Boston High School: Bill Guisti

Bertoni introduced as Needham hockey coach

June, 14, 2013
Needham High athletic director Micah Hauben announced today that the school has hired Mike Bertoni as its varsity hockey head coach in a press release to local media.

Bertoni, a former standout at Frankin High and later UMass-Boston, most recently coached at Mystic Valley and takes over for Bill Guisti, who resigned in May.

Here's more from today's release:
Coach Bertoni was a four-year player and team captain at Franklin High School and received his B.S. in PE and Exercise Science at UMASS Boston, where he was also a four-year player and team captain. In his senior season at UMASS, he was named the “Strength & Conditioning” Athlete-of-the-Year for the University. He holds a Masters in Secondary Education from Cambridge College and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study in Educational Administration from UMASS Boston. For his work in the Boston Public Schools, Bertoni received a Sontag Prize for Exceptional Teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2012.

A Level 4 Certified Coach through USA Hockey, his coaching career began at his alma mater UMASS Boston, first as an assistant and then as the head coach, and he has also had stints on the bench as an assistant at Wentworth and Suffolk University. He has served as the head coach at two different high schools as well, pushing his players to raise the overall team GPA and leading his team to the postseason at Somerville, and most recently, at Mystic Valley Regional Charter this past winter. At Mystic Valley, he helped transform a program in only its third year into a disciplined and competitive team that was only one game shy of state tournament qualification.

A day in the life of Needham hockey

February, 28, 2012
Editor’s note: On Wednesday, February 22, the Needham High School athletic department and hockey coach Bill Guisti granted access to reporter Scott Barboza and videographer James Walsh to follow the team for their first-round game of the Springfield Cathedral tournament. This is the result.

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN NEEDHAM AND SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Needham High hockey seniors, forward Jeff Rosata and goaltender Connor Murray lean against a parked car. They’re about to board a bus bound for the Springfield Olympia Center for their first-round game in the Springfield Cathedral Tournament, where they’ll play the host Panthers.

“I think we’re faster than they are,” Rosata says, estimating the tape he’s seen on that night’s opponent.

On paper, leading into the matchup, the teams figure to be even. The implications of the game are likely to dictate seedings for the upcoming Super 8 hockey tournament. They know the importance of the game.

“I mean, we’ve made the Super 8, what? The last three of four straight years?” Murray says, with a San Jose Sharks snapback cap tilted slightly upward on his head. “We know we need to keep that going.”

Rockets assistant coach Tom Shaughnessy emerges from the open doorway of the bus.

“Time to get going.”


Rockets forward Jeff Parsons has a reputation on the team, something that of a human GPS. He sits sidesaddle on an aisle seat in front of teammate Jamie Arnao.

Watching the exits zoom by, somewhere around the Auburn service exit on the Mass Turnpike, Arnao blurts out, “How far away are we?”

The question, seemingly posed to nobody in particular, was directed at Parsons. He sits back in the seat and gazes upward with his eyes, as if consulting a map of Central Mass. painted on the bus ceiling.

“Should be about 50 minutes or so,” Parsons rifles back.

[+] EnlargeNeedham Hockey
Scott Barboza/ESPN.comThe Rockets listen to the pregame speech of coach Bill Guisti.
Freshman James Fisher brought along a copy of “Dodgeball” for viewing. The P.A. speakers of the bus muzzle the dialogue with a humming. With every bump in the pavement, the T.V. screen flickers with a line of static fuzz rising from bottom to top. Three pairs of seats are occupied in the front of the coach, one with drinks (Gatorade, water), another with an assortment of plastic-wrapped deli sandwiches, the last with trays of potato chips, Fritos, Doritos.

It’s like a team sleepover on wheels.

Arnao, a senior forward who also helped the football to a Division 1 Super Bowl appearance in the fall and is a standout on the baseball team, is the team jokester. He’s dressed in a pair of aquamarine chino pants, a button-down shirt with a windowpane print and an overcoat.

I ask him whether the not-so-subtly-colored pants are a game-day tradition.

“Yeah, this is usually how I roll,” Arnao replied, laughing, as usual.

Seated at the front of the bus, Needham head coach Bill Guisti sifts through papers. Guisti, who owns his own business, used the down time on the trip to go over a couple of pregame adjustments he wants to make with the Rockets’ lines. He wants to move blue-liner Timmy Parlato up front. He’s hoping Parlato’s Brad Marchand-like style of play might unnerve Cathedral’s defenders.

He scribbles down notes on a sheet of loose paper, remarks he wants to reinforce before the team takes the ice. The former Mount St. Charles (R.I.) hockey standout spends most of his free time scheming the Rockets to their next win. He takes a couple minutes to check in with his two daughters though.

“I usually don’t have this much time to myself,” he says.


There’s an arcade room in the lobby of the Olympia Center. Arnao saunters past it on his way back from a bathroom break. Headphones on, he’s ready to get into his pregame warm-up.

A toddler shouts over to him, “I just put a dollar in, can you play with me?”

Arnao looks around for a moment, then stepping toward the two-person shooter video game installation, he says, “Sure.”

“I’m on a 40-man kill streak,” the child tells him.

Arnao takes a couple of shots with the plastic gun, he misses his target. The child, less than half Arnao’s height, is blowing up everything in sight.

“I gotta’ go, I have to get ready,” Arnao says.

Walking away, Arnao adds, “That kid is ridiculous.”

After a moment of reflection, he wonders aloud, “Where’s that kid’s mother at?”


In Guisti’s pregame message to the team, he cautions the team about the fact that the officiating crew might not give them the benefit of close calls as the visiting team.

By the end of the first period of a 0-0 game, it looks like Guisti is right.

“There’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to be smart,” he says. “For you seniors, you know what this is all about. This is it.”


After two periods, the Rockets struggle to generate many scoring chances in a tight-checked game. It’s a playoff atmosphere with both teams vying for the sixth spot on in the upcoming Super 8 tournament.

[+] EnlargeNeedham Hockey
Scott Barboza/ESPN.comNeedham goaltender Connor Murray waits for the cue to take the ice before the Rockets' game against Springfield Cathedral last week.
Murray is playing one of his strongest games of the season; he’s bailed out the team time after time. He’s slumped back in his seat at the second intermission. Somehow, the Sharks snapback is still on his head in the same position it was all those miles before.

There’s no fire-and-brimstone speech from Guisti, just a gentle pleading for the team to take care of the little things. In such a tight game, anything could make the difference.

The team comes together for one final ooh-rah and wait at the door for the signal to move out onto the ice for the third period.

Amidst a chorus “Let’s go boys,” senior captain D.J. Walsh still hasn’t moved from his perch on the bench. Beads of sweat gather on the strands of hair emerging from the brim of his helmet. He’s breathing deeply.

It echoes Guisti’s message to the team before the game.

“When you guys get back in here between periods, you should be gasping for air that’s how hard you’ve skated out there.”

Walsh’s plastic facemask is fogged up. He draws a couple deep breaths, stands and follows his team out.

The Rockets lost 1-0.

Super 8 recap: St. John's (S) 5, Needham 4

February, 27, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- As always, the game plan was to make the opponent play from behind – and St. John's (Shrewsbury) couldn't have executed it much better.

The Pioneers grabbed the lead 44 seconds into Monday night's Super 8 play-in game against Needham and never surrendered it. St. John's scored four first-period goals and advanced to the field of eight by posting a 5-4 victory at Merrimack College's Lawler Arena.

Vin D'Amato, Bryan Nelson, Mike Brown, Kevin Emmerling and Jay Duquette scored for the Pioneers, who raised their record to 16-4-3.

'It feels great,” Emmerling said. “Now we just have to keep it going. I think a lot of people doubted us coming into this game. I think we had a lot to prove. We're gonna keep the foot on the pedal.”

The Pioneers will be the tournament's No. 8 seed and face top-seeded Malden Catholic (15-1-4) Sunday at Merrimack College. St. John's will be making its first Super 8 appearance since 2003.

Although St. John's owned a five-goal lead late in the second period, the Pioneers had to sweat through some tense moments at the end of the third.

Needham trailed 5-2 when Lucas Davis and Jamie Arnao scored goals 32 seconds apart to make it a one-goal contest with 6:16 to play.

“You know these guys are a good team – they wouldn't be here if they weren't,” St. John's coach Brian Murphy said. “They showed a lot of heart, a lot of desire. You don't want to panic too much and I thought our goalie (Mario Pizzeri) did a good job of hanging in there the last five minutes.”

Duquette's goal made it 5-0 with 4:53 to play in the second period. Needham got on the scoreboard when D.J. Walsh blasted a slap shot past Pizzeri with 4.1 seconds to play in the second. It was Walsh's 16th goal of the season.

“They got one and then the momentum shifted and they started coming after it really hard,” Murphy said. “We were just trying to hang on their at the end. The big thing is we wanted the win and a chance to move on.”

Junior defenseman Brendan Joyce scored Needham's second goal. It came on a wrist shot from the left point 3:31 into the third.

“We just came out so slow,” Needham coach Bill Guisti said. “When you look at the games we've lost this year we've lost them by spotting other teams leads. We don't have a lot of firepower to try to come back.”

The loss dropped Needham's record to 16-5-1.

“Connor [senior goaltender Connor Murray] didn't have his best game tonight, but he's been great for us all year,” Guisti said. “The bad news is we lost the game. The good news is we live to play again. If we start out like we did tonight we're not gonna be around for much more than one more game, that's for sure.”

Duquette, a senior forward, assisted on three of the Pioneers' four goals in the opening 15 minutes. He entered the contest with nine goals and 12 assists in 22 games.

Emmerling also collected three assists in the victory. He leads the team in goals (25) and assists (23).

Emmerling and Duquette skate on a line with D'Amato, who also collected an assist.

“They're a very skilled line,” Murphy said. “The certainly can move the puck. They gave us the four-goal cushion. They're just good players.”

The victory extended St. John's unbeaten streak to 10 games (8-0-2). The Pioneers haven't lost since dropping a 4-0 decision to Hingham on Jan. 18.

The team's defense has been consistently good during the streak. St. John's allowed 16 goals during the 10 games.

“We moved a couple pieces of the puzzle and our goaltender started playing well,” Murphy said. “We started playing better team defense. I think that was the big thing. We know we can score goals, we just had to make sure we try to prevent some too.”

Cathedral Tourney: Host Panthers, MC to meet

February, 23, 2012

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- On Saturday, No. 6 Springfield Cathedral saw a point slip off their stick in a 5-5 tie with St. John’s Prep. The Panthers had once led 5-1 in that game.

With an emphasis on finishing, the Panthers showed a renewed focus on their third-period performance against No. 8 Needham during their host tournament at the Olympia Center on Wednesday.

In a game that figures to have a profound impact on the upcoming Super 8 tournament selection, Cathedral received an early third-period goal from Frank Crinella that would be a difference-maker. Sophomore goaltender John Liquori made 28 saves to earn his second shutout in a 1-0 win over the Rockets.

“After squandering that four-goal lead against St. John’s Prep, we knew we needed to learn how to win,” said Crinella, a senior captain. “We can’t give up leads like that. It just showed character to get that 1-0 victory.”

Entering action, both Cathedral (10-5-6) and Needham (16-4-0) had aspirations of earning a top six seed in the Super 8 tourney, meaning they’d avoid a Monday play-in game.

After 45 minutes of action, it was a apparent that both teams belong in the state’s elite tournament and not much separates their level of play.

“It was what we had expected, a tight checking game,” Panthers head coach Brian Foley said. “I thought both goalies played exceptional. Needham’s always a good, well-coached team. It was just a battle.”

Not to be outdone, Rockets senior netminder Connor Murray turned away 22 shots, including three big stops on Cathedral’s 5-on-3 power play to start the second period.

The game remained scoreless until the first minute of the third when Crinella crashed the net, depositing a rebound of a shot from his little brother, freshman Peter Crinella.

It looked as though Needham might have found the game's first goal in the second period. Rockets senior Timmy Parlato -- who was playing forward, stepping up from his usual defenseman role in an effort to get more punch up front -- broke in on a partial break. Liquori made the save, but it appeared the puck crossed the goal line while the Cathedral netminder was pushed back into the net after a pileup in front.

"They never gave me an explanation as to what happened," Needham head coach Bill Guisti said.

Cathedral advances to play No. 1 Malden Catholic in the championship final tomorrow at 7 p.m. Needham will play Hamden, Conn. in the consolation at 5 p.m.

NO. 1 MC 4, HAMDEN (CT) 3 (OT)
Malden Catholic needed overtime to advance past their Nutmeg State opponent in the early game of the Cathedral tournament.

An early Brendan Collier goal, followed by a pair of strikes from Ryan Fitzgerald had the Lancers (15-1-3) to a 3-1 lead entering the third period.

However, the Green Dragons (10-5-2) came back to tie the game in the third, finding some success on the power play.

While the game goes into the MIAA books as a tie, freshman center Ara Nazarian pushed the Lancers on to the championship game with the overtime winner.

Chalk Talk: Needham's Bill Guisti

February, 22, 2012
NEEDHAM, Mass. -- No. 8 Needham hockey is again in Super 8 contention as the champions of the Bay State League.

The Rockets' bench boss, Bill Guisti, has led the team to three straight seasons appearing in the top six of the state's premier tournament.

Before the Rockets take off for the Springfield Cathedral tournament this week, Scott Barboza caught up with Guisti to take a look back at a pivotal moment in Needham's season. Earlier this season, Needham pulled out a last-minute win over Catholic Memorial, after scoring the tying goal off a play Guisti arranged with a timeout. The late-game heroics lifted the Rockets to perhaps their biggest win of the season.

In this edition of Chalk Talk, we break down the game-tying goal with the mastermind who drew it up:

Video shot and edited by James Walsh.

Recap: No. 23 Norwood 4, No. 7 Needham 3

February, 2, 2012
(Highlights courtesy of the Needham Channel)

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- In a matchup of perennial powers of the Bay State League’s respective hockey divisions, No. 23 Norwood’s 4-3 victory over No. 7 Needham was more than just two old rivals going at it.

In the big picture of things, it meant a whole lot more.

For the Mustangs (11-2-4, 8-0-4), Wednesday’s battle at the Babson Skating Center was a valediction, proof positive they will be a very tough out for any potential postseason opponent. The win over the Rockets is a marquee note to an already successful season.

On the other hand, it seems as though a hole might have been punched in the Rockets’ Super 8 tournament resume. Coupled with a costly early January loss to No. 16 Braintree – whom the Rockets now trail by a point in the Bay State Carey – Needham has only complicated their once presumed path back to the state’s top hockey tournament.

But, in short, it was matter of the Mustangs working their game plan to perfection.

Norwood scored twice within 23 seconds, running to a 2-0 lead less than four minutes in. Goals by Peter Kelly and Mike Murray allowed the Mustangs to settle in and focus on shutting down the Rockets’ counter attack.

“We were able to stay with our forecheck, which bottled them up a little bit in that first period,” Norwood head coach Bill Clifford said.

Playing against a sticky 1-2-2 front, Needham (12-3-0, 9-2-0) struggled early on to put consistent pressure on Mustangs goaltender Jordan Davis (34 saves).

The Rockets finally cracked Davis midway through the second period, with senior forward Chris Lambert cleaning up a rebound from the low slot.

But Norwood had an answer.

Senior captain Brendan Cathcart (1 G, 1 A) was the beneficiary of Tyler Gover’s dogged work behind the net with 1:18 remaining in the second. Gover fought off the checks of Needham’s blue-line tandem to shovel a centering pass to Cathcart for the goal. It was part of a three-assist game for Norwood’s junior forward.

“This game went a lot like the Braintree game,” Needham head coach Bill Guisti said. “We came out a little bit sluggish and they got those two goals. It’s like just said to our guys, we can’t be spotting these good teams two goals.”

Needham freshman forward James Fisher cut the lead to one 12 seconds after Cathcart’s tally.

However, Mustangs sophomore forward Mark Powers dealt the Rockets a knockout blow at 1:23 of the third. Swinging beneath the goal line, Powers settled in back of the Rockets’ cage, only to hit the brakes and shift back to his left. With Needham netminder Connor Murray buying the deke, Powers shifted back around, depositing the puck in a gaping net with Murray slow to break from the right side post.

Needham made a furious comeback attempt in the final minute with goaltender pulled. Timmy Parlato picking up his second point of the game on his goal with 12.3 seconds remaining.

Despite a couple more good looks at the Norwood cage off the ensuing faceoff, the Mustangs held tight and pocketed their biggest win to date.

“It gave us a little confidence and we hung on,” Clifford said of the quick start. “I thought we played a great game, they did a good job around the boards, the forecheck was good, the defensive zone coverage was good.

“They’ve been working hard all year and it’s starting to pay off for them.”

Norwood constantly has another player, another coach on their side, watching from the other side of the glass.

This year would have been Matt Brown’s senior season with the Mustangs. And, while Brown’s hockey career ended on that fateful night in January 2010, the resilient 17-year-old remains a guiding presence to the program.

“He’s with us all the time,” Clifford said of Brown. “He comes to games, practices, pasta dinners. The kids are always over his house hanging out, so they have a good bond together.”

Brown has provided more than moral support to his teammates on the ice, he’s been another set of eyes for Clifford’s coaching staff.

“He always tells me exactly what he sees, and he does a good job. He knows the game inside and out. He tells me some things that I miss.”

Recap: No. 8 Needham 3, Xaverian 0

January, 26, 2012

DEDHAM, Mass -- No. 8 Needham boys' hockey outshot and outskated Xaverian for most of Wednesday night's matchup, and came away with a 3-0 win, the Rockets' 10th of the season.

But the best player on the ice was Xaverian (3-7-1) goalie Dave Michaels. The senior netminder stopped 36 shots in a losing effort, but still earned high praise from his coach.

“Dave was outstanding,” Xaverian head coach Dave Spinale. “He was the difference maker, it could have been six or seven nothing, he was fabulous.”

The Rockets (10-2) finally were able to put one past Michaels at 4:45 in the second period when Timmy Parlato connected with Lucas Davis to finish off an odd man break for Needham.

“I just got a good awareness where Lucas is,” Parlato said. “He just finishes every pass I give him.”

In the third period Needham’s third line combined for the second goal when freshmen forward Danny Jacobs played a perfect pass to Chris Lambert who one timed the shot home.

“Jeff Rosata, Danny [Jacobs] and Chris [Lambert] were really going all night long, doing a great job in their D-zone and putting a lot of pressure on their defense.” said Needham head coach Bill Guisti about his third line.

Davis would add his tenth goal of the season on a late empty netter for a 3-0 final.

Both teams will return to conference play next week, with the Hawks hosting St. John’s Prep and Catholic Memorial while the Rockets take on Milton and Norwood in their next two games.

Recap: No. 7 Needham 2, No. 4 CM 1

December, 29, 2011
(Highlights courtesy of the Needham Channel)

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- With under a minute to go in regulation, Catholic Memorial lead the Needham Rockets, 1-0, and looked to be on their way to their third win of the season.

But a Shamus Colman goal tied the game with 39 seconds left and Lucas Davis' goal fired shot into CM’s goal with nine seconds remaining gave the No. 7 Rockets a stunning 2-1 win over the No. 4 Knights.

“Timmy Parlato came up, the puck was loose and he dove, stopped it," said Davis of his game-winner. "The other kid [CM’s Shane Starrett] came out, popped it to me and I finished it. I give all the credit to Timmy Parlato.”

After a lackluster first period, Catholic Memorial (2-1-0) came out strong and controlled the tempo to start the second period. But that momentum was halted at the 6:21 mark when junior captain Liam Coughlin was given a game misconduct for boarding.

Despite losing one of the state’s best forwards, the Knights pressed on and ended up scoring up the game’s first goal at 2:43 in the third period on senior Jack O’Hear’s power-play goal, assisted by John Maher.

With under a minute to go, and a pending face-off in CM’s zone, Needham (3-0-0) called a timeout, pulled goalie Connor Murray and drew up a play, that worked ... Eventually.

“It didn’t work for a couple of faceoff's,” Needham head coach Biil Guisti said of the play he drew up in the timeout. “It took us like two or three faceoffs. On the third faceoff, I told D.J. [Walsh] to get out, and they switched it up. I moved Timmy [Parlato] to the wing, then Lucas [Davis] took the draw, Lucas scrummed it, they got it back to Brendan, Brendan got it over to Shaymus, Shaymus back to Brendan, back to Shaymus and bingo.”

“It was a designed play where they wanted to get the puck back to the D,” Coleman added. “I got an open look, I tried to keep it low and there was a huge screen and it just went in.”

Davis scored the game-winning goal 30 seconds after that.

A Break Through
One of the knock’s on the Needham hockey during the past three seasons is that they couldn’t seem to get past any of their big non-conference opponents, including in Super Eight play.

“It’s a good win,” Davis said. “It’s about time we knocked off one of the top teams. It’s been tough over the past couple of years, trying to knock off the top teams, so we finally did it, it’s a great win.”

The Rockets can’t enjoy the victory too much, they travel to No. 9 Hingham on New Year’s Eve.

For Catholic Memorial the loss may sting for now, but in the big picture it was just a tough break. Losing top class forward Liam Coughlin to a misconduct certainly make things more difficult.

Despite being outshot 32 to 21, the Knights still limited quality scoring chances until the final minute of regulation, and goalie Shane Starrett was solid stopping 30 shots.

The Knights will also play on New Year’s Eve when they host No. 20 Framingham.

Season-ending MIAA hockey notebook

April, 2, 2011
You couldn’t tell it was the state’s biggest stage.

On the final day of pool play of the Super Eight tournament, Needham and Woburn faced off with a smattering of parents and friends in the stands. The atmosphere was closer to that of a preseason scrimmage than what you might expect to find at a playoff tilt in the one of the nation’s most regarded high school hockey tournaments.

Alas, the Rockets and Tanners had come away winless in their first two Super Eight matchups, rendering their final date mere formality. With no chance at advancing in the tournament, the only thing on the line was pride.

The game finished in a tie.

“It’s a tough spot to be in,” Needham head coach Bill Guisti said.

That’s why Guisti — whose Rockets have been placed in a similar unenviable position in their last three D1A tournament berths — is putting his weight behind an alternate format.

Akin to the Hockey East tournament, Guisti believes a best-of-three format would better suit Massachusetts’ marquee tournament, eliminating the need for meaningless third games. The teams would be power-seeded one through eight, as is practiced now. The winners of the four series would then advance to the crossover round.

Guisti also thinks the plan would provide a secondary benefit to the higher-seeded teams, having only to play one lower-seeded opponent.

“It would create another incentive for those top-rated teams,” Guisti said. “The number one seed would get that eighth seed that’s coming off a play-in game, and that goes for the second-seeded team, too.

“Plus, you have to think you’ll get a good series out of those four versus five games. Think if we had it in place this year, with Hingham and Weymouth playing a three-game series. The rink would be packed for all three games, if they went that far. That would be great to see.”

The MIAA might also see the benefit, lifting the burden of having to pay on-ice officials and coordinating support staffs required in staging otherwise meaningless playoff games.

Guisti has gone about enlisting support for the proposal, including Hingham’s Tony Messina, who he said was supportive of the idea.

The next step is bringing the proposal to the hockey committee meeting and opening an official debate on the measure.

“I think there will be support for this,” Guisti added. “I think it makes sense because it wouldn’t add any time to the tournament, you’d be playing the same amount of games potentially, while getting rid of some games that don’t need to be played.”

When Marshfield came back to earn its first state title since 2006, fending off North champion Wakefield in the Division 1 title game at the Garden, it was an emotional ending to a gut-wrenching day.

The Rams lost a top-line winger and an emotional leader when junior Chris Perry went down in a heap along the penalty box boards. While fighting off a Warrior checker for a loose puck along the kick plate, Perry’s own skate clipped the back of his right thigh, creating a deep gash of about 12 inches. The blade cut through muscle straight to the bone, stopping just a quarter of an inch shy of his femoral artery.

The scene was grizzly, but the on-site doctor, team trainers, paramedics, officials and players all did their part to expedite help getting out to the wounded Ram, saving precious seconds while he bled on the ice.

After being rushed to Mass General Hospital, Perry underwent emergency surgery. By the time all the action at the Garden wrapped up, he was resting comfortably.

“In about four weeks, he should be able to walk normally,” Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly said. “Then, he’ll be able to start rehab. Thankfully, there was no nerve damage.”

Perry was able to hobble his way to the stage to accept his state championship medal on Sunday, when Marshfield held a team banquet. He’ll miss the upcoming lacrosse season, but Perry will be back in time when the puck drops on the 2011-12 season.

With such a prolific offense, it was oftentimes easy to overlook Super Eight champion Malden Catholic’s defensive efforts, like in the third period of the Lancers’ first-round win over an upset-minded Central Catholic squad. MC also skated that third period without one of its top defensemen, senior Paul Wrenn, who left the game after suffering a separated shoulder.

“I knew something was wrong,” Wrenn said, after the Lancers skated away with the Super Eight crown at the Garden. “Thankfully, there was a whistle right after that, so I skated off the ice. I don’t know what I would’ve been able to do if the play kept going.”

Although the Charlestown native missed the rest of the game, he was back in action to play out the string. Wrenn was with the Lancers during their Super Eight run during his freshman year. He transferred to Dexter for sophomore year, but returned to MC to see things through along with Mike Vecchione and Pat Young, who had also experienced the empty feeling of falling short in their first year.

“You can’t regret anything,” Young said before the Super Eight final, “you have to leave everything out there and play like there’s no tomorrow. Paul’s [Wrenn] definitely did that for us, playing with a separated shoulder.”

After all, there’s plenty of time for rehab after the season.

“You kind of forget the pain after a little while,” Wrenn said, with his championship medal hanging around his neck. “This was definitely worth it.”

Super 8 ends in tie for Needham, Woburn

March, 13, 2011
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. –- It wasn’t the experience either team envisioned when the Super Eight tournament field was announced.

Sixth-seeded Needham and seventh-seeded Woburn each entered Sunday’s third-round game with an 0-2 record in pool play and no chance of advancing to the semifinals. Each team completed the tournament without a victory as well, as the teams skated to a 2-2 tie at Merrimack College’s Lawler Arena.

“Very proud of the way our kids played,” Woburn coach Jim Duran said. “It’s such a difficult game to come back and play when you’re not really playing for anything except for pride. There was no bologna out there. It was a good showing by both teams.”

Needham was trying to protect a 2-1 lead, but Woburn’s John Concannon capped the scoring with 5:28 to play. Because St. John’s Prep (2-0) and BC High (2-0) had already secured spots in the semifinals from Group 2, there was no overtime period.

Following the game, Needham coach Bill Giusti suggested it might benefit everyone if the tournament format is changed.

“It’s a tough game to play when you have two 0-2 teams,” he said. “I think maybe the format should be changed and maybe go to a Hockey East format (best-of-three series) and the winner moves on. Really I don’t think there’s gonna be any more games or any more time. Not only that, it makes the first and second seeds that much more important.

“I think it’s a better way. Unfortunately we’ve been involved in this game two years in a row. Last year with Winchester 0-2 and us 0-2. No one is in the stands either.”

Junior forward Daniel Holland also scored for Woburn, which completed its season with an 18-5-2 record. Junior defenseman Jake Secatore assisted on both Woburn goals.

The Tanners won a play-in game against Springfield Cathedral, and then lost one-goal games against St. John’s Prep (4-3 in overtime) and BC High (1-0) before Sunday’s contest.

Needham received goals from junior forwards D.J. Walsh and Timmy Parlato. The Rockets completed their season 12-8-5. The Rockets lost to BC High (2-0) and to St. John’s Prep (5-1) in its other tournament games.

“A tie was probably just for both of these teams,” Guisti said. “Luckily both teams were pretty disciplined.”

Woburn opened the scoring when Holland converted a rebound from close range at 4:46 of the second period.

Needham answered quickly. Walsh tied the contest 32 seconds later, and Needham took its first lead when Parlato beat goaltender Cam McGlashing on a shot from the right point at 7:12 of the second. Parlato’s goal came with one second left on a Needham power play.

“We talked before the game, not only did we want to play this for the seniors but also we wanted to play it for next year,” Duran said. “We showed we can play in the tournament. If we came here and had lost 5-0 they might have said we were just lucky to hang in there against those two teams [BC High and St. John’s Prep].

“I think we had a good effort tonight, and I think this gives us a lot of experience for next year. It gives us an idea do of what to expect and what it takes to get to that next level.”

Prep opens things up in 2nd Super 8 test

March, 9, 2011

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. –- Entering their second Super Eight playoff game, St. John’s Prep captain Colin Blackwell and his teammates knew they hadn’t yet played their best hockey.

“That first game is always the biggest, but there are no excuses after that,” the Harvard commit said.

The Eagles’ second effort was bit more convincing than their first, taking a 5-1 win over sixth-seeded Needham Tuesday night at Merrimack College’s Lawler Arena.

Still, Prep head coach Kristian Hanson wasn’t leading on that his team had just won a crucial tournament test and improved to 2-0 in Super Eight play while sending the Rockets to their second tournament defeat.

“I don’t know how to say it, but I don’t think we played especially well,” Hanson said.

Regardless of the Eagles’ level of play, what was without question was the offensive output of Prep’s first line. Freshman Shane Eiserman (2G, 1A) and Blackwell (1G, 2A) each had three-point games. Winger John Farrow also continued his strong Super Eight play with a pair of assists.

Prep carried play almost exclusively throughout the first period, outshooting Needham, 10-4. Yet, the Eagles could only sneak one past Rockets goaltender Connor Murray (19 saves).

It looked as though that’s the way it would stand when the teams took to the dressing rooms, however, Eagles defenseman put a cannon shot on goal with next to no time remaining on the clock. The puck blazed past Murray and shot back out of the net as time expired, leaving the Rockets and most in attendance dumb-founded. The official pointed to center ice and Prep skated away with a 2-0 lead.

Earlier in the period, Eiserman collected the Eagles’ first goal, tapping in a feed from Blackwell, who snaked his way through the Needham defense to set up the goal. Farrow also added a helper on the play.

Later in the period, Blackwell and Farrow each added their second assists of the game on Pandalena’s goal.

“We knew they were going to try to throw everything at us because they’d lost their first game,” Blackwell said. “So for the first period, we knew we had to get off to a good start.”

Blackwell continued weaving circles around Needham defenders in the second, putting Prep out to a 3-0 lead with his goal 57 seconds into the period. He broke through the neutral zone with speed, crisscrossing his way past two Rocket defenders before finishing on the backhand.

Needham cracked the scoreboard with 2:08 remaining in the second with D.J. Walsh batting in a one-timer off of Jamie Arnao’s centering pass from the corner after shedding the check of a Prep defenseman.

“When we got that goal, I thought we might come out with a little jump in the third period and try to get back in it,” Needham head coach Bill Guisti said.

The Rockets were provided two golden opportunities to chip away at the two-goal deficit with a pair of power plays sandwiched together midway through the third. However, Needham was held without a shot.

“Our penalty kill’s been very effective all year long,” Hanson said. “We’ve been right around 90 percent all year long and we haven’t given up a goal on the power play in the Super Eight.

“We work a lot on the PK and we watched a lot of film on Needham, trying to know what they were going to try to do and defend it.”

Devin Murray provided the Eagles with a three-goal lead with 4:04 remaining in the game, putting back a rebound of a Sam Kurker shot. Matt MacDonald also picked up an assist on the play after providing a pretty outlet pass, setting up a 3-on-2 rush that led to the goal.

Eiserman capped off scoring, collecting another tape-to-tape crossing pass from Blackwell at the top of the crease and putting it into the back of the net for a 5-1 final.

BC High blanks Needham in Super 8 opener

March, 5, 2011

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- No. 3 seed BC High passed its first playoff test in over two years with flying colors in a 2-0 win over No. 6 Needham in the first game of the 2011 Super Eight Tournament on Saturday at Lawler Arena on the campus of Merrimack College.

The Eagles (14-4-3) controlled play for most of the game, but had to survive a flurry of quick-striking scoring opportunities by the Rockets.

Luckily for the Eagles they were armed and ready with sophomore Peter Cronin, who made 14 saves for his first playoff shutout.

“We did give up some chances, but Peter Cronin is a very good goalie,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “We scored two goals, but he easily saved three or four on his end.”

The first period was more like the beginning stages of a championship-boxing match. Neither team wanted to be the ones to leave itself open and make the first mistake, but in the second period the Rockets let some big shots fly.

Tom Coleman got a quick shot on Cronin on the first shift of the second period, and D.J. Walsh and Coleman broke out on a 2-on-1 opportunity, but an offside call wiped out the scoring chance.

Cronin had to use his facemask to fend off another Coleman blast later in the period, and he was able to poke the puck away from Sam Nickles on the doorstep when it looked like Sam Nickles was ready to get enough daylight for the game’s first goal.

But it may have been his save on Nickles in the third period that truly was the game saver. Nickles came barreling down the right side of the ice, but Cronin was able to cut off the angle and trap the puck in his armpit to keep the Rockets off the board.

“He was coming down and I knew I had to get an angle on him,” Cronin explained. “He was a (right-handed shot) so I kind of squared up to the puck and after that it was just reaction.”

“Thank God Peter played his head off,” senior captain Mike Cashman said. “He played really well for us.”

All of those saves by Cronin and missed opportunities from the Rockets allowed Cashman and the Eagles to take advantage of a power play in the third period.

The spacing on the Eagles first two power plays was a little bunched up, but a few adjustments from Flaherty and his team got Cashman wide open in the right circle and he went top shelf to beat Connor Murray (23 saves) with 6:28 left to play.

“We talked about kind of waiting and moving the puck around and finding the guy that is open,” Flaherty said. “First couple of ones we were forcing it. We weren’t allowing ourselves to find guys open. We were just forcing and forcing.

“We just talked about making a couple of adjustments, but the kids on the ice are the ones that delivered.”

Andrew White delivered the second goal of the game, when he intercepted a pass with the Eagles facing a 6-on-5 and put home and empty-netter with 32.2 seconds remaining.

The chances were there for Needham, and although the Eagles outshot the Rockets 26-14, the bulk of the best scoring opportunities were in its favor.

“You are not going to win if you don’t score,” Rockets head coach Bill Guisti said. “I don’t care who you are playing. I thought we played a pretty good game. I thought our defense kept them at bay for the most part.”

Passing thoughts: Needham's Super 8 drama

February, 26, 2011
FRANKLIN, Mass. –- Like Lazarus, the Rockets rose from the dead. Left off the board after an initial vote by the Division 1A “Super Eight” selection committee Saturday morning, Needham’s chances were nil.

However, such as their season, the Rockets were given second life after a motion for review. The move for debate by Paul Podolski of the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association revived discussion of Needham’s resume and, upon second vote, the Rockets gained favor of the panel by a 6-1 tally.

After being left of the list entirely, Needham later secured the sixth seeding — the final automatic bid in the field — highlighting a dramatic morning at MIAA headquarters. It also marked the Rockets’ third straight season with a top six billing.

“We’re in the position we’re in because of the way we played the last couple of weeks,” Needham head coach Bill Guisti said. “A couple of weeks ago, when we got ready to play Weymouth and Braintree, we were really on the bubble and under the radar at that time. I told our team that we really need to win the next two games to be in the running … We started getting going from there.”

The rest of the top six didn’t require such drama to sort out.

ESPN Boston poll No. 1 Malden Catholic (16-2-2) was an easy pick for the top spot, while the top three teams of the Catholic Conference held serve with St. John’s Prep (14-5-1) and BC High (13-4-3) following at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

Bay State Carey champion Weymouth (17-3-2) checked at No. 4 ahead of defending Super Eight champion Hingham (13-5-4).

Filling out the play-in spots of the field were No. 7 Woburn (17-3-1), No. 8 Central Catholic (16-5-1), No. 9 St. Mary's of Lynn (14-5-3) and No. 10 Springfield Cathedral (12-9-1). Those four teams will be in action Monday at Chelmsford Forum with play starting at 6 p.m.

It’s been a while, but Mark Lee is finally there.

“It took me 25 years, but we made it,” the St. Mary’s of Lynn head coach said.

Aside from the personal accomplishment, Lee believes the Super Eight bid — the first in the program’s history — was more a reflection of the hard work and dedication his team put in this season.

“They continued to get better day by day as the season’s gone on,” Lee said. “We’re not the most flashy team, but we’re as hard a working team as there is in the state.”

After a two-year drought, BC High returns to the Super Eight (and postseason play for that matter) under the direction of first-year head coach John Flaherty.

Flaherty is no stranger to the bench during Super Eight play, as he served as an assistant under Joe McCabe for the Eagles’ Division 1A titles in 2006 and ’07. While BC High accomplished its stated goal of returning to the playoffs as the third seed, Flaherty said it didn’t so much matter where they ended up.

“With strength of schedule, strength of conference and the way we played against that competition, I knew we would be among the higher seeds,” he added. “But the three seed is no different from the eighth seed to be honest. You have to play everybody and you have to beat everybody.

“It’s rewarding to be named the third seed. It’s great for our seniors and our players to be recognized as such. But all the records are gone now.”


The last team to fall from the field of 10 was Billerica. At 10-2-8, the co-champions of the DCL/MVC Large were the last team to be crossed off the list in the second round of voting.

It could’ve been viewed as a snub, considering the Indians took three out of a possible four points in play against league rival and Super Eight entrant Central Catholic (seeded 8th by the committee). Billerica’s only losses of the season came against Middlesex League foes Burlington and Woburn, a Super Eight team.

However, Billerica head coach Mike Mastrullo took it all in stride and accentuated the positives of the season.

“We took a big step forward in the right direction this season,” Mastrullo said. “This was big for the program. We have nothing to be ashamed of.”

After sweating it out to see whether his team would make the field, Needham’s Guisti quickly shifted his attention to his team’s play — in particular, on the power play.

The Rockets gave up a couple of short-handed goals during the Springfield Cathedral tournament last week and their bench boss hopes to avoid such snafus in their upcoming games.

“I pray that we don’t give up any more during this tournament,” Guisti said, “otherwise, I might defer taking penalties. Maybe we don’t want the power plays.”

No. 13 Needham holds off No. 10 Cathedral

February, 23, 2011
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Needham’s Chris Joyce had seen it all before. Earlier in the season, the Rockets had led against top-notch opponents late in the third period, but they had faltered in the final frame to wind up with ties.

“In the past we played BC High and Hingham and we’d blown [the lead] in the last 19 seconds to tie it,” Joyce said after Wednesday night’s game against No. 10 Springfield Cathedral. “And that’s what was going through my head.”

The 13th-ranked Rockets watched a 4-1 lead evaporate in the third period again, but this time escaped Olympia with a 4-3 victory over the Panthers in the opening round of the Springfield Cathedral Tournament.

Similar to the games Joyce recalled, two Cathedral goals made it a one-goal game and with one minute to play, the Panthers had control of the puck on a power play.

With a 6-4 advantage on the ice, the Panthers took their best opportunity and fired a shot in traffic on Needham goaltender Evan MacDonald. The puck banged off the post to MacDonald’s right side and the goalie fell on his back to try to save the puck from slipping in.

“Don’t let this puck in the net, don’t let this puck in the net,” Joyce thought to himself as MacDonald went to the ice. “And thank God it hit the post and never went in.”

As the Cathedral players raised their arms in triumph and argued for a goal, the referees on the ice waved off the equalizer, and Needham avoided yet another tie and advanced to the tournament final against Malden Catholic.

“I was just hoping that we would come up here with a good effort and come away with a win,” Needham head coach Bill Guisti said about the importance of the game. “Whatever team took this game was going to be one step closer to the play-in game.”

Needham (125-5-4) clearly owned the early part of the third period with a wrap-around goal from Tom Coleman 46 seconds in, and a goal from Joyce in front of the net 5 minutes, 37 seconds into the period. But somewhere in the middle of the third, the Panthers found a spark.

While Cathedral (12-8-1) trailed by three goals and was shorthanded, Panthers’ defenseman Sean Kavanaugh played heroically on two breakaway Cathedral goals. Kavanaugh beat out a Needham defenseman for a puck and stopped short of the net to set up Frank Crinella for a score, and then one minute later he tossed the puck off of the boards to evade a defender and eventually beat MacDonald for a goal.

However, the comeback came too little and too late, and Needham picked up an important win in one final push toward a Super Eight berth.

“We’ll take the win, the kids hung on and played tough,” Guisti said. “Overall, I think we played well.”

No. 1 Malden Catholic’s Brendan Collier had a monstrous game, putting up four goals and two assists in the Lancers’ 9-2 victory over Rhode Island's Bishop Hendricken on Wednesday night.

“When they’re moving the puck with that line of [Ryan] Fitzgerald, [Mike] Vecchione and Collier, they’re awful good,” Lancers head coach Chris Serino said of his first line. “I thought our puck movement was really good tonight and we had some big scoring chances early.”

The Lancers (15-2-2) put up four goals both the first and second periods, and limited the Hawks to 17 shots in the game as they cruised to the win in a Super Eight tuneup.

“This is where we want to be,” Serino said. “We want to be playing our best going into the tournament, and I think right now, we’re playing pretty well.”

No. 14 Needham topples No. 2 Weymouth

February, 10, 2011
WELLESLEY, Mass. -- After No. 2 Weymouth handed No. 14 Needham their first Bay State Conference loss in two seasons in January, the Rockets knew they’d have to step their game up in the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams Wednesday night at Babson College.

Despite coming out with their best effort, scoring two goals in the opening three and a half minutes, Needham needed a third-period goal from Jeff Rosata to come away with a 3-2 win over the Wildcats.

“We had a very good practice yesterday and they came out flying tonight," Needham head coach Bill Guisti said. "It was one of our better starts of the season."

Tom Coleman got the scoring started at 2:24 in the first, sticking home a rebound on a D.J. Walsh shot. Just over a minute later, J.P. McHale doubled the lead with a beautiful backhand pass from Lucas Davis.

Weymouth head coach Matt Cataldo called their timeout immediately after the goal.

“I told them [they] deserve better than this,” Cataldo said of his timeout talk, “we worked too hard, we worked too much, and we’re too good of a team to put forth this type of an effort.”

And they were a different team after that, forcing pressure on Needham that eventually led to a goal at 12:58 in the first period. Riley Flanagan tapped in a rebound from a Danny White shot after some good forechecking by the Wildcats made it difficult for Needham to clear their zone.

After a physical and goal-less second period, Needham entered the third with a 2-1 advantage. That lasted only 44 seconds as Weymouth senior Nick Peatfield skated behind Needham’s goal and delivered a beautiful backhand pass to forward Jonathan Wilson who finished high into the top corner.

The Rockets didn’t take long to answer. At 4:10 into the third period, Coleman hit a long cross-ice pass from inside his blue line to Rosata, just across the redline, and Rosata was one-on-one with Weymouth goalie Brian Brady whom he deked once and backhanded high into the net for a 3-2 lead.

But Weymouth didn’t go out easy. With just over a minute left in regulation, the Wildcats pulled their goalie for an extra skater and forced four good saves out of Needham netminder Evan MacDonald, the first of which came on Flanagan straight off a faceoff.

“Coach Guisti warned me before the game of the shot right off the faceoff,” MacDonald said , “the kid (Flanagan) is a very good face-off man. I give credit to Weymouth, the tried their best and gave it their all. We came out flying tonight and had luck on our side.”

“Hopefully, we’ll enjoy this win for a day or two, but we have got to get back to business on Saturday night against Braintree,” Guisti said looking forward.

With the win Needham improves to 9-5-3 overall and 9-2-1 in conference. Weymouth suffers just their second loss overall (14-2-1) and their first conference loss of the season (11-1-1). The Wildcats hold a 1-point lead over Braintree in the Bay State Conference Standings.

Needham 2:24 Tom Coleman from DJ Walsh
Needham 3:11 JP McHale from Lucas Davis

Weymouth 12:58 Riley Flanagan from Danny White
Weymouth 0:44 Jonathan Wilson from Nick Peatfield
Needham 4:10 Jeff Rosata from Coleman