Boston High School: J.P. Scola

D1 North: Burlington 3, Melrose 0

March, 8, 2013

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.

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.”

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. 14 Wilmington 3, Burlington 1

January, 13, 2013

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

WINCHESTER, Mass. – Down a goal entering the fourth quarter, Winchester wasn’t about to fret. Actually, the Sachems felt they had Burlington on the run.

“By the time the fourth quarter came around, he just told us to keep playing our game,” Winchester attack Chris O’Connell said. “I think we knew if we kept playing, we’d be OK.”

That’s when the Sachems turned a switch on during Friday afternoon’s Division 2 EMass first-round tournament game. First, O’Connell tied the score in the first minute of the fourth, the first in a string of four straight goals in an 8-6 win over their Middlesex League rivals.

Midfielder Tim Mangano scored his game-high fourth goal of the game, providing the Sachems (15-5) with their first lead of the contest at 5:41 of the fourth.

Meanwhile, the No. 24 seed Red Devils (10-10), fresh off a preliminary round upset of No. 9 seed Beverly, looked primed for another ground-shaking win. Burlington scored in the opening minutes of each half, taking a one-goal lead in both instances.

Yet, with momentum on their side, the Red Devils were unable to close.

“Our guys have been in tight games, they understand the circumstances,” Burlington head coach Rob Parkin said. “When you’re part of tight games, you’ve got to clamp down and be mistake free. I don’t think we played mistake free ball in the fourth quarter.”

Winchester head coach John Pirani threw the Red Devils a changeup in the fourth quarter, using the Sachems’ “Navy” offense to combat Burlington’s slide package.

Both O’Connell’s game-tying goal and Mangano’s go-ahead were scored on the same offensive call. The Red Devils weren’t able to find answer defensively.

More than that, the Sachems locked down in their own end, with goaltender Alex Sharp collecting six of his 18 saves in the final quarter.

“Burlington doesn’t sneak up on anybody in the Middlesex League anymore, so we were taking them seriously all along,” Pirani said.

In closing out the Red Devils, Winchester was able to limit Burlington attacks Alex Pearsons (2 G) and J.P. Scola (1 G) in their clean looks at the cage in the second half.

They also claimed the ground ball battle in the second half.

“It’s been an Achilles heel for us this season,” O’Connell said. “We have hard workers, but sometimes we just don’t pick the ball up.”

Scooping up the win, the Sachems advance to play No. 1 seed Hingham in a quarterfinal, slated for the Harbormen’s home field Tuesday at 5 p.m.