by Aaron Clancy with 1:24 to go in the frame.

With 47 seconds left, fate intervened for the Raiders. Zach Sullivan flew past the defense up the right wing boards and let a rocket fly from 25 feet out, but his shot rung the pipe and flew to the corner.

CM head coach Bill Hanson said that, while his team piled up the shots – they held a 40-19 edge in that category – they weren’t the best kind.

“Never mind shots on goal … I think the number of quality scoring chances is the most important statistic,” Hanson said. “We had three two-on-ones, a three-on-one, with our best guys, and they didn’t get it done for us there. We didn’t put ourselves in position to really score, I mean the goaltender’s good, he played well, but any goalie can make a save when you shoot it right at his chest when you’re not making that extra pass with the open man situation. We didn’t make good decisions.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 5, No. 4 CM 1

January, 17, 2013
1/17/13
3:11
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BOSTON – Expect the unexpected.

When a rivalry game of the gravitas of a BC High versus Catholic Memorial hockey occurs, all bets are off.

“With BC High and CM, conventional wisdom goes out the window,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said after Wednesday night’s Catholic Conference duel at UMass-Boston. “You can prepare all you want and something goes differently.”

So why should anyone have been surprised when the Clark Center’s Zamboni ran out of water mid-scrape, causing about a 15-minute delay between the first and second periods.

When the teams finally returned, No. 2 BC High nearly melted the ice, using a four-goal outburst in the second in a string of five straight goals in a 5-1 win over the No. 4 Knights.

CM (8-3-0, 2-2-0 Catholic Conference) jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 11 seconds in on an Aaron Clancy’s seventh goal of the season.

The lead would be short-lived as the Eagles (7-1-2, 2-0-2) tied the game less than a minute later on Tim Larocque’s first of two goals on the evening.

The teams retired to their rooms tied after the first, but the second would be much different.

“[Flaherty] said we needed to just keep on being physical and get everything to the net,” Larocque said. “We came out flying and we were able to get some lucky bounces.”

The Eagles outshot CM 14-7 in the second period, in addition to outhustling and outhchecking the Knights while wining just about every one-on-one battle there was to be in the stanza.

Michael Brooks broke the stalemate at 4:21 of the second. It was the first of two BC High goals within a minute, 13-second span, including Jake Lemanski’s boomer of a Tom Besinger offensive zone face-off win. The Eagles notched their fourth short-handed as Steve DeForge broke in after a neutral zone turnover.

Larocque capped scoring with his second of the game with an assist from Connor Noonan at 12:41 of the second.

“Noonan was skating in and he lost it,” Larocque said. “I happened to be right behind him and I took a took a quick shot and saw it go in.”

The pressure applied by the Eagles in the second was simply unrelenting.

“Every one of their goals, they forced the issue,” Knights head coach Bill Hanson said. “It was a mistake forced by them with aggressive play. Nonetheless, you can’t make mistakes when they’re going after you.”

A SILENT CONTRIBUTION
It’s not often that perhaps the most dominant player on the ice doesn’t figure prominently on the scoresheet.

Besinger, the Eagles’ junior captain and center, was downright dominant taking the draws against CM’s top pivots. He also showcased his speed and shiftiness in a flurry of scoring chances at the tail end of the second period. In both instances, with less than two minutes to play, Besinger turned transition into quality scoring chances.

Even though both of those opportunities went by the boards, his efforts were not lost on his coach.

“Tommy Besinger wasn’t on the scoring sheet other than that assist tonight, but he owned the faceoff circle tonight,” Flaherty said. “He was beating, in my mind, two very, very good centers in Liam Coughlin and Jacky O’Hear.”

He continued, “The little things he does translates into victory today.”

THE FLIP SIDE
While there wasn’t much to like about the Knights’ efforts in the second period, Hanson put a positive spin on things after his team endured perhaps its toughest stretch of the season.

During the last two-plus weeks, the Knights have played a string of five straight ESPN Boston Top 25 ranked teams, including four tilts against each of their Catholic Conference opponents and a Super 8-caliber challenge against Hingham.

“I look at it like this,” Hanson said. “It’s been a tough five-game stretch, we’re two and two in the league and we got six out of 10 points against five real good teams. So that’s what we take out of it.”

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