Boston High School: Brian Larence

Recap: No. 8 Cathedral 6, Mt. St. Charles 2

January, 19, 2014
Jan 19
WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- If somehow Springfield Cathedral can find a way to bottle up its performance during the first two periods of Saturday's matinee match-up against Mount St. Charles Academy, then the Panthers could punch their ticket for a trip to the Super 8 tournament in March.

No. 8 Cathedral put on a virtual clinic for most of the opening 30 minutes of this tilt, building a 5-goal lead before settling for a 6-2 victory at the Olympia Ice Center.

"I think we're playing pretty good right now," said Panthers head coach Brian Foley, after his team improved to 9-2-1. "Mount is a very good team and came out with a lot of energy at the beginning. They out-shot us 6-0 to start the game before we kind of got it together. It was nice to have a 5-0 lead after two periods.

“Our kids are doing a good job finishing opportunities. Overall, we played a pretty-solid game today."

Cathedral did a lot of the little things right in this one. They won many of the small battles up and down the ice and took control of the larger ones as well. They were able to imposed an aggressive style by pressuring the Mounties defense into making countless ill-advised passes up the ice to their forwards. Once MSC was able to clear its own blue line, they ran into a bevy of trouble as the Panthers were waiting for them at mid-ice and beyond, forcing them off of their projected paths towards the net.

Although the Mounties were able to send 10 shots in goaltender Keith Petruzzelli's direction during the opening frame, most came from the perimeter. Petruzzelli, a freshman, got the nod over senior John Liquori, who surrendered three goals in a loss to Central Catholic on Wednesday.

The move may have surprised some people, considering the strength of MSC's offense. However, Foley was quick dismissed any notions of a goaltender controversy brewing.

"This is Keith's second start of the year," Foley said. "We have two very good goalies which I consider to be a luxury. We are going to keep playing both of them and try to find the right combination. For a coach, it really is a luxury knowing you have two goalies that you are completely comfortable with."

Keith Petruzzelli, along with his brother D.J., has already given a verbal commitment to play for Quinnipiac University once their high school careers are over.

D.J. Petruzzelli was equally instrumental in this victory, recording a natural hat trick.

The Mounties (9-5), who played just 18 hours earlier, beating Coventry and then having to endure a two-hour bus ride here, showed no signs of fatigue at the start. They dictated the offensive tempo from the opening face off and move the puck around the Cathedral zone with relative ease for the first four minutes. But Petruzzelli (26 saves) was able to survive the early onslaught before Cathedral started to find its legs.

Following the MSC flurry, the Panthers, sticking with their effective on-the-mark passing and speed skills, began to find gaps within the Mounties defense. They were able to create space in the neutral zone and continue to keep distance once inside Mountie territory. At 8:57 of the opening period, Cathedral capitalized on its efforts. Johnny Leonard, a sophomore, sent a cross-ice feed from the right circle over to Cam Peritz. The freshman was able to get a step ahead of the defense and flipped a shot past Brian Larence for a 1-0 lead.

Larence has been a valuable commodity in MSC's arsenal. The senior had posted three shutouts in his last four games coming in. On this day however, he wasn't as fortunate, stopping 23 of 29 shots.

"We gave up way to many odd-man rushes today," said Mounties assistant head coach David Belisle. "It seemed like it was happening on nearly every shift. I think we were over-anxious at times. Our concentration, especially in the second period, was awful."

Despite the change in momentum that Cathedral enjoyed over the final 10 minutes of the first period, putting up 13 shots, it appeared as though MSC would only be down by a goal heading into the first intermission.

But with just 3 seconds remaining, Leonard was left unattended on the short side of the net and beat Larence with a hard wrist shot under his catching glove, giving his team a two-goal lead.

"We were kind of scrambling around during the second half of the first period," Belisle said. "Giving up that goal late got [them] in their game and got us way off of our game."

The Panthers carried their opening period resurgence into the middle frame. In spite playing a man down, it didn't seem to matter. Leonard chalked up his second goal (No. 14 this season) at 6:45 by finishing off a 2-on-1 break, firing a shot just under Larence's glove to make it 3-0.

Four minutes later, it was D.J. Petruzzelli's time to shine. Another turnover resulted in a hard rush down ice for Cathedral's top line. Forward Peter Crinella started things before handing the puck over to Leonard, who then found Petruzzelli in front of the crease. The junior finished off the drive by stuffing a shot between Larence's leg pads for a four-goal advantage.

Petruzzelli was not finished. With under a minute remaining in the period, another odd-man rush by the Panthers set the stage for his second goal and a 5-0 lead.

"I think we had a top-to-bottom team effort today," said D.J. Petruzzelli. "All of our lines jumped in and played well. Keith played really well in net and I think we just kept pouring it on. All in all it was a good team effort."

MSC opened the final period with a concentrated effort of shoring up its patented 1-2-2 zone in the hopes of slowing down the Panthers. For the most part, it seemed to work as Cathedral was now finding things a bit more difficult in its attempts to work the puck inside the Mounties' zone. In turn, that finally opened things up for MSC's offense. Within a span of 20 seconds, the Mounties found the back of the net twice on goals by Devin Votta (team-high 13) and Patrick Holmes, cutting the deficit to 5-2.

But the hole MSC dug for itself was too deep to crawl out of. With less than two minutes to go, Petruzelli notched his third tally after ripping a shot from the right point, which sailed past Larence, putting an end to any comeback hopes by the Mounties.

"The good thing we can take out of this moving forward is we can't win many games against good teams like this by giving up that many odd-man rushes," Belilse said. "I think we'll be alright. We try to play our best hockey in February and that is the hope again for us this year."

Hendricken emerges from pack at MSC Face-Off

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
Without question Mount St. Charles, La Salle Academy and Hendricken have fielded the state’s dominant boys’ hockey teams for decades. But for the most part, the only time each is under the same roof at the same time is when they play in the annual Mount St. Charles Holiday Face-Off Tournament at Adelard Arena along with five top teams from five different states.

Rhode IslandNot surprisingly, the fact Hendricken claimed the championship with a 3-0 record may indicate the Hawks could be the team to beat not only for the Division I regular-season championship but also for the tournament title.

In a span of 72 hours last weekend, the Hawks nipped Connecticut’s Fairfield Prep, 4-3; beat division rival La Salle, 6-3; and held off New York’s St. Joseph Collegiate, 4-3.

“It’s good to win a championship,” said Hawks coach Jim Creamer. “It’s never easy to win a championship – one reason being we only play two each season, this tournament at the Mount and then the league tourney. Just to win one is a major accomplishment.”

Tournament MVP Andy Fera scored twice in the finals and was voted to the All-Tournament Team along with fellow Hawks Jamie Armstrong (forward), Matt Kenneally (goalie) and Bryce Dolan (defenseman).

Fera’s second goal gave Hendricken a 4-2 lead and, obviously, proved to be the game-winner.

“He’s our go-to guy … our ‘Mr. Consistent,’” said Creamer. “You get the same thing out of Andrew all the time and that’s the best part about him. To say that fourth goal was big would be an understatement.”

It also would be an understatement to say that beating three quality teams will aid the Hawks in their pursuit of the state championship they last won in 2012.

“We had three good games with some highs and some lows,” said Creamer. “But over the course of those three days, we really did a good job. We got better as a team. We were put in some tough spots but we’re thrilled with (the championship).

“It was a grind to get through this tournament when you have teams like Fairfield, St. Joseph’s, La Salle and Mount. Really, it was a daunting task for our guys.”

Mount implodes: In baseball, batting .333 is excellent.

But in a three-game hockey tournament, batting .333 (i.e. one win and two losses) isn’t anything to brag about especially if you’re Mount St. Charles which has captured a mind-boggling 43 state championships.

The fact Mount was blanked, 4-0, by Fairfield Prep in the third game did little for coach Dave Belisle’s peace of mind.

In fact, Belisle kept the door to the Mount’s locker room closed for a good half-hour while he “addressed” his players about their lackluster performance in the tournament.

“We only played two-and-a-half good periods,” Belisle said of Mount’s loss to Fairfield. “That’s the disappointing part. When you only play two-plus periods against a good team like that, you’re not going to get it done.

“I’ve been preaching it for a long time, that you have to play three full periods of hockey. Even in our division (Division I-Cimini), we’ve only played hard for two periods in the games we’ve won.”

In retrospect, the Jesuits could have won by more than 4-0 if goalie Brian Larence had not made 47 saves.

“I know Brian wouldn’t want me to say he played a good game because we lost 4-0,” said Belisle. “He’d want me to say he didn’t get it done in the third period.

“Overall, we’ve had our fair share of injuries and we’re young. We have eight freshmen on our roster. But this is about giving the effort for 45 minutes – from the opening faceoff until the final buzzer.”

Smooth sailing for Clippers: Cumberland last won the Division II state championship at the end of the 2007-08 season. But Cumberland delivered the proverbial message by upsetting Division I foe Barrington, 3-2, in the opening round of the Burrillville Winter Classic on Monday.

If the Clippers had beaten a Division III team, the victory would have been expected. But to beat a Division I team is a completely different story.

“Barrington plays in the state’s top division,” said Cumberland coach Mark Andreozzi. “For us to skate with Barrington and play well and get the win is definitely a feather in our caps.

“It was good to gain confidence … to know we could go out and play at their level.”

The story within the story was the fact Andreozzi played all three of his goaltenders en route to his team’s upping its overall record to 5-0-0. Leo Lake, Zack Kay and Liam Curren combined for a modest total of eight saves.

“I wanted to play all three because they work hard in practice and really could benefit from the experience of playing against a top team like Barrington,” said Andreozzi. “Granted, it was a non-league game. But it’s just as important as the ones we play in our division (II-North).”

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

Recap: No. 2 MC 8, Mount St. Charles (R.I.) 2

December, 19, 2013
MALDEN, Mass. -- Ara Nazarian and Tyler Sifferlen lost linemate Mike Iovanna to graduation, but the duo appear to have not missed a beat. Paired with new right wing Jake Witkowski, the two combined for five goals as the three-time defending Super 8 Champions from Malden Catholic demolished Rhode Island high school hockey powerhouse Mount St. Charles, 8-2, on Wednesday night.

“Losing Mikey [Iovanna] is a big loss,” said Sifferlen of his departed line mate, a UMass-Amhest recruit. “We played with Jake in the fall, and we had good chemistry with him. It’s good that Jake is filling in for him. He’s working hard and doing good with us.”

The Mounties, playing their fourth game of the season, were without their entire second line due to injuries suffered in a scrimmage against Austin Prep. Mount Saint Charles also got to the Valley Forum late because of traffic, but bus legs or not, the school from Woonsocket, R.I. was able to stay even, 1-1, with the skilled Lancers after 15 minutes.

“It’s tough for them,” said Malden Catholic head coach John McLean. “They came all the way up here with a lot of traffic. I feel bad for them. They’re usually a really good team, but they had bus legs all night.”

Malden Catholic sophomore Matt Filipe and Mount St. Charles senior Justin Trindade traded first period goals.

“We were a little nervous going out,” said McLean of his team’s first period start in its season opener. “I think the shots were 19-2 in the first. We had a ton of chances, but just didn’t finish. It was a little case of the nerves and starting the season out with new linemates.”

The floodgates opened in the second period as Sifferlen, the UMass-Lowell recruit, scored twice in the first 31 seconds to give the Lancers a 3-1 cushion. His first goal was a quick snipe from the left side nine seconds in.

UNH recruit Nazarian then added two goals, including a laser that went top shelf past Mount St. Charles goaltender Brian Larence for a 5-1 lead for MC.

Jack Adams scored another goal to give the Lancers a five-goal cushion prior to the second intermission.

“I thought we settled in for the second period. [Nazarian and Sifferlen] are both special players,” said McLean of his duo, who were responsible for four of the five goals scored in the middle frame. “They just know how to play. They compete every shift. They’re very skilled, and when they have a chance they usually bury it. They probably should have more,” added the coach.

Sifferlen scored his third of the night for the hat trick in the third period on a nice chip pass by Witkowski from behind the goal line.

Defenseman Nick Rolli banged one past Larence off a short feed from Filipe for the final goal of the night.

McLean and Sifferlen both stressed the need to stay focused and take it one game at a time.

“It’s a good win. We haven’t arrived yet. It doesn’t mean anything. We have a lot of work to do. The only thing I’m worried about is tomorrow,” said McLean.

“We’ve just got to go out there and play our game. Obviously we’re the team to beat. We know that, being the three time champs, and we just have to go out there game by game,” said Sifferlen.

Notes: A name that high school hockey fans will have to get used to hearing is Lynnfield native Matthew Filipe whose father played hockey at Northeastern. “Matthew Filipe is the next up and coming elite player. He’s a [late] ’97. He’s a big, strong kid who can skate. He plays a hard, mean game, but he’s skilled and can finish. He competes every shift. He’s going to be fun to watch the next few years,” McLean said. … Mount St. Charles, playing shorthanded and with bus legs, didn’t put up much of a fight after the first period, but coach Dave Beslisle believes his team will be one of the top three contenders in Rhode Island with Bishop Hendricken and La Salle Academy.

Recap: No. 2 BC High 2, Mt. St. Charles 0

December, 23, 2012

BOSTON – In the box score of No. 2 BC High’s 2-0 win over Rhode Island powerhouse Mount St. Charles, you’d easily find the fact that Ryan McDonough scored what proved to be the game-winning goal in the first period.

What you wouldn’t be able to find in that information, or any other quantified statistic for that matter, is what McDonough, a senior assistant captain of the Eagles, truly meant to his team’s shutout effort. It’s the same thing head coach John Flaherty has come to expect from McDonough, but it was all prominently on display Saturday at UMass-Boston.

In the final minute of BC High’s victory, the Eagles collectively put on a defensive clinic. McDonough led the charge with a key blocked shot, as did Chris LaLiberte. To ice the victory, Tom Besinger’s singular effort on the forecheck resulted in an empty-net goal with 5.3 seconds to play. With a 20-save performance from preseason All-State netminder Peter Cronin, the Eagles made it all stand up.

“We don’t get out of here with two points but for Chris LaLiberte blocking that shot and sacrificing himself,” Flaherty said. “Then, he gets off the ice and Ryan McDonough gets on and that was another huge block by him. Ryan just does that. Both of those guys, they bring that element to their game, every shift. They’re guys that pay attention to details.”

The Eagles (3-0-0) have now thrown two shutouts in the first three games with Cronin picking up all three wins. Between the pipes, Cronin has backstopped BC High to eight scoreless periods of the nine played.

“We’re relying on him too much, but he’s getting the job done,” Flaherty said of Cronin.

Both teams were victim to some early sloppy play getting out of their respective ends. Yet, the Eagles were able to cling to a 1-0 lead after McDonough slipped one past Mounties netminder Brian Larence (21 saves) at 9:15 of the first.

“I got the puck on the left boards and tossed it down to Steve DeForge, and he made a great play,” McDonough said. “I was lucky to get it past the goalie.”

But the Eagles collectively kept the best for last. BC High’s defense in front of Cronin helped keep Mount scoreless despite five man-advantages, collapsing down low and clogging shooting lanes. The Eagles brought the same ethic to the final minute of play with Larence pulled from the Mounties’ net.

“Whatever it takes to win,” McDonough said of his shot blocks. “I try my best for Pete [Cronin] because he does his best for us every single night.”

Cronin continued his hot play on Saturday, but wasn’t tested for long stretches of time. The senior netminder, who didn’t allow his first goal of the season until the third period of Monday’s 5-2 win over St. John’s of Shrewsbury, remained sharp despite a lack of activity in front of him, particularly in the second period when the Mounties got just six shots to the BC High cage.

“Those are tough games for goaltenders because he didn’t have a ton of shots, but when he did, they were good chances and he made some very good saves,” Flaherty said. “A couple of those came off deflections and those were tough, but he’s seeing the puck well.”

A perennial threat in the RIIL’s Division 1 title race, Mount has experienced a sort of power outage without top scorer Brian Belisle.

The Mounties’ top returning scorer from last season suffered an early concussion, but recently was dealt a second blow to the head, holding him out of play for at least the next couple of weeks. Brian’s father, Mounties coach Dave Belisle isn’t about to rush him back into action, even with a loaded field upcoming in Mount’s holiday week tournament upcoming.

“Our goaltending’s been good since the beginning and we have four good defensemen in front of [Larence],” Dave Belisle said. “We just need some scoring. We need some time to come together and we need Brian to get healthy and get back.”

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

March, 22, 2012
From 1968 through 1992, Central High dominated boys’ basketball in Rhode Island.

Rhode IslandUnder coaching legends Jim Adams and Don Pastine, the Knights captured 11 of 24 state championships including seven in a row from 1968-75.

Players like Rickey Santos, Marvin Barnes, Mike Hazard and current Providence College head coach Ed Cooley became household names.

But when parochial schools like Hendricken, St. Raphael and La Salle began capitalizing on their ability to draw student-athletes from all over the state, the scales titled in their favor to the point where they annexed 16 of the last 17 titles prior to this season.

Fifth-seeded Central turned the clock back earlier this month when it beat intra-city rival/14th-seeded Hope, 66-59 behind the stellar play of Jerelle Washington.

Washington, a sophomore, tossed in 28 points – 16 in the second half which enabled the Knights to overcome an 11-point deficit and clinch their 12th state title – in the first time they’ve played the Blue Wave for the championship since 1971.

The Knights finished the season with a 19-5 overall record and broke Hope’s eight-game winning streak in the process.

Central beat ninth-seeded Rogers, 54-46, in the semifinals as Daniel Mendez scored 16 points.

The Blue Wave (14-12) advanced to the finals for the first time since 2007 by defeating second-seeded La Salle, 69-65, in overtime.

Manny Kargbo scored five of his overall 24 points at the free throw line in OT to help clinch the victory.

La Salle Academy, Narragansett and Juanita Sanchez captured the Division 1, 2 and 3 girls’ state basketball championships, respectively. But while winning titles is old news for the Rams, it made front-page headlines for the Mariners and Cavaliers.

Narragansett beat Classical, 51-40, for the Division II title – the school’s first in 18 years.

Juanita Sanchez, meanwhile, claimed the Division III crown by defeating defending champion Middletown, 49-36 – the first in the eight-year history of the program.

La Salle, not surprisingly, walked off with its ninth Division I title since the 1998-99 season by outlasting Bay View, 53-49.

Narragansett’s Mercedes Harris earned MVP honors after posting a double-double with 10 points and 16 rebounds.

The Cavaliers (23-3 overall) won more than eight games for the first time in program history.

D’Asia Allen paced Juanita Sanchez with 18 points, which helped Tyrone Dale win a state title in his first season as the team’s head coach.

The “hook” in the La Salle-Bay View game was that each team finished 18-0 in its respective division (La Salle in I-South and Bay View in I-North).

Davida Dale paced La Salle with 13 points while Vandell Andrade led Bay View with 16.

Maybe Hendricken won’t win a gazillion state hockey championships like Mount St. Charles has over the decades. But the Hawks will cherish their most recent title moreso than most.

Why? One reason being it snapped Mount’s current run of consecutive State Championship Division crowns at four.

Secondly, the Hawks did something few teams have been able to do when they faced Mount in the third and deciding game of a best-of-three series – win that game, in this case, 5-2.

Invariably, when the Mounties drop Game 1, the running joke is they have their opponent just where they want them – in position to be swept over the final two games.

Junior Paul Filipone etched his name into Hendricken sports lore by not only scoring in overtime to give his team a 4-3 victory in Game 1 but he also scored two of the Hawks’ first four goals in Game 3.

Filipone scored once in each of the first two periods while Justin Finan drove a dagger into the Mounties’ collective hearts with a second-period goal which produced a 4-1 lead.

Mount forced a deciding game when Brian Larence made 32 saves to backstop a 3-2 victory.

Don’t ask why the smallest state in the country has four state hockey tournaments.

Actually, the reason is there’s such a gap between the various schools that it’s a virtual necessity.

Moses Brown copped the Division I crown by sweeping Barrington 6-4 and 4-2.

The Quakers thus ended their hockey affiliation with the Interscholastic League in style because they’ll be playing an independent schedule commencing next season.

Junior Nathan Farrington came up big in the third period of each game by twice scoring two goals. His short-handed goal in Game 2 gave the Quakers a 3-1 lead – a margin they didn’t relinquish.

Coventry retained its Division II championship by sweeping Prout 2-0 and 6-1.

Junior Mike Presola was voted tourney MVP honors after scoring three goals and assisting on two.

During their two-year championship run, the Oakers have compiled a 33-3-0 regular-season record.

“Townie Pride” has taken a blow over the last year as East Providence has been beset with serious financial problems. But the hockey team put those woes on the back burner for a while by nipping Mount Hope, 2-1, in the Game 3 of their Division III championship series.

As a result, the Townies earned their first state hockey title in seven years.

Ryan Barry was named the tournament’s MVP by scoring one goal and assisting on five others.

Another of the state’s smaller schools made major waves on the national track scene at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in The Big Apple.

The quartet of Dan Kilcoyne, Bryce Kelley, Jake Kilcoyne and Mike Marsella captured the 4-x-1-mile relay in a national-record time of 17:20.20 – breaking the previous mark by 1.38 seconds.

The Chargers, who’re coached by Bill Haberek, beat out such long-time powers as Shaker High (Latham, N.Y.) and Christian Brothers (Lincroft, N.J.).

Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y, he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

December, 16, 2011
And you wonder why coaches become prematurely gray and develop ulcers?

Rhode IslandJust ask Hendricken coach Keith Croft and Chariho coach Mike Kelly.

Each coach reached for something to soothe their stomachs after his team won its respective Super Bowl.

Hendricken retained its Division I title by upsetting previously-undefeated La Salle, 17-14, while Chariho won the Division II title – the first state football championship in school history – by edging Central, 26-25.

How each team won was the stuff of legend.

La Salle led 14-10 with 55 seconds left in regulation when Laionel Cintron caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Brannigan which helped avenge a 39-14 pasting the Hawks suffered at the hands of the Rams in September.

The championship was the eighth in school history for the Hawks. And, ironically, the reception only was Cintron’s 13th of the season for the run-oriented Hawks.

Chariho trailed 25-20 with four minutes left on the clock thanks to a second touchdown run by Central’s Mike Washington. But on the ensuing kickoff, Colton place caught the ball on his two and sprinted 98 yards for arguably the biggest touchdown in Chariho history – one that produced the 26-25 victory.

The other two Super Bowls had less dramatic finishes but were just as important to the respective victors.

Rogers, which at one time dominated Division I, beat Middletown 27-7 for the Division III title while Mount Pleasant captured its second consecutive Division IV Super Bowl title by outlasting Central Falls, 22-13.

Senior Reeyon Watts helped the Vikings avenge a loss in the 2010 Super Bowl to the Islanders by rushing for 170 yards and one touchdown on 28 carries.

The title was the first as a coach for Rogers’ alumnus Frank Newsome who played on three Division I Super Bowl teams from 1988-90.

Emmanuel Marsh caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Dunlap and scored on a four-yard run to pace the Kilties.

In addition, Marsh played a solid game at safety – a position he had not played before the Super Bowl because coach Paul Rao felt he would best fit in a Cover-3 defense.

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