Boston High School: Dan Connolly

D1 South: Marshfield 7, Milton 6

February, 27, 2015
Feb 27
BOURNE, Mass. – If the first two periods of Friday’s Division 1 South sectional first-round game between No. 6 seed Milton and No. 1 Marshfield were being judged as a boxing match, the two sides would have been awarded a period each in their favor. Marshfield owned the first, while the Wildcats bounced back with a thorough effort in the second.

The third period? Well, it was just wild.

After Milton scored three straight goals in the second to take a 3-2 lead to the second intermission, the teams traded salvos in the third before Marshfield responded with a string of three straight goals of its own to crack open an up-and-down 7-6 win at Gallo Ice Arena.

“It was balanced, we had a lot of guys that scored,” Rams head coach Dan Connolly said. “You want to see that in the tournament.”

Marshfield (10-9-4) was the aggressor in the first period, outshooting the Wildcats 8-2. Andrew Fithian put the Rams on the board at 3:49 with a goal from below the faceoff dots. Junior winger Chris Bertone would puck up his second assist of the period, setting up Matt Doyle’s wrist shot from the high slot.

The Rams’ extra jolt of energy to start the game might have been a result of an extended period of rest. Eight days had elapsed since they last played in the consolation game of the Cape Cod Hockey Showdown.

“They played great,” Connolly said of his team’s first-period effort. “Going through five straight days of practice with each other was starting to wear on them.”

The Wildcats’ chipped away at the Rams’ possession margin in the second period, with the aide of a 5-on-3 power play. Although Milton was unable to capitalize, Shane Kelley made it a one-goal game at the 4-minute mark of the second with an assist from Dylan McDougall. Kelley potted his second of the period less than four minutes later, stuffing home a rebound from the top of the crease at 7:52.

Milton (13-7-3) completed the climb back at 10:35, scoring its third unanswered goal of the period. Tommy Noonan shoveled a pass back to the point from along the half-wing boards to Colin Rooney for a half-slap that beat Grayson Owens stick side through a screen.

The Wildcats thought they’d added to their lead before the period was out with a puck in the net at the buzzer, but it was washed out by the official.

Marshfield tied the score in the third with a bit of puck luck on their side as a deflection off Jacob Maher’s skate blade tied the score, 3-3, at 2:52. Just 28 seconds later, Milton regained the lead with a Lloyd Hill wrist shot.

From there, the Rams kicked the throttle into another gear with a string of three goals roughly in the next six minutes. Nevan Connors tallied his team-leading 19th of the season at 3:47 before junior Isaiah Jackson netted his first of two straight goals, guiding a wrister through a screen at 6:13 for a 5-4 lead. Jackson then buried his second at 9:48 with a feed from Fithian (1 G, 2 A) from behind the net.

Milton countered with a power-play goal at 11:43 to slice the Rams’ lead down to a goal.

There would be no other comeback though as Bertone (1 G, 2 A) scored an empty-netter with 1:16 remaining. Although there were still some tense moments in a period where defense wasn’t a factor.

“Just try to hold on and do the simple things … make the smart play, get it deep, make them go 200 feet,” Connolly said of nursing the late lead. “They kept knocking pucks down and coming at us.”

Marshfield advances to face No. 3 seed Barnstable in a quarterfinal Sunday (8:15 p.m.) at Gallo.

Recap: No. 14 Duxbury 1, Marshfield 1

January, 20, 2015
Jan 20
KINGSTON, Mass. – In the annals of MIAA record keeping, all that came after the final buzzer didn’t count. But for everyone in attendance at The Bog for Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday matinee and the benches of Duxbury and Marshfield hockey, a precious piece of hardware was still to be declared.

The Thanksgiving Day rivals don’t care much for each other, whether on the gridiron or in any athletic endeavor. Despite the fact that many friendships and bloodlines spill over the town line, everything’s aside on occasions like Monday’s Green Cup game.

And so the Dragons and Rams had skated to a 1-1 tie – which is how it goes down in the books – but for Shawn Errasti and his Duxbury teammates, it’ll be remembered much more fondly. The Dragons defenseman delivered the Green Cup with an overtime goal, letting go of a half-slap from the high slot for his second point of the game.

Duxbury (8-2-2) had to claw its way back in the third period after falling behind in the second.

Nevin Connors scored on the power play at 13:20 of the second to break a scoreless stalemate.

Despite outshooting the Rams 21-14 through the first 30 minutes, Duxbury wasn’t able to get anything past Grayson Owens (35 saves).

“Man, they came at us,” Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly said. “Our goalie played great. We sat back a little bit and they took advantage of that. They had us on our heels and he bailed us out.

The Dragons poured it on in the third, placing 15 shots on Owens. Only one of those got through, as Kevin Corcoran tipped home a point shot by Errasti on the power play at 7:25.

“I like the way we played as the game went on,” Duxbury head coach John Blake said. “I thought we started to wear them down, but we just couldn’t solve that goalie. He was very good. He was seeing a lot of pucks, he was good with his rebounds.”

Mixing it up: Duxbury, which suffered its first Patriot Keenan loss in its last time out against Plymouth South, has been scrapping out goals this year.

The Dragons, who made the Super 8 field last year, were a little lean in the tooth on experience entering the season.

“We had a lot of question marks coming into the season,” Blake said. “We only had four skaters on the team who’d had a regular shift last year, so we’re still kind of sorting it out. We’ve been trying to score by committee. We’re trying to keep things simple, do thing blue collar and get pucks and bodies to the net.”

The result is what was borne out on Monday, with a tight checking game against their bitter South Shore rival.

“I think, as a team, we really emphasize our effort in the defensive zone. We’re defense first and then we think everything will take care of itself, “ Blake said. “We’ve got a great goalie in Tucker Kelly and he’s going to keep us in games, so as long as we take care of our defensive zone, the rest will follow.”

Marshfield, on the other hand, has been striving for greater consistency. Like the Dragons, the Rams (5-4-3) are somewhat short on game experience, but with a promising crop of young talent, they’re optimistic that inconsistencies in the first half of the season will turn into second-half points in the standings.

“We’re relying on a lot of young players to make plays,” Connolly said. “They’re a good club and most of their best players are older and our best players tend to be younger. That’s the difference between us right now.

“We did a lot of watching – things we can correct – but we lost a lot of battles,” Connolly said. “But overall, we didn’t play so bad.”

Four hockey coaches get MSHCA hall call

May, 5, 2014
STONEHAM, Mass. -- It was a grand night for the Mass. State Hockey Coaches Association (MSHCA). The well-established organization inducted four head coaches into its Hall of Fame, Sunday evening.

Before a capacity crowd inside Montvale Plaza filled with past and present coaches, family and friends, Mike Nanartowich (Hudson), Brian Murphy (St. John's of Shrewsbury), Dan Mark (Stoughton) and John Maguire (Waltham) became the latest members of the fraternity. Combined, the four coaches have spent a total of 112 years behind the bench.

Also inducted was Arlington Catholic long-time assistant coach Jim Hunt. Coach of the Year accolades went to John Devany (St. Joseph's Prep) in the boys’ category while Arlington Catholic's Maggie Taverna received the honor as girls’ coach. Tim Hooton was given the Brian “Trooper” Sullivan award for officials and UMass-Dartmouth coach John Rolli was awarded the William J. Stewart, Jr. Award for outstanding service and contribution to Massachusetts Secondary Schoolboy hockey.

Included in the festivities, the MSHCA recognized six high school players for their athletic and academic excellence. They included, Luke Amato (Arlington Catholic), Ian Lapham (Reading), Kevin Dober (Newton South), Alex Tepper (Nashoba Regional), Ryan McKennedy (Lowell) and Colin MacDonald (Marshfield).

“All of these student-athlete's academic distinctions are off the charts,” said former Lincoln-Sudbury coach and 2010 inductee Dan Doyle.

MSHCA secretary and 2003 inductee Charlie Driscoll, who spent 16 season guiding Medford as well as stints at Archbishop Williams, Malden Catholic, Wakefield and Reading, served as emcee.

Nanartowich, who won a Division 3 state title in 2012, was introduced by former Marlborough coach and 2012 inductee John Butler along with 20-year assistant coach Mike Correa.

“Mike Nanartowich was one who was always prepared for every game he coached,” Butler said. “He helped bring a lot of credibility and entusiasm to Central Mass. Hockey. Mike has always been a student of the game and is always looking to learn new things constantly.”

Added Correa, "Mike wrote the script on how to run a successful hockey team," he said. "Players at Hudson have succeeded because they had a meaningful relationship with their head coach.”

Nanartowich, who was named Mass. State High School Coach of the Year in 2012, expressed humility of the honor bestowed on to him.
“I think the best word that describes what hockey means to me and what Hudson High School means to me is the word blessed. I've been blessed with great players and great assistant coaches. For me, it's not about numbers, it's about the players.”

Murphy, who stepped down as Pioneers coach at the end of the 2013 season, having earned seven Super 8 appearances along the way, was introduced by former Shrewsbury coach and Class of 2004 member Phil Irving.

“To be here, it takes a tremendous amount of support from a large number of people over a long period of time,” Murphy said. “I had a wonderful experience coaching at St. John's and enjoyed every minute of it. As any coach will admit, you are only as good as your players so I would be remissed if I didn't offer my sincerest thanks to all of my players over the years.”

Former Bridgewater State coach Bob Carpenter spoke on behalf of Mark, who served as a team captain under Carpenter his senior year there.

Mark offered a special thank you to former Stoughton coach Jim Gormley, who coached Mark for four seasons at the varsity level and later brought him on as an assistant coach.

“Probably the biggest influence of my life is Jim Gormley,” said Mark. “I cannot thank him enough for everything he taught me. I really want to thank MSHCA for inducting me. When I look at the number of people inducted into this Hall of Fame it's pretty over-whelming and now my name will be there with theirs and is greatly-appreciated.”

Doyle introduced Maguire and began saying, “Coach Maguire's moral compass is always in order yet he is his own man. His teams have always achieved above the level of their talents because John coaches them the right way.”

Maguire, who is closing in on 350 victories with the Hawks and took home a Division 1 state title in 2002, had nearly half of the banquet hall filled with family and friends in recognition of his honor.

“In my first three years the Hawks were 3-15 three years in a row and I remember our mailbox being run over by a disgruntled player,” laughed Maguire. “I am certainly humbled by this introduction.”

The event ended with the news that Marshfield coach Dan Connolly will be stepping down as MSHCA president this year.

“It has been extremely humbling being president of this organization,” Connolly said. “As coaches, we don't coach for the money, but for the love of the game and the kids.”

Framingham, Falmouth advance in D1 South

February, 27, 2014

BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – During the last several seasons, Framingham goaltender Al Lynch has been among the state’s very best. But, at times, Lynch and his Flyers teammates have struggled to find consistency.

“We’re always shifting back and forth and we were hoping to hit our stride at the end of the year,” Lynch said. “We started off good. We knew we had the talent and we had some really nice wins, but we had some really bad losses. It’s just that when we don’t show up, it shows.”

And so, Lynch and Framingham’s seniors faced down what potentially could have been their final period of high school hockey. Tied, 2-2, against reigning Division 1 South champion Marshfield, Lynch knew they needed to come up with something special.

“We’ve been looking for this win, nothing was going to stop us tonight.”

Lynch continually slammed the door shut, making 42 saves. Meanwhile, junior forward Ryder Lessing chipped in a 2-goal game as the Flyers skated away with a 5-2 win over the Rams in Wednesday’s Division 1 South first-round game at Gallo Arena.

“Here we are against the defending Division 1 South champions and we’re tied 2-2 going on the third period,” Framingham head coach Paul Spear said. “[Lynch] made some absolutely amazing saves against some really talented and skilled players. He’s proven time and again he’s one of the best goaltenders in the state and he stole this one tonight.”

The Rams (15-8-0) got on the board first on Hunter McCauley’s one-timer set up on a pass across the top of the crease from Nevin Connors at 9:24 of the first.

Framingham (12-10-1) countered on the power play at 12:09, when Lessing played the puck between the pads of Rams netminder Connor Lemieux from below the goal line.

The Flyers claimed the lead before the period was out as defenseman Tim Tierney’s point shot through a screen, with Lemieux unable to see the rising half-slap.

Marshfield swung momentum in the second, outshooting the Flyers, 12-5, while tallying the lone goal of the period. Senior forward David Cataldo evened the score going bar-down with a power-play goal with less than a minute remaining in the second, beating Lynch to the high glove side.

“I thought we were focused and ready to get right back on the ice,” Rams head coach Dan Connolly said of his team’s effort in the second. “But credit to Lynch, the kid played phenomenal in net. They played hard, Paul [Spear] ran a great system, Lynch was amazing and they capitalized on their chances.”

Framingham regained the lead for good on Christian Seariac’s wrister from the slot with 7:24 remaining.

Lessing added an insurance goal with his second of the game – also on the power play – at 11:28.

Cory Gorovitz added an empty-net goal with less than a minute to play.

The Flyers advance to play No. 5 seed Franklin in the sectional quarterfinals on Saturday (time TBD), after the Panthers routed Weymouth, 7-2, on Wednesday.

Falmouth 2, Walpole 1 (2 OT)
A pair of freshmen led the way as the Clippers (13-8-2) walked away with a 2-1 victory in double overtime.

Patrick Coyne scored the game-winner on the power play, following a Rebels’ too-many-men penalty with 2:32 to play in the second overtime. It was Coyne’s second point of the game (1 G, 1 A).

Freshman defenseman Cam Tobey opened scoring for the No. 8 seed Clippers in the first period. Walpole (12-9-2) tied the game in the second period on a goal from junior defenseman Kevin Ivatts.

Falmouth advances to play Braintree, which returns to the South sectional tournament as the No. 1 seed, following the Wamps Super 8 play-in game loss, in a quarterfinal Saturday at Gallo.

Recap: No. 18 Duxbury 3, No. 11 Marshfield 2

January, 21, 2014

PEMBROKE, Mass. – With backyard rivals Duxbury and Marshfield duking it out in a Martin Luther King Day matinee, there was sure to be plenty of emotion. That was evidenced in the 23 penalties doled out to the teams in the course of 45 minutes.

But aside from the extracurriculars, the matchup between two of the top-ranked public high schools in the state was sure to be a heavy game. In that regard, the No. 18 Dragons bettered their 11th-ranked counterparts from Marshfield, while jumping out to a 3-0 third-period lead. Although the Rams made it a game with back-to-back power-play goals late in the third, Duxbury held on for a 3-2 win.

And they might just have gained something else in the process.

“Our guys wanted to go out there and earn some respect,” Dragons head coach John Blake said. “They were ranked ahead of us in all of the polls. They’re the top public school in a lot of polls. And we felt today we had a great opportunity to gain some respect and I think our guys really showed that they have some character.”

Duxbury (6-1-3) claimed a 1-0 lead 6:47 into the first on a Mike Boyle goal from Nick Marrocco.

Yet, it could have been worse for Marshfield (8-4-0), as the Rams were outshot 13-1 in the first frame.

Marshfield had difficulty breaking out of its own zone against the Dragons’ forecheck. The sledding wasn’t much easier in the neutral zone either, with Duxbury looking to take away open ice, in particular from the Rams’ potent top trio of JoJo Carbone, David Cataldo and Pat Shea.

The Rams improved their effort through the neutral zone, playing a more even period in the second, but the Dragons were still able to distance themselves. Shawn Errasti scored a power-play goal at 9:29 on Matt Saia’s dish across the faceoff dots.

“Our power play, we changed it up because it wasn’t really working,” Errasti said of the Dragons’ practices leading up to Monday’s action. “We were looking back door all day and it just worked.”

Duxbury netted its third goal at 8:15 of the third with Saia picking up his second helper of the game on Matt Murphy’s tally.

However, as the penalties continued to add up, the Dragons were burned on the Rams’ 5-on-3 power play chance with less than four minutes to play.

Marshfield called its timeout and the advice was heeded.

“It was a simple as we have to outwork them,” Rams head coach Dan Connolly said. “Every loose puck, we had to get three guys on it and then throw everything on net, I don’t care where it is, and have somebody out front. And it finally worked.”

Nevin Connors was finally able to solve Duxbury goaltender Tucker Kelly (16 saves) with 3:38 to play, putting back a puck through a scrum on the rebound of a shot from Jacob Maher. The Rams then went 2-for-2 on the sandwiched power plays, when Cataldo potted an unassisted goal just 17 seconds later.

Marshfield had a couple more point blank opportunities with goaltender Connor Lemieux (26 saves) pulled from his cage, but Kelly countered on each chance.

“You dig yourself a hole of three goals against a good team,” Connolly said, “it’s hard to come back.”

Mission accomplished: Entering Monday’s action, Blake paid extra attention to Marshfield’s top line, giving the primary responsibility of going toe-to-toe with the Rams’ top unit to his “shut-down” defensive pair of Tyler Powers and Errasti.

“We think that first line with Cataldo, Carbone and Shea is dynamite,” Blake said. “That’s the best first line we’ve played against all year long. We really wanted to try to limit their time and space, and then try to take the body as much as we could, and keep them on the perimeter.”

The plan worked, keeping the line scoreless until Cataldo’s power-play marker late in the third.

By limiting the trio’s speed coming through the neutral and then forcing the fleet-footed forwards to operate from the perimeter in the attack zone, the Dragons were largely able to mitigate the group’s impact.

“We knew they were coming out high, Coach [Blake] scouted them,” Errasti said. “They were coming from the week side and cutting across. We wanted [the third forward] high and our D would back up. We thought we could handle them defensively.”

On Errasti, who logged a boatload of minutes, Blake heaped praised on the blue-liner, citing him, and the work of his partner, Powers, as a key to Monday’s win.

“We have no problem putting him out there on the power play, PK or out against their top line because he keeps things simple out there and does the right thing,” Blake said of Errasti.

He added, “I thought they executed the game plan to a ‘T.’ We had them [Errasti and Powers] out against those guys for a specific reason – to shut them down – and I thought they did a great job.”

An added victory: Monday’s game was also played as part of a daylong fundraiser for the teams. The Fifth Annual “Green Cup” raised funds for the American Cancer Society.

The proceeds from t-shirts and knitted caps, along with raffle tickets will be donated.

Last year’s event raised more than $3,000.

Recap: No. 12 Marshfield 5, Falmouth 2

January, 12, 2014
PEMBROKE, Mass. – Each of the last three seasons has ended with the same result in the Atlantic Coast League, with Marshfield as the champion, and Falmouth in second place.

The Rams took a big step towards extending that streak to four years in a row tonight at the Hobomock Arena. Thanks in large part to a three-goal outburst over a span of just three minutes and 31 seconds in the first period, No. 12 Marshfield toppled Falmouth by a 5-2 score.

The Rams improve to 6-3 overall, and are a perfect 5-0-0 in the ACL. Falmouth falls to and 2-2-0 in the league.

After a five minute feeling out period, in which neither team was able to put a shot on the opposing goalie, the Rams found a groove and scored on three of their first four shots against Clippers senior keeper Jake Beaton to set the tone for the day. Bookend strikes from David Cataldo around one from Colin MacDonald gave the Rams command for the rest of the day and gave a bit of breathing room for a defense that missing two of their top four blue liners.

Falmouth cut into the lead with a fortunate bounce of the puck early in the third period, but the Rams' Will Cole put the game away for good late in the third period when he popped a rebound of a Jeff Nagle shot past Beaton. Marshfield scored again early in the third, on a deflection off a Falmouth defenseman. Robbie Souza's second of the game, and 13th of the season, rounded things out for the Clippers late in the contest.

Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly said that his team's goal was to set the tempo early against a team that they know is always going to be one of their main contenders for the coveted league championship. Their first period flurry, he thought, went a long way towards picking up the two points in the standings.

“It's always a big league rivalry and the key was getting out early on them,” he said. “Our kids buzzed the net and it was good for us because in the last game, against Sandwich, we sort of started slow and then came on strong. Today I thought we started strong, and then in the second period, I thought they took it to us for a bit, but we finished well.”

Cataldo's first one was the result of a good shift by the senior forward. He flung a shot on net from the left side that Beaton stopped, but lost sight of. The Ram charged to the front and dug the loose puck out and popped it past the Falmouth netminder to put his team on the board at 4:59.

Before the public address announcer had finished reading off the night's first score, Marshfield added its second on a bang-bang play out of the left wing corner again. This time Sam Bartlett got the puck to the net where Cole snapped it in high to make it 2-0 at 7:05.

Cataldo, finished the night with a hat trick, reached the two-thirds mark of the cap tossing-worthy feat at 9:30 with a superb individual effort, again out of the left wing corner. The senior tip-toed his way along the goal line and lifted a quick wrister between Beaton and the pipe into a window that you couldn't fit a water bottle through. That finished off a supremely efficient first 15 minutes for the Rams, who scored on three of the six shots that they were able to get on net.

If Cataldo owned the first two periods the Rams, then senior goaltender Connor Lemieux could certainly say he had the pink slip on the latter two. The goalie halted 18 of the 20 shots in the game that were put on net by Falmouth, and 18 of the 19 that he saw, which did not include the first of Souza's two on the night as the Clippers' senior captain looked to center the puck from behind the net at 3:23 of the second, only to have his intended feed to the front ricochet off of Lemieux's equipment and bounce into the goal, getting the Clippers onto the board and into the game, at 3-1.

Falmouth had chances to tighten things up from that point on, but Lemieux prevented that from happening. He stopped a number of quality Clippers chances the rest of the way, including a nice body-up of a Cam Tobey bomb from the high slot late in the second and, most impressively, consecutive left leg pad flashes that robbed Tobey and then Cody Bailey.

“He made some really big saves for us tonight, especially right there where he went left pad, left pad,” Connolly said.

Later in the period Lemieux also stopped a 4-on-4 breakaway by Zack Barrett, sliding left-to-right to take away the prime scoring chance.

Cataldo finished off his hat trick, with a little help from the Clippers, midway through the third. The forward was attempting to wrist one from the left wing dot towards the net. One of the Clippers defensemen dove at the puck to block it, but instead changed the wrist shot's flight as it knuckled over Beatons' glove into the net.

Souza added the last goal of the night for the Clippers with 1:04 left on the clock. After having a breakaway fall apart, he spun off the ice and snapped one inside the near post to make it 5-2.

“I was proud of our effort. We spotted them two of the first three [goals] on a platter, and you can't do that against a good team, but I was proud of our effort for 45 minutes,” Falmouth head coach Paul Moore said. “I'd like a different result, but I thought we played well.”

Now the Rams have a chance to really secure themselves as the league front-runners on Wednesday night. The red hot and upset-minded Plymouth South Panthers (6-0-1, 2-0-1) come to town fresh off their own win over Falmouth, 3-0 last Wednesday, and would like nothing more than to vault past the perennial league champs.

South head coach Mike McCosh was in the house to scout the Rams on Saturday, with his club enjoying a bye over the weekend.

“South's a really good club and that's going to be a good match-up between us and them,” Connnolly said. “We're hoping to keep the momentum going.”

Recap: No. 11 St. John's (S) 2, No. 12 Marshfield 1

December, 27, 2013
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. -- Clinging to a one-goal lead heading into the final period, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) knew full-well Marshfield would throw everything but the kitchen sink at them over those last 15 minutes.

The No. 11 Pioneers were dead on in terms of their prediction. The No. 12 Rams opened up their offense in the frame, attacking the Pioneer zone with reckless abandon.

But when he needed to step up, St. John’s goaltender Mario Pizzeri did – meeting the challenge head-on. Pizzeri, a senior, was nothing short of brilliant, especially over the closing period, stopping all 11 shots he faced to preserve the Pioneer’s 2-1 victory in the opening round of tonight’s Silverback Hockey Classic at Loring Arena.

“That was a complete 45 minute game out there by both teams,” said Pizzeri, finishing with 28 saves. “I thought Marshfield kept most of their shots to the outside. I was seeing them pretty-well, but I still need to work on my rebound control a little more.”

St. John’s (2-1-1) will face Framingham in tomorrow night’s championship game beginning at 7:50 p.m. Marshfield (2-2-0) will take on Catholic Memorial in the consolation tilt starting at 5:50.

“Mario played very well,” Pioneers head coach Mike Mead said. “He really stood tall. Marshfield kept coming at us. We bent a little but didn’t break. We’re still continuing to learn as we go. We just want to get a little better with each game and hopefully a little tougher as well.”

The Pioneers grabbed an early 2-0 lead after dominating all but the final 20 seconds of the opening period, putting up 14 shots to the Rams’ five. Mike McGillicuddy, skating all alone along the right boards, put St. John’s up 1-0, launching a laser beam past Marshfield goaltender Connor Lemiuex just 33 seconds in.

The Pioneers continued to set up camp inside the Rams’ defensive zone and would add to their lead five minutes later when senior defenseman Bryan Nelson sailed a hard wrist shot through traffic that Lemiuex (30 saves) never saw.

It appeared as though St. John’s would head into the first intermission with its two-goal lead intact. But with 20 seconds remaining, an errant Rams shot deflected off the glass behind Pizzeri and landed onto the stick of junior Will Cole just in front of Pizzeri. The forward easily slipped the puck into the net to narrow the deficit to 2-1.

“Our kids played hard,” Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly said. “Mario [Pizzeri] played unbelievable for them in net. He made some big saves but Connor made some big saves for us too. We never gave up and had a couple of chances to tie it in the third but overall I thought our whole team played well tonight. We just couldn’t get the win.”

Both teams played evenly over during the middle frame, with each landing 13 shots on net but nothing to show for it. Marshfield’s offensive effort certainly looked to be much better in the period, but the Pioneers did a nice job clogging up the neutral zone and slowing the Rams rush up the ice. Likewise, Marshfield was performing admirably by taking away some of the passing lanes St. John’s had used effectively in the initial frame.

“We need to play more even-keeled out there,” Pizzeri said. “When you score two goals you should want to score two more. You don’t want to sit back and play just defensive because the other team can just start piling it up. That’s what they started doing in the third.”

Marshfield's Shea commits to Maine

December, 3, 2013
Marshfield hockey junior forward Pat Shea has given a verbal commitment to the University of Maine, Rams head coach Dan Connolly confirmed to ESPN Boston today.

The news of Shea's commitment was first reported by Mike McMahon of College Hockey News.

As a sophomore, Shea posted 11-25-36 totals for the Division 1 state finalist Rams, following an 18-point campaign as a freshman.

"He's a coach's dream," Connolly said of Shea. "The best thing that I can say about him is that he's always in the right position. He thinks the game defensively, and then, when we're moving the puck, he's a creative offensive player."

The date of Shea's arrival at Orono has yet to be determined.

D1 boys final: Burlington 4, Marshfield 2

March, 18, 2013

BOSTON – The biggest difference between Burlington High School and Marshfield in Sunday's Division I state championship game? A second-period stretch of hockey that lasted three minutes and 19 seconds.

Burlington scored three goals in that span, which turned a tie game into a three-goal advantage. It was too much for Marshfield to overcome, as the Red Devils went on to post a 4-2 victory and win the Division I title for the second consecutive season.

“That was definitely the difference,” Marshfield coach Dan Connolly said. “We got away from the way we wanted to play. We were too aggressive on the forecheck. We made a couple bad pinches that led to odd-man rushes and they capitalized. Give credit to them. They forced us into that.”

Senior forward Sean Murphy gave Burlington a 2-1 lead at 6:11 of the second, and then made it a 3-1 contest at 8:44. Senior J.P. Scola added a goal a 9:40 of the second that put the Red Devils up 4-1. Murphy's second goal came during a Burlington power play – one of two power-play goals the Red Devils scored in the game.

“I thought we were lucky to be 1-1 because I thought we were back on our heels and playing a little passive in the first period,” Burlington coach Bob Conceison said. “We changed our tactics a little bit. We played a little bit more aggressively and started taking the body more. Then once we got that goal to make it 2-1, the other two seemed to come fast. That was the key to the game.”

Burlington's Joe Berardi opened the scoring with a power-play goal in the first period and also collected two assists in the victory, which came in Burlington's fourth appearance in the Division I state final. The Red Devils completed their season with a 14-6-5 record.

Burlington, which had to replace seven seniors from last year's team, received a 27-save performance from senior goaltender Derek DeCastro.

“He's a great goaltender,” Connolly said. “He didn't give us a lot of net to shoot at. He knows how to win big games. He proved that last year.”

Marshfield hadn't allowed a power-play goal in the postseason until the championship game.

Senior forward Michael Carbone and junior defenseman Matt Burchill collected the Marshfield goals. Carbone's goal made it a 1-1 game in the first period, and Burchill made it 4-2 with 42 seconds left in the second.

The momentum created by Burchill's goal didn't seem to carry over to the final period, however.

“We played a gutsy third period,” Conceison said. “We got in the passing lanes, blocked some shots. We did the little things you have to do to win a game like this.”

Marshfield goaltender Connor Lemieux stopped 13 shots.

The Rams, who won the Division I title in 2011, finished with a 20-7-0 record. Severn players on this year's Marshfield team also skated for the Rams in 2011.

“It was a good hockey game,” Connolly said. “They played a little bit smarter system-wise. Someone has to lose in a championship game, and tonight it was us. It's sad for the seniors.”

D1 South: Marshfield 6, Hingham 3

March, 13, 2013

BOURNE, Mass. – It’s a played-out story, but it actually fit this time.

On the eve, or during the bus ride to a big hockey tilt, it’s not unusual that “Miracle”, the movie on the United States’ run to the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics, will be cited as a source of inspiration for high school hockey players.

Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly followed suit, channeling his inner Herb Brooks in the lead-up to Tuesday’s Division 1 South championship game against South Shore rival Hingham. Yet, in this instance, there were a real connection for his Rams’ team to the experience of that Red, White & Blue squad at Lake Placid.

On the final day of the regular season, Marshfield endured a 10-1 shellacking at the hands of Harbormen. After that matchup, the Rams were forced to regroup, as Hingham skated on to a Super 8 play-in game. So too did a young Team U.S.A. after they played the feared Soviet Union in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden, a 10-3 thrashing at the hands of the Red Army team.

It wasn’t quite a Miracle on Ice, but the Rams claimed a 6-3 victory over Hingham on Tuesday, earning their second trip the state championship game at the TD Garden in the last three seasons.

“We talked about it yesterday, when Russia pounded the U.S., and then, two-, three-weeks later, they win the big game,” Connolly said.

Marshfield (20-6-0) accomplished its first goal heading into the section final by not allowing the Harbormen (16-9-2) to fly out of the gates – as they had during the regular-season finale.

Still, Hingham claimed the first lead of the game at 3:21 of the second period, when junior center Matt Brazel turned his own face-off win into a goal.

However, the Rams closed the period with a string of three goals. Trevor Salmon, Matt Burchill and Jimmy Connors scored within the final five minutes of the second to send Marshfield to the room with a 3-1 lead.

“It was attention to detail, focus on the little things,” Connolly said. “Then, we have that little flurry at the end of the second and it’s bing, bing, bing.”

The Rams didn’t relent in the third period, opening with sophomore Pat Shea netting an unassisted goal at 1:26. Then, Joe Admirand provided Marshfield with a five-goal pad with Mike Carbone adding his second point of the game with the assist at 5:08 of the third.

Will Decost tallied his second point of the game with an empty-netter, sandwiched between two late Hingham goals from Corbin Robichaud and Andrew Flynn.

Several weeks ago, Connolly shifted forward Trevor Salmon back to defense, after injuries threatened the Rams’ depth on the blue line. Although Salmon admits that he puts team defense first, as a valued part of Marshfield’s penalty kill unit, he also looked at ease beating Hingham goaltender John Grenier through the 5-hole on his breakaway goal.

“It was a great pass from JoJo [Carbone] up the seam,” Salmon deflected praise. “I couldn’t have done that without him.”

Salmon’s marker was a hinge point for the Marshfield rally, with the over swell carrying through the third period. Yet, when pointing back to the momentum shift, Salmon also credited his team’s commitment to taking care of business in their own zone (a major lesson from their last Hingham duel) as a key component to Tuesday’s win.

“We came out flat, we didn’t really play team defense,” Salmon said of their Feb. 22 loss. “We knew it was going to change today.”

Sunday’s Division 1 state final will feature that tournament’s last two champions with Marshfield joining North title-winner Burlington at the TD Garden.

While there’s been some roster turnover since last time out, there are a good number of the Rams who skated on the Bruins’ home ice sheet as sophomores. Mike Carbone was one of those players, scoring the game-winning goal for Marshfield a 3-2 comeback win over Wakefield.

“A lot of our players played on that team,” Salmon said. “We have a lot of experience going into the Garden. I think we have what it takes to get the ‘W’ there. But it’s a strong Burlington team, we know they’re the state champs from last year.”

D1 South: Marshfield 5, Archbishop Williams 1

March, 11, 2013

BOURNE, Mass. - Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly has been seen around Gallo Ice Arena frequently of late, even when his Rams were not on the ice. Whatever Coach Connolly is doing - scouting, taking a break from his team, watching great state playoff hockey - it is working.

No.5 Marshfield came out of the gates with their pads on fire and posted three tallies on 17 shots on goal on their way to a 5-1 rout over top-seeded Archbishop Williams (13-6-4) in the Division 1 semifinals.

Mike Carbone and Matt Burchill each posted a goal and an assist to help the Rams (19-6) advance to the Division 1 finals on Tuesday against No.2 seeded Hingham, who were 8-1 winners over Barnstable on the other side of the bracket.

Jimmy Connors, Liam Manning, and Burchill were credited with the first period goals, with Connors and Manning scoring only 32 seconds apart within 7:19 of regulation.

"It was very unexpected to get up 3-0 that quick and I thought our kids played great. We were all over them with a lot of energy and out-beating them to pucks and played real well," said Connolly. "The key was keeping [Mike] Jessman and [Mike] Sorrenti outside, as they are two very, very talented players. Try to keep them to the perimeter as much as we could."

The Rams defense worked out Connolly's plans to perfection as the speed and depth of the offense outshot Archies, 17-4, in the first 15 minutes of play.

Connors sent the pro-Marshfield crowd into a frenzy at 6:47 of the first as he was fed out in front of a scrum from Pat Burchill with Will Decost also getting an assist on the first goal of the game. Manning decided to do things himself as he took the puck left-to-right across the crease for the unassisted tally only 32 seconds later on the next Marshfield shift down the ice for the 2-0 lead.

Burchill finished off the first period onslaught on the power-play one second before Kyle Leonard's boarding penalty expired off a 5-on-3 opportunity to give Marshfield plenty of room with a 3-0 lead at 12:08 of the first.

Marshfield came out sluggish in the second period but couldn't be blamed much with a 3-0 lead. The defense was on their heels with numerous turnovers in the neutral zone within the first five minutes of play and Jake Romano finally figured out Connor Lemieux at 4:03 of the second to cut the deficit to 3-1.

The Archies' goal, however, did not hand momentum back to the top-seeded Archies but only woke up the speed of the Marshfield skaters and showcased their depth. Third-liners Colin MacDonald and David Cataldo paired up on a goal to get back the three-goal cushion at 10:47 of the second stanza.

MacDonald worked the blue line to keep the puck in the Marshfield zone and was able to find Cataldo low in the right slot. Cataldo pulled the trigger and found daylight between the crossbar and pads of Joe Vinay in net on the near side top corner for a picturesque odd-angle goal and a 4-1 Marshfield lead.

"I thought they took it to us in the first five or six [minutes] of the second, but then we started settling back in and playing the way we wanted to play," said Connolly.

Not often you can talk about an assist being the play of the game, but Burchill pulled it off early in the third period. The junior defenseman dropped behind the right post with two defenders draped over him and flipped a backhand pass out in front of the crease between a defender's legs and Carbone sniped it for the 5-1 lead.

"That was a great goal as I was just playing in the slot waiting for it, I was hollering his name, and he picked his head up and hit was perfect," said Carbone, a senior forward who is looking for his second trip to the TD Garden after the Rams won the Division 1 title in 2011 when he was a sophomore. "It's hard playing with the lead cause they are coming hard at us and to keep up the intensity - it is hard to do that and when you think the game is already over but its 45 minutes in every game."

While Archies featured a more aggressive style coming into the semifinals, the Rams now move on to face No. 2 Hingham, who features four strong lines, just as much speed as the Rams and obviously can match their depth. The two South Shore foes faced off in the final game of the regular season with the Harbormen hanging a 10-1 loss on the Rams. Connolly is obviously hoping for a better fate.

"We are obviously hoping for a different outcome, but as long as we stay playing like we have in the tournament I think it will be a great game," said Connolly.

Analysis: The Super 8 skinny

February, 25, 2012
FRANKLIN, Mass. -- With the Super 8 tournament selection and seeding meeting in the books, here’s a couple of lingering impressions from Saturday’s proceedings at MIAA headquarters.

Defending Division 1 state champion and Atlantic Coast League champion, No. 16 Marshfield (18-2-2) was the last team in contention for a Super 8 spot, only to split a second-round vote with St. John’s of Shrewsbury, 3-3, with one vote going to Westford Academy.

The Pioneers ended up advancing to the field of 10, taking the No. 9 seed.

While the Rams weren’t considered a shoo-in for the field, they did receive the No. 7 ranking from the Massachusetts State High School Hockey Coaches Association earlier in the day — a legitimate vote of confidence in their resume.

After the meeting, Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly didn’t have any hard feelings on the decision.

It was time to get back to business.

“I’m going to go meet with the team, right now,” Connolly said. “We’ve got practice this afternoon.”

There’s plenty to prepare for, with the Rams looking to make a repeat run to the Garden.

“We had a great regular season, but now it’s over and it’s on to the postseason,” Connolly said. “The truth of it is that there a lot of great teams that got left out of the [Super 8] tournament too, when you talk about Westford Academy and Norwood and Reading and Milton and Falmouth.”

He added, “Now we have to get ready for the D1 South tournament. It’s going to be a battle, there are going to be a ton of great teams in that bracket.

Many pundits, us included, had Springfield Cathedral (No. 6 seed) targeted for the top six, but perhaps the surprise entrant into this year's field was St. John's of Shrewsbury. The Pioneers (15-4-3) pulled a play-in game with the ninth seed.

While we didn't have the Pioneers in our final field projection on Friday, we're not taken aback entirely by the Pioneers selection. Through the year, multiple Eastern Mass. coaches who've had St. John's on the schedule told us about how hard they were to play against, particularly the speed of first-liners Kevin Emmerling (24-25-49) and Vin D'Amato (22-13-35).

Now, whether they should have been put in ahead of the two-loss squad from Marshfield, we feel that will be a point for debate for quite some time.

The only thing that can silence that sentiment will be how the Pioneers perform on Monday night.

We touched on it a bit last year, but Saturday only underscored the fact that St. Mary's of Lynn has become an official Massachusetts hockey powerhouse (the boys' team that is).

The Spartans (18-1-3) took the No. 2 seed, to no surprise, behind Malden Catholic, on Saturday. Last year, St. Mary's made its first Super appearance with a play-in game, which they went on to lose in dramatic fashion.

Now head coach Mark Lee can rest easy until his team opens up pool play.

So how'd we do in fingering the Super 8 field? I'd say so-so.

In our last projection, we had nine out of the 10 Super 8 participants correct, with St. John's (S) substituted for Westford Academy.

… What should have been a happy day for the BC High community was overcast by the funeral for the father of sophomore forward Steve DeForge. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the DeForge family and the BC High community.

… Talk about putting in extra work. While others might enjoy any downtime afforded to them during school vacation week, St. John’s Prep forward Sam Kurker (26-26-52) was out playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 team in an exhibition game at the University of Alabama-Huntsville on Friday night.

Recap: No. 18 Falmouth 7, No. 16 Marshfield 1

January, 29, 2012
FALMOUTH, Mass. -- When 18th-ranked Falmouth and No. 16 Marshfield met back on Jan. 7 at Hobomock Arena, Rams’ goaltender Kyle Moran stood on his head to help his team to a 1-1 draw that night against the Clippers. On Saturday night the clubs renewed their rivalry at the Falmouth Ice Arena, and Moran and his team left town with their heads spinning.

Dating back to Dec. 29 Moran had limited the opposition to just a single goal in eight of the nine games that the Rams had played. He gave up just two in the other, as Marshfield went 8-0-1 during that stretch.

On Saturday night Falmouth scored 3 times in the first 9:38 of the game en route to a 7-1 shellacking of the Atlantic Coast League leaders. Brothers Justin and Ben Taylor each had 2 goals in the game as the Clippers improved to 9-2-3 overall on the season (6-1-2 ACL) and qualified for the MIAA tournament in the process. Marshfield fell to 10-2-1 (6-1-1 ACL) on year.

Both teams seemed fired up when the puck dropped, but the Clippers had a little extra hop in their steps. After suffering a disappointing 4-2 loss to Dennis-Yarmouth earlier in the week, which may have cost them a chance to wave the ACL championship banner at season’s end, head coach Buddy Ferreira responded by giving them the day off on Thursday. That extra day of rest seemed to work wonders as the Clippers played with endless energy for 45 minutes.

FHS lit the lamp for the first of many times just 3:29 into the game. Center Nicky Lineaweaver let one fly from the slot that missed wildly to Moran’s left and careened into the corner. The quick forward chased his own miss and was the first one there. He sent it back to the point for linemate Travis Howe, who ripped a slapper that never left the ice and beat Moran to the near side for a 1-0 lead.

Lineaweaver’s effort on the play summed up how the Clippers played all night. “They just wanted it more than us, plain and simple,” Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly said. “That’s the bottom line. Kyle Moran probably wants a few of those back, but they kicked the crap out of us, bottom line. They wanted it a heck of a lot more than our kids. They won every battle, our kids were just playing slap hockey with the puck…we played terrible and they made us pay.”

Less than four minutes later Falmouth doubled its lead on one of those shots that Moran certainly would like to have a do-over on. Falmouth senior defenseman Justin Taylor won the puck outside the blue line and turned toward the goal and just let one rip from about 60 feet out that caught the goalie napping and sneaked through the 5-hole to make it 2-0.

Junior Durham Ghelfi added a power play goal for the Clippers about two minutes later, burying a rebound of a Trevor Theroux shot and the Rams were reeling.

Falmouth skipper Buddy Ferreira, who is in year 31 of his coaching tenure at Falmouth, said that his team’s all-out effort was a pleasant happenstance. “I’m totally surprised, for two reasons. One, to do that to Marshfield, and two, this is what makes you come back as a Coach every year. People say coaching makes you old, no it keeps you young because kids just do different things. This is a totally different team.”

Ferreira’s troops showed no complacency the rest of the way with the lead. Sophomore goalie Cody Garcia robbed Joe Admirand with a swipe of the glove at the 2 minute mark and then later stopped a penalty shot awarded to Chris Perry. Garcia came out to attack the shooter on the penalty shot, forcing his backhand bid wide.

After the Clippers’ goalie bailed them out with a couple big stops they rewarded him by padding his cushion with a pair late in the second period to open up a 5-0 lead before MHS got a late one to make it 5-1.

Theroux set up Ben Taylor with a brilliant diagonal feed that the freshman buried to make it 4-0 at 9:45 and then, just 48 seconds later, the Clippers got a shorthanded goal from Storm Fotiu, who blocked a shot and was off to the races, beating Moran with a pretty move.

Marshfield got on the board at 11:16 when Trevor Salmon buried a Kevin McDougall rebound. They almost got another in the last minute, on a laser from Mike Carbone, but Garcia deflected the shot and then swept his glove behind his back to bat it to the boards before it could cross the goal line. There was a controversy over whether or not the puck had actually crossed the line, but Connolly said it was a moot point.

“Unless it counted for six it didn’t really matter,” he said.

The Taylor brothers finished off the scoring in the third period, chasing Moran from the game. Older brother Justin got his second of the night when he intercepted a clear-out by the Rams and walked in to undress Moran at the 3:32 mark. A minute later younger brother Ben tipped in a rebound of a Cody Murray slapper to make it 7-1.

“Today, we got back to playing the way we were the last time we played Marshfield,” Ferreira said.

Recap: No. 9 Marshfield 1, No. 20 Falmouth 1

January, 7, 2012
Matt Kinchla will be replaying the shot in his mind for a while and each time he’s going to ask himself the same question, “how did he make that save?”

The villain in the Falmouth High forward’s recollections will be Marshfield High goaltender Kyle Moran, whose glove stop midway through the second period of Saturday night’s game at the Hobomock Arena drew oohs and aahs from the crowd, and probably a fair share of cuss words on the Clippers’ bench.

Thanks to that stop, and several other worthy of his personal highlight reel, Moran helped the ninth-ranked Rams escape with a 1-1 draw against 20th-ranked Falmouth in a showdown for first place in the Atlantic Coast League.

Marshfield is now 5-1-1 overall, and 3-0-1 in the ACL. Falmouth has the same league record and is 6-1-2 for the campaign.

“It was a great save. He really bailed us out today, their goalie played great too, but Kyle was the story,” Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly said.

Falmouth bench boss Buddy Ferreira said that the stop was the difference in the game.

“Their goalie made a huge, huge big-time save that otherwise we walk out of the building with a 2-1 win."

Moran’s robbery on Kinchla came with 8:14 to play in the second period, with the Clippers attacking on a power play and looking to double its slim lead. Defenseman Joe Meloni spied the forward sneaking down the right wing side all alone and rifled a backdoor pass that Kinchla swiped at for the near post. Moran (21 saves) lunged back to his left and snared the puck, which was behind him, out of the air to keep the game a 1-0 contest.

Moran made another great stop four minutes later, this time robbing Ben Taylor. The freshman forward attempted to finish off a 2-on-1 breakaway with Durham Ghelfi, but Moran got his left leg pad down in time to kick aside the snipe. He also stoned Storm Fotiu with 3:30 to play, again with the leg pads.

Falmouth keeper Cody Garcia (18 saves) also had a fantastic day in the other net for the Clippers. The sophomore stymied several quality chances by the Rams, including a big one on top scorer Mikey Carbone, who had a point in every game the Rams had played prior to this one, with 1:29 to play in the first period. Carbone broke alone toward the Falmouth net and attempted a cross-over move, but Garcia stopped the bid and then covered up as he was run over by Carbone. Garcia also had a sweet glove save on Chris Perry with 7:22 to play in the game, preserving the tie.

Each goaltender was also the recipient of an assist from his best friend, the pipe. Taylor popped one off the post with 54 seconds to play in the second period. Marshfield defenseman Joe Kiley rung the pipe with just over 7 minutes left in the third.

The only people in the building that were as busy as the keepers were the referees. From the outset it was apparent that the two squads were going to play with playoff-caliber ferocity, and the refs gave their whistles a workout because of it.

“It was a war, it was like watching the Vancouver-Bruins game today, it was the same type of thing,” Connolly said. “I don’t think there was much 5-on-5 in the second period, which took us out of our flow, and it probably took Buddy [Ferreira] and his team out there flow, too. We were getting lines together, and jumbling guys around.”

It was while killing one of four Falmouth power plays in the game that the Rams netted their lone goal of the night.

Connor McLean chased a dump-in behind the Clippers’ net, took on two Falmouth players and won the puck out of a scrum where he was able to center it to Perry in the slot for a quick snap shot that beat Garcia upstairs to knot things up at 1-1 with just 3 seconds left in the second stanza.

“Connor McLean won a battle, then won another battle and put it out front and then Chris Perry was right there to bang it in. It was opportunistic, but it was all the result of hard work of Perry and those boys,” Connolly said.

Perry’s goal was the lone mark against a Falmouth defense that owned the rest of the night. Marshfield clearly wanted to play an up-tempo style, but the Clippers never let them enjoy space in the open ice.

“Defensively we just bottled them up,” Ferreira said. “They tried to spring that forward out of the defensive end all night and our forwards were just right on them. They were physical with them, boy they laid some hits out there…big time hits.”

Falmouth upped the ante on the physical side of the game from the opening drop of the puck and it paid quick dividends. With a hit in the neutral zone Travis Howe jarred the puck away from Marshfield and led a quick 2-on-1 break from the red line. He fed it ahead for Cyrus Wickersham, who rifled a quick wrist shot past Moran for a 1-0 lead just 3:12 into the action.

Falmouth also nearly pulled off a last second miracle of its own at the end of the game. With less than a second to play Nicky Lineaweaver tipped a pass out of the corner by Justin Taylor upstairs on Moran. The keeper’s great night ended with one last Falmouth frustration as he was able to block the puck with his shoulder and cover it up with 0.2 seconds remaining on the game clock.

“They owned us in the first period, we were lucky to be down just 1-0,” Connolly said.

Ferreira admitted that his team’s biggest shortcoming is its lack of a big-time scorer, but the Clippers try to make up for that with hard work, which they certainly did against Marshfield. The coach left town quite satisfied with what he got from the maroon and white.

“Outside of 3 seconds, we walk out with a win. I’m not upset. That was a good performance, 3 lines, 4 defensemen and solid goaltending against a team that could be a Super-8 team,” Ferreira said. “We don’t have a lot of snipers. Could we win or come out with a tie against a team where we outplayed somebody but just couldn’t bury it? Tonight we showed that we could, and that’s a good sign.”

Connolly and his Rams were just happy to get out of the game without losing a share of first place in the league standings.

“They’re very good, so getting a point out of this was good. We were hoping to get two [points] in our home building, but we were lucky to get one, we were,” Connolly admitted. “So we take that out of the game, that we did earn a point. We did [dodge a bullet]. They out-played us, they definitely deserved the two (points) tonight, I thought. Our kids played hard, they got better as the game went on, but they dominated the first for sure.”

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.”