Boston High School: Gino Larossa

BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – It seemed like an add-on to a rout, but Kyle Leslie’s early third-period goal — the Braintree forward’s second of the game — was an important one.

But, at the time, its significance wasn’t lost on Wamps head coach Dave Fasano either.

“Looking back on it, I had said that’s probably the one that’s going to get us over the hump.”

Braintree carried a 4-1 lead into the third period of Sunday’s Division 1 South sectional championship game against Barnstable at Gallo Ice Arena.

That’s when Leslie tipped in his second of the game, collecting a loose puck played from the point by defenseman Kevin Howard. After a furious comeback of three straight goals, including two on the power play, the Red Raiders made for a dramatic finish, but fell short in a 5-4 final.

The Wamps advance to their first state Division 1 final, after having played in three sectional championship games in the last decade. They will face the winner of Monday’s North final between Reading and Wilmington.

Braintree (16-5-3) sought to push the issue, playing an aggressive forecheck throughout. It yielded immediate benefits, as the Wamps ran out to a 2-0 lead by the 7:43 mark of the first on goals by Gino LaRossa and Brian Gallagher. Leslie (2 G, 1 A) potted his first goal of the game before the period was out, with a helper from Gallagher, and Braintree took a 3-0 lead to the room.

The Red Raiders (15-6-3) broke up Nick Anson’s shutout bid at 1:32 of the second on a Cody Pasic (1 G, 1 A) wrist shot. However, the Wamps reestablished their three-goal cushion at 8:11 on a Nick Ward goal, with Gallagher (1G, 2A) on the primary assist.

“The thing we talked about after the third period was that we couldn’t go into a shell,” Fasano said. “Barnstable, all year long and if you saw the last three tournament games they’ve played … they don’t quit. They’re going to come at us, but we can’t go into a shell.

“Even when we were up three, we knew that Barnstable was going to throw everything at us because they’ve never quit all year long.”

Braintree seemed to put the game out of reach 32 seconds into the third. Howard lobbed a wrister over the diving shot-blocking attempt of a Barnstable forward. With the puck in the slot, Leslie adjusted and beat Red Raiders back up goaltender Jake Kaczynski short side.

Then the Red Raiders came alive. Mike McDonough set off a chain reaction of three straight Barnstable goals at 2:48, before scoring back-to-back power-play goals 11:21 and 12:24. Chris Fowler’s slapper got the Red Raiders within two, before setting up Cam Curtin’s tally on the man-advantage with the goaltender pulled.

“I thought we played extremely well for two periods, but our start killed us," Red Raiders head coach Scott Nickerson said. "We just ran out of time. They did a lot of things well against us. It would have been a remarkable comeback had we finished it off.”

Tough call: Nickerson elected to pull senior starting goaltender Kevin Huska to start the second period, after allowing three first-period goals, in favor of Kaczynski, a junior.

“Kevin Huska’s been our backbone for two years,” Nickerson said. “At that point, I felt like after giving up three, it was time to make a change. It’s a tough decision to pull a senior in his last game. But it was something we had to do.”

The move seemed to give Barnstable an immediate boost. After Pasic’s goal, on the other end of the sheet, Kaczynski kicked out a Gallagher shot from point blank range.

The incumbent to take Huska’s spot next season, Kaczynski battled to keep the Red Raiders in the game, which was also a swan song for one of the state’s more talented netminders in the last two years.

“To his credit, I’ve never been around who’s so positive and so uplifting after he comes out,” Nickerson said of Huska. “When Kaczynski made that save, you could hear Kevin pounding on the boards with his hand, trying to keep everybody going.”

Net gain?: Aside from having to refocus after its play-in game loss to Catholic Memorial, Braintree also had to face the South sectional tournament without the services of one of its top defensemen, junior Sean Casey, who was injured in the preliminary round game.

With that, Fasano has shortened his bench to five defenseman.

But even down a man, and an attempted third-period comeback aside, the Wamps defensive corps has been a major driving force behind their Garden push.

“That was a huge loss, he’s so good,” senior captain Joe Harrington said of Casey. “But our defenseman, no discredit to our forwards, we’ve been great defensively all year. John Elworthy’s really stepped in, Erik MacDonald’s given us good minutes, and [James] Flaherty and Howard have been doing it for a few years now. We just know it’s another day at the office for us.”

D1 South: Braintree 2, Framingham 0

March, 5, 2014
Mar 5
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – When the state tournament began a last week, Braintree head coach Dave Fasano said that to go far his club would need to stay healthy and “get a little puck luck.”

While the Wamps lacked that good fortune in the Super 8 play-in round, they certainly found some Wednesday night at the Gallo Ice Arena.

Other than an empty-net goal with less than a minute to play, the contest’s only goal was the direct result of a fortuitous hop. South sectional top-seed Braintree (15-5-3) rode that potted shot by senior Brian Gallagher to a 2-0 win over their Bay State League rivals from Framingham (13-11-1) in the Division 1 south semifinals.

Gallagher’s pretty crossover through the slot did not result in his goal early in the second period. The forward lost his handle of the puck and his bid went wide to the back wall, which is where things got interesting. Gallagher followed his miss and was the first to the puck, flinging it quickly to the front.

It ended up in the back of the net. All-star keeper Al Lynch of Framingham attempted to come off the left post to square up to threats in front of him, but the puck hit off of his left leg, from behind, and found twine.

“It was a broken play behind the net, and it just kind of bounced around,” Framingham head coach Paul Spear said. “Somebody was going to get a lucky break, and Braintree got a lucky break. It wasn’t like [Nick] Ward went around one of defensemen and dangled our goalie. They shot it towards the net, it bounced around and went in.”

The Wamps made that one stand up, thanks in large part to a superb effort by goalie Nick Anson, who stopped all 28 shots he saw in the game, including 12 in the third period.

Anson’s best stop of the game came with just under five minutes to play. Framingham forward Tyler Anes worked his way through the left circle and crossed one to the far post for a wide-open Scott Swennes, who snapped one off for the high top corner. Anson flung his glove upward and deflected the bid. Anson also had to make a big stop on an effort by Joe Gilbert with two minutes to play, just before the Flyers pulled Lynch out of the net for an extra attacker.

“The goalie made a great save," Spear said. "[Swennes] has a wicked shot. That’s his shot. You couldn’t ask for a better opportunity than that. If you give me one kid that could break a target in the top corner, it’d be Scott Swennes. That’s the story of our season…we lost 11 games this season, we were probably shut out in seven of them,”

Fasano said that his goalie may be overlooked by some, but it is obvious to the Wamps what a difference-maker he can be.

“In fairness to Nick Anson, [Lynch] is one of the best goalies in the state, MVP of the league last year, but [the saves Anson made] didn’t go unnoticed. Everyone talks about the Framingham goalie, but we’ve got a good goaltender right here. He shut out CM last week, he shut out Framingham today and he only gave up one to Falmouth. I’ll take him any day of the week.”

Framingham pulled the keeper with 1:31 left, but could not find an answer to Anson. Gino LaRossa then ended the drama with 48 seconds remaining, snapping a wrister from the blue line to sew up the Wamps trip to the south finals, which will be Sunday at 1:45 p.m. at Gallo.

Recap: No. 22 Braintree 2, Newburyport 0

December, 29, 2013
HYANNIS, Mass. – Both the Wamps and the Clippers were glad to turn their calendar from Friday to Saturday. Both teams were coming off a 6-0 loss in the opening round of the Cape Cod Freezeout and looking to take their frustration out from the previous night.

After being shutout for the first five periods of the tournament, Braintree wasted no time in the third, as Gino LaRossa picked the top corner just 17 seconds into the period en-route to a 2-0 win in the Cape Cod Freeze Out consolation game.

“I thought in the third period our senior leadership stepped up,” Dave Fasano said following the game. “I challenged the guys in the locker room after the second period. Specifically, the first three that went out there. Those kids have been around here three or four years, you are the seniors and we need to come out of here with two points.”

LaRossa went out there and answered the bell, taking the initial faceoff and putting it in the back of the net.

“They were coming off a drubbing last night, we were coming off a drubbing an you knew it was going to be two hungry teams,” said Fasano.

Braintree was far from being in the clear, as they had to withstand the ferocious that was about to come from the Clippers. Braintree goalie David McDonough was outstanding in the final period, turning away all 12 shots that came his way, and getting his team back into the win column.

“I felt I needed to bring it and really help out my team and step up,” McDonough said of his game. “To come in here and get the shutout, get the two points it feels really good.”

LaRossa added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the victory for the Wamps.

Slow start: For two teams that were shutout the night before, it took a little while for any rhythm to get established. Newburyport seemed to get their offense clicking midway through the first but an ill-timed tripping call with four minutes left in the first period took the wind out of their sails and the Wamps got the remainder of the scoring chances in the period.

I think we were kind of feeling each other out the first period,” said Fasano. “I don’t think we were as hungry as we should have been and we seemed to be feeling bad for ourselves.”

Newburyport had the majority of the scoring chances in the second period, but McDonough kept the Wamps in the game with save after save.

Offense running dry: After being shut out for the third consecutive game and the last 10 periods, the frustration from the Clippers is mounting.

They looked much better Saturday night than they did in their 6-0 loss to Barnstable on Friday night, but the puck couldn’t find the net and sophomore goalie David McDonough was a big reason why.

“Definitely a better effort today but you know the old adage you can’t win if you don’t score and that’s 10 periods in a row that we haven’t scored,” said Clippers head coach Paul Yameen. “I don’t think it’s because of lack of effort because I thought we had our chances, we just aren’t getting the bounces.”

The Clippers surely had their chances, including a handful of 2-on-1 opportunities in the second period and strong attack once they fell behind early in the third period.

“I thought we played a good period, I thought our third period was fine and we out chanced them,” Yameen said.

Newburyport has a week off until their next game against Pentucket and a good bet is they will be working on their offense a bit this week.

Braintree's Gino LaRossa commits to UMass

August, 7, 2013
Braintree High senior catcher Gino LaRossa has verbally committed to UMass, he announced tonight on Twitter.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound LaRossa was an honorable mention Bay State Conference All-Star this year for the Wamps, who captured their fourth straight Carey Division title before bowing out to eventual state champion Bridgewater-Raynham in the MIAA Division 1 South quarterfinals. On the season, LaRossa batted .295 with 19 RBI and a home run in the nine-inning, wood bat-only Bay State Conference.

Behind the plate, LaRossa demonstrates above-average arm strength. According to Wamps head coach Bill O'Connell, LaRossa has recorded a pop time as low as the 1.8 second range.

D1 South Baseball: B-R 12, Braintree 0

June, 4, 2013
BRAINTREE, Mass. -- They went down in order. They went down looking. When the reality of the season's end became apparent, they went down swinging.

Eighteen Braintree batters struck out against a deep, but less-than-experienced Bridgewater-Raynham pitching staff. The Trojans rode the impressive pitching display, coupled with late-inning offense, to a 12-0 win over the Wamps in the Division 1 South quarterfinals at Braintree High.

“I've said all along that our pitching staff is the strength of our team even though our lineup has been solid,” B-R head coach John Kearney said. “Our pitching staff has been our greatest strength this season. We have four or five guys that can come in and get the job done.”

While B-R's pitching kept Braintree at bay, an explosive eight-run ninth inning put the game well out of reach. After Andrew Noviello, Tyler Glavin, Mike Bruemmel and Joe Freiday knocked in five runs for the Trojans, B-R's Brian McSherry hit a no-doubter home run to right-center field to put the score at 12-0.

It was McSherry's first home run of the year.

“It was a great game. I know the final score isn't indicative of that, but they made some great plays throughout that game,” Kearney said. “Our guys had a big inning, but it was a great game.”

Noviello, B-R's sophomore righty, started the game and struck out 11 Braintree batters over six innings. He used an accurate fastball to make up for his curve, which wasn't consistently hitting the strike zone until the third inning. During his six innings of work, Noviello threw 118 pitches.

“That's pretty much as hard as I've thrown. The curveball slipped a little bit, but when I got it in there, I got it in there,” he said.

Noviello's only scare came during the bottom of the fourth inning after he gave up a single to Steven Lee, and proceeded to walk Gino LaRossa and Patrick Horrocks with one out. The sophomore reared back and struck out both Adam Chin and Nick Susi to get out of the inning.

B-R rode the momentum into the top of the fifth inning and scored three runs on four hits and a walk to put the score at 4-0.

“Getting out of that bases-loaded jam was huge. That was probably the biggest spot in the game at that point,” Kearney said. “He's only a sophomore, but he's been pitching in big games all year for us.”

Between innings, Braintree head coach Bill O'Connell told his guys to be patient and wait for a hittable fastball. As soon as they changed their approach, Noviello's looping curve started to fall into the strike zone.

It was the first time the Wamps have been shut out this season.

“I've been coaching for 19 years and that's about as good a pitching staff as I've seen on a team. We've had a pretty good team this year...We haven't been shut out all year,” O'Connell said. “The scouting report (on Noviello) was: 'He throws hard, but his off-speed could get wild at times.' That's not what happened –- not tonight.”

Noviello was spelled in the seventh inning by Mike Bruemmel, a lefty with good movement on his fastball. The senior picked up where Noviello left off and struck out six of the seven batters he faced.

Braintree used four underclassmen pitchers during the game, and started Scott Creedon, a 14-year-old righty. Creedon pitched the first two innings before getting pulled for sophomore Bobby McNiff. The youngster let up one run on three hits during his two innings of work.

“I didn't want to leave him out there too long,” O'Connell said. “He looked pretty comfortable, but he's still a freshman.”

After McNiff was touched up a bit in the fourth inning, the Wamps brought in junior Matt Bickford, who slowed the bleeding until the ninth inning when he allowed two earned runs. Scott Strachan came in for relief, but B-R's bats, which had been uncharacteristically quiet, erupted.

“That's a tough task for those guys, but we'll be a good team in the future,” O'Connell said. “We started a freshman, two sophomores and a junior, so it wasn't easy out there.”

Cody Medairos finished the game for B-R, and caused two pop-ups and struck out Jack Zanca to end the game.

Kearney believes his staff is set up for nine-inning baseball. The Trojans played five nine-inning games this season, which helped him set up a game plan for the playoffs.

“That does help the mentality. Nine is a long game. I like playing nine because it lets teams play it out a little more truly, I think. A lot can happen in a short time in a seven-inning game,” he said.

Braintree graduates eight seniors, including captains Alex Alexander and Steven Lee.

“I just feel for our seniors. This is the last time they get to go up there under the lights as a Wamp,” O'Connell said. “All eight seniors just gave us everything they had. I told the guys, 'There's only going to be one happy team at the end of the day.' Today was their day.”

Bay State Games: July 10 recap

July, 10, 2012
Bay State Games communications coordinator Craig Kaufman sends along results from today's baseball action:

WALTHAM, Mass. -– The second day of the 2012 Bay State Games baseball tournament saw a pitcher’s duel and two convincing wins as the Northeast and West teams picked up their second wins of the tournament. Those two teams will try to stay undefeated tomorrow when they play in the first game of Day 3 at 9:00 pm at Bentley University.

Coastal 2, Central 0
The Coastal Region out-dueled Central and scored the only two runs in the game in the fourth inning to improve to 1-1 in the 2012 tournament. A sacrifice fly from shortstop James Marcello (Duxbury) and an RBI single from right fielder Joshua Cabucio (East Freetown) brought across Cody Younger (Middleboro) and Matthew Peterson (South Dennis). Coastal had loaded the bases on walks to Younger and Peterson and a hit batsman.

Mike Bruemmel (Bridgewater) was outstanding on the mound for Coastal, pitching three innings and scattering just two hits while striking out three.

Central had their best threat in the sixth inning, loading the bases on singles by Owen Shea (Northborough) and Mike Vaitkunas (Auburn) but Bruemmel, who struck out four, shut the door. Central was held to just three hits in the game.

Central starter Jack Riley (West Boylston) went the first two innings and struck out two, allowing just one hit.

West 11, Metro 1
West got on the board early and often and scored six unearned runs in their second win of the tournament. The damage started in the first on a bloop RBI single from catcher Phillip Jasak (Palmer). Andrew Noonan (Springfield) followed with a single through the left side to plate another run, and Mackenzie Hale (Florence) drew a bases loaded walk to give the West a 3-0 lead.

West tacked on another run in the third inning, two more in the fourth and five unearned runs in the fifth, capped by a two-run double by Kenny Potts (Southwick). Metro escaped further damage when center fielder Mark Fusco (Medford) made a spectacular diving catch to end the top of the third inning with West stranding two base-runners.

West got great production out of their four-spot as Evan Delaney (Hadley) walked, singled and hit an RBI double and scored three times. He crossed the plate after his run-producing hit on Jasak’s second RBI single of the day before giving way to Potts.

West second baseman Mike Paleologopoulos (South Hadley) was 3-5 in the game, scoring twice and driving in a run.

Metro grabbed their lone run in the fifth when Tom McDonald (Quincy) doubled to lead off the inning and crossed the plate on after singles by Nathan Spielvogel (Brookline) and Seth Coiley (Arlington).

John Lavoie (Medford) pitched a perfect final two innings of relief for Metro, striking out four.

Northeast 9, Southeast 3
Northeast broke open a tight game with five runs on five hits in the top of the seventh inning to squash a Southeast comeback attempt. The Southeast, down 4-1, had scored twice in the bottom of the sixth.

Rory McHarg (Wayland) smacked a two-run single in the seventh and Jordan Roper (Lynnfield), Colby Ingraham (Georgetown) and Nicholas Comei (Bradford) also drove in runs for Northeast.

The top of the order for the Northeast was on base four times. Leadoff starter Cam Farnham (Andover) singled in the first and fourth, the second time driving in two runs before bein replaced by Ingraham.

Dan Connors was 2-2 with two RBI singles for the Northeast, who got five innings of one-run ball from starter Ryan McAuliffe (North Reading).

Southeast tied the game at one run apiece in the second inning when Gino Larossa (Braintree) doubled and scored on a single by center fielder Jake Fishman (Sharon). They pulled within a run in the sixth when substitute catcher Connor Goetz (Cohasset) delivered a two run single to center, scoring Sean Roche (Rockland) and Mark Saulnier (Norwood).

Northeast leadoff man Cam Farnham (Andover) opened the game with a single and stole second before scoring on a two-out single by second baseman Dan Connors (Danvers).

Southeast could have grabbed a run in the fifth as well on a single by Steven Gilbert (Franklin), but a tremendous play and a great lead by Northeast catcher Jose Cedrano (Lawrence) gunned out Brandon Eccher (Franklin) who was trying to score from second base.