Boston High School: Christian Baldino
December, 20, 2012
By Scott Barboza | ESPNBoston.com
WOBURN, Mass. –- Bitter Middlesex League rivals No. 14 Woburn and No. 16 Burlington engaged in their first of two regular season meetings Wednesday night at the O’Brien rink and all was even.
From the play on the ice, to the vocal displays of admiration from the respective schools’ student fan section, the Tanners and Red Devils played out a scene that frequently could be repeated across the league this year. After skating to a 2-2 tie, there wasn’t much separating the teams in any regard – even the shots-on-goal battle ended in an 18-18 draw.
And while both sides came away disappointed, in other ways, the went home satisfied yet.
“The Middlesex League is probably the best public school league,” Burlington senior captain C.J. Grinnell said. “Anything can happen at any point.”
While the Tanners (2-0-1) dropped their first point of the season, they were fortunate to come away with one at all.
Trailing 2-1 with less than three minutes to play, Woburn defensemen Mark Desantis’ point shot found its way through the wall of traffic in front of Burlington netminder Derek DeCastro (16 saves).
On the bulk, both teams split the action, but Burlington (1-1-1) took the ice in the first period with a decided jump in their stride. And even though the Red Devils carried the action, they found themselves in an early hole as Tanners senior center Jared Baker forced a neutral zone turnover and sped in alone on a partial breakaway. Baker’s back-handed finish gave Woburn a 1-0 lead at 6:29.
Yet, Burlington kept coming and their aggressive forecheck was rewarded on its first goal scored by Grinnell at 8:38. Grinnell sped up the left wing boards and into the Woburn zone. After gaining position between the defense and Tanners netminder Jeremy Flibotte (16 saves), Grinnell snuck a beautiful back-handed snipe under the roof of the cross bar.
It was a welcome change of fortune.
“I’ve been snake-bitten all year,” Grinnell said of his first goal on the season. “I’ve hit maybe six, seven crossbars in the first couple of games. I used my speed, just went to the outside and I saw the goalie go down early, so I went upstairs.”
Less than a minute later, the Red Devils claimed a 2-1 lead – a lead they would go on to hold for more than two periods – with junior defensemen Adam Crowley’s partial slapper from inside the left side circle. Fellow blue-liner Sean Costa picked up an assist on the play.
Burlington maintained its slim margin until the 12:02 mark of the third when Woburn tallied the equalizer on Desantis’ blasts.
GLASS HALF FULL
Both head coaches harped on the fact that they return young squads and that Wednesday’s result was more a stepping stone than a step back.
“I’m proud of them,” Woburn bench boss Jim Duran said. “We did the little things, playing good team defense, we were solid in our own end and making the most of our chances.”
Likewise, Bob Conceison, whose Red Devils are coming off a Division 1 state championship last season but lost several key players to graduation, saw plusses to the minuses.
“I thought the first period we came out and played really, really well. I think they adjusted in the second period and they came out flying. I wasn’t happy with the way we came out in the second. We didn’t match them and we came out a little bit lethargic.”
ON THE RISE
Those young rosters mean that the more senior Tanner and Red Devil skaters are going to be called upon to do more this season.
Wednesday’s performance provided a glimpse to the maturation of a couple of those such players.
Baker’s goal was the result of a great individual effort in the neutral zone, putting the Tanners on the board. Duran is hoping Baker will fulfill a great role as the pivot on the Tanners’ top line, centering Joe Connors and Colin Flynn.
“He knows he has to do that, he and Joey [Connors] and the Baldino twins [Christian and Nick], even though they’re just sophomores. Jared and Joey have been in big games and that helps us and what really helps us is that they’re such hard workers. They never take a shift off.”
Meanwhile, a goal and a steady night in his own zone from Crowley drew plenty of praise.
“Adam’s one of the most important players on our team,” Conceison said of the junior defenseman. “None of our other defensemen have seen playing time, they’re all new defensemen. Adam’s stabilized them, he leads that group and he’s our catalyst back there. I think he played a tremendous game tonight. When he plays this way, he came be one of the best defensemen around.”
December, 29, 2011
By Scott Barboza | ESPNBoston.com
WOBURN, Mass. -- St. John’s Prep and Woburn provided one of the many highlights to last year’s Super 8 tournament with a riveting overtime battle.
The Eagles got the better of that one, edging the Tanners 4-3, en route to their Super 8 final appearance.
Wednesday night’s matchup between the two squads didn’t disappoint either, but the No. 5 Tanners emerged with a more favorable result this time around, sweating out a 3-2 win over No. 2 Prep at O’Brien Rink.
Senior winger Danny Holland collected the game-winning goal midway through the third period, breaking a 2-2 deadlock.
“My wingman Johnny Dirienzo, he made a great pass coming across,” Holland said the goal. “I made a tip around one of the defensemen, I beat him to the corner, came out and just took a shot on net.”
Down the stretch, the Tanners defense held with senior captain Jake Secatore logging Chara-like minutes and sophomore goaltender Jeremy Flibotte making the saves.
Otherwise, the matchup was about as even as can be with the teams hitting the dressing room tied 1-1 at the first intermission and 2-2 after two.
Prep (3-1-0) claimed an early advantage with sophomore center Tyler Bird collecting his third goal on the young season. Woburn (2-1-1) tied the game just a minute later with John Concannon burying a wrister set up by talented freshmen siblings Nicholas and Christian Baldino.
The teams’ stars took over the action in the second, with two Hockey East commits trading goals.
UMass-Lowell commit Casey Shea broke his goalless skid with his first tally of the season. The Tanners senior captain skated circles around two Prep defensemen before beating goaltender David Letarte five-hole with a backhander.
With 12:31 remaining in the second, Prep star Sam Kurker left his imprint on the game. The rugged forward and BU-commit broke off the left wing boards, muscling off a Woburn defenseman before cutting to the slot and letting of a wicked wrister, beating Flibotte stick-side.
“We told ours wings to watch him coming off the wall in the second period,” Tanner head coach Jim Duran said of defending Kurker, who tallied his eighth goal of the season. “He was just too strong sometimes when he was coming off the half wall. He just fought through our checks.”
Woburn’s adjustments were evident in the game’s final minutes. The Tanners did good work to keep the Eagles to the outside and keeping sightlines clear for Flibotte.
“I don’t think we generated enough quality scoring chances,” Prep head coach Kristian Hanson said. “We had some shots from the perimeter, but we weren’t able to get to the net, try to get a rebound goal. I didn’t see that and I would’ve liked to.”
SEE YA LATER?
It’s not a stretch to say that the Super 8 squads from last season could find themselves in the same situation come the end of the season. But plenty has changed for Prep, which lost two-thirds of its top line from a year ago.
“It’s such a new group that, right now, it’s game by game,” Hanson said. “We have a lot players stepping into new roles.”
The constants for Prep are Kurker, Letarte and fellow senior captain and defenseman Nick Pandalena. Pandalena, who is committed to playing for BC’s golf team next season, is a big, physical blue-liner who’s not afraid of contact. With an improved skating game, Pandalena will be the crucial cog to an otherwise green blue line.
However, he wasn’t the only ESPN Boston preseason All-State defenseman on the ice. That honor also goes to Secatore, who proved his value in the third period. After a slow start to the game, the Tanner captain hardly left the ice during the final seven minutes of the contest, as Prep set up shop in the offensive zone and increased the forecheck.
Secatore’s effort is old hat to his teammates though.
“Jake Secatore, he’s just unbelievable,” Holland summed it up.
“He’s a great leader,” Duran added about Secatore, who played strong as a pairing with senior Adam Tanner. “He doesn’t say much, but he just works so hard in practice … He’s so strong, he skates so well. I just don’t think he realizes how good he can be.”