Boston High School: Brendan Collier

KUA's Roberto changes commitment to BU

April, 29, 2013
Former Malden Catholic and Kimball Union Academy hockey standout Nick Roberto has switched his commitment to Boston University, after de-committing from Maine in the recent weeks. He will join the Terriers for the 2013-14 season.

Roberto, a Wakefield, Mass. resident, tallied 23 goals and 48 points in 29 games for the Wildcats last season.

"Nick has worked very hard to attain this goal," KUA head coach Mike Levine said Monday. "The KUA community is very happy for both him and his family."

Roberto played the previous three seasons with Malden Catholic, where he was a part of the Lancers' Super 8 championship team in 2010-11, before enrolling at Kimball Union. He also was part of the Wildcats' Piatelli/Simmons Tournament victory in 2011-12 and was named Flood-Marr Tournament Most Valuable Player in 2012.

He joins former KUA teammates Doyle Somerby and John Macleod as BU commits and becomes the seventh player with Massachusetts roots joining the Terriers next year, including Robbie Baillargeon, Brendan Collier (former MC teammate), Tommy Kelley, Dalton MacAfee, T.J. Ryan and Somerby.

Roberto's change in commitment was first reported by Jasper Kozak-Miller of the "Over the Boards" hockey blog.

BOSTON – The most noteworthy element of the 2-2 tie Wednesday night between No. 1 Malden Catholic and No. 2 BC High is that the Lancers, for a third straight game, were again faced with a third-period deficit.

And again, perhaps predictably, MC pulled itself even with a late comeback. For the two-time defending Super 8 champions, playing from behind is a bit of unfamiliar territory. That comes with the fact that the Lancers haven’t lost a game to an MIAA opponent in nearly two calendar years now.

Yet, MC has still found a way to procure points out of some hairy situations. Down a goal to Hingham in their host Christie Serino Christmas Classic, MC pulled out a 2-1 win. A day later, they erased a two-goal deficit to come away with a point and shootout victory over Austin Prep.

As MC (3-0-2, 0-0-1 Catholic Conference) started play in its 2013 schedule, the Lancers continued to place themselves behind the 8-ball. This time out, it was slightly different as they were the aggressors, taking an instant 1-0 lead 10 seconds into play on Ara Nazarian’s goal, assisted by Casey Fitzgerald.

But MC was unable to stay out of the penalty box all night, racking up 10 minor penalties and providing BC High (5-0-1, 0-0-1) with eight power-play opportunities. The Eagles only found the back the net once during the man-up chances, but it was a costly goal, as Ryan McDonough scored from below the faceoff dot on BC High’s fourth power play of the game at 10:06 of the second period. Eagles captain Tom Besinger and Ryan Shea both added assists on the play.

“Special teams were the difference in this game,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “We had the opportunities, we didn’t capitalize on them. And if you let a good team hang around, they’re going to hurt you.”

Again, the Lancers worked the rope-a-dope act to their advantage, netting the equalizer at 6:25 of the third on a rising wrister from Tyler Sifferlen in the slot. Working on a perfectly executed breakout from defenseman Nick Rolli to winger Mike Iovanna, the Lancers stretched the ice sheet, resulting in Sifferlen’s chance, which beat Eagles netminder Peter Cronin (21 saves) blocker side.

“The third period, we picked it up like always, just like the last two games we’ve played in,” said Sifferlen, a UMass-Lowell commit. “We’ve been learning to come out the first two periods, but we can’t save it all for the third period.”

BC High’s tallies on the evening weren’t about to be cued up for the SportsCenter Top 10, but Lancers head coach John McLean admired the Eagles’ ability to do something his squad hasn’t been able to do of late.

“We need to start getting some dirty goals,” McLean said. “Sometimes, we tend to be too pretty. Their goals were pretty much when they threw pucks to the net and they went in.”

Case and point was Steve DeForge’s marker midway through the first period. DeForge knotted the score, 1-1, at 8:17 of the first, after collecting a loose puck at the MC blue line. He cut across the ice from the left wing boards toward the slot.

“The defenseman was giving me a little screen real quick, so I put it on my backhand and hope for the best,” DeForge said.

His fluttering backhander found its way past MC’s Connor Maloney (25 saves), proving that good things come to those who get pucks to net.

The Lancers’ penalty kill unit put in yeoman’s work, shutting down a stream of BC High chances on the man-advantage.

While McLean was displeased with his team’s discipline at times, he was encouraged by some gutsy work on the man-down.

“Our guys are committed to it,” he said of the Lancers’ PK unit, “they’re committed to blocking shots and playing their roles.”

And, while killing penalties often requires selfless plays – giving up the body to block a shot or cut of a passing lane – Sifferlen took that to another level.

MC entered Wednesday’s Catholic Conference opener with a bug moving around its room. Second-line winger Cameron Ferry and top-four defenseman John McLean III were forced to sit out due to illness. That’s when John McLean Jr. decided to get creative.

Given his son’s share of the penalty kill load, McLean wanted to keep legs fresh and, as a result, slid Sifferlen back to defense for several key kills. The tactic is nothing new to MC’s philosophy on the man-down, as McLean pushed last year’s ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey Award winner Brendan Collier back to the blue line when situations warranted.

However, there was one major difference. While Collier had experience playing defense, it was entirely foreign to Sifferlen.

“Coach came up to me today and said you’re playing defense on the [penalty kill],” Sifferlen said. “That was it.”

And, in the process, maybe the Lancers found some versatility they never knew they had.
After a whirlwind Saturday morning, Sam Kurker had one thing on his mind — lunch.

The St. John’s Prep standout was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the second round (56th overall) of the NHL draft. He was in attendance at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center with his family to hear his name called. After meeting with the media, a quick photo session and a meet-greet with new Blues owner Tom Stillman, head coach Ken Hitchcock and staff, the Reading, Mass., native had his first chance of the day to grab some grub.

“It’s been such a crazy day,” Kurker said during a post-lunch phone interview Saturday afternoon.

Kurker wrapped up his senior season with the Eagles as an ESPN Boston MIAA All-State first-teamer, scoring 32 goals with 28 assists for 60 points.

After the season, Kurker’s schedule remained full, fitting in interviews with prospective teams (he said he met with 25 teams) and attending the NHL combine. The 6-foot-2 inch, 210-pound winger called it a “stressful” experience.

“It’s tough,” Kurker said of the pre-draft gauntlet. “Between the combine and all the meetings, it’s tough. I tried to do the best in everything that I did because you want to leave a good impression on the teams.”

So Saturday came with a big sigh of relief.

“Looking at the draft board, you can guess where you might go, but you never know until it happens,” Kurker said. “But I’m very happy where I ended up. I felt most comfortable with St. Louis from the start.”

Kurker first sat down with Blues regional scout Vince Montalbano and then met with the entire staff at the combine.

He was looking forward to meeting some of his new teammates at the Blues' development camp, which will be held in July. But there’s no rest for Kurker. He realizes the process has just begun, and he’s already shifted his attention to joining Jack Parker’s BU Terriers next season.

“Going to BU, the goal is to a win a national title. With all those guys going [in the draft], hopefully we can do that.”

The Terriers had eight recruits taken in this year’s draft, several of whom have local ties, including Brendan Collier, Matt Grzelcyk, Danny O’Regan and Doyle Somerby.

“It’s great because there are a lot of local kids in that group and I think we all bring tough attitudes,” Kurker said. “I’m so excited to get going there.”

Locals taken during Day 2 of NHL Draft

June, 23, 2012
Day 2 of the NHL Draft took place Saturday morning, and while there weren't any locals taken in Friday's first round, a host of New Englanders had their named called in the subsequent rounds.

Here's a rap sheet of those with New England roots who've been taken:

53. Tampa Bay Lightning - Brian Hart, Phillips Exeter, RW
56. St. Louis Blues - Sam Kurker, St. John's Prep, RW
59. New York Rangers - Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, Kent School, C

66. Nashville Predators - Jimmy Vesey, South Shore Kings (Belmont Hill), LW
75. Calgary Flames - Jon Gillies, Indiana Ice (USHL, South Portland, Maine), G
79. Chicago Blackhawks - Chris Calnan, Noble and Greenough, RW
85. Boston Bruins - Matt Grzelcyk, U.S. NTDP (Charlestown, Mass.), D

98. Minnesota Wild - Adam Gilmour, Noble and Greenough, C
106. Ottawa Senators - Tim Boyle, Noble and Greenough, D

125. New York Islanders - Doyle Somerby, Kimball Union (St. Mary's of Lynn), D
136. Ottawa Senators - Robbie Baillargeon, Indiana Ice (USHL, Enfield, Conn. via Cushing Academy), C
138. San Jose Sharks - Danny O'Regan, St. Sebastian's, C

189. Carolina Hurricanes - Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic, LW
The NHL Draft commences tonight in Pittsburgh and there is a host of New England-based high school, prep school and junior league players who hope hear their name called in the next two days.

Sam Kurker
Scott BarbozaMalden Catholic forward and ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey award winner Brendan Collier could be a sleeper in this weekend's NHL draft.
More than 20 local players were represented on the NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings, released in April. So we took the task to the Northeast regional scouts of an Eastern and a Western Conference team to give their evaluations of some of New England’s best and brightest.

The region is moving into somewhat of a renaissance. Folks might like to wax about the good ole days, but there’s plenty of talent to be found around the local ponds right now. That fact was not lost on Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, who earlier this week during his annual pre-draft media availability, spoke about this year’s bumper crop.

“It is fairly deep,” Chiarelli said. “It’s the deepest that I’ve seen since I’ve been here and that’s a good sign. It’s a good sign that the registration numbers – usually, it means they’re going up – and obviously the quality of players for the NHL is increasing, too.”

So here’s a look at some of the local skaters to watch out for and their scouting evaluation.

(Players appear by NHL Central Scouting ranking among North American skaters.)

27. Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, Kent School, C
Scout’s take: “He’s an incredible skater, a tall, rangy kid. He’s more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer and finisher, but that’s what his role is, a playmaking-center man. His skating ability is as good or as close to as good as you’ll find in this draft.”

36. Sam Kurker, St. John's Prep, RW
Scout’s take: “He’s got great size, a big strong kid. He’s a great straight-line skater up and down the wing. [He’s got a] big, hard shot and she shows a willingness to play in the hard areas in front of the net, in the corners on the wall.”

54. Brian Hart, Phillips Exeter, RW
Scout’s take: “He’s got a huge shot. He’s real strong on the wall. He’s a very strong skater, in flight, he can really move.

Scout’s take on his soccer prowess as New Hampshire’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year: “You know that overall athletes usually make the best players in whatever sport they decide on.”

69. Chris Calnan, Noble & Greenough, RW
Scout’s take: “Got better and better as the year went on. He started to play physical and use the body, which I think is everybody was waiting to see. He’s got a bomb of a shot. And he’s got a commitment to BC now, that was nice to see.”

Chiarelli’s take: “I mean there are some good kids in the prep leagues and the Calnan kid’s a good player – a big strong kid – very physically mature, power-forward type.”

76. Danny O'Regan, St. Sebastian's, C
Scout’s take: “He’s a smaller, undersized forward, but plays with a ton of hockey sense. He’s very strong on his skates and plays with a little bit of jam. His intelligence and hockey sense really stick out.”

77. Jimmy Vesey, South Shore Kings/ Belmont Hill, LW
Scout’s take: “The best player in the area. I don’t care where it’s at, 100 points is a 100 points [scored with the Kings last season]. He grew a few inches and he’s just coming into his own. Harvard stole him. BC and BU were sleepwalking on him. He slid through draft last year, but I thought someone would take a shot. Someone’s going to be happy with him this year.”

Chiarelli’s take: “You’ve got in the EJ [Eastern Junior Hockey League], you’ve got the Vesey kid’s a good player. He’s second time through the draft, but very skilled, had a breakout year there, can really make some really good plays with the puck, whether it’s shooting or passing.”

79. Devin Tringale, Lawrence Academy, LW
Scout’s take: “Talk about a vastly underrated player. I think he’s going to go later than he should, but someone’s going to get a steal in this draft. He’s going to be a big asset at Harvard when he gets there.”

88. Frank Vatrano, USA U-18 (East Longmeadow, Mass.), C
Scout’s take: “If you were to put him in the Catholic Conference or prep school hockey, he’s a 50-goal scorer. He’s got an NHL shot right now, he’s got such a quick release. He’s very hard to knock off the puck. He’s become a very good hockey player [with Team USA].”

99. Doyle Somerby, Kimball Union, D
Scout’s take: “He’s got great size, as a forward turned D-man, so he’s a pretty good puck mover. He’s more of a stay-at-home defenseman, but a big, rangy kid. Good smooth stride for a kid his size and good speed in flight.”

101. Adam Gilmour, Noble & Greenough, RW
Scout’s take: “He’s got high skill, sets guys up. He’s going to get stronger. He’s a tall lanky kid. He’ll go to BC and that’s his type of game, playing a type of run-and-gun game, he’ll do fine there.”

143. Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic, LW
Scout’s take: “We hear this about him, he’s just a pure hockey player. Goal line to goal line, he works so hard, got a good compete level. I think he’s going to be a great college player. He’s got some potential because he just works so hard.”

Chiarelli’s take: “A couple of interesting one’s, the Collier kid, [he is] kind of under the radar a little bit, but a real gritty kid.”

177. Matthew Grzelcyk, USA U-18 (Charlestown, Mass.), D
Scout’s take: "I love him. His hockey IQ is up there with kids who are taken in the top 15 in the draft. If had to pick one kid to make the right play getting out of the zone, it’s him. He thinks the game. He finds the seams. He’s a hockey player. I think he’ll be running the PP at BU last year. He’s that David Warsofsky, Matt Hunwick type of player.”

Chiarelli’s take: “You’ve got some kids that kind of went to the U.S. Development Program but are from the area. The Grzelcyk kid’s a very good, mobile defenseman. He’s later on down but he’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

MC's Iovanna: 'UMass fits me'

May, 25, 2012
MALDEN, Mass. -- The back-to-back defending Super 8 hockey champion Malden Catholic Lancers held their yearly end-of-year banquet Thursday night at Anthony’s in Malden.

It was an emotional evening, capped off by a speech from head coach Chris Serino, who continues his fight against cancer.

After the event, we chatted with Lancers junior forward Mike Iovanna, who scored the game-winning goal against BC High. Iovanna’s kept the momentum going into the offseason, including his commitment to UMass-Amherst last month.

Here’s the blow by blow with the always dapperly dressed winger:

On his college decision: “I took a tour of the school last year and I feel in love with the campus. I looked at a couple of other schools, but UMass caught my eye. It’s not the BC’s or the BU’s of the world, but I love everything about it. They’ve been watching me and we’ve been talking back and forth. A couple weeks after the Super 8, after the final game, the assistant coach called and offered me. I accepted right away because it was my first choice. I just think UMass fits me.”

On Chris Serino’s speech: “It was so emotional. When coach got up to speak, I couldn’t even look at him. It kills me, I almost broke down crying. It was very emotional and it means a lot to all of us.”

On Serino’s impact on him: “He’s the one that got me to go to Malden Catholic. He’s been there every step of the way with me.”

On expectations for next year: “The goal is to win it again, obviously. It stinks with the guys that are leaving, but we should be good. With Ara [Nazarian] and Siff [Tyler Sifferlen], I think those guys can step it up next season.”

--After receiving his Mr. Hockey Award, BU-bound captain Brendan Collier confirmed that he will playing with the Valley Junior Warriors next season before joining the Terriers in 2013.

--Serino took the podium and thanked the assembled for their continued support, wrapping up the evening’s festivities saying, “I wouldn’t be here except for having all of you in this room.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Locals cracking NHL Draft final rankings

April, 9, 2012
The NHL Central Scouting service released its final rankings of North American skaters and goaltenders ahead of the NHL Draft on Monday.

Here's the list of skaters with local ties who made the cut:

(The full list can be found here)
27 Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, Kent School, 6' 2.75" 184, C
36 Sam Kurker, St. John's Prep, 6' 1.5" 198, RW
54 Brian Hart, Phillips Exeter, 6' 2.0" 216, RW
69 Chris Calnan, Noble & Greenough, 6' 1.75" 188, RW
76 Danny O'Regan, St. Sebastian's, 5' 8.75" 162, C
77 Jimmy Vesey, South Shore Kings (North Reading, Mass.), EJHL, 6' 1.0" 200, LW
79 Devin Tringale, Lawrence Academy, 5'11.5" 186, LW
88 Frank Vatrano, USA U-18 (E. Longmeadow, Mass.) 5' 10.0" 218 ,C
99 Doyle Somerby, Kimball Union, 6' 4.5" 232, D
101 Adam Gilmour, Noble & Greenough, 6' 2.25" 193, RW
103 Alexander Gonye, Deerfield Academy, 6'0.5" 166, LW
108 Matthew Beattie, Phillips Exeter, 6' 3.0" 173, LW
127 Nicholas Bligh, South Shore Kings (Milton, Mass.), EJHL, 5' 11.5" 175, C
132 John Stevens, Salisbury, 6' 1.25" 175, C
134 Cam Darcy, USA U-18 (South Boston), 6' 189, C/RW
143 Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic, 5' 9.0" 168, LW
145 Kevin Duane, Brunswick, 6' 4.0" 219, RW
166 Alex Rauter, Choate-Rosemary Hall, 6' 0.0" 174, LW
177 Matthew Grzelcyk, USA U-18 (Charlestown, Mass.), 5' 9.0" 171, D
208 Tim Boyle, Noble & Greenough, 6' 1.75" 185, D
210 Zachary Pryzbek, Salisbury, 6' 2.75" 199, LW

31 Joseph Young, Boston Advantage AAA (Hanover, Mass.), 6' 1.5" 162
33 Dawson Sprigings, The Gunnery, 5' 11.25" 206

ESPN Boston's MIAA Boys' Hockey All-State Team

March, 23, 2012
First Team:
All-StateF – Brendan Collier, Sr., Malden Catholic
The two-time ESPN Boston All-Stater closed out his senior season with a second straight Super 8 title and claimed our Mr. Hockey Award. The Charlestown native and Boston University commit scored 26 goals with assists for 65 points, a figure which led all Division 1 scorers. Collier, who also plays golf and lacrosse at MC, plans on playing a year of juniors next year before joining the Terriers.

All-StateF – Ryan Fitzgerald, Jr., Malden Catholic
The Lancers’ top-line pivot makes his second All-State team appearance, his first on the First Team. The North Reading native and Boston College commit again eclipsed the 50-point plateau (31-21-52), despite missing the first couple weeks of the season with a shoulder injury, and helped the Lancers to their second straight Super 8 title.

All-StateF – Sam Kurker, Sr., St. John’s Prep
When looking up the term power forward, the Eagles senior winger and captain fit the mold. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound forward finished with 32 goals and 28 assists for 60 points. The Boston University commit has also seen time with U.S. National Team Development Program and skated with the U-18 select team at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament during the summer.

All-StateD – Colin MacGillivray, Jr., Malden Catholic
The Lancers blue-liner is made in the mold of an old school rugged defenseman. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Peabody native played on MC’s top pairing through the season while posting three goals and 10 assists for 10 points for the repeat Super 8 champions.

All-StateD – Nikko Markham, Sr., St. Mary’s (Lynn)
The Catholic Central Conference Most Valuable Player and Spartans captain finished a sound career by leading St. Mary’s to a No. 2 seed in the Super 8. The Salem native was among the top point-scoring blue-liners in the state with six goals and 12 assists for 18 points.

All-StateG – Peter Cronin, Jr., BC High
For the second straight season, the Eagles went as their netminder went, and Cronin led BC High to its first Super 8 finals appearance since 2007. Playing in each of the Eagles’ 25 games, the Norwell resident posted a 2.00 goals against average and a 91.7 save percentage.

2nd Team:
All-StateF – Kevin Emmerling, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Perhaps the most skilled skater in the state, the Pioneers’ center provided a dynamic offensive punch to their Super 8 run. The Whitinsville native finished third in Division 1 scoring with 26 goals and 30 assists for 56 points. Emmerling is exploring his options for next year and hopes to play college hockey.

All-StateF – Conal Lynch, Sr., Boston Latin
Lynch also showed that Charlestown is again a hotbed of hockey, carrying the Wolfpack to a DCL/MVC Div. 2 championship. Lynch finished second in Division 2 in scoring with 35 goals and 18 assists for 53 points. The Wolfpack captain is weighing his options in pursuing prep or junior hockey next year.

All-StateF – Matt Sullivan, Sr., BC High
The senior captain was a true two-way center with a high hockey IQ. The Duxbury resident anchored the Eagles’ top line, scoring 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points and lifting BC High to its first Super 8 final appearance since 2007. He is pursuing prep and junior hockey opportunities for next season.

All-StateD – Casey Fitzgerald, Fr., Malden Catholic
The younger brother of Ryan, Casey catapulted himself onto the scene in his first year, filling the role of a puck-moving defenseman previously held by former All-Stater Conor Evangelista. The North Reading resident and Boston College commit tallied two goals and 15 assists for 17 points in his first year.

D – Peter Sikalis, Sr., Acton-Boxborough
The Colonials’ captain was the impetus behind their run to the D1 North semifinals. Sikalis had eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points while eating up boatloads of ice time for head coach Bob Lavin. The imposing 6-foot-3 defenseman is exploring his hockey options for next year.

All-StateG – David Letarte, Sr., St. John’s Prep
The captain has been the Eagles’ backbone during the last three seasons, leading Prep back to the Super 8 once again. Letarte had a 2.08 goals against average and a 91.3 save percentage in 18 games played. He is currently mulling over college and junior hockey offers for next year.

“Best of the Rest”
Nick Bertoni, F, Franklin
Tom Besinger, F, BC High
Tommy Bishop, F, Chelmsford
Matt Brazel, F, Hingham
Trevor Cimino, F, Burlington
Frank Crinella, F, Springfield Cathedral
Paul Curran, F, Milton
Vin D’Amato, F, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Jarrod Fitzpatrick, F, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
James Gordon, F, Hingham
Danny Holland, F, Woburn
Mike Iovanna, F, Malden Catholic
Connor Irving, F, Beverly
Mike Kelleher, F, Central Catholic
Chris Leblanc, F, Winthrop
Bobby Mullins, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Ara Nazarian, F, Malden Catholic
Andrew Newis, F, Natick
Jack O’Hear, F, Catholic Memorial
Cam O’Neill, F, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Jake O'Rourke, F, Medway
Cam Owens, F, Wilmington
Brian Pinho, F, St. John’s Prep
Dalton Rolli, F, Wilmington
Joe Strangie, F, Danvers
D.J. Walsh, F, Needham
Bryan Carter, D, Hudson
Connor Fenton, D, Braintree
Brian Furey, D, BC High
Pat Houghton, D, Westford Academy
Steve Mattos, D, Burlington
Nick Pandalena, D, St. John’s Prep
Jake Secatore, D, Woburn
Brendan White, D, Malden Catholic
Joe Cerulo, G, Wakefield
Jordan Davis, G, Norwood
Mike Donadio, G, Franklin
Bailey MacBurnie, G, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Connor Murray, G, Needham
Connor Roddy, G, Medfield
Shane Starrett, G, Catholic Memorial
Steven Waites, G, Winthrop
Kyle Williams, G, Central Catholic

Coach of the Year
Chris Spillane, Franklin
Losing 15 seniors off of 2011's Division 2 state finalist team posed no problem to Spillane in guiding his team back to the Garden again. The 13-year Panthers bench boss is regarded as one of the finest in the state, but no season might have been more impressive for Spillane than getting this team back to the finals.

Karl Infanger, Natick
Mark Lee, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
John McLean, Malden Catholic

MC's Collier is ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey

March, 21, 2012
PM ET and its High School section today announced that Brendan Collier, senior winger for the Malden Catholic Lancers, is the recipient of its second annual "Mr. Hockey" award, presented to the top male high school hockey player in Massachusetts.

[+] EnlargeBrendan Collier
Jon Mahoney for ESPN.comAfter scoring an overtime game-winner in last year's Super 8 championship game, Malden Catholic's Brendan Collier (left) added another postseason goal in Sunday's victory over BC High as the Lancers skated to their second straight D1A title.
The Mr. Hockey Award winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of staff, correspondents and high school hockey coaches. Collier will be presented with the award at a later date.

“Brendan Collier has been one of the most dynamic hockey talents in all of New England during the last couple of years,” said Scott Barboza, co-editor of ESPN Boston High Schools and coordinator of the site’s hockey coverage. “Not only is Collier a skilled player in the offensive zone, his true value as a hockey player is evident in all the little things he brings to the game. Whether it’s hustling on the backcheck or helping to kill a penalty while playing defense, Collier has proved he’s a true champion.”

The Lancers captain and Charlestown resident led the program to its second straight Super 8 tournament title on Sunday in a 3-1 win over rival BC High. The championship capped an emotional season for MC, with coach Chris Serino battling cancer.

In addition to tallying a goal in this year's Super 8 final, Collier also netted the overtime game-winner during the Division 1A final last season against St. John's Prep.

The Boston University commit tallied 26 goals and 39 assists for 65 points. Collier led all Division 1 scorers this season, holding a six-point advantage over the second-place finisher.

“During a very emotional season, he didn’t focus on himself or his individual statistics, he worried about his teammates and Coach Serino,” Lancers coach John McLean said.

Collier looks to play a year of junior hockey next year before joining the Terriers in 2013. He is also a member of MC's golf and lacrosse teams.

“His selflessness and leadership brought another Super 8 title to Malden Catholic and Coach Serino,” McLean said. “His hockey future is very bright, his future as a person is limitless. It was truly an honor to coach Brendan.”
BOSTON -- After taking their second straight Super 8 title Sunday at the Garden, we caught up with Malden Catholic first-liners Brendan Collier and Mike Iovanna to talk about the Lancers' emotional 3-1 victory over BC High:

Super 8 final: Malden Catholic 3, BC High 1

March, 18, 2012

BOSTON – Every championship means something. But the Division 1A Super 8 crown won by Malden Catholic meant everything.

To players such as junior Mike Iovanna, whose game-winner helped push the Lancers past BC High, 3-1 at TD Garden.

And to Chris Serino, MC's cancer stricken head coach, who although too ill to perform his whistle-tooting duties, played a huge emotional role in Malden's second consecutive crown.

“You know what,” said Iovanna, whose backhander with 8:06 gone in the third snapped a 1-1 tie, “we did it for him. It's tough to see him like that. Our season was based on him.”

[+] EnlargeMalden Catholic Hockey
Jon Mahoney/ESPNBoston.comMike Iovanna tallied what would prove the game-winning goal during the third period of Malden Catholic's Super 8 title game victory over BC High Sunday at TD Garden.
Senior defenseman Colin MacGillivray was in hearty agreement.

“Everything on that ice was dedicated to him,” said MacGillivray. “We just did it for him. We wanted it, and we did it.”

They did, but not without a struggle, after having spotted BC High an early goal.

The Eagles grabbed that lead on Sam Topham's tally, 1:59 into the contest.

Showing no reluctance to jump into the offense, Topham, a sophomore defenseman, took a feed from freshman Tim Larocque, barged to the bottom of the left circle, then threaded in his tight-angle shot which caught Lancers' junior goalie Connor Maloney by surprise.

“Those were all things we worked on this week in practice,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “Driving wide. We knew where they were vulnerable.”

Matters opened up in the second period, which put both goaltenders on the hot seat.

BC High netminder Peter Cronin faced 17 shots in the second stanza, including Iovanna's sharp wrister which he gloved.

The Eagles missed out on a golden scoring chance a minute later, when Michael Brooks was set up by linemate Tom Besinger, but missed the open net.

“That wasn't the only one,” said Flaherty. “Three or four pucks that laid there for us to bury. When you're playing with the fire power of Malden Catholic, you need to be mistake free and capitalize on everything they give you.”

Instead, was the Lancers who exploited a BC High breakdown and used it to tie the contest, 1-1, at 11:28.

Brendan Collier, working a 2-on-1 with Ryan Fitzgerald, took Sifferlen's cross-ice pass, put a head fake on Cronin and tucked the puck inside the right post.

The stalemate continued until midway through the third, when an uncleared puck in the Eagles zone ended up on Nick Rolli's stick near the blue line.

Rolli saw Iovanna cutting to the net and deftly fed him the puck.

“We were really pressuring them down low,” said Iovanna. “They couldn't get it out. We kept banging on them.”

Iovanna finished the play by lifting a back hander over Cronin's shoulder from six feet away.

Lancers freshman Casey Fitzgerald put the game out of reach with 4.6 seconds remaining, when he sent a shot 150 feet into an open net.

By that time, the Malden faithful, including Serino who was in attandence, were able to celebrate this sweetest title.

“I've been there since my freshman year,” MacGillivray said. “We've basically been a family together. It sounds weird, but [Coach Serino] is like the father of the family. We did it for him.”

Said MCinterim coach John McLean, “It's mission accomplish. It's been a very long, tough season, mentally and physically. The kids dug down in the third period and did what they had to do.”

With hockey being such a close-knit fraternity, Serino, who is still Lancers athletic director, had a real presence in the Eagles' dressing room, too, one that was still grieving the in-season passings of the fathers of two BC High sophomores.

“We were playing for our own cause,” Flaherty said. “Two of our kids lost their dads. (But) I have the utmost respect for Chris Serino. He just came into my locker room and congratulated our guys. That's what true Chris Serino is. Here's a guy fighting for his life and he takes the time out of celebrating with his team to come into my locker room.

"That's what hockey is. It's a family.”

MIAA hockey championships primer, picks

March, 16, 2012
All eyes will be on the TD Garden Sunday as championships will be decided in six divisions of MIAA hockey title games.

We'll have you covered all day long, but until then, we provide to you a breakdown of each of the game and our prediction:

GIRLS’ FINALS Division 2
No. 1 Duxbury (21-0-1) vs. No. 7 Falmouth (16-4-1), 11 a.m., TD Garden
The Breakdown: If the Dragons win this game, they make a strong argument that they were the strongest girls’ hockey team in the state, regardless of division, with the potential for an undefeated season. As any strong hockey squad goes, the Dragons are built from goal out with sophomore goaltender Rachel Myette (0.91 GAA) looks for her second state title in as many seasons as starter. Duxbury’s blue line corps is regarded as the deepest in the state, led by ESPN Boston Ms. Hockey contender Martha Findley (4-19-23). Of course, Duxbury has plenty of offensive firepower to go along with their strong defensive play with junior forwards Hannah Murphy (18-27-45) and Lily Connolly (18-20-38) as leading scorers. Falmouth has been one of the stories of the tournament, making a run behind first-year head coach Erin Blood. The Clippers have also received strong play from a young goaltender in freshman Maddie Scavotto (1.26 GAA). Falmouth is also deep and experienced on the blue line with senior captain Brenna Callahan and junior Alexx Good. The Clippers have received scoring punch from a pair of freshman forwards in Kelly Ferreira (13-9-22) and Madison Haberl (11-12-23).

The Pick: The defending Division 2 champion Dragons spent half the season as the No. 1 team in our poll. We’re not about to go against them now. Duxbury, 4-1.

Division 1 No. 3 St. Mary’s (Lynn) (21-3-1) vs. No. 4 Arlington Catholic (20-3-1), 9 a.m.
The Breakdown: If two regular season meetings between these Central Catholic powers weren’t enough, we get a rubber match for all the marbles on Sunday. The Lady Spartans came away with two wins in the teams’ regular season series, including a defining 5-2 decision by St. Mary’s on Feb. 1 after they’d been upset by crosstown rival Winthrop/Lynn. Can’t underscore the coaching in this game enough, as Frank Pagliuca has turned in perhaps his finest performance behind the bench and Maggie Taverna has vaulted the Cougars back onto the state’s biggest stage in Year One. Taverna has been helped by one of the state’s most dynamic scorers in senior Natalie Flynn (19-15-34). Adrieana Rossini (8-14-22) has also come up with some huge postseason goals. On the blue line, AC has one of the state’s best in senior Rebecca Zappala. First-year transfers Kaleigh Finigan (30-goal season) and Brittani Lanzilli (25-28-53) have not disappointed while Alison Butler (team-leading 61 points) has taken a huge step forward. The Spartans blue line is airtight with preseason All-Stater Rachel Donahoe leading the group. Lauren Skinnion (7 SO) has been strong as a first-year starter in nets.

The Pick: Third time’s a charm? Not so. Spartans are too strong. St. Mary’s, 4-2.

BOYS’ FINALS Division 3
Medway (19-6-1) vs. Hudson (21-1-1), 1:30 p.m.

The Breakdown: This marks the return of one of the state’s great public hockey programs to its biggest stage in Hudson (seriously, look it up), with the Hawks making their first state finals appearance since 1978, when they took the Div. 1 title from Burlington. The Central sectional champions are strong up front with a trio of 30-point scorers in seniors Tyler Kirby, Tim Murphy and Blake Seymour. The Mustangs are paced by one of the state’s top snipers in Jake O’Rourke (43-13-56). This matchup will also feature two of most dominant D3 goalies in the state with Hudson junior Shane Barry and Medway junior Mike Narducci facing off with sub-2.00 goals against averages.

The Pick: We’re going with the storyline and perhaps the most consistent D3 team throughout the season. Hudson, 3-2.

Division 2 Wilmington (15-4-5) vs. No. 1 Franklin (19-2-3), 3:30 p.m.
The Breakdown: This might be the most intriguing matchup of the day. Both of these teams were among four Division 2 teams on the Mass. Hockey Coaches Association’s initial Super 8 Watch list a month ago and haven’t disappointed in the tournament. Franklin was here a year ago, when they had their hearts broken by Tewksbury in an overtime stunner. Many observers, including us, had last season pegged as the Panthers’ opportunity to break a nearly three-decade long drought, but Chris Spillane has showed why he’s one of the state’s premier coaches. It also hasn’t hurt that Franklin has received tremendous senior seasons from Adam Hall (17-25-42) and Nick Bertoni (25-15-40). Sophomore netminder Mike Donadio (1.64 GAA) has been a revelation. The Wildcats offense has taken off since Cam Owens’ (14-19-33) return to the lineup, while senior captain Dalton Rolli (9-16-25) is an underrated two-way presence. Junior forward Jake Rogers (12-6-20) has come up with some timely goals in the postseason. Sophomore netminder Drew Foley (1.69 GAA) has played his best when it’s counted most, carrying a three-plus game shutout streak into the Wildcats’ North sectional final with Winthrop.

The Pick: The last time the Panthers hoisted the trophy Coach Spillane skated. Unfortunately for the hockey hotbed, this isn’t the year either. Wilmington, 2-1 (OT).

Division 1 Burlington (17-2-6) vs. Milton (19-3-3), 8:15 p.m.
The Breakdown: The Red Devils pulled off a tough feat, bouncing back from a Super 8 play-in game loss (and a very competitive one at that) to pull themselves into the D1 championship. The Middlesex League champions have plenty of speed to burn, and senior assistant captain Trevor Cimino (17-22-39) is about as good a two-way forward as you’ll find. Along with Joe Berardi (22-13-35), Brett Romkey (17-3-20) and C.J. Grinnell (6-14-20), Burlington can score in piles. We’ve also come away impressed by their defensive corps led by Steve Mattos, in addition to Cody Crocker, Adam Crowley and Brien Diffley. The Wildcats ran the Bay State League gauntlet in the South sectional tournament to get to the Garden. Paul Curran (26-33-59) is one of the best pure scorers in the state, and along with top-liners Brian Higgins (23-29-52) and Terrance Walsh (16-33-49), Milton provides matchup problems. Blue-liner John Murtagh is a rock, logging boatloads of ice time, and senior netminder Jay Hankard is peaking at the right time

The Pick: Red Devils are simply too potent, but they’re the pick mostly because of the way they’re playing defensively right now in front of Derek DeCastro. Burlington, 6-3.

Division 1A No. 5 BC High (13-6-5) vs. No. 1 Malden Catholic (19-1-4), 6 p.m.
The Breakdown: After beating another Catholic Conference rival, St. John’s Prep, to advance to the final, Eagles head coach John Flaherty said he’s had a special feeling about this group. That feeling might have developed after BC High skated to a 2-2 tie with MC on Jan. 25, a game in which the Eagles in some regards out-played the Lancers. This will be the fourth meeting between these teams, with MC taking two wins, including a 3-1 win in the Super 8’s round robin last week. The crucible for BC High is which of their defensive units shows up: The out-of-sorts group that surrendered a 7-spot earlier this season to MC, or the cohesive group that bounced Prep and its top line? Of course, that all starts with junior goaltender Peter Cronin (2.00 GAA), who has turned in another solid tournament. Brian Furey leads a much improved blue-line group. The Eagles are also disciplined in their own zone, with Matt Sullivan (12-16-28) providing as much defensively as he does offensively. Everyone knows of the Lancers top line of Brendan Collier, Ryan Fitzgerald and Mike Iovanna, but freshman center Ara Nazarian has been the breakout star of the tournament, filling the scoresheet in every game and tallying five goals. It’s not just offense with MC, however, as you’d be hard pressed to find a deeper, more dynamic top three than Casey Fitzgerald, Colin MacGillivray and Brendan White. If netminder Connor Maloney plays as he did against Central Catholic in the crossover round, that’s game, set, and match.

The Pick: Doin’ it for CS5. MC, 5-3.

Super 8 recap: Malden Catholic 4, Central Cath. 0

March, 15, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER – Local hockey fans who hadn't heard of Malden Catholic forward Ara Nazarian before this year's Super 8 tournament have probably heard of him now.

Nazarian, a freshman, collected a goal – his fifth in four Super 8 games – to help the top-seeded Lancers defeat seventh-seeded Central Catholic 4-0 Wednesday in the Super 8 semifinals.

“He tends to figure out the game at each level as he moves up,” Malden Catholic head coach John McLean said. “He's got a pretty good hockey IQ and when he gets a chance he's gonna put it in the net.

“I know what he can do because I've coached him since he was a Mite. He scored in some big games [during the regular season] and he's scored some big ones here. He's a big-time player.”

Malden Catholic, last year's Super 8 champion, also received goals from sophomore defenseman Nick Rolli, senior forward Brendan Collier and junior forward Ryan Fitzgerald.

The victory earned the Lancers a spot in the Super 8 championship game, where they will face BC High on Sunday (6 p.m.) at TD Banknorth Garden. BC High moved on with a 3-2 triumph over St. John's Prep in Wednesday's other semifinal.

“I've had them [BC High] marked from Day 1 as the team that would be there,” McLean said. “Just nonstop. Great coach, great kids and it's gonna be a great game.”

Central Catholic made the program's deepest run in the Super 8 tournament.

“The kids fought all the way to the end,” Central Catholic head coach Mike Jankowski said. “We wanted to be a little more conservative in our own zone. Give up a little bit. Be patient. The kids stayed with it. They did a great job.”

Although Malden Catholic collected both goals scored in the second period, the best chances in the period belonged to the Raiders.

Malden Catholic goaltender Connor Maloney stopped Central Catholic's Corey Webber on a penalty shot with 4:15 left in the period, and then Maloney stopped Michael Hovnanian's breakaway attempt with 3:36 remaining in the period.

“You gotta put those away when you're in trouble,” Jankowksi said. “When you don't finish them the sticks start to get a little heavier.”

“[Maloney] made a few more big saves besides those two,” McLean added. “He kept us in it. This is two games in a row where our offense gets going and we forget we have to play defense. The kids get excited when they score the goals and hear the fans, but defense wins hockey games.

“Maloney had a great game tonight. He was our player of the game.”

Sunday's game will be the fourth time Malden Catholic and BC High have faced each other this season. Malden Catholic posted a 7-4 victory during the regular season, and a 3-1 victory earlier in the Super 8 tournament. The teams also skated to a 2-2 tie during the regular season.

“I'm looking forward to it,” McLean said. “We always have good games with them. It's gonna come down to who going to eat the puck, block a shot. Who's gonna want to get in front and get dirty. I think it's gonna come down to heart. I think it's gonna be a great game for the fans.”

MC's Super 8 run inspired by Serino

March, 14, 2012
MALDEN, Mass. -- Malden Catholic hockey's season had an auspicious start when head coach Chris Serino announced he was stepping aside for the season to deal with health problems in December.

The program was entrusted to John McLean, who took over as head coach in the interim, along with fellow longtime assistants Phil Antonelli and Pat Driscoll.

The Lancers haven't disappointed as the No. 1 team in our Top 25 poll throughout the season. But the pressure will mount on Wednesday, as they look to advance to the TD Garden and secure their second straight Division 1A title. Still, the biggest goal the Lancers hope to live up to is the ability to deliver another title in honor of their ailing coach, who is undergoing treatment in a bout with throat cancer.

We visited MC's practice on Monday to file this story:

Super 8 recap: Malden Catholic 7, Hingham 2

March, 11, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — All it took was the first couple of seconds into the game and one could see that it could be a long day for Hingham.

Ryan Fitzgerald set the tone with his breakaway rush after the opening faceoff as the talented forward and his linemmates helped Malden Catholic finish off Hingham, 7-2, final first round game of the Super Eight.

“I think as a whole we realized we needed to pick it up a little,” Fitzgerald said. “On the first shift we poured it out and it showed. We got a lot of good chances in the beginning of the game and we just wanted to apply it for the rest of the night.”

Lancers head coach John McLean could see that maybe his first line was struggling to find the back of the net and he was happy to see his team find the scoring touch at the right time.

“It was good that our guys finally got on the scoreboard and played the way that they can in the offensive zone,” McLean said. “We talked about it at practice and we rely on them a lot. They really have been struggling a bit, squeezing the stick too much.”

Fitzgerald was the pace-setter with three goals and one assists, while Brendan Collier scored two goals and two assists. Ara Narazarian also potted a pair for Malden Catholic in the victory.

“We’ve just focused on our game plan,” Fitzgerald said. “We practice it every day and we just had to bring it back to the basics and stay with that.”

Lost in the offensive explosion were a number of great saves by Connor Maloney in the second period. Maloney got out of position on two or three rushes by the Harbormen, but he was able to square up those chances that could have seriously altered the complexion of the dominating victory.

“We didn’t do a good job in our end,” said McLean. “[Maloney] came up with some huge saves. The kids felt really good after the second period, but I kind of blasted them. The net was empty. They probably missed three empty nets. It could have been a different game if they put that puck in the net. He saved us on a few.”

“You know you are only going to get so many chances,” added Hingham head coach Tony Messina. “We had two or three. It looked like open nets or partially open nets and we couldn’t put it home. It would have changed the complexion in terms of the way the kids were thinking about it. We could only keep them down for so long.”