Boston High School: Dave Spinale

Super 8: No. 1 BC High 4, No. 8 Xaverian 0

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6

LOWELL, Mass. -- BC High had that killer instinct that all good teams have as it scored three times in a span of just over three minutes late in the first period, en route to a 4-0 win over Xaverian on Wednesday night at the Tsongas Center.

The Eagles swept the Hawks in the best-of-three series and will advance to next Wednesday’s Super 8 semifinals, where they will face the winner of Austin Prep and Central Catholic.

“We’re very excited to be moving on to the semifinals. We’re very happy with the outcome and to be moving on,” said BC High head coach John Flaherty.

It will be third trip to the Super 8 semifinals in four seasons for the Eagles.

“It’s an honor,” said Flaherty when asked about the significance of the accomplishment. “It’s a credit to the guys in that locker room. The leadership that we have and their ability to speak to experience to what it takes at this time of the season is invaluable.”

Eagles jump-start: BC High’s game plan was simple in hopes of avoiding a similar start to Sunday, which saw Xaverian take a 1-0 lead to the locker room after the first period.

“We knew we had to get pucks to the net, and we got some bounces,” Flaherty said. “A few turnovers bounced right onto guys’ sticks and into the back of the net.”

BC High junior Connor Noonan started the onslaught at the 10:20 mark of the first period when he cut in towards Xaverian goaltender Aidan Murphy before chipping the puck high and beating the freshman goaltender to the near post.

“That goal was a real nice one, it got us going,” said Flaherty.

Two of the Eagles senior leaders started a beautiful passing sequence to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead at the 12:58 mark. Defenseman Sam Topham gave a pass to Steve DeForge who quickly slid it across to junior Jake Lemanski for the finish into a wide-open net.

Just 42 seconds later a turnover led to another BC High strike and a 3-0 lead heading to the first intermission. Noonan forced the turnover and quickly got the puck to Aidan Foley who went five-hole for the score.

“We earned our chances, but we got some good bounces and we capitalized on them,” said Flaherty.

“We were playing OK in the first period, but then got off our game and panicked a little,” Xaverian head coach Dave Spinale said. “When [BC High] smells an opportunity, they cash in.”

Shutout man: In his first year as the starter for the Eagles, Brandon Payzant earned his seventh shutout of the season on Wednesday night. The sophomore stopped all 28 shots he faced to shut the door on Xaverian.

“Brandon Payzant was the best player on the ice tonight,” Flaherty said. “He kept his end of the bargain by not giving up any. When we had breakdowns, Brandon stood tall and made the saves he’s capable of making.”

He added, “We relied too much on him for my liking, but he did a great job. That’s what Brandon is capable of doing. We know that and we’re comfortable with that.”

The past two games were Payzant’s introduction to playoff hockey.

“You need your goalie to be tested in order for him to build his confidence. He played in two big stages and he played very well at both,” said Flaherty.

Payzant learned from one of the best last season. As a freshman, he sat behind senior Peter Cronin, who now plays junior hockey with the South Shore Kings in the USPHL.

“He was a great mentor to me last year, he taught me a lot,” said Payzant of the Bowdoin recruit.

“I felt pretty good coming into these quarterfinal games. I had a lot of confidence,” he added.

Topham’s blue line: Topham, a co-captain and senior defenseman, has been an integral part of the leadership core that has sparked BC High’s success this season.

He scored the only goal of the final two periods when he used his hands to find the back of the net when the puck came right to him in the slot.

“Sam Topham sees the ice really well and skates well,” said Flaherty. “When he’s using his feet, he’s putting himself in position to be an impact player on the offensive side of the puck.”

Topham isn’t just an offensive defenseman. He’s also been one of the better shutdown defenders in high school hockey this season.

“His skates are great enough that he can defend,” Flahety said. “He calmed the play down, he settled pucks down and he made good decisions. He made some real good passes coming out of the zone.”

Topham credits assistant coach and defensive guru Bob Roche with his team’s attention to detail and discipline in the defensive zone.

“Roche is a really nit-picky coach,” Topham said. “He keeps us on our toes and makes sure we fix our mistakes. We got a little too cute in the second period, but he just told us to keep it simple and to get it up on the glass and out of the zone.”

Xaverian still proud: Although Spinale was certainly disappointed with his team’s end to the season, the coach took some pride in hanging with the top team in the state for much of the series.

“We talked about it in the locker room after the game,” Spinale said. “For 42 minutes we were pretty tough and competitive. We didn’t quit down 4-0. I thought we had some good chances. I didn’t feel like the ice was tilted.”

Spinale was particularly proud of his senior class that brought the program back to the Super 8 for the first time since 2010.

“Our senior class had a four-win season as sophomores, but they stuck together,” Spinale said. “They put the program back on the map. They got us back into this tournament which was one of their goals.”

He added, “I’m really proud of them and thrilled that they enjoyed it.”

Super 8 play-in: Xaverian 6, Archies 5 (2 OT)

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25

STONEHAM, Mass. -- The level of pressure just partaking in a Super 8 tournament play-in game can be excruciating enough. But when that game needs to exceed regulation to decide a winner, well, let's just say it is not for the faint of heart.

Monday night, inside Stoneham Arena, No. 8 seed Xaverian and No. 9 Archbishop Williams laid down the gauntlet to decide which of them would earn the right to play top-seed BC High in Sunday's opening round of the state's most-coveted high school hockey tournament.

In a wide-open offensive contest from beginning to end, a second overtime was needed before Ricky Smith, flying down the right boards, ripped a shot from the circle past goaltender Steve Jenner at 1:15 of the second overtime period to send the Hawks to the Super 8 tournament at TD Garden with a 6-5 victory.

"I had a good feeling coming onto the ice during that shift," said Smith, a senior defenseman, who missed the last two seasons due to injury. "I just felt that I needed to step up and do my job as a senior captain and step up for the team. We were pretty nervous but we could never get down. We needed to stay positive throughout. We just came out and played Xaverian hockey."

The Bishops (12-6-3) season still continues as they move into the Division 1 South tournament.

New rules this season indicate that during the first six minute overtime period, both teams play 5-on-5. In the second overtime, still six minutes in length, the number of players is reduced to 4-on-4.

Given a little more freedom to move the puck around the ice with one less player seemed to benefit the Hawks (12-3-6). While both teams were showing signs of fatigue both physically and mentally, this contest eventually would come down to which club would be the strongest inside the attacking zone. With this triumph, that nod goes to Xaverian, which finished the evening with 47 shots.

Late in the third period, the Bishops were desperately clinging to a 5-4 lead. But at 11:10, junior Jack Cook deadlocked things with a shot from the left wing that trickled through the pads of Jenner. It marked Cook's third goal of the night. During the first overtime frame, the Hawks managed six shots on Jenner but to no avail. Except for the opening period, when it registered 13 shots, Archbishop Williams' offense was experiencing difficulty trying to match Xaverian's. Yet, despite all that, the Bishops were still even after 51 minutes and change.

"I felt like we got better and better throughout the game," Hawks coach Dave Spinale said. "They had a fast start and are a very dangerous team. I give them a ton of credit. Their top six is as good as anyone we've seen all year. But I just felt after each period our team was gaining more confidence and more momentum. We really started pressuring them and they seemed to be sitting back more in that third period as if they were playing not to lose and I was telling my guys to keep going after them. We certainly got a good bounce to tie it up in that period."

In spite the Bishops dictating the play for much of the opening period it was the Hawks who converted a score on their first attempt to grab the lead. Senior forward Tony Marini took a well-placed behind-the-net pass from Tim Sweeney and one-timed it past Jenner (41 saves). The score was initially set up by Marini, who intercepted the puck along the right half wall before moving himself to the slot as he awaited Sweeney's feed.

Three minutes later, the Bishops tallied for two goals in a span of only five seconds to move in front. Ryan Dunn, a senior, beat Aidan Murphy (22 stops) with a hard wrist shot from the left circle. Then, off the face-off, senior Mike Davis moved into the right circle and lofted a shot into the top right corner. But with just 37 seconds remaining in the period, Xaverian answered. Cook notched his first, showing a burst of speed down the right wing, before letting go of a hard wrist shot into the net and send both teams into the first intermission tied at 2 apiece.

The offensive fireworks seen during the first 15 minutes carried into the middle period. Just 4:19 in, Eric Keefe put Archbishop Williams back in front with a rebound goal. It only took 20 seconds for the Hawks to grab the equalizer. Andrew Durkin, standing just outside the crease, poked in a pass from Connor McCarthy to make it 3-3.

A few moments later, the Bishops were whistled for back-to-back penalties. After a 20 second 5-on-3 advantage went by the boards, Xaverian still continued to play with a man up. However, a costly turnover at mid ice led to a 2-on-1 break for Archbishop Williams. On the play, Dunn hit Garrett Foley in stride with a centering pass. The senior capped things off with a shot between Murphy's pads coming at 7:37 to put the Bishops back on top by a goal. They would extend the advantage to 5-3 thanks to Colin Boyle's power play marker at 10:20. But with just over two minutes left in the period, Cook was able to re-direct Smith's long-range shot off the post and into the net, sending Xaverian into the break trailing by one.

"I thought we were the better team and things came down to some key saves at key moments," said Bishops head coach Derackk Curtis. "Tough way to lose in overtime because I think Steve makes that save most of the time. I thought my team played well all the way through and we were in it to win it. I think the goaltending dictated why this game was so wide-open. I think shots that most of time these guys would save. That opened things up at both ends. Take nothing away from Xaverian, they played very well but I thought my team played great too."

The Hawks dominated the third period in all facets. The offense continued to attack the Bishops end of the ice on every shift. But all of their shots were off-line. That was before Cook delivered with his tying goal late and Smith closing things out later on.

"Ricky has been a great leader for us," said Spinale. "I'm really happy and proud of him to be able to get that goal for us tonight. Jack is probably the fastest guy on our team so we like to use his speed and try to play fast. That's been our system to play fast, be physical and pressure the puck."

Recap: No. 5 Xaverian 9, No. 12 St. John’s (S) 2

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Jon Beniers scored twice in the second period as Xaverian broke open a tie game on its way to a blowout over visiting St. John’s (Shrewsbury) in Wednesday’s meeting of teams with Super 8 aspirations at the Foxboro Sports Center.

“This was a critical game because both teams were on the board for a potential Super 8, whether it’s a play-in game or right in,” said Xaverian coach Dave Spinale. “I think it gives us a lot of momentum. Our offense has really been clicking lately and to see it against a real quality club like this was really impressive.”

The Hawks jumped all over the Pioneers early in the first period tallying the first nine shots of the game and establishing a two-goal lead on scores by Tim Sweeney and Trevor McQuade. Sweeney also had a shot cleared off the line and Antonio Marini and Beniers each saw shots ring off the post.

St. John’s managed to turn the game around with a pair of goals in the final 4:05 of the first. Michael Parente’s shot from the point went through a number of bodies in front before finding the top corner and then Chris Adams buried a rebound to tie the game at 2-2.

Xaverian took over the game in the second period. Andrew Durkin got it started with 10:55 remaining as he raced past the defense on a delayed penalty call to give the Hawks back the lead. Five minutes later it was Beniers’ turn.

The sophomore tapped in a goal after a great feed by Marini to make it 4-2 and then that combo worked its magic once again just a little more than a minute later to make it a three-goal cushion.

“After getting the two goal lead and then kind of giving that back, we needed to come back so it was big to get that three-goal lead going into the third,” said Beniers after the game.

He added, “It shows that we can persevere through adversity, you know. We kind of came in and calmed down. Everybody was intense after letting them back into it so just come ourselves down and get back out there and have that big second period.”

“He’s the kind of young man that plays so hard and plays so fast that it really just picks everybody else up. He can create offense because of the speed that he plays at.” said Spinale about Beniers, who started the year as the second line center, but was moved up to the top line early in the season.

In the third period, the Hawks continued to dominate and tacked on extra goals to pad the lead and ensure that there would be no late comeback that might steal the points. Connor McCarthy celebrated his senior night with a pair of goals in the third, Ryan Walsh blasted a rocket of a slap shot from the right face-off circle and senior Dean Adams finished the scoring with a late goal.

“We’ve given up a lot of goals at the end so we wanted win the third period and win the game,” said Spinale. “We didn’t change anything -- we wanted to just keep the pressure up. That’s the key is using our speed and I thought we did a good job of that.”

St. John’s head coach Mike Mead was blunt in his assessment of his team’s performance and took most of the responsibility for how the game went.

He said, “We weren’t ready -- that’s my fault. I needed to get them ready for a playoff game --today was our first playoff game -- and I didn’t have them ready.”

This was the third win in a row for Xaverian, which has high hopes of being included in the Super 8 when the field is announced on Saturday. According to Beniers, wins like this give the team a lot of confidence as it looks towards the tournament.

“The last three games have been really big [to go] into whatever tournament…rolling,” he explained. “You know, we want to get a lot of goals and get everybody going.”

Recap: BC High 2, Xaverian 2

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – BC High was badly in need of a spark entering the third of period of its Catholic Conference matchup with Xaverian. The Eagles trailed by a pair of goal at the Foxboro Sports Center Saturday morning, as it appeared they’d hit the “snooze” bar a couple of times.

It was at that time that head coach John Flaherty turned to his fourth line, consisting of a group of senior Adam and Aidan Foley and freshmen Ryan Doolin and Jack Nisbet. Flaherty threw the line out there to start the third against the Hawks’ high-flying top line of Jake Farrell, Antonio Marini and Tim Sweeney.

The group infused some life and set the tone for the final 15 minutes, as the Eagles came back to salvage a point in a 2-2 with the Hawks. Both teams, which entered the season unbeaten, dropped their first points of the season, but both felt fortunate – in their own way – to have survived with a point.

“They capitalized on their chances, Flaherty said. “At one point, they had two shots on goal and they were beating us 1-0. Then another point, they had maybe five or six shots and they were beating us 2-0.”

Adam Foley scored the equalizer with Doolin adding the assist, coming off a Xaverian (6-0-1, 0-0-1) defensive zone turnover with 3:59 remaining.

At nearly all other points, the Hawks defense endured, with freshman goaltender Aidan Murphy making 20 saves.

“Poise and composure are two words that characterize him immensely,” Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said. “He’s a competitor, he’s got great angles. He battles hard and he loves to play—you can tell he loves to play. And he has a lot of maturity for a freshman.”

Despite being outshot, 9-2, in the first period, Xaverian claimed an early lead with Marini using a dazzling outlet pass from sophomore defenseman Matt McGlynn. Marini finished the breakaway bid on the backhand at 4:03 of the first.

The Hawks added to their lead in the second when Sam Scanlon deposited the carom from Kevin McInerney’s wrist shot off the dasher at 8:44.

BC High finally broke through Murphy in third, as Ryan Shea guided in a point shot just as an Eagles power play expired at 4:57.

D1 South: Xaverian 2, Duxbury 1 (SO)

March, 3, 2013
BOURNE, Mass. -- Xaverian certainly felt that justice was done when the dust settled at Gallo Ice Arena on Saturday afternoon as the 13th-seeded Hawks (9-7-5) scored a first-round MIAA state tournament win over fourth-seeded Duxbury (14-4-5).

Twice during the contest it appeared that Xaverian had scored a goal, only to have it disallowed. The Hawks thought they had scored an insurance marker at the end of the second period, only to have the officials rule that time had expired nanoseconds before the puck crossed the goal line. In overtime, Antonio Marini’s poke at his own rebound evaded Duxbury’s Chris Johnson and looked to be covered up in the net by a defenseman’s hand, and taken out.

Again the call didn’t go their way, and the game remained knotted at 1-1 and headed to a shootout after 57 minutes of hockey.

Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said that his team didn’t get down when the bounces did not go their way and that enduring that adversity paid off in the end. He implored the Hawks to remain focused, and work.

“We felt we had a couple of goals, but the referee explained to me that we didn’t, so we just kept going,” the coach said.

The shootout, like the game, was low-scoring and close. Of the nine skaters to take aim, only Eddie Pratt, of Xaverian, was able to sneak one by. Pratt, the first shooter for his team, temporarily lost the handle on his way to the net, but regained the handle and sniped one by Johnson to the stick side to put his team ahead.

Hawks goalie Matt Michals did the rest. After denying 27 of the 28 shots that Duxbury fired at him during the game, Michals stopped all five Duxbury penalty shooters. Each Dragon made bids to the stick side, low, but Michals flashed the right leg pad and kept all of them from getting past to move his team into the Division I south quarterfinals, where they will meet fifth-seeded Marshfield on Monday night at 7:30 in Bourne.

“Matty’s a junior, a two-year starter, he’s so focused,” Spinale said of his netminder. “He’s been great for us all year, he’s just a true competitor. They could have sent all 20 guys, but he was so dialed in. He wanted this win for these guys.

“His angles were good, he was attacking the puck and playing big.”

The lone mistake that Michals made in the game came in the third period. Xaverian scored early, and clung to that lead most of the way, but Duxbury’s Mike Doyle was able to collect the equalizer at 4:51 of the third as he camped on the far post and tipped home a shot from the right side by Nick Marrocco.

Duxbury, which owned the second period and parts of the third, was lifted by the Doyle score and thought that they were on their way at that point.

“It gave us a second life, we tried to keep things simple,” Duxbury head coach John Blake said. “We knew that the goalie was outstanding, so we thought our best chance was a rebound goal, or deflection, something like that to try to win it. They blocked a lot of shots, they kept us on the outside. I thought they did a nice job with their game plan.”

Xaverian’s lone goal during regulation proved that the difference between scoring and not scoring is often in the details, and it was a little thing that allowed the Hawks to grab the lead. Senior forward John Greeley came up with a failed clearing attempt by the Dragons on the left wing, collected it and spun to the net through the faceoff circle.

As Greeley’s skates split the faceoff dot, he gave a little cross-over deke, more a shrug than a move, but it was just enough to get Johnson to lean to his right a bit.

That move opened up the far post for Greeley, and he used it. The winger rifled one to the top, far corner, beating Johnson to the glove side at 6:41 of the first.

Johnson, and the entire Duxbury team, gave an effort that worthy of advancing into the quarters according to their coach. But, Blake said, at tournament time, it might come down to penalty shots, and that’s just the way that it goes.

“It is [a tough way to lose], but we know the rules and that’s what you sign up for,” Blake said. “I thought our guys left everything on the ice…I think they deserved a better fate, but the puck didn’t bounce our way.”

Going forward, things don’t get any easier for Xaverian. Next up for them is Atlantic Coast League champion Marshfield (17-6-0). The teams met way back in December, in a game where defense was hard to find. Xaverian won that night, 9-7. The Hawks hope for a similar outcome, but expect a much tighter hockey game this time around.

“I think Marshfield’s going to be a real good test. Both teams are playing well. I think it’s going to be a battle,” Spinale said.

Recap: No. 7 CM 4, No. 13 Xaverian 2

February, 22, 2013

CANTON, Mass. -- A third-place finish in one of the toughest conferences in hockey today may see Catholic Memorial with a bye in the Super 8 next week.

The No. 7 Knights helped boost their post season stock and solidified the third-seed in the Catholic Conference with a season-ending 4-2 afternoon victory over No. 13 Xaverian at Canton SportsPlex.

“We are getting much more shot production from the defensemen, which is allowing the dirty goals,” Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson said. “The last four games we needed to play well against real good teams to be considered for the Super 8. According to the criteria (of) who is playing well at the end, of strength of schedule, and other factors, we have more than met that.”

Two goals in the second period helped the Knights pull ahead for good on way to their fourth consecutive victory.

Catholic Memorial's Jack O'Hear used a 3-on-2 break to set up fellow senior Liam Coughlin at 6:03 in the second period for a 2-1 Knights' lead. Coughlin caught the back-pass above the face-off circle then finished with a low bullet to the right post for the tally at 6:03 of the second period.

Eight minutes later, O'Hear picked up his second helper of the game, slipping a shot under the keeper. Kevin Hock was there to bang the puck home for a two-goal CM advantage.

“I took it wide and Liam [Coughlin] did a nice job of [moving] into the slot,” O'Hear said of his first assist. “The second assist was a loose puck and I threw it towards the net. Getting pucks to the net and having guys drive wide.”

Xaverian (8-7-5, 1-5-2) threatened late when Tim Sweeney (1 G, 1 A) threw the puck across the crease for Jake Farrell at the 12-minute mark of the third to cut the deficit to one.

“Two to three guys on the puck,” Xaverian head coach David Spinale said. “[You to make] them have to fish one out then take it to the net.”

“I knew Jake [Farrell] is always out front, so I just spun a little and got it out front,” Sweeney added.

Knights senior John Maher grabbed a neutral-zone steal and tapped in an open-net tally to seal the game with 1:09 remaining.

“We play with a lot of energy,” Hanson said. “We had five or six kids who scored in double figures for us [this season]."

Xaverian came out strong by forcing six of their first seven shots-on-target, but allowed the initial score at 4:09 in the first period. CM senior Dennis Medeiros ripped a screened slap shot into the four-hole for a 1-0 lead.

Sweeney caught the goalie offset on the equalizer, when a shot by freshman teammate Jon Beniers rolled over the keeper's shoulder and onto Sweeney's stick at 1:56 in the first.

“Timmy [Sweeney], Jon [Beniers] and Jake [Farrell] that was our best line today," Spinale added.

CM (12-6-2,3-5) controlled possession in the second period with a 15-7 shots-on-goal advantage. Knights freshman goalie Brandon Collett made 26 saves, while his opponent, junior Matt Michals, knocked away 25 shots.

“The difference between this year and last year, Number One is the goaltending,” Hanson commented on Collett. “A goal gets scored on him [and] he does not let it bother him. He learns from his mistakes.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 4, No. 17 Xaverian 2

January, 24, 2013

BOSTON -- No. 2 BC High had plenty ahead of it entering Wednesday night’s Catholic Conference duel with No. 17 Xaverian. Aside from keeping pace in league play, the Eagles had the opportunity to wrap up an early tournament berth

The Eagles did all of the above while remaining unbeaten in the Catholic Conference with a 4-2 win over the Hawks at UMass-Boston.

“It was a qualifying game for us so we wanted to win it, plus it’s a big two points for us in the Conference,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “You have to take those opportunities when they come.”

The Eagles (9-1-2, 4-0-2) reestablished a two-point lead over St. John’s Prep atop the Conference standings, leading into Saturday’s duel at Ristuccia Arena.

But BC High had its hands full with the physical Hawks (4-5-3, 0-3-2), who jumped out to 1-0 first period lead on Brian Cahalane’s power-play goal at 12:06. Cahalane cut across the goal line to stuff in backhander to the short side of Eagles goaltender Peter Cronin.

However, BC High struck for the equalizer before the period was out. Seconds after an Eagles power play expired, Chris LaLiberte wristed home a shot with 29 seconds remaining in the period, with assists from Michael Brooks and John Stillman.

Neither team was able to generate much offense in the second period, despite sharing three power-play opportunities. The Eagles held a slim 14-9 lead in shots on goal through 30 minutes.

BC High claimed its first lead of the game at 7:11 of the third period with Brooks tallying his second point of the game, sneaking one past Matt Michals (19 saves) off a broken play.

Xaverian fired back less than a minute later with its second power play goal of the game. Eddie Pratt blasted a slap shot, working the blue line on the man-up unit, from the point off a feed from Jake Farrell.

The momentum shifted back to the Eagles moments later when Pat Kramer scored what would prove to be the game-winner at 9:34. Kramer’s wristshot from the right wing circle was set up by an expert drop pass from Eagles junior captain Tom Besinger.

“[Besinger] is able to draw attention to himself and when Pat [Kramer] saw that, he put himself in position to receive a pass,” Flaherty said.

BC High closed out the victory with Brooks tallying his second goal of the game and third point of the contest with an empty-netter.

Despite having nothing to show for it in the standings, the Hawks were effective on specialty teams, going 2-for-5 on the power play and shutting out BC High on four power play chances.

In addition to their keen defense on the man-down, Xaverian was consistently able to bottle up the Eagles coming through the neutral zone. It limited BC High’s scoring chances, particularly in the first two periods, and helped to bog down the Eagles’ fleet-footed forwards.

“We’ve been trying to clog the middle up a little bit more,” Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said. “You have [the first forward] take the pass away, then the [second and third forward] fill the middle and try to make them go cross-ice instead of up the middle. I thought we were pretty effective there and that’s a big part of their game.”

The Eagles could control their own destiny, in terms of claiming the Catholic Conference title, if they can sweep the season series from Prep on Saturday.

It’s one of the goals BC High’s leaders set at the start of the season.

“We set a goal to win the Catholic Conference,” said Brooks, a senior captain. “We haven’t won it, but it’s another step closer. This is the earliest we’ve ever qualified [for the tournament] and that’s a good feeling. I’ve been here four years, so it’s a good feeling.”

Recap: No. 3 Prep 5, No. 16 Xaverian 0

January, 17, 2013
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With only three seconds remaining in the second period, St. John’s Prep senior forward Brian Pinho pounced on a Xaverian turnover and wristed a shot under the crossbar that broke open a game that, at least on the scoreboard, was still close.

That goal gave Prep a 3-0 lead heading into the final period and clearly deflated the Hawks, which had hoped to go into the third still within a couple of goals.

“To give that one up with three seconds was a real poor mistake that we made,” Xaverian head coach Dave Spinale said. “That gave them that life and it deflated us a little. That’s something we have to correct down the road.”

He added, “We come out and make it 2-1 and it’s a whole new ballgame. We hurt ourselves tonight.”

The goal was the first of two for Pinho, who had a hand in each of the Eagles’ tallies in a 5-0 rout of their Catholic Conference rival on Wednesday night at the Foxborough Sports Center. Pinho finished the game with two goals and three assists.

Xaverian (4-4-2, 0-2-2 Catholic Conference) just could not contain Prep’s captain.

“Brian, in my opinion, you could argue is the best player in the state,” said Eagles coach Kristian Hanson. “It’s not all about goal-scoring. He creates opportunities for other guys, he draws a lot of attention to himself, he can dish the puck, he can play defense…we utilize him in every aspect of the game.”

No. 3 Prep (8-2-0, 3-1-0) dominated the action from the opening whistle. Junior forward Jack McCarthy scored a power play goal just 2:30 into the game to give the Eagles an early lead and Xaverian spent much of the opening 15 minutes defending deep in their own zone. The Hawks were back on their heels and made a number of blocks and deflections to protect goalie Matt Michaels (19 saves).

Hanson felt his team was fully prepared for the game and, despite a long bus ride to Foxboro, was the team with the most energy to start the game.

“We definitely looked like we were prepared to play tonight,” Hanson said. “We talked about the game a lot the past couple of days. We know that Xaverian is the type of team that can beat anyone. It’s always tough to get on the bus and come down to Foxborough, so we’re pleased with the final result.”

The second period was more even with both teams struggling to create clear-cut scoring opportunities. The best chance for Xaverian was created by junior forward Brian Cahalane. He slid the puck through the crease while falling towards the boards and it caromed off the skate of a Prep defender and agonizingly wide of the far post.

With 3:11 remaining in the second period, Pinho fired a defense splitting pass across two lines and hit Nic Gianelli in stride. The senior drove at Michaels and finished with a backhand that slipped through the 5-hole to make it 2-0.

Spinale was not impressed with his team’s effort in an important conference game and was blunt about what he thought of the performance.

“I thought we were unfortunately flat all night,” he remarked. “That’s probably our worst effort of the year and it came at a bad time. They were better in all three zones. They were faster, more skilled, they were just better all the way around.”

The Hawks had an opportunity on the power play early in the third period, which might have gotten them back in the game. Instead, Prep turned it into a goal of its own when Gianelli returned the favor with a quick outlet pass to Pinho, who held off the defender and dragged the puck across goal to score.

Gianelli and Pinho combined to set up linemate Andrew Brandano with little more than four minutes remaining in the game to complete the scoring. Prep goalie Billy Price (20 saves) kept out a late Hawks flurry for the shutout.

Prep will face No. 6 Austin Prep in Stoneham on Saturday night, while Xaverian travels to face No. 18 Chelmsford on Monday.


Recap: No. 8 Needham 3, Xaverian 0

January, 26, 2012

DEDHAM, Mass -- No. 8 Needham boys' hockey outshot and outskated Xaverian for most of Wednesday night's matchup, and came away with a 3-0 win, the Rockets' 10th of the season.

But the best player on the ice was Xaverian (3-7-1) goalie Dave Michaels. The senior netminder stopped 36 shots in a losing effort, but still earned high praise from his coach.

“Dave was outstanding,” Xaverian head coach Dave Spinale. “He was the difference maker, it could have been six or seven nothing, he was fabulous.”

The Rockets (10-2) finally were able to put one past Michaels at 4:45 in the second period when Timmy Parlato connected with Lucas Davis to finish off an odd man break for Needham.

“I just got a good awareness where Lucas is,” Parlato said. “He just finishes every pass I give him.”

In the third period Needham’s third line combined for the second goal when freshmen forward Danny Jacobs played a perfect pass to Chris Lambert who one timed the shot home.

“Jeff Rosata, Danny [Jacobs] and Chris [Lambert] were really going all night long, doing a great job in their D-zone and putting a lot of pressure on their defense.” said Needham head coach Bill Guisti about his third line.

Davis would add his tenth goal of the season on a late empty netter for a 3-0 final.

Both teams will return to conference play next week, with the Hawks hosting St. John’s Prep and Catholic Memorial while the Rockets take on Milton and Norwood in their next two games.

Blackwell leads No. 9 Prep over Xaverian

February, 6, 2011

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- In the days leading up to St. John’s Prep rematch with Catholic Conference foe Xaverian, head coach Kristian Hanson stressed the importance of another league win. He even went so far as to call Saturday’s game a “must win” to keep the postseason in reach.

What he got was the Prep’s most “complete game of the season.”

Colin Blackwell notched two goals and the Eagles’ (8-4-1) defense dominated the Hawks with a 4-1 victory at Ristuccia Memorial Arena.

“I stressed to them over the past three days that this was the biggest game of the year,” Hanson said. “It has such huge implications on the league, on the tournament, on everything. We put a ‘must win’ tag on it and I really think the kids responded to that, stepped up and played their best game of the year.”

From the opening faceoff it was apparent that the Prep came out with the coach’s words ringing in their collective heads. Defenseman Nick Pandelena made a big hit on a Hawks’ (7-5-1) attacker and fired a hard slap shot directly on Dave Michaels in the game’s first shift.

That was the theme of the first period.

The Eagles outshot the Hawks 13-2 in the first, and while they didn’t crack through on the scoreboard, the constant pressure set up the stage for things to come.

Blackwell struck first at 5:12 of the second period, when he screamed up the right side, burst to the middle of the ice in front of Michaels and backhanded it home. John Farrow was credited with the assist on the play.

Xaverian earned a power play, but were called for a penalty of their own just 33 seconds into the advantage.

The Hawks did find a few holes in the Prep defense for stretches in the second period, but all of that turned around when Joe Currie sent a pass from his end line to Farrow at the blue line. Farrow directed a one-time touch pass to a streaking Blackwell at center ice. Blackwell beat both Hawks’ defenders up the ice and he tucked it under the right pad of Michaels with 1:11 left to go in the second.

On both goals, Blackwell was in a one-on-one with Michaels. Instead of settling for a shot, Blackwell stayed patient enough to get the goalie to show his hand.

“The key is to just make the goalie move,” Blackwell said. “They’ve got big pads and it’s tough to go side-to-side, so if you get them moving laterally it will open up.”

Hanson went as far to say that his top forward might be the best in the state.

“There’s a lot of great players out there, but if I had to pick one guy to put on my team it would be Colin Blackwell,” Hanson said.

Christian Gutowski’s blast from the point got through traffic and past Michaels for the 3-0 lead at 9:16 of the third period.

The Prep held a 37-19 shot advantage in the game and most of the Hawks’ shots came from the perimeter. Most of that was was because the Hawks couldn’t penetrate the fortress that is the Eagles’ back-line with bigger, beefier defensemen like Pandelena and Gutowski.

The other half of the equation is the Hawks recent struggles putting the puck in the net. Before Jason Salvaggio was credited with tipping home an Eddie Martin slapper from the point with 2:51 left in the game the Hawks had gone eight-plus periods without lighting the lamp.

“We turn the puck over a lot on the blue line offensively,” said Xaverian head coach Dave Spinale, whose team has dropped five in a row. “We have to have more poise at the blue line and have better zone entry, so that when come in to the zone we are looking to set up.

“Once we get the numbers I think we have to do a better job of getting to the net. I feel like we have guys standing on the perimeter too much. We have to get in to the teeth of the defense.”

Sam Kurker’s empty-netter ended the scoring.

Stathopoulos carries No. 5 CM over Hawks

January, 26, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Make no mistake about it, No. 5 Catholic Memorial’s 5-2 win over Catholic Conference rival Xaverian Tuesday night wasn’t a one-man show. Even though, at times, it may have appeared as such.

Chris Stathopoulos’ four-goal outburst helped the Knights out of an early 2-0 hole. Three of his goals were of the unassisted variety. But it wasn’t just Stathopoulos who led CM to victory. A persistent forecheck, some clutch penalty kills and the consistent play of Stathopoulos and linemates Tom Barrett and Kevin McCarthy were the driving force behind a crucial midseason victory.

“We just came out and played hard,” Stathopoulos said. “It’s not an individual effort, it’s a team effort. So I went out there with the boys and we got shots on net and we put it in the net.”

The fourth-ranked Hawks responded to head coach David Spinale’s call to carry play early in game with two goals within the first two minutes of play.

Xaverian (7-2-1, 2-1-0) scored on two of its first three shots on goal. Greg McWade was on the finishing end of some pretty transition, taking Billy Hildebrand’s feed and beating Knights netminder Shane Starrett (17 saves) stick side. Ryan Hall followed less than a minute later, banging home a rebound from the top of the crease off of Jason Salvaggio’s shot.

CM (7-5-0, 2-2-0) also scored on its first shot of the game, answering with Stathopoulos’ first marker of the evening 2:43 in.

After a fast start, neither team could find the net – despite some golden opportunities for the Knights to tie the game – until the nine-minute mark of the second period, when Barrett scored with assists from McCarthy and Stathopoulos.

“That line has really played terrific and they’ve carried for two games,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said of his second line.

As in the teams’ first meeting of the season, a 3-2 Xaverian win, Hawks goaltender Dave Michaels (32 saves) was again strong in net. But that didn’t stop Stathopoulos from taking over the third period, when he netted even-strength, short-handed and empty-net goals.

However, Hanson was most pleased with his team’s effort with a man-down in the third. He’s self-admittedly changed philosophy, allowing his team to play more aggressive on the penalty kill to take advantage of his team’s athleticism. The changes paid off with three successful kills within a five-minute span midway through the third.

“I thought we beat ourselves,” Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said. “On that fourth goal, we were on the power play. We turned it over and then we came back in our end and gave up a softy. We didn’t have poise, we didn’t have composure.”

Hanson labeled the game a “must-win” for the Knights, noting his team can match No. 2 Malden Catholic in the win column in the Catholic Conference standings with a victory over the Lancers on Saturday (2 p.m. at Walter Brown).

And while one player might have shouldered the load during last night’s test, the most encouraging sign was effort starting with his second line and permeating the roster — something Hanson knows is paramount if the Knights are to make a deep postseason run.

“I told the kids, just because one guy scored four goals, that doesn’t mean that he won the game,” Hanson said. “The whole team played terrific.”

No. 1 Xaverian rallies past No. 9 Prep

January, 19, 2011

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- According to Ryan Hall, anybody could’ve scored any of his four goals in No. 1 Xaverian’s 6-4 win over Catholic Conference rival St. John’s Prep on Wednesday.

The Hawks’ senior captain took a selfless approach to explaining the reason for his success, while scoring the final two goals in a comeback victory at Foxboro Sports Center.

“It was a lot of [Jason Salvaggio], [Tommy Jenkins] and the defensemen getting the puck down low,” Hall said. “That allowed me to bang home some dirty goals, definitely all the credit to my linemates.”

Xaverian’s top line of Hall, Jenkins and Salvaggio accounted for all but one of the Hawks points (sophomore forward Bobby Hall also tallied an assist). Hall added two assists in a six-point performance, while Jenkins and Salvaggio had four-point efforts with a goal and three assists each.

“They’ve been red hot,” Hawks head coach Dave Spinale said of his top line. “Ryan Hall’s been fabulous and the other two guys are skilled playmakers.

“Ryan’s kind of the power forward, he grinds it out. His game is hit, shoot and pass. And, if he keeps shooting, he’s going to get his share.”

Xaverian (7-0-1, 2-0-0) climbed back from two, two-goal deficits in the second period to tie the score, 4-4, with one minute remaining in the second. Hall completed the comeback with two third-period goals to down the ninth-ranked Eagles (5-3-1, 1-2-0).

Prep carried play in the first period, out-shooting the Hawks, 16-4. However, the Eagles were only able to sneak one past Xaverian goaltender Dave Michaels (24 saves). Matt McDonald had Prep out to a 1-0 lead on a give-and-go set up by Tyler Bird.

The Eagles built a two-goal lead on with Jon Farrow netting a goal on a deflection of defenseman Matt West’s shot from the point.

Xaverian returned fire two minutes later with the first of its three power play goals.

The play started with a terrific save by Michaels, who robbed Derek Palm on a two-on-none chance with a toe save. The Hawks quickly worked the rebound up ice ahead of the Eagles’ backcheck Hall buried his first goal of the night on a glove-side wrister.

“He’s made timely saves all year,” Spinale said of Michaels beauty of a stop, “certainly, that’s been big for us. He does that a lot. That was a two-goal swing for us there.”

The teams then went back and forth for the remainder of the second.

Prep responded on Colin Blackwell’s rebound put back 8:46 into the second. The Hawks again cut the deficit to one on Hall’s second tally on a pretty pass from Salvaggio. Devin Murray put the Eagles ahead 4-2, pulling the puck out of a scrum in front of Michaels and out-working a group of Xaverian defenders.

Salvaggio scored the Hawks’ third goal while falling backwards into the boards, after knocking home Hall’s centering pass in front of Prep goalie David Letarte (24 saves).

Jenkins knotted the game, 4-4, with 54 seconds remaining in the second. He batted home the puck from midair on a play that appeared to be played with a high stick.

Hall completed the comeback in the third period — when the Hawks out shot Prep, 13-3 — with a pair of power play goals.


Spinale had high praise for the Eagles, who he called the “most skilled team” the Hawks have seen all year.

“Off the rush, they’re deadly,” he added.

A lot of those accolades can be attributed to Harvard commit Colin Blackwell. The senior sniper scored Prep’s third goal of the night, banging home a rebound on Joe Currie’s shot.

However, Blackwell was knocked out the game for a portion of the first period after a grizzly looking hit along the attack zone boards. The Eagles captain lay motionless on the ice for couple of tense moments and then skated off under his own power. He missed one shift and returned later just before the first intermission.

No. 1 Xaverian flies under the radar

January, 19, 2011
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Ryan Hall pointed at Tommy Jenkins, cracked a half smile and said, “This guy thinks he’s pretty good at pool.”

The Xaverian hockey senior captains have regularly incorporated pool into their team outings away from the rink. And, as a team, the Hawks spend a lot of time together. Head coach Dave Spinale thinks that time spent together has been no small part of the reason why his team has made appearances in each of the last three Super Eight tournaments.

Even if his players can’t agree on whom the best pool player is.

“I actually beat him,” Hall added.

He then paused, “Well, it was on a technicality.”

While the Hawks sort out who’s king of the billiards, they’ve unassumingly gone about building another Super Eight run.

Off to a 6-0-1 start, Xaverian ascended to the No. 1 spot in this week’s ESPN Boston Top 25 after Catholic Conference rival Malden Catholic suffered their first loss (by score) of the season.

Most of the Massachusetts hockey world’s attention has been focused on Xaverian’s Catholic Conference counterpart early in the season. Although their recent track record is impressive, few were predicting the Hawks would relive their success of past seasons, especially after the graduation of three-year starting goaltender Kyle MacDonald.

“I kinda like being the underdog in big games,” said Jenkins, a Catholic Conference all-star last year. “It takes the pressure off of you and there’s more pressure on the other team. We just go out and play our game.”

This year’s simply been an extension of what Spinale’s preached in his time at Xaverian.

“We’re going to play this game fast, that’s what we do,” Spinale said after a Hawks practice at the Foxboro Sports Center last week. “We don’t slow down for anybody, we don’t change what we do. We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve had guys who can play fast and play physical as well.”

Akin to the MacDonald-led teams, Xaverian’s solid play has built from the goaltender out.

Junior Dave Michaels, who was MacDonald’s backup last year, has logged a bulk of the minutes between the pipes and recently turned in a dazzling 34-save performance in a win over Catholic Memorial to kick off the Hawks’ Catholic Conference schedule. The Hawks have depth in net as well with senior Austin Miller in the fray.

“Kyle [MacDonald] was definitely somebody who you could build the team around,” Hall said. “He was a great leader in the locker room. But David Michaels has been doing an amazing job stepping into his place. He’s a quiet kid, but when he talks, everybody’s listens.”

Leadership in the room has largely been left to Jenkins, Hall and Xaverian’s seniors.

After all, the Hawks are still young. Spinale has 10 sophomores, led by talented second-year forward Jason Salvaggio, and a freshman who regularly see ice time. It’s a stark departure from last year’s when only one of those sophomores saw ice time alongside a deep, veteran core.

“It comes down to chemistry though,” Spinale said. “Our older players have always done a great job of working with the younger kids. They spend a lot of time together whether it’s at school, getting a bite to eat together before practice, or just hanging out.

“It’s a tight group and that translates to how they play together.”

Together, they’ve built something special to the point that it’s increasingly getting harder for the Hawks to fly under the radar.

“I think even when we got here, Xaverian wasn’t thought of as a hockey school,” Hall said. “I think that’s starting to change.”

No. 9 Xaverian rallies past No. 10 Needham

December, 29, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- No. 9 Xaverian and No. 10 Needham have become mini rivals over the last four seasons, and their contest on Tuesday night was just the latest chapter between two of last year's Super 8 entrants.

“It’s become a fun rivalry, our guys get up for it and I know they [Needham] get up for it” said Xaverian head coach Dave Spinale.

“It’s one we always mark on our schedule to see what our status is, and it’s a good way for us to test ourselves.”

Needham (2-2-0) opened up a two-goal lead after the first period with goals from J.P. McHale, (assisted by Tom Coleman) and Timmy Parlato (Jeff Rosata).

But Xaverian (3-0-0) came out in the second period with guns blazing.

“We knew that the effort we had in the first, it wasn’t are best effort, so flat out we asked the to play with courage.” Spinale said referring to his team talk at the first intermission, “We got on them pretty good, pointed out their mistakes, and asked them to play the way they’re capable of. We asked for our seniors to step up and our captains to step up.”

Just 4:43 into the second period the Hawks cut the lead in half through a goal from senior captain Tommy Jenkins, Jason Salvaggio providing the assist. Xaverian scored again just under four minutes later when they broke out of their defensive zone on a 4 on 1 break away. It was the other co-captain Ryan Hall finishing off the nice move, Billy Hildebrand and Eddie Pratt with the assists.

After the goal things turned physical. Two and a half minutes of hard-hitting and questionable non-calls on both sides lead to a scuffle in front of Needham’s net resulting in matching minors and misconducts on both sides.

Jenkins and Jack McClellan went to the box for Xaverian with 7:30 misconducts, 1:30 minute roughing calls and McClellan also receiving 1:30 for a cross check. Needham’s Lucas Davis received the same calls as McClellan while Sam Nickles received a 7:30 misconduct and 1:30 for cross checking.

The teams remained at 5 on 5, but Needham’s second line was crippled with Nickles and Davis in the penalty box.

Bobby Hall gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead at 11:33. Needham’s Connor Murray (11 saves) got his glove to Hall’s shot, which was heading into the top corner, but all he could do was tip the puck up and it trickled over the line. Off of the ensuing faceoff Ryan Hall scored his second of the night making it 4-2 just nine seconds later.

Xaverian’s fifth and final goal came 59 seconds into the third period, Jenkins scoring his second of the night.

Junior goalie David Michaels had 25 saves in the victory.

1st period
N - JP McHale from Tom Coleman, 5:04
N - Timmy Parlato from Jeff Rosata, 12:34

2nd period
X - Tom Jenkins from Jason Salvaggio, 4:43
X - Ryan Hall from Billy Hildebrand and Eddie Pratt, 8:33
X - Bobby Hall from Eddie Martin, 11:33
X - R. Hall from Salvaggio, 11:42

3rd period
X - Jenkins from R. Hall and Salvaggio, 0:59