Boston High School: Dave Belbin

D3 boys final: Shrewsbury 7, Hanover 1

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16

BOSTON – Midway through the season, Shrewsbury coach Steve Turnblom moved sophomore Matt Dillon from the blue line to first-line forward.

That move has paid off all season long for the Colonials and Sunday was no different as Dillon scored a goal and registered five assists in Shrewsbury’s 7-1 win over Hanover in the Div. 3 state title game.

“A big game like that, having seven goals up on the board it means a lot to put up points like that but at the same time you have to worry about the team accomplishment more than that,” Dillon said.

After the game, Turnblom had nothing put praise for his sophomore forward.

“He’s just an incredibly talented kid who moves the puck, great talent and great vision,” Turnblom said. “He’s been doing it all year long and leads the Central Mass in scoring.”

Dillon is just one example of many who have bought into the pass-first offense that Turnblom runs. Hanover had no answer for the Colonials crisp and fluid passing game, showcased by their huge advantage in shots on net. Shrewsbury opened up by outshooting the Indians 18-5 in the opening period and 35-14 in the game.

“We make them pass, you don’t come back from the first half of the year if you don’t pass the puck,” Turnblom said. “Setting everyone up, that’s key getting, assists and playing the game property. If you want to play past high school that’s how you have to play.”

Despite the heavy barrage of shots in the opening stanza, it was Hanover the opened up the scoring. At 5:26 of the period, Landon Hasenfuss rifled a shot on net on a 2-on-1 rush that was stopped by William Shipman. But Matt McDougall was there for the rebound, which hardly squeaked past the goal line before it was cleared out by a defender.

“Nothing worse than when you are dominating at the other end, getting a lot of shots and chances and they get a breakout and score at the other end,” Turnblom said.

For the remaining 40 minutes of regulation however, it was all Shrewsbury.

Five minutes after the opening tally, the Colonials lightning-quick offense struck twice. The first came from Dan Quinlivan who was fed a beautiful backhanded pass through the crease form Dillon for the easy goal. Fifty-four seconds later, Cole Vincequere picked the top-right corner from the right point to give Shrewsbury an all-of-a-sudden 2-1 lead.

But the back-breaker came with what looked like no time left on the clock.

Shrewsbury broke out with a 2-on-1 rush with Dillon feeding Jack Quinlivan for the goal with no time left on the clock.

After a conference with the goal judge, the goal was allowed and one second was put back on the clock as Shrewsbury skated to the locker room with a 3-1.

“What happened is they are a hell of a hockey team, they could be a Division 1 team,” said Hanover coach Jonny Abban. “We came out slow. To get this far in the tournament you need to bring your ‘A’ game every shift and we took some shifts off and we paid for it.”

The rout is on: The Colonials wasted no time in the second period, as just 31 seconds into the period, Dave Belbin picked the top-left corner from the left dot.
All the bounces went Shrewsbury’s for the rest of the game. Five minuats later it was Dillon’s turn to score a goal when his shot got from below the dot got a fortuitous bounce, deflecting off a Hanover skate and in.

Jack Quinlivan and Matt Ward added two more goals as the Colonials coasted the remainder of the game to capture the Div. 3 title.

“It’s awesome,” said Turnblom. “To see these kids that I’ve had since they were freshman and to get a shot to come here and win it was huge I’m very happy for them.”

Something has to give: Entering Sunday’s title game, the two teams were on a combined 18 game win streak. Shrewsbury was dismantling any team that stood in their way while the Indians coasted through the Div. 3 South.

But when the two teams took the ice, it was apparent that Shrewsbury was the faster team.

In the beginning of the year, coach knew a lot of hype was around this team but we hadn’t done anything yet and had the whole season to go,” senior defensemen Cole Vincequere said. “To really make a difference we had to bring home a medal.”

D3 state semifinal: Shrewsbury 6, Westfield 0

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- If you had told the Shrewsbury hockey team prior to Thursday night's Division 3 state semifinal against Westfield that they would hardly break a sweat and display pure dominance, no one would have believed it.

The Colonials dominated play from start to finish, rolling to a 6-0 victory over the defending state champions at MassMutual Center.

"To be honest we didn't think it was going to be a shootout like that," said senior Dave Belbin, who scored a goal and added an assist. "It was only 2-0 us going into the third period and that's the kind of game we expected. Their goalie stood on his head to keep them in it but ours did too. It's been a long journey for us but all of us have worked hard and it's starting to pay off."

Shrewsbury (20-2-1) advances to Sunday's state final against Hanover (18-7-0) at TD Garden beginning at 11. The Colonials won state crowns in 2009 and 1999.

Leading by a pair after 30 minutes, Shrewsbury left no doubt in this one scoring four times in the final frame. Sean Hallice scored at 5:11 to make it 3-0 by rushing hard toward the net, taking a clean pass from Jack Quinivan, and sending a quick wrist shot by Matt Blascak (29 saves). Less than a minute later, Trevor Shea notched his second of the evening with a rebound goal off an initial shot from Belbin.

"That team was just to much for us," said Bombers head coach C.B. Matthews, Jr., his team finishing the year at 16-6-3. "They had four lines that could come at us. We just couldn't contain them. They are one of the best team's we've played for sure. Our goalie kept us in it early but they eventually just wore us down."

Dan Quinlivan and brother Jack closed out the scoring with two more tallies coming at 10:23 and 13:29, respectively. Shrewsbury netminder William Shipman earned the shutout, stopping all 10 shots he faced.

"We wanted to start this game off really tough," said Hallace. "We wanted to keep attacking and not let go. We played well but I thought we could play better. We just shooting the puck on net. Once we got the third goal went in things started to go our way more. Now we get ready for Sunday. "

The Colonials offense set the precedent early, skating circles around the Bombers throughout the opening 15 minutes. Westfield did a lot of standing around, watching Shrewsbury controlling the action mostly inside its own zone.

Blascak was doing a superb job bailing his team out early and often as Shrewsbury peppered the senior consistently but had nothing to show for it.
With all the attempts on net in the frame (12 total), you had to figure it was just a matter of time before one found the back of the net for the Colonials. At 10:58, it did. Jack Quinlivan, standing along the left half board, wired a pass to Dave Belbin in front of the crease. The senior controlled the pass and sent a quick wrister past Blascak giving Shrewsbury a 1-0 lead.

The scenario remained the same for the Colonials in the middle period. Westfield seemed sluggish and wasn't going after the puck with the same tenacity as Shrewsbury was. In fact, on several occasions, the Bombers appeared content in waiting for the puck to come to them. The Colonials, on the other hand, weren't waiting around, often picking off Bomber passes in the lanes.

Shrewsbury extended its lead to two goals at 6:03 of the period when Trevor O'Keefe, skating into the left slot untouched, took a diagonal feed from Shea and poked it past Blascak stick side. Westfield's non-existent offense managed its first shot in the period with 2:39 remaining.

"For the last three-and-a-half months this team has been working very hard and it's all starting to pay off now," Colonials head coach Steve Turnblom said. "Once we got our legs we started moving the puck fast. That's our game. We were able to get a couple of the net and it took off from there. We've been a tough team to play against once we get a lead because of our puck possession. We don't give away the puck much."

D3 Central final: Shrewsbury 4, Wachusett 1

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
FITCHBURG, Mass. -- There were little reminders left everywhere. Shrewsbury head coach Steve Turnblom made it a habit to remind his team about the past.

So too, did his assistant coaches. Previous articles on unforgiving postseason losses to Wachusett were taped to locker room walls for all eyes to see and ponder.

To know the history of the Colonials' underachieving battles against the Mountaineers in the Central Mass. Division 3 tournament in recent years is to understand that Wachusett has owned Shrewsbury. In the last three seasons, the Colonials have been bounced out of the playoffs by Wachusett.

So in Monday night's Central Mass. Division 3 final between the two powers, questions lingered as to whether or not history would reap its ugly head yet again on Shrewsbury or would the script be different this time around?

As a result, the Colonials chose the latter, scoring a pair of goals in each of the first two periods and, in the process, posted a 4-1 triumph at the Wallace Civic Center. The win was the Colonials third over Wachusett this year, after beating them twice during the regular season.

No. 1 Shrewsbury (19-2-1) moves on to the state semifinals where it will meet defending state champion Westfield (14-5-3) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield.

"Everyone was telling me all week that you can't beat a team three times in a season so I was a little worried," admitted Turnblom. "But I knew if we came to play we would have a good shot. It is very impressive for these kids to beat them three times in a season."

To get over the hurdle of believing they could defeat the No. 3 Mountaineers (16-5-2) when it mattered most, the Colonials went out and did just that. Goals by Tyler O'Keefe and Cole Amback (on the power play) at 14:01 and 14:57, respectively, of the opening period had Shrewsbury on top 2-0 heading into the first intermission.

After going toe-to-toe against its Quinn Conference rivals for the first 13 minutes of this contest, giving up those two late markers sent Wachusett into the dressing room a deflated and dejected bunch.

That demeanor seemed to carry itself over into the middle frame. At 2:31, junior Joseph Buduo, taking a diagonal pass from Dave Belbin, sent a shot into the top right corner of the net to extend the Colonials advantage to 3-0. Five minutes later, Buduo would answer the call again. This time the forward gathered a bouncing puck in front of Wachusett starting goaltender Jake Strasser (16 saves on 20 shots) and hoisted a quick wrist shot past the senior's catching glove.

"We just went out there and played as hard as we could," Buduo said. "We wanted to crash the net on Strasser because he likes to play out a lot. That team has knocked us out of the playoffs the past three years so getting a little revenge tonight really feels good."

Following Buduo's second tally, Strasser was pulled in favor Andrew Carter. The junior managed to hold down the fort for the remainder of the game, stopping all 8 shots he faced. By then, though, the damage had already been done. The Mountaineers offense struggled mightily throughout, unable to gain much consistency with the puck as Shrewsbury's defense and forwards swarmed all over them once they got across the red line.

Wachusett was also playing shorthanded. Defenseman Matt Cappucci did not dress due to a concussion. Sam Pridotkas, another defenseman, received a season-ending disqualification for a hitting from behind penalty in an first round game against Westboro. In addition, center Brian Boulette was home with flu-like symptoms. Never one to make excuses, Wachusett head coach Matt Lane said that was not the difference in the outcome of this one.

"The kids who came to the rink tonight gave it all they had," he said. "I told them for the last 22 minutes of this game it was 1-0 us and we held them without a score. But Shrewsbury caught fire at the end of the first and later in the second period with a couple of nice goals. But we cannot and will not make excuses. Our guys played their hearts out. We never seemed to recover from the goal they got with 3 seconds left in the first period. They move the puck well all night and are always cycling to the slot and it's tough to stay with them. We just couldn't break the ice against them."

With less than two minutes remaining in the second, Wachusett senior forward Marc Happy scored a power-play goal but it did little to rattle Shrewsbury. The Colonials blanketed the Mountaineers over the last 15 minutes, limiting them to just five shots.

"We had two articles posted in our locker room showing last year's loss to them," said Turnblom, referring to his club's 2-1 overtime defeat in the CMass semifinals. "I told the kids to remember the tears and all the sadness they felt after that loss and take it to the ice tonight because they had a good shot to win. That was certainly momentum for us. We got those two goals in the first period to give us the lead, and once we got those, we tried to play solid defense after that and I felt we pretty-much achieved that."

No. 22 Shrewsbury eyes D3 state title

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- It was right around the midway point of last year's hockey season when people began taking notice of Shrewsbury High's upstart team.

The Colonials were being reminded often on how good it looked and how great they could be. But it wasn't too long after when the Colonials, themselves, started buying into the hype — perhaps a bit too much.

You could make a case that Shrewsbury's top-scoring line of a year ago was as good as any in the state; it was certainly best in Central Mass. They were a multi-talented group with an uncanny ability of moving the puck around on a dime inside an opponent's defensive zone. The trio worked so beautifully together that they combined for an eye-catching 125 points.

The belief was that Shrewsbury had enough talent to whisk past its competitors in district play and would finish it off with a MIAA state championship trophy in tow.

It didn’t go quite according to script.

In last February's Division 3 Central Mass. semifinal played at Fitchburg's Wallace Civic Center, the favored Colonials endured a gut-wrenching 2-1 overtime loss to Wachusett Regional. Suddenly, in the span of a millisecond, all of the talk, predictions and championship dreams had vanished.

Even today, almost a year later, the loss continues to gnaw at them. But instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the Colonials are using it as motivation.

Just a month into this season and it appears as though the motivation is working.

The Colonials, ranked No. 24 in ESPN Boston’s MIAA Top 25 poll, have sprinted out of the starting block with reckless abandon. Following Monday night's win over Hudson, Shrewsbury presently sits at 8-0. They are averaging over seven goals per game and have yet to be seriously tested. For this team, which last won a state championship in 2009, it has an agenda to meet and it won't conclude until they are the last ones standing come March inside TD Garden.

"That loss to Wachusett last year is what is driving us this year," said junior forward and leading scorer Dan Quinlivan (11 goals, 6 assists), who is paired with twin brother Jack and junior Trevor Shea to form one of Shrewsbury's four solid lines. "You never want to go out that way, especially in overtime like we did. It was a lesson learned."

Last year, the Quinlivans were teamed with first-line center Dave Belbin in forming one of region’s most formidable trios. The chemistry between them, not to mention their speed, puck-handling accuracy and precision-like passing skills were crisp and fluent.

This season, third-year head coach Steve Turnblom made a surprise move when he decided to tweak his lines a bit in an attempt to get more scoring production from other team members. Belbin now anchors a line with fellow senior Derek Dell'Olio and sophomore Adam Twitchell.

"Moving guys around has helped us a lot," sophomore defenseman Matt Dillon said. "Last year Dave, Jack and Dan were putting up most of the points. This year we have Dave's line and then we have Jack and Dan's line. Our third and fourth lines are contributing as well. The depth we have in all four of our lines has helped out quite a bit."

Dan Quinlivan said, "Last year the better programs had players who could shut our first line down at times. This year we have goal scorers on every line."

With each shift, Shrewsbury appears to be playing with a purpose. Its tempo is fast and furious the entire 45 minutes. Its hybrid offensive style has left a few opponents scrambling for the bench in an effort to catch their breath.

"Our speed is a factor no doubt," said Belbin, who netted 22 goals and added 20 assists a year ago. "But at the same time we knew we needed to be more-sound defensively. I think that is where we have stepped it up this year (having allowed just 12 goals). Last year the focus was on scoring points. This year, there is more attention being paid to keeping teams off the boards, create some havoc in our defensive zone and finish off our checks. The points will come off of that."

With upcoming games against such powers as St. John's (Shrewsbury), Wachusett, Groton-Dunstable and Longmeadow, the Colonials realize they have the firepower to win a state title. But the Colonials can also expect to see the best from every opponent they face. No matter the record.

"We know we are going to get everyone's A-gamem which I think is good because our guys will be ready for it," Turnblom said. "However, there is that old cliché that anyone can beat anyone. We certainly understand that. How we get better from game to game is the key for us. It's all about the little things you need to do to get better as a team. Going out and slapping teams around, but being sloppy in doing it, does us no good.

“Eventually that will come back to bite you as we know, especially when you are in a big game against a Wachusett, or St. John's, or during the playoffs. We still need to tighten things up at both ends of the ice and keep our minds focused in every game that we play. It is so important for all of us to know exactly what each one is doing out there."

Perhaps, most importantly, there is no trace of selfishness to be found in Shrewsbury’s game. To a player, all have a particular role and they execute.

"Come playoff time everyone should understand their roles here," said winger turned center Jack Quinlivan, who paced Shrewsbury with 25 goals last season. "Everyone will get their shot at some point, you just don't know when. But when that opportunity does come you have to be ready for it."

An area that plagued the Colonials a year ago was an inconsistency in goal.

As productive as Shrewsbury's offense was, its goaltenders were allowing nearly as much at the other end of the ice. It was an issue Turnblom knew he needed to address once the season came to an end. This year, he has three goaltenders, all of whom, he says are capable of stoning the opposition.

At present, seniors Will Shipman and Matt Andrews are the front-runners with sophomore Shane Gorrie not far behind. Combined, the team’s goals against average sits below 2.00.

Andrews came on board this year after transferring from nearby St. John's of Shrewsbury. Dropping down from a Division 1 level program to Division 3 did raise a few eyebrows but Andrews stands by his decision.

"I've known most of the guys on this team for a very long time," Andrews said. "This was something I really wanted to do. I hang out with most of these guys all the time. It wasn't really a sports thing for me but more about being with my friends. It's a joy playing with all of them again and being apart of this team."

Turnblom felt he also needed to shore up his team's defensive play. New addition Sean Hallice, who spent the last couple of seasons playing juniors before opting out and joining Shrewsbury this season, has been nothing short of spectacular. Not only can the senior shadow an opposing club's top offensive threat, but has also proven to be a valuable commodity offensively, registering six goals and seven assists. He, along with Dillon, Cole Vincequere and Cole Ambach have given the Colonials' defense some much-needed depth. In addition, their ability to transition the puck swiftly up ice to the forwards has been well-received.

"Between our offense and defense it gives you a good feeling of confidence in all of our lines," Hallice said. "You quickly realize that if I screw up or someone else screws up we all have each other's backs."

Said Jack Quinlivan, "The defense has been very good at getting the puck up to forwards quickly. We constantly try to suck the life out of teams with our speed. If teams can't stay with us they eventually wear down."

There are some pessimists who are quick to point out that the majority of Shrewsbury's schedule offers little challenge. Even though the Colonials traditionally play in the most-competitive Division 3 conference (the Quinn) in Central Mass., there are some weaknesses this year. Hudson, Marlborough and Auburn, all of whom have enjoyed success in the past, are in rebuilding modes and not expected to contend this year. Therefore, Shrewsbury will rely heavily on its upcoming confrontations against conference foe Wachusett (twice), St. John's, Groton-Dunstable and Longmeadow to prepare them for what lies ahead.

"You cannot take anyone lightly no matter who we play," Dillon said. "You have to treat every team the same and be ready to play every game."

Wachusett has been a thorn in the Colonials' sides the past few seasons. The Mountaineers, who fell to eventual state champ Westfield in last year's state semifinal, have not lost to Shrewsbury in three years. They look to keep that trend going when the two clubs square off next Saturday.

"We realize it will be a difficult task to try and stop a team that is averaging nearly eight goals a game," Wachusett coach Matt Lane said. "They have something like 10 different players who have already scored multiple goals. We know it'll take a strong defensive effort and outstanding goaltending on our part to stay in the game with them."

Should the Colonials stumble a bit during the season, it still appears likely they will have sewn up a playoff spot by month's end. When this does occur, don't expect them to rest on their laurels.

The team's first priority is to be the No. 1 seed in next month's Central Mass. tournament and begin, what they hope, is a solid postseason run that will carry them to Boston this time around.

"We know we have a good team," Ambach said. "But we can't go out there thinking we are best team because we all know what happened last year. We are always looking for ways to improve. We just need to keep things on an even keel throughout the entire season and not get too far ahead of ourselves."

Recap: Groton-Dunstable 2, Shrewsbury 1

February, 13, 2013
GROTON, Mass. -- Do not call Groton-Dunstable a finesse team. If you do, they might take offense to it.

The Crusaders would prefer you categorized them as ruthless and nasty -- a team not afraid to knock heads or sacrifice their bodies to block shots. Wednesday night, they did a little of both.

In a match up between two of the top Division 3 programs in Central Mass., the Crusaders held off Shrewsbury, 2-1, in a non-conference tilt at the Groton School Rink. In a game that went full-throttle from start to finish, Groton-Dunstable forward C. J. Kenny’s goal at 1:06 of the third period proved to be the difference. The Crusaders clamped down on the Colonials for the remainder of the period, improving their overall record to 15-1-3.

Kenny, a senior, scored the game-winner after he was able to gain control of a loose puck in front of the Shrewsbury crease and knock it past goaltender Shane Gorrie. While scoring chances were limited for both teams, it was the Crusaders defensive output that stole the show.

Groton-Dunstable's strategy in slowing an opposing foe is by applying constant pressure on anyone handling the puck. This also includes the Crusader forwards, who are expected to assist the defensemen on any rush up the ice.

Shrewsbury’s top line of Dave Belbin, Dan Quinlivan and Jack Quinlivan were all held in check throughout the evening as they failed to register a point for the first time this season. Anytime the puck was on their collective sticks, so too, was a Crusader to disrupt their lane to the net.

“Our forwards did a great job getting back, helping us and not giving them any time or space,” senior defenseman Mike Keating said. “When they don’t have time or space we can step up and get into their grill and then they can’t get shots.”

With the possibility of these two teams meeting again in the postseason, Shrewsbury realizes it needs to find a way to break free in order to set up better scoring chances or else a similar outcome might occur.

“They took a lot of time and space away from us because of their big size and reach,” said Colonials coach Steve Turnblom whose team dropped to 11-4-1. “They also did a great job in their own end blocking shots and taking areas away for our guys to shoot. They’ll be a handful for teams facing them in the playoffs. We just need to adapt to their style and be hungrier the next time.”

Almost two periods had passed before a goal was scored. With his team on the power play, Allan Haynes, a senior defenseman, put Groton-Dunstable on the board first with a shot just outside the crease at 12:19 of the second period.

But with just 50 seconds remaining in the period, the Colonials got even. Freshman Matt Dillon, standing inside the right circle, roped a shot through traffic that Crusader goalie Jason Robes never saw making it 1-1.

In the locker room during the second intermission, Turnblom preached to his club the importance of getting the next goal. Unfortunately, the Colonials failed in that quest. Instead it was Kenny who breathed new life into the Crusaders with his early final period score. For the remainder of the period, Groton-Dunstable, in its first season as a Division 3 program after winning a Division 3A state title a year ago, stepped it up on the defensive side as they continued to frustrate the Colonials any time they moved the puck over the center line.

“These are the type of games we’re going to see once we get into the tournament,” Groton-Dunstable first-year coach Phil Rowley said. “I think this was one of the hardest games our kids have played in all year if not the hardest. Our captains held a team meeting [on Tuesday] and talked about bringing the intensity level up and they brought it into this game. The senior leadership we have on this team is unbelievable.”