Boston High School: Derek DeCastro

Recap: No. 14 Burlington 1, No. 15 Winchester 1

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18
11:45
PM ET
BURLINGTON, Mass. -- When senior goaltender Mike Guleserian emerged from the Burlington locker room after the Devils’ 1-1 tie with Winchester, a familiar face awaited.

Derek DeCastro, the backbone to the Red Devils’ back-to-back Division 1 state titles the last two seasons, shared a handshake and some words of encouragement for Guleserian whose best game of the season earned the Devils a point in a Middlesex League crossover game.

“He was such a good goaltender,” said Guleserian of DeCastro. “The biggest thing I learned from him was to remain focused and not lose your poise. I learned a lot from him and I used that tonight.”

He needed that poise when the Sachems offense woke up in the third period, firing 13 shots with Guleserian turning all aside but one.

Burlington got on the board first just 4:17 into the game when senior Shawn Bowler scored his first of the season, barreling down the left wing and firing a wrist shot that broke through the catching glove of Sachems goalie James Offner.

“I told the seniors someone was going to have to step up and get a big goal tonight,” said Burlington coach Bob Conceison. “Shawn had a nice burst and fired a nice hard shot. That was big for him and us.”

Winchester came out of the gates sluggish in both the first and second periods (just 13 combined shots), but brought the pressure in the third period and cashed in with Nolan Redler scoring shorthanded while finishing off a two-on-none breakaway feed from Brendan Greene with 4:50 left in the third period.

“We played well in the third period there was no question about that,” said Winchester coach Matt Spang. “We just need to be more consistent in our approach in what we bring to the game. That is a good team down there.”

Rendered defenseless: The Red Devils did a nice job defensively keeping the Sachems top line of Redler, Greene, and David Troiano on the perimeter and limiting their chances.

However, all it takes is one break and those Sachems snipers can strike at any time.

To wit, with Burlington clinging to a 1-0 late in the third period while on the power play, an ill-advised pinch at the blue line resulted in a two-on-none breakaway with Redler and Greene skating in alone on Guleserian. Greene held the puck just long enough before sliding a pass to Redler who beat Guleserian to the blocker side.

“Those two guys going in on a two on none are pretty good,” said Spang. “I will take that most of the time.”

Rivalry renewed: Many would point to the Division 1A semi-final game in 2009 when Burlington beat Winchester, 1-0, as the launching point of this continued rivalry.

And now, despite being in opposite divisions of the Middlesex League, the Winchester-Burlington hockey rivalry continues to grow.

There was no mention by either team of Burlington’s dramatic 2-1 shootout victory in last year’s Division 1 North final at the Tsongas Arena.

With the teams not scheduled to play again in the regular season, one can only hope they meet again in the postseason and add another chapter to a growing rivalry.

Boys All-Star: South 9, North 2

March, 31, 2013
3/31/13
3:58
AM ET
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Several times during Saturday’s Fourth Annual Aleppo Shriners MSHCA High School Classic, South All-Star head coach Chris Ross commented to his assistant coaches Karl Infanger (Natick) and Derek Harrington (Medway) how amazing it was to be able to coach so many talented hockey players in one setting.

Ross was right. The level of talent he had at is disposal was eye-popping and certainly lived up to its billing inside the DCU Center.

Catholic Memorial’s Liam Coughlin, Natick’s Matt Kustra and Barnstable’s Max Wilman each netted a pair of goals in leading South to a 9-2 demolition of the North All-Stars.

“All of us coaches were remarking on the bench about the amount of great talent that was out there on the ice today,” said Ross, who serves as head coach at Medway High. “Our overall skill level was tremendous and it was a lot of fun to watch and coach these kids. I joked with our other coaches saying ‘don’t you wish you had this kind of talent during a regular high school season?’ For me personally, this event is great and it is a lot of fun to be a part of.”

South left little doubt as to who was the stronger team on this day. Four goals in a span of 5:26 of the opening period made believers out of everyone, including North. Xaverian’s Eddie Pratt got things started with a long-range goal from the high right slot coming at 5:31. Four minutes later Wilman bagged his first with a nifty right-to-left cross over in front of Burlington High goalie Derek Decastro, beating him with a back hand for a two-goal lead. South was not done by a long shot. A Coughlin laser low glove side was followed up by a Kustra marker just 14 seconds apart giving South a commanding 4-0 lead.

“To play in a game like is pretty awesome," said Coughlin, who scored 26 goals this past season for the Knights. “It was kind of weird though playing on the same side with some guys who were our main competitors and rivals during the season. We didn’t talk much but overall it was a lot of fun.”

North finally broke its offensive drought early in the second as the Chelmsford High duo of Tommy Bishop and Drew Dawson joined forces. From behind the South goal, Bishop lifted a perfect feed to Dawson, out in front, who one-timed his shot past Duxbury goaltender Chris Johnson to make it a 4-1.

But any thoughts of a comeback were short-lived. Kustra made it 5-1 late in the period to send South into the intermission on top by four goals.

“At the end of this season I sprained my ankle so this was the first time I had been on the ice since then," said Kustra. “I expected to play a few shifts but to score two goals is something I never expected to have a game like this."

As if leading by four goals wasn’t enough. South came out for the final period looking for more and got it.Wilman, voted the game’s MVP, and Medway’s Jack Kilty each found the back of the net to continue South’s lamp-lighting ceremony.

“Since we hadn’t practiced together prior to this game it took a little time for all of us to get use to one another on the ice but once we did we started to click,” Wilman said. “For me, it’s an honor to be named the MVP. I never expected to win it especially with (Liam) and a bunch of other guys who deserved it as well.”

Bishop got one back for North but Dennis Medeiros (Catholic Memorial) and Coughlin closed this one out with a late goal each.

Our MIAA boys' hockey All-State Team

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
9:11
PM ET
FIRST LINE
All-StateF - Liam Coughlin, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Finished third among all Division 1 players in scoring, while leading the Knights back to the Super 8 for the first time since 2009-10. The South Boston native put up 28-20-48 totals, tied for first among Catholic Conference scorers this season.

All-StateF - Ara Nazarian, Soph., Malden Catholic
ESPN Boston’s Mr. Hockey award winner this season, Nazarian had 26-22-48 totals for the regular season, along with nine goals and five assists during the Super 8 tournament for the three-time defending champions. The Boxford resident and center is the first underclassman to win the Mr. Hockey award.

All-StateF – Brian Pinho, Sr., St. John’s Prep
The Providence College commit led the Eagles to a No. 1 seed in this year’s Super 8 tournament. The North Andover resident compiled 12-24-36 totals this season and, in January, was ranked No. 117 among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings.

All-StateD – Casey Fitzgerald, Soph., Malden Catholic
The North Reading resident earned his second Super 8 title with the Lancers, playing on all defensive units and is one of two players making a second-straight appearance on our All-State team. The Boston College commit had 5-17-22 totals on the season and recently was accepted in the United States National Team Development Program’s U-17 team.

All-StateD – Matt Foley, Sr., Springfield Cathedral
The two-way blue-liner finished third on the Panthers in scoring with 10-16-26 totals this year while leading them to another Super 8 apperance. A Longmeadow resident, the captain is deciding among prep schools for next year, as well as offers to play in college.

All-StateG – Peter Cronin, Sr., BC High
The only repeating First-Team All-Stater this year, Cronin finished in the top five among Division 1 netminders in both goals against average (1.40) and save percentage (94.6) while starting all 23 of the Eagles’ games. He is currently considering colleges among playing opportunities at the prep school and junior levels.

SECOND LINE
All-StateF – Tom Besinger, Jr., BC High
The Eagles’ top center and captain was force to reckon with in the circle, in addition to leading the Eagles with 35 points (10 goals and a team-best 25 assists).
All-StateF – Cam Owens, Sr., Wilmington
Finished his high school career with back-to-back Division 2 state championships. Owens racked up 30 points, playing alongside All-State honorable mention Brendan McDonough. Owens is currently weighing prep and junior options for next year.
All-StateF – Nolan Vesey, Sr., Austin Prep
The senior captain led the Cougars back to the Super 8 for the first time since the 2009-10 season and all the way to a finals appearance at the Garden. Vesey led AP in goals (18) and points (31) while kicking in 13 assists.
All-StateD – Nick Gorski, Sr., Central Catholic
A player who head coach Mike Jankowski repeatedly called his “most improved player” since freshman year, the Raiders captain played on all units, leading Central to another Super 8 appearance.
All-StateD – Jack Williams, Sr. Springfield Cathedral
A major component to perhaps the state’s best blue-line core, Williams did a little bit of everything for the Panthers, including playing forward on power-play units. The Suffield, Conn. resident tallied four goals and 19 assists for 23 points. He is currently weighing his playing options for next season.

All-StateG – Colin Soucy, Jr., Central Catholic
The break-out star of this year’s Super 8 tournament, Soucy nearly delivered the Raiders to a quarterfinal-round upset of No. 1 seed St. John’s Prep in his first year as Central’s starting netminder.

Best of the Rest – Honorable Mention
Forwards
Tyler Bird, Jr., St. John’s Prep
Tommy Bishop, Sr., Chelmsford
Matt Brazel, Jr., Hingham
Brian Brooks, Jr., Canton
Mike Carbone, Sr., Marshfield
Bobo Carpenter, Soph., Austin Prep
A.J. Couto, Sr., Danvers
Ben Cox, Sr., Medfield
Peter Crinella, Soph., Springfield Cathedral
Cam Curley, Sr., Franklin
Sam D’Antuono, Jr., Hingham
Jordan Dow, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
Josh Edwards, Sr., Blue Hills
Brendan Greene, Jr., Winchester
C.J. Grinnell, Sr., Burlington
Marc Happy, Jr., Wachusett
Lloyd Hayes, Jr., Central Catholic
Kevin Hock, Frosh., Catholic Memorial
Mike Iovanna, Sr., Malden Catholic
Andrew Irving, Sr., Beverly
Connor Irving, Jr., Beverly
Ryan Jones, Sr., Coyle-Cassidy
Jack Kilty, Sr., Medway
Pat Kramer, Soph., BC High
Tom Koopman, Jr., Marblehead
Matt Kustra, Sr., Natick
Brendan McDounough, Jr., Wilmington
Anthony Lespasio, Sr., Bedford
Jack O’Hear, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Derek Petti, Sr., Tewksbury
Eddie Pratt, Sr., Xaverian
Nolan Redler, Jr., Winchester
Tyler Sifferlen, Jr., Malden Catholic
Mike Sorenti, Jr., Archbishop Williams
Sean Spohr, Sr., Westfield
Max Turcotte, Sr., Holliston
Max Willman, Sr., Barnstable

Defense
Matt Burchill, Sr., Marshfield
Derek Butler, Jr., Natick
John Carlson, Jr., Hingham
Adam Crowley, Jr., Burlington
Nick Edwards, Jr., Blue Hills
Sean Heelan, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Kurt Leavitt, Sr., Canton
Bryan Nelson, Soph., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Nick Rolli, Jr., Malden Catholic
Ryan Shea, Frosh, BC High
Sam Topham, Sr., BC High

Goaltenders
Tim Birarelli, Soph., Beverly
Alex Buckley, Sr., Newburyport
Brandon Collett, Frosh., Catholic Memorial
Jordan Davis, Sr., Norwood
Derek DeCastro, Sr., Burlington
Drew Foley, Jr., Wilmington
Nolan Greene, Jr., North Quincy
Elijah Harris, Soph., Austin Prep
John Liquori, Jr., Springfield Cathedral
Al Lynch, Jr., Framingham
Evan Morelli, Sr., Reading
James Offner, Soph., Winchester
Nick Russo, Sr., Waltham
Jimmy Tierney, Soph., Oliver Ames

D1 boys final: Burlington 4, Marshfield 2

March, 18, 2013
3/18/13
2:08
AM ET


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.”

MIAA championship hockey picks

March, 16, 2013
3/16/13
9:55
PM ET
GIRLS’ DIVISION 2
No. 1 Duxbury (21-1-2) vs. No. 2 Falmouth (19-1-2), 11 a.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Duxbury – F Hannah Murphy, F Marissa Fichter, F Jane Dudley, F Meredith Wright, F Julia Nolan, D Ally Hammel, D Payton Donato, G Rachel Myette; Falmouth – F Alexa Scribner, F Rachel Moore, F Madison Haberl, F Kelly Ferreira, D Hannah Ghelfi, D Alexx Good, G Madison Scavotto.

Breakdown: It is perhaps the most predictable of all of Sunday’s matchups and the most anticipated. The Dragons and Clippers renew a burgeoning rivalry, intensified by last year’s duel at the Garden and invigorated by the fact that either team’s lone loss of the season was handed to them by the other. Duxbury has been playing lockdown defense throughout the playoffs and haven’t allowed a goal in more than six games, including the regular season. The Clippers’ young corps will look to get over the hump, building on a bittersweet experience on the Bruins’ home ice sheet one year ago.

X-factor: Scavotto. As dominant as Duxbury’s defense has been in front of and including Myette, the Clippers are capable of the same. And their sophomore netminder is a big reason why. She could steal one.

Pick: Duxbury, 1-0.

GIRLS’ DIVISION 1
No. 4 St. Mary’s of Lynn (18-3-4) vs. No. 7 Arlington Catholic (17-4-2), 9 a.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: St. Mary’s – F Alison Butler, F Kaleigh Finigan, F Gabby Crugnale, F Madison Molea, D Tatiana Doucette, D Amanda Donahoe, G Lauren Skinnion; AC – F Adrieanna Rossini, F Jess Piracini, F Duggan Delano, F Hayle Rudin, D Melissa Richard, G Megan Messuri.

Breakdown: The Catholic Central rivals meet for the second straight year on championship Sunday and, like their Div. 2 counterparts, also split their season series at a game apiece. Behind the benches, both the Spatans’ Frank Pagliuca and the Cougars’ Maggie Taverna have done work worthy of Coach of the Year honors. St. Mary’s has the feel of a team of destiny, neither a short bench nor nagging injuries all season long have kept the Spartans from returning to the biggest stage, all while dispatching No. 1 Woburn in the process.

X-factor: Rossini. You’d be hard pressed to find a young player in recent memory who has scored more clutch playoff goals than the AC sophomore.

Pick: St. Mary’s, 3-2.

BOYS’ DIVISION 3
Swampscott (19-5-0) vs. Westfield (18-3-2), 3:30 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Swampscott – F Corey Carmody, F Noah Maercklein, F Nunzio Morretti, D Chris Carman, D Trevor Massey; Westfield – F Sean Spohr, F Mike Santinello, F Anthony Cagliostro, F Adam Collier, F Neil Parrow, D Nate Barnes.

Breakdown: The Big Blue took down defending D3 finalist and South sectional champion Medway (thanks to an OT goal from Maercklein) to advance to the program’s first title game appearance. Westfield returns to the Garden ice after a one-year hiatus after taking a scorched-earth policy to Western Mass. competition, while averaging more than 5.5 goals per game.

X-factor: Swampscott freshman goaltender Tristan Bradley. The first-year backstop has been a key element to the Big Blue’s success, maintaining a 91.5 save percentage through the season.

Pick: Swampscott, 5-4.

BOYS’ DIVISION 2
Wilmington (20-3-2) vs. Franklin (17-7-2), 1:30 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Wilmington – F Cam Owens, F Brendan McDonough, F Jake Rogers, F Dylan DiNatale, D Brian Pickett, D Cam Collins, G Drew Foley; Franklin – F Cam Curley, F Dennis Pisani, F Aidan Isberg, F Troy Donahue, D Kyle Powers, D Kyle Filbert, G Devon Maloof.

Breakdown: The third of six rematches on the day, after the Wildcats claimed a 3-2 victory over Franklin a year ago on championship Sunday, propelled by a hat trick from Owens. The Panthers will be looking to avoid their third straight fruitless trip to the Garden, having dropped title tilts with Wilmington and Tewksbury. The Wildcats, who had Super 8 aspirations until late in the season, are eying their second straight title.

X-factor: McDonough. He’s been the break-out performer of the tournament and provides a great complement to Owens on Wilmington’s top line.

Pick: Wilmington, 3-2.

BOYS’ DIVISION 1
Burlington (13-6-5) vs. Marshfield (20-6-0), 8:15 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Burlington – F C.J. Grinnell, F Joe Berardi, F Joey Scali, D Adam Crowley, D Sean Costa, G Derek DeCastro; Marshfield – F Mike Carbone, F Pat Burchill, F Joe Admirand, F Pat Shea, D Matt Burchill, D Trevor Salmon.

Breakdown: While this isn’t another rematch, these teams are no strangers to this stage, with the Red Devils and Rams representing as the last two Div. 1 state champions. Both teams were near .500 squads through the first month of the season, and closed their regular-season slates with momentum they’ve carried over into the playoffs. Both these teams can skate with the best of them, but they also pay attention to the little things in the defensive zone as well.

X-factor: Crowley. I’d expect a defensive struggle in this one and so I’m going with the Red Devils’ blue-liner who always makes his presence felt.

Pick: Burlington, 3-1.

BOYS’ DIVISION 1A – SUPER 8
No. 4 Austin Prep (16-1-6) vs. No. 7 Malden Catholic (15-6-3), 6 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: AP – F Nolan Vesey, F Bobby Carpenter, F Frankie Candelino, F George Sennott, F Eric MacAdams, D Andrew Cross, D J.J. Layton, G Elijah Harris; MC – F Ara Nazarian, F Mike Iovanna, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Pat Wrenn, F Austin Goldstein, D Casey Fitzgerald, D Nick Rolli, G Connor Maloney.

Breakdown: AP, while short on years, is not short on talent. I think we all knew coming into this season that they were capable of reaching this stage, but it might have been a question of when. The Cougars earned their way to Sunday after dispatching town rival Reading and then No. 1 seed St. John’s Prep in Wednesday’s semifinal. It seems like years ago since there was a time when the Lancers were in jeopardy of missing the tournament all together, but they’ve played the best hockey in the state during the last month.

X-factor: Nazarian. It’s his tournament, the rest of us are just living in it.

Pick: Malden Catholic, 4-2.

D1 North: Burlington 2, Winchester 1 (SO)

March, 12, 2013
3/12/13
4:41
AM ET


LOWELL, Mass. -- It took a lot of extra effort for the Burlington High School hockey team to defeat Winchester, 2-1, in Monday night's Division I North championship game.

The teams were tied at the end of regulation, and remained tied after a 12-minute overtime. Burlington didn't prevail until it won the shootout, 3-1.

The Burlington fans began to celebrate after Joey Scali, Burlington's fourth shooter, beat sophomore goaltender James Offner (36 saves) to give the Red Devils a two-goal edge in the shootout. Burlington goalie Derek DeCastro made 27 saves before stopping three of the four shots he faced in the shootout.

Burlington coach Bob Conceison said his team wasn't lacking confidence entering the shootout.

“I think that confidence comes from having Derek back there,” Conceison said. “That definitely gave us a lot of confidence in the shootout.

“Derek is just a rock back there. In the shootout I knew he was going to stop most of them because he's so good at that. He's so poised.”

DeCastro, a senior, has surrendered one goal in the last eight periods. Nolan Redler was the only player who beat DeCastro in the shootout.

Joe Berardi and Adam Crowley also scored shootout goals for fifth-seeded Burlington, which improved its record to 13-6-5. Second-seeded Winchester finished with a 16-6-3 record.

“It was a very good high school hockey game,” Winchester coach Matt Spang said. “I don't think either team has anything left.”

Spang spent most of his postgame meeting with the media praising Offner's performance.

“He was the best player on the ice,” Spang said. “I can't say enough about what that kid did tonight. That was just absolutely phenomenal goaltending. He's going to be a special, special hockey player.

“I have 22 heartbroken kids and they left it all on the ice.”

Burlington will play either Marshfield (19-6-0) or Hingham (16-7-2) for the Division I state championship March 17 at TD Garden. Fifth-seeded Marshfield and second-seeded Hingham will meet Tuesday night to determine the Division I South champion.

It was the second meeting between the teams this season. Burlington beat Winchester, 3-0, during the regular season.

Berardi and Redler scored during regulation, when Burlington had a 27-21 edge in shots on goal. Both goals came in the third period.

It was the second Division I North title in as many years for Burlington, which beat Milton to win last year's Division I championship.

It was scoreless until Berardi scored on a backhanded shot from low in the left faceoff circle at 2:43 of the third period. Redler made it a 1-1 contest when he beat DeCastro with a wrist shot from high in the slot at 6:38.

“It's nice to get back to the Garden,” Conceison said. “It's so hard to get there, but to get there again … I can't even describe what it's like. And a lot of people didn't think these kids could do it, but they have a lot of heart and they showed a lot of heart tonight.”

D1 North: Burlington 3, Melrose 0

March, 8, 2013
3/08/13
1:29
AM ET


NORTH BILLERICA, Mass. – It wasn’t easy; it was Middlesex League hockey.

After an early Melrose flurry, Burlington buckled down and defeated the Red Raiders, 3-0, Thursday night in a physical Division 1 North semifinal at Chelmsford Forum.

“Without question [Melrose] has always played us tough,” Burlington coach Bob Conceison said. “We had a little trouble getting going, but once we were able to break the trap we did pretty well getting the puck in their zone. It was a character win.”

Melrose (12-8-4) set the tempo early by peppering Derek DeCastro, but the senior turned aside everything that came his way and allowed the Red Devil attack to gain momentum. The Red Devils broke through late in the first period when J.P Scola put them on the board.

Scola, and his line mate C.J. Grinnell, seemed to be everywhere for Burlington (12-6-5) once the Red Devils started gaining momentum.

“It was really good playing out there,” Scola said. “I knew somebody had to step it so I just stepped it up and played my game.”

The second period mirrored the first in both pace and puck possession. Scola fed Grinnell with a phenomenal pass from behind the goal line that allowed Grinnell to easily slide the puck into the open goal.

Sean Murphy added an empty-net goal in the final minute to seal the deal.

“He got hurt last year here in the semis, and I think he was really determined tonight,” Conceison said of Grinnell. “I think that really motivated him. He had an unbelievable game. He was the best fore-checker, back-checker. He was everywhere.”

Melrose was able to press the action in short bursts, but DeCastro constantly found ways to keep the puck out of the net. The senior made 10 of his 21 saves in the third period.

“He’s a rock back there,’ Conceison said of Decastro. “I told him tonight was his game, and it certainly was his game. Good focus tonight, great concentration; he did a great job for us.”

The defending Division 1 state champion Red Devils will face Winchester in the sectional title game Monday at the Tsongas Center.

RED RAIDERS PRIMED FOR FUTURE
With only four players graduating, the future looks bright for Melrose. After finishing the season on a 6-2-2 run, the Red Raiders made the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

Melrose coach Vin Mirasolo said that his team has nothing to be ashamed of.

“These kids can hold their heads high because what they gave to Melrose high hockey is nothing short of historical,” Mirasolo said. “It’s fantastic. I thought we gave every bit of energy that we had. I think this will be a learning experience for the boys in the locker room and the program going forward.”

PENALTY KILLIN’ IT
From the beginning there was contact aplenty, and it was musical chairs in the penalty box.

Burlington’s penalty kill stepped in a big way to keep the clean sheet, going 5-for-5 with the man-down. The kill of Adam Crowley’s penalty late in the third period took the wind out of Melrose’s sails.

“Our PK’s been good all year but particularly in the tournament and we needed it tonight,” Conceison said. “They score a lot of goals on the PP and it was a big part of a game that we were able to kill those penalties.”

Recap: No. 5 Reading 3, No. 24 Burlington 2

February, 5, 2013
2/05/13
2:43
AM ET


READING, Mass. -- No. 5 Reading nearly skated Middlesex League rival Burlington out of the barn after one period of hockey Monday night. The Rockets opened up a shooting gallery in the Red Devils’ zone and, had it not been for the efforts of Burlington goaltender Derek DeCastro, things easily could have gotten out of hand fast.

Even though Reading went on to outshoot the Red Devils by a combined 35-17 margin, the action was a lot closer.

In the words of Rockets head coach Mark Doherty, “It was a Reading, Burlington hockey game.”

Reading prevailed, escaping with a 3-2 win over the No. 24 Red Devils, thanks to a two-goal game from junior forward Jake Barbera. But it wasn’t as easy as it looked and, as the Burlington power play opportunities racked up, it came down to a diligent group of penalty killers who made the difference for the Rockets (13-1-4, 9-0-3).

Although Reading seemed to be waltzing away with two points, holding a 3-1 lead late in the second period, the Red Devils (6-4-5, 5-3-5) got back into it with their potent power play.

Senior captain C.J. Grinnell made a tape-to-tape across the width of the ice surface to set up Joe Berardi’s half-slap, one-timer for a goal on the man-advantage with 4:22 remaining in the third.

Burlington had two sterling opportunities to notch the equalizer in the third, with two additional power plays, but the Rockets were game. Reading limited the Red Devils’ man-up unit to just one shot on goal in their final two power play chances, playing a stifling brand of defense in front of goaltender Evan Morelli.

“We have some good penalty killers,” Doherty said. “You talk about [Mark] Dente, [Rob] Devaney, [Mike] Thomson, they all know what they have to do. They know that they just have to rise to the situation.”

The Rockets claimed a 2-1 lead at the first break, after peppering DeCastro (32 saves) with a barrage of 15 shots on goal.

Reading drew first blood when Dente collected a nifty saucer pass from Alex Guarnotta and slipped behind the Burlington defense for a partial breakaway. Dente finished on the backhand for a 1-0 lead at 6:06.

Red Devils defenseman evened the score at 11:09 of the first, stepping up from the blue line, snatching a clearing attempt and firing off a wrister on an unassisted goal.

The Rockets went to the room with a one-goal lead after Barbera tallied his first of the game, putting back a rebound off a shot from Devaney. Barbera followed with his second of the game just 14 seconds into the second period.

Again, the rangy winger’s net-front presence paid dividends.

“We know that we have guys who can get it to the net,” Barbera said. “We have skill guys who can have a presence on the wall, they can definitely move the puck well. I know when they’re coming down the boards, we’re just getting it to the net … Robby [Devaney] and Mike [Thomson] were able to get it to the net.”

Barbera deposited the rebound from a Thomson slapper to provide the Rockets with a two-goal cushion.

However, Burlington again cut the deficit with Berardi’s power-play blast.

“They’re a bigger, a stronger, an older team, I think you could see that all night,” Burlington head coach Bob Conceison said. “But I liked the way our kids battled. I was real happy with our third period and we had some power plays in the third period that they killed and they made some good plays.”

 

Recap: No. 14 Wilmington 3, Burlington 1

January, 13, 2013
1/13/13
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Wilmington boys' hockey coach Steve Scanlon has seen his team on the watch list for the Super 8 the last few years.

The coach has gained an appreciation of what it takes and has scheduled accordingly. If the Wildcats are to keep their tournament hopes alive its starts not just against out of conference squads, but with their battle for top position in the Middlesex Freedom division.

Host Wilmington proved an early season point as it bested Burlington, 3-1, in a clash of reigning Eastern Mass champs at Ristuccia Arena yesterday afternoon.

“We knew we had a good crew coming back so we wanted to challenge ourselves,” Scanlon said. “You have to play those teams to get in. We know (Burlington) is well coach, they work hard and they have some skilled players.”

Junior Austin O'Neal scored the game-winner for the Wildcats (8-1, 5-0) on a behind-the-net pass with 1:02 left in the second period. Looking to hit teammate freshman William Falter along the boards, O'Neal ricocheted the puck off a defender's skate and past the keeper for the 2-1 advantage.

“I was coming around the net and I went to throw it out to Billy and it went off the defensemen's skate (and) short side on the goalie,” O'Neal said. “The goalie had no idea. You work hard and throw it to the front of the net anything can happen.”

FAST STARTERS
Wilmington's starting line of left wing Cam Owens, right wing Jacob Rogers (both seniors), and junior center Brendan McDonough were a constant threat on the counter attack.

Owens and Rogers each assisted each other on a goal with both scores coming on a breakaway.

Rogers caught a 3-on-1 with McDonough and Owens at 4:06 remaining in the first period for the opening tally. The right winger worked the puck through their triangle formation toward McDonough and onto Owens, who slipped it in along the left post.

“Quick hand skills and all three are good skaters,” Scanlon said. “When they grab a puck they just accelerate out of their zone (and) we do a lot of full ice stuff to work on that. Good things happen when you put the puck on net.”

A near one-timer from Red Devils winger J.P. Scola to Liam Cronin (both seniors) opened a two-on-one open net opportunity for Owens and Rogers in the final seconds. Owens slipped the rubber in front of a Burlington defender and too Rogers who finished the 3-1 score with 41 seconds left.

GET HUNGRY RED DEVILS
Burlington scored its only tally on a deflected shot at the side face off circle from senior Sean Costa that went off teammate Sean Murphy to equalize at 1-1 with 2:46 left in the first period.

“We have got to do a better job getting into the 'hungry areas',” Burlington head coach Bob Conceison said, "getting those type of shots. We work on it all the time.”

The Red Devils gained momentum earlier in the second period as they won the shots on target battle 10 to one. A slap shot by senior Shane Morgan slipped past the keeper and into crease for an open score by Scola at 4:53 into the period, but officials whistled the puck as frozen.

“We got our forecheck going,” Conceison said. “We are a good skating team, but we have to find a way to get goals. We are a very young [and] inexperienced team so hopefully we are going to get better.”

TOUGH BETWEEN THE POSTS
Wildcats' keeper Drew Foley has averaged one goal allowed per game this season. The junior goalie kept his pattern alive by knocking 29 shots away and allowing only one to slip in. Red Devils' senior goaltender Derek DeCastro also made 28 saves.

Wilmington will face defending Super 8 champ No. 5 Malden Catholic (3-2-3) on Monday night.

Recap: No. 16 Burlington 2, No. 14 Woburn 2

December, 20, 2012
12/20/12
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WOBURN, Mass. –- Bitter Middlesex League rivals No. 14 Woburn and No. 16 Burlington engaged in their first of two regular season meetings Wednesday night at the O’Brien rink and all was even.

From the play on the ice, to the vocal displays of admiration from the respective schools’ student fan section, the Tanners and Red Devils played out a scene that frequently could be repeated across the league this year. After skating to a 2-2 tie, there wasn’t much separating the teams in any regard – even the shots-on-goal battle ended in an 18-18 draw.

And while both sides came away disappointed, in other ways, the went home satisfied yet.

“The Middlesex League is probably the best public school league,” Burlington senior captain C.J. Grinnell said. “Anything can happen at any point.”

While the Tanners (2-0-1) dropped their first point of the season, they were fortunate to come away with one at all.

Trailing 2-1 with less than three minutes to play, Woburn defensemen Mark Desantis’ point shot found its way through the wall of traffic in front of Burlington netminder Derek DeCastro (16 saves).

On the bulk, both teams split the action, but Burlington (1-1-1) took the ice in the first period with a decided jump in their stride. And even though the Red Devils carried the action, they found themselves in an early hole as Tanners senior center Jared Baker forced a neutral zone turnover and sped in alone on a partial breakaway. Baker’s back-handed finish gave Woburn a 1-0 lead at 6:29.

Yet, Burlington kept coming and their aggressive forecheck was rewarded on its first goal scored by Grinnell at 8:38. Grinnell sped up the left wing boards and into the Woburn zone. After gaining position between the defense and Tanners netminder Jeremy Flibotte (16 saves), Grinnell snuck a beautiful back-handed snipe under the roof of the cross bar.

It was a welcome change of fortune.

“I’ve been snake-bitten all year,” Grinnell said of his first goal on the season. “I’ve hit maybe six, seven crossbars in the first couple of games. I used my speed, just went to the outside and I saw the goalie go down early, so I went upstairs.”

Less than a minute later, the Red Devils claimed a 2-1 lead – a lead they would go on to hold for more than two periods – with junior defensemen Adam Crowley’s partial slapper from inside the left side circle. Fellow blue-liner Sean Costa picked up an assist on the play.

Burlington maintained its slim margin until the 12:02 mark of the third when Woburn tallied the equalizer on Desantis’ blasts.

GLASS HALF FULL
Both head coaches harped on the fact that they return young squads and that Wednesday’s result was more a stepping stone than a step back.

“I’m proud of them,” Woburn bench boss Jim Duran said. “We did the little things, playing good team defense, we were solid in our own end and making the most of our chances.”

Likewise, Bob Conceison, whose Red Devils are coming off a Division 1 state championship last season but lost several key players to graduation, saw plusses to the minuses.

“I thought the first period we came out and played really, really well. I think they adjusted in the second period and they came out flying. I wasn’t happy with the way we came out in the second. We didn’t match them and we came out a little bit lethargic.”

ON THE RISE
Those young rosters mean that the more senior Tanner and Red Devil skaters are going to be called upon to do more this season.

Wednesday’s performance provided a glimpse to the maturation of a couple of those such players.

Baker’s goal was the result of a great individual effort in the neutral zone, putting the Tanners on the board. Duran is hoping Baker will fulfill a great role as the pivot on the Tanners’ top line, centering Joe Connors and Colin Flynn.

“He knows he has to do that, he and Joey [Connors] and the Baldino twins [Christian and Nick], even though they’re just sophomores. Jared and Joey have been in big games and that helps us and what really helps us is that they’re such hard workers. They never take a shift off.”

Meanwhile, a goal and a steady night in his own zone from Crowley drew plenty of praise.

“Adam’s one of the most important players on our team,” Conceison said of the junior defenseman. “None of our other defensemen have seen playing time, they’re all new defensemen. Adam’s stabilized them, he leads that group and he’s our catalyst back there. I think he played a tremendous game tonight. When he plays this way, he came be one of the best defensemen around.”
Bay State hockeyCourtesy Bob Conceison Jr.Team Northeast claimed the gold medal of the scholastic boys' hockey competition at the Bay State Games last weekend in Marlborough, Mass.
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- When Bob Conceison Jr. stepped into his team’s locker room on Thursday morning at the New England Sports Complex, he saw a group of bleary-eyed hockey players. After 20 minutes of play, the Burlington High assistant coach saw his Bay State Games Northeast team come to life and, perhaps, come together.

His team went on to win the gold medal in the scholastic boys’ hockey competition, outlasting a Metro team in a shootout after skating to a 4-4 tie in regulation. The accomplishment was familiar territory for eight of Conceison’s players who earned MIAA state championship medals with their respective Burlington and Wilmington High School squads.

“They’re obviously an experienced and a talented group,” Conceison said after his team’s 8-7 first-round win over the Southeast team on Thursday.

On a team rife with talent from a host of the Middlesex League’s top hockey programs, the gold medal squad had a distinct Red Devil and Wildcat tinge. Burlington’s Mike Bibbey, Derek DeCastro and Shane Morgan were joined by Wilmington’s Anthony and Joe Castellano, Cam Collins, Cam Owens and Jake Rogers.

All were champions with their high school teams, Burlington in Division 1 and Wilmington in Division 2, respectively. All claimed gold in their Bay State Games’ experience.

“It’s a good time, good friends and good hockey,” said Owens, who scored a hat trick, including the game-winning goal in the Wildcats’ triumph over Franklin at the TD Garden in March. “This has been a great experience.”

Owens played alongside Wildcats linemate Jake Rogers, forming a fearsome scoring duo for the Northeast team. One that DeCastro, who backstopped the Red Devils to their state title, was happy to watch operate in the opposing zone.

“Usually, I’m seeing those guys takes shots on me,” the Burlington rising senior said. “At least this time, I don’t have to worry about stopping their shots.”

DeCastro split the Northeast’s netminding duties with Reading standout Evan Morelli, creating depth in goal and presenting Conceison with a good problem to have.

“I think we had nine goaltenders come out for tryouts,” said Conceison, who was in his third year of Bay State Games coaching experience, his first as a head coach. “It was a tough competition; it was tough making those cuts because it shows you how much talent there is in the area.”

While in the midst of a summer heat wave, local rinks remain busy with a host of offseason tournaments filling up the schedule in the coming weeks.

Both DeCastro and Owens have taken part in other summertime tournaments during their high school careers, but chose to play in the Bay State Games for the first time this year. Both cited the ability to play with a group of their high school teammates as an enticing possibility.

“A lot of tournaments that you play in, you’re playing with people from all over the place,” Owens said. “Here, I get to play with all of my teammates, you’re playing for your region and that’s kind of cool.

“Even the guys from other teams, you know a lot of them from playing against them during the [high school] season. Now, you get to play with them and get to know them.”

D1 boys' final: Burlington 6, Milton 2

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
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BOSTON – Dirty is a beautiful word.

At least it was to Burlington.

The Red Devils kept their game on the gritty side – in a clean sort of way – and wound up with their first Division 1 state championship, following their 6-2 triumph over Milton, Sunday, at TD Garden.

“It's the best,” said Burlington junior goalie Derek DeCastro. “We just won Division I state championship. I wouldn't ask for anything more, right now. And it's the best group of guys to do it with, too.”

Senior defenseman Steve Mattos agreed wholeheartedly.

“It means everything,” he said. “There's nothing better than a Division I state championship. It's a great program. Great people. We do the right thing.”

What they did best against Milton was keep it hard and simple.

Skate the lane, crash hard to the cage, finish the chance.

The Red Devils did all of the above and reaped the reward.

“With all shots,” said senior forward Brian Hood, who scored twice for Burlington, “keep them low and just drive the net. See if you can get some rebounds. Games like this are always dirty. Both teams going as hard as they can.”

The Red Devils led 1-0 after the first period and 3-1 after the second.

Hood struck for Burlington at the 1:31 mark, after jetted down the right wing in search of his own rebound, then and popped it past Milton goalie Jay Hankard (25 stops).

“It came off the goalie's pad,” said Hood. “I had to finish that. Right on the doorstep.”

The Wildcats missed out on a chance to tie the game at 10:31, when Dan Curran blew past a pair of defenders, but was thwarted by DeCastro (25 saves).

Brett Romkey made it 2-0 at 3:13 of the second, when he drove hard to the net down the right side, then sliced a backhander inside the near post.

The Red Devils seemed ready to pull away when, at 8:24, Adam Crowley took Joe Moran's right side centering feed and parked a 12-footer.

“We get to be a little too finesse at times,” Burlington head coach Bob Conceison said. “I felt like in a hot rink, if you can beat the guys to the
outside and get the pucks to the net, things can happen. And it happened.”



However, Milton began creating scoring chances of itself, and was able to work itself back into contention.

At 11:45, Mike Davis stole the puck in the Burlington zone but was beaten by DeCastro from point blank range.

But at 12:57, the Wildcats finally broke through, when Brendan Kelley's centering feed from behind the net found Lloyd Hill in the slot. Hill pulled the trigger and his tally gave Milton new life heading into the third period.

“I told our team,” said Milton senior defenseman Dan Curran, “'there's plenty of time.”

Hankard kept the Wildcats within reach with a huge glove save on Trevor Cimino on a power play just 40 seconds into the final stanza.

However, Burlington soon scored twice more, beginning with Dan McMahon's tally at 1:16, to put the game away.

“I don't want to say that took the wind out of our sails,” said Curran, “because we scored again. But that hurt the most.”

Milton's Brian Higgins made the margin closer, 5-2, when he deposited a wraparound at 3:47.

However, with the state title within their grasp, Burlington buckled down the rest of the way.

“To go out with your friends at the Garden,” Mattos said, “it's unexplainable how it feels.”

MIAA hockey championships primer, picks

March, 16, 2012
3/16/12
7:24
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All eyes will be on the TD Garden Sunday as championships will be decided in six divisions of MIAA hockey title games.

We'll have you covered all day long, but until then, we provide to you a breakdown of each of the game and our prediction:

GIRLS’ FINALS Division 2
No. 1 Duxbury (21-0-1) vs. No. 7 Falmouth (16-4-1), 11 a.m., TD Garden
The Breakdown: If the Dragons win this game, they make a strong argument that they were the strongest girls’ hockey team in the state, regardless of division, with the potential for an undefeated season. As any strong hockey squad goes, the Dragons are built from goal out with sophomore goaltender Rachel Myette (0.91 GAA) looks for her second state title in as many seasons as starter. Duxbury’s blue line corps is regarded as the deepest in the state, led by ESPN Boston Ms. Hockey contender Martha Findley (4-19-23). Of course, Duxbury has plenty of offensive firepower to go along with their strong defensive play with junior forwards Hannah Murphy (18-27-45) and Lily Connolly (18-20-38) as leading scorers. Falmouth has been one of the stories of the tournament, making a run behind first-year head coach Erin Blood. The Clippers have also received strong play from a young goaltender in freshman Maddie Scavotto (1.26 GAA). Falmouth is also deep and experienced on the blue line with senior captain Brenna Callahan and junior Alexx Good. The Clippers have received scoring punch from a pair of freshman forwards in Kelly Ferreira (13-9-22) and Madison Haberl (11-12-23).

The Pick: The defending Division 2 champion Dragons spent half the season as the No. 1 team in our poll. We’re not about to go against them now. Duxbury, 4-1.

Division 1 No. 3 St. Mary’s (Lynn) (21-3-1) vs. No. 4 Arlington Catholic (20-3-1), 9 a.m.
The Breakdown: If two regular season meetings between these Central Catholic powers weren’t enough, we get a rubber match for all the marbles on Sunday. The Lady Spartans came away with two wins in the teams’ regular season series, including a defining 5-2 decision by St. Mary’s on Feb. 1 after they’d been upset by crosstown rival Winthrop/Lynn. Can’t underscore the coaching in this game enough, as Frank Pagliuca has turned in perhaps his finest performance behind the bench and Maggie Taverna has vaulted the Cougars back onto the state’s biggest stage in Year One. Taverna has been helped by one of the state’s most dynamic scorers in senior Natalie Flynn (19-15-34). Adrieana Rossini (8-14-22) has also come up with some huge postseason goals. On the blue line, AC has one of the state’s best in senior Rebecca Zappala. First-year transfers Kaleigh Finigan (30-goal season) and Brittani Lanzilli (25-28-53) have not disappointed while Alison Butler (team-leading 61 points) has taken a huge step forward. The Spartans blue line is airtight with preseason All-Stater Rachel Donahoe leading the group. Lauren Skinnion (7 SO) has been strong as a first-year starter in nets.

The Pick: Third time’s a charm? Not so. Spartans are too strong. St. Mary’s, 4-2.

BOYS’ FINALS Division 3
Medway (19-6-1) vs. Hudson (21-1-1), 1:30 p.m.

The Breakdown: This marks the return of one of the state’s great public hockey programs to its biggest stage in Hudson (seriously, look it up), with the Hawks making their first state finals appearance since 1978, when they took the Div. 1 title from Burlington. The Central sectional champions are strong up front with a trio of 30-point scorers in seniors Tyler Kirby, Tim Murphy and Blake Seymour. The Mustangs are paced by one of the state’s top snipers in Jake O’Rourke (43-13-56). This matchup will also feature two of most dominant D3 goalies in the state with Hudson junior Shane Barry and Medway junior Mike Narducci facing off with sub-2.00 goals against averages.

The Pick: We’re going with the storyline and perhaps the most consistent D3 team throughout the season. Hudson, 3-2.

Division 2 Wilmington (15-4-5) vs. No. 1 Franklin (19-2-3), 3:30 p.m.
The Breakdown: This might be the most intriguing matchup of the day. Both of these teams were among four Division 2 teams on the Mass. Hockey Coaches Association’s initial Super 8 Watch list a month ago and haven’t disappointed in the tournament. Franklin was here a year ago, when they had their hearts broken by Tewksbury in an overtime stunner. Many observers, including us, had last season pegged as the Panthers’ opportunity to break a nearly three-decade long drought, but Chris Spillane has showed why he’s one of the state’s premier coaches. It also hasn’t hurt that Franklin has received tremendous senior seasons from Adam Hall (17-25-42) and Nick Bertoni (25-15-40). Sophomore netminder Mike Donadio (1.64 GAA) has been a revelation. The Wildcats offense has taken off since Cam Owens’ (14-19-33) return to the lineup, while senior captain Dalton Rolli (9-16-25) is an underrated two-way presence. Junior forward Jake Rogers (12-6-20) has come up with some timely goals in the postseason. Sophomore netminder Drew Foley (1.69 GAA) has played his best when it’s counted most, carrying a three-plus game shutout streak into the Wildcats’ North sectional final with Winthrop.

The Pick: The last time the Panthers hoisted the trophy Coach Spillane skated. Unfortunately for the hockey hotbed, this isn’t the year either. Wilmington, 2-1 (OT).



Division 1 Burlington (17-2-6) vs. Milton (19-3-3), 8:15 p.m.
The Breakdown: The Red Devils pulled off a tough feat, bouncing back from a Super 8 play-in game loss (and a very competitive one at that) to pull themselves into the D1 championship. The Middlesex League champions have plenty of speed to burn, and senior assistant captain Trevor Cimino (17-22-39) is about as good a two-way forward as you’ll find. Along with Joe Berardi (22-13-35), Brett Romkey (17-3-20) and C.J. Grinnell (6-14-20), Burlington can score in piles. We’ve also come away impressed by their defensive corps led by Steve Mattos, in addition to Cody Crocker, Adam Crowley and Brien Diffley. The Wildcats ran the Bay State League gauntlet in the South sectional tournament to get to the Garden. Paul Curran (26-33-59) is one of the best pure scorers in the state, and along with top-liners Brian Higgins (23-29-52) and Terrance Walsh (16-33-49), Milton provides matchup problems. Blue-liner John Murtagh is a rock, logging boatloads of ice time, and senior netminder Jay Hankard is peaking at the right time

The Pick: Red Devils are simply too potent, but they’re the pick mostly because of the way they’re playing defensively right now in front of Derek DeCastro. Burlington, 6-3.

Division 1A No. 5 BC High (13-6-5) vs. No. 1 Malden Catholic (19-1-4), 6 p.m.
The Breakdown: After beating another Catholic Conference rival, St. John’s Prep, to advance to the final, Eagles head coach John Flaherty said he’s had a special feeling about this group. That feeling might have developed after BC High skated to a 2-2 tie with MC on Jan. 25, a game in which the Eagles in some regards out-played the Lancers. This will be the fourth meeting between these teams, with MC taking two wins, including a 3-1 win in the Super 8’s round robin last week. The crucible for BC High is which of their defensive units shows up: The out-of-sorts group that surrendered a 7-spot earlier this season to MC, or the cohesive group that bounced Prep and its top line? Of course, that all starts with junior goaltender Peter Cronin (2.00 GAA), who has turned in another solid tournament. Brian Furey leads a much improved blue-line group. The Eagles are also disciplined in their own zone, with Matt Sullivan (12-16-28) providing as much defensively as he does offensively. Everyone knows of the Lancers top line of Brendan Collier, Ryan Fitzgerald and Mike Iovanna, but freshman center Ara Nazarian has been the breakout star of the tournament, filling the scoresheet in every game and tallying five goals. It’s not just offense with MC, however, as you’d be hard pressed to find a deeper, more dynamic top three than Casey Fitzgerald, Colin MacGillivray and Brendan White. If netminder Connor Maloney plays as he did against Central Catholic in the crossover round, that’s game, set, and match.

The Pick: Doin’ it for CS5. MC, 5-3.

D1 North final: Burlington 4, Wakefield 2

March, 13, 2012
3/13/12
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LOWELL, Mass. -- The quandary for Burlington entering Monday’s Division 1 North sectional title game was how to yet again beat Wakefield senior goaltender Joe Cerulo.

So Red Devils head coach Bob Conceison took a novel approach to the problem. To simulate the lack of holes into against the Warriors’ big netminder, Conceison had two goaltenders in net during practice in each of the last three days.

“Cerulo’s a big boy and a great goalie,” Burlington senior forward Trevor Cimino said. “We got him moving side-to-side, which is exactly what we wanted to do.”

The Red Devils’ unconventional target practice, along with their blazing team speed and some power-play production, helped them to a 4-2 victory over Wakefield. It was Burlington’s first victory of the season over their Middlesex League rivals after the teams skated to a pair of ties in the regular season.

“We knew we could outskate them,” said Cimino, who finished with a goal and two assists. “The two first two matchup we played were in smaller rinks, but this is a huge ice surface, a college ice surface, so we knew we could use our speed to go around them.”

Burlington (17-2-6) dominated play from the get-go, outshooting the Warriors, 14-2.

The Red Devils also took a 1-0 lead to the room at the first intermission after sophomore Joe Scali popped in his first goal of the season. Joe Moran and Dan Metzdorf picked up helpers as Burlington got production out of its third line.

“We’re a three- line team and all three lines contributed tonight,” Conceison added.

Cimino, who had a strong game in all three zones, then had a hand in each of the Red Devils’ next three goals.

First, the assistant captain set up linemate Brett Romkey for his 18th of the season. Cimino then lent an assist to C.J. Grinnell’s wrist shot snipe, which came from inside the left wing circle and found a sliver of daylight above Cerulo’s shoulder and underneath the crossbar at 12:38 of the season.

Cimino finished his three-point night by getting a stick on Grinnell’s point blast on the power play. It was Burlington’s second goal on the man-advantage of the evening while going 2-for-5 overall.

FROM YOUR OWN END OUT
Wakefield (12-7-6) showed some late life, however, nixing Derek DeCastro’s shutout bid in the third. Eddie Matthews stuck on the power play at 9:37 of the third before Kevin Doherty picked up his second point of the game with a goal at 13:11.

But Burlington had simply controlled too much of the play, in addition to strong effort from the Red Devils’ defensemen in front of DeCastro.

“I thought our defense played really well,” Conceison said. “[Steve] Mattos and [Adam] Crowley and [Cody] Crocker, they were all really, really solid.”

END OF THE ROAD
Warriors head coach Derek Edgerly was effusive in praise of his squad.

While admitting that he thought last season might have been the Warriors’ prime chance at a state championship (losing to Marshfield, which came from behind in last year’s title game), Edgerly’s third trip to a section final game in six years as Wakefield’s boss was an accomplishment in itself.

And it was in no small part due to the efforts of a couple of his senior leaders.

“Joe [Cerulo] is one of the best kids I’ve ever had and Kevin Doherty is one of the nicest kids and one of the best forwards I’ve ever seen.”

RE-FOCUSING
It’s often easy for Super 8 play-in game losers to fall victim to early-round upsets, but credit the Red Devils for collecting themselves and making a run to the Garden regardless.

Cimino gave credit to his teammates in their renewed conviction.

“Who wouldn’t want to be in the Super 8, you know?” Cimino said of the experience. “But, after that, we took a pact with each other that we’ll go all the way now. We said we’re the best team in this tournament and we’re going to the Garden. And now we did it.”

And now the Red Devils have the biggest game of their season ahead with a matchup with South sectional champion Milton at the TD Garden on Sunday.

D1 North: Burlington, Wakefield set for final

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
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Wakefield FansRyan Kilian/Special to ESPNBoston.coWakefield's "Red Sea" were out in full effect to help the Warriors to a second-straight Division 1 North sectional final in a shootout win over Chelmsford on Wednesday.
CHELMSFORD, Mass. -- It was déjà vu all over again for the Wakefield Warriors, who escaped Wednesday’s Div. 1 North semi-final clash by defeating Chelmsford, 2-1, in a shootout.

With the win, Wakefield once again earned themselves a spot in the sectional final, as the Warriors repeated their performance from a year ago. Wakefield also went to a shootout with Billerica in last year's semifinal.

“Down two periods all night, but we’ve been there before,” Wakefield head coach Derek Edgerly said. “We’ve been down a couple games this year, [but] we just comeback fighting hard, and that’s all it takes.”

“It’s called composure, positivity, keep your positive up all night and these kids just played excellent,” Edgerly added. “What a great game.”

Chelmsford notched the first goal early in the opening period when senior David DeDonato beat Wakefield senior goaltender Joe Cerulo (31 saves) before the Warriors answered in the third period with junior Daniel Cardillo, riffling the puck into the back of Lions' net, forcing overtime.

In the extra session, both teams chased the puck up and down the ice, but no resolution was found.

DeDonato eventually registered his team’s first strike in the shootout.

Wakefield answered on their third attempt when senior Kevin Doherty beat Chelmsford’s junior netminder Derek Noble, tying the shootout, 1-1. The Warriors then answered on their ensuing attempt when junior Alec Brown scored the clincher before Cerulo denied sophomore Jesse Lye.

“We go over shootouts every night in practice for 15 minutes because when it comes down to this end in a tournament, you’ve got to do your shootout," Edgerly said. "And one thing about these games, it’s usually a blowout or it’s an overtime win or shootout, there’s nothing in between."

“We had a great year,” Chelmsford head coach Mike McGrath said. “I would have to say if there was a word I’d use for these kids, it’s adversity because we had kids out with mono, we had a lot of things where we were missing kids, and we battled through it, and peaked at the right time, and had a nice little run.”

BURLINGTON 5, ACTON-BOXBOROUGH 1
After a sluggish two periods, the Red Devils offense exploded by tallying four goals in the final 15 minutes, which lifted Burlington past the Colonials, 5-1.

Senior Trevor Cimino registered his team’s second goal 22 seconds into the final period before senior Brian Hood, junior Joe Berardi (1 G, 1 A) and sophomore Joe Scali (2 G) struck.

“[Dan McMahon] made a good play, dumping it into the zone and I just had a breakaway, put it home,” Cimino said. “We got that first goal in the third period, [and] I think they kind of shut down because they didn’t know what to do anymore.”

“It took us two periods to figure it out,” Burlington head coach Bob Conceison said. “They played Monday night, [and] I felt like we could wear them down in the third period, and I think that showed in the third period."

Burlington earned a one-goal advantage when Berardi connected with Scali late in the first period before Acton-Boxborough evened the score at 1-1 when senior T.J. Barrett wrapped around the cage and squeaked the puck past junior netminder Derek DeCastro for the score.

“I think he was disappointed in the goal that [he] let in," Conceison said of DeCastro. "It was kind of a funny late period goal that might have been in the nearside, but he made a big save on a break away at 3-1, it was a huge save for us. And Derek’s that type of goalie, he comes up big in those situations when we needed and that was a big step, and we needed that, we really needed that."

A-B had chances to earn a lead, but solid defense and goaltending by Burlington helped them escape with a victory, and set up an exciting Division 1 North final against Wakefield, Monday at Tsongas.

“It will be fun,” Conceison said. “I don’t know [if our] crowd can outdo their crowd.”

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