Boston High School: Jeff Rosata

A day in the life of Needham hockey

February, 28, 2012
Editor’s note: On Wednesday, February 22, the Needham High School athletic department and hockey coach Bill Guisti granted access to reporter Scott Barboza and videographer James Walsh to follow the team for their first-round game of the Springfield Cathedral tournament. This is the result.

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN NEEDHAM AND SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Needham High hockey seniors, forward Jeff Rosata and goaltender Connor Murray lean against a parked car. They’re about to board a bus bound for the Springfield Olympia Center for their first-round game in the Springfield Cathedral Tournament, where they’ll play the host Panthers.

“I think we’re faster than they are,” Rosata says, estimating the tape he’s seen on that night’s opponent.

On paper, leading into the matchup, the teams figure to be even. The implications of the game are likely to dictate seedings for the upcoming Super 8 hockey tournament. They know the importance of the game.

“I mean, we’ve made the Super 8, what? The last three of four straight years?” Murray says, with a San Jose Sharks snapback cap tilted slightly upward on his head. “We know we need to keep that going.”

Rockets assistant coach Tom Shaughnessy emerges from the open doorway of the bus.

“Time to get going.”


Rockets forward Jeff Parsons has a reputation on the team, something that of a human GPS. He sits sidesaddle on an aisle seat in front of teammate Jamie Arnao.

Watching the exits zoom by, somewhere around the Auburn service exit on the Mass Turnpike, Arnao blurts out, “How far away are we?”

The question, seemingly posed to nobody in particular, was directed at Parsons. He sits back in the seat and gazes upward with his eyes, as if consulting a map of Central Mass. painted on the bus ceiling.

“Should be about 50 minutes or so,” Parsons rifles back.

[+] EnlargeNeedham Hockey
Scott Barboza/ESPN.comThe Rockets listen to the pregame speech of coach Bill Guisti.
Freshman James Fisher brought along a copy of “Dodgeball” for viewing. The P.A. speakers of the bus muzzle the dialogue with a humming. With every bump in the pavement, the T.V. screen flickers with a line of static fuzz rising from bottom to top. Three pairs of seats are occupied in the front of the coach, one with drinks (Gatorade, water), another with an assortment of plastic-wrapped deli sandwiches, the last with trays of potato chips, Fritos, Doritos.

It’s like a team sleepover on wheels.

Arnao, a senior forward who also helped the football to a Division 1 Super Bowl appearance in the fall and is a standout on the baseball team, is the team jokester. He’s dressed in a pair of aquamarine chino pants, a button-down shirt with a windowpane print and an overcoat.

I ask him whether the not-so-subtly-colored pants are a game-day tradition.

“Yeah, this is usually how I roll,” Arnao replied, laughing, as usual.

Seated at the front of the bus, Needham head coach Bill Guisti sifts through papers. Guisti, who owns his own business, used the down time on the trip to go over a couple of pregame adjustments he wants to make with the Rockets’ lines. He wants to move blue-liner Timmy Parlato up front. He’s hoping Parlato’s Brad Marchand-like style of play might unnerve Cathedral’s defenders.

He scribbles down notes on a sheet of loose paper, remarks he wants to reinforce before the team takes the ice. The former Mount St. Charles (R.I.) hockey standout spends most of his free time scheming the Rockets to their next win. He takes a couple minutes to check in with his two daughters though.

“I usually don’t have this much time to myself,” he says.


There’s an arcade room in the lobby of the Olympia Center. Arnao saunters past it on his way back from a bathroom break. Headphones on, he’s ready to get into his pregame warm-up.

A toddler shouts over to him, “I just put a dollar in, can you play with me?”

Arnao looks around for a moment, then stepping toward the two-person shooter video game installation, he says, “Sure.”

“I’m on a 40-man kill streak,” the child tells him.

Arnao takes a couple of shots with the plastic gun, he misses his target. The child, less than half Arnao’s height, is blowing up everything in sight.

“I gotta’ go, I have to get ready,” Arnao says.

Walking away, Arnao adds, “That kid is ridiculous.”

After a moment of reflection, he wonders aloud, “Where’s that kid’s mother at?”


In Guisti’s pregame message to the team, he cautions the team about the fact that the officiating crew might not give them the benefit of close calls as the visiting team.

By the end of the first period of a 0-0 game, it looks like Guisti is right.

“There’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to be smart,” he says. “For you seniors, you know what this is all about. This is it.”


After two periods, the Rockets struggle to generate many scoring chances in a tight-checked game. It’s a playoff atmosphere with both teams vying for the sixth spot on in the upcoming Super 8 tournament.

[+] EnlargeNeedham Hockey
Scott Barboza/ESPN.comNeedham goaltender Connor Murray waits for the cue to take the ice before the Rockets' game against Springfield Cathedral last week.
Murray is playing one of his strongest games of the season; he’s bailed out the team time after time. He’s slumped back in his seat at the second intermission. Somehow, the Sharks snapback is still on his head in the same position it was all those miles before.

There’s no fire-and-brimstone speech from Guisti, just a gentle pleading for the team to take care of the little things. In such a tight game, anything could make the difference.

The team comes together for one final ooh-rah and wait at the door for the signal to move out onto the ice for the third period.

Amidst a chorus “Let’s go boys,” senior captain D.J. Walsh still hasn’t moved from his perch on the bench. Beads of sweat gather on the strands of hair emerging from the brim of his helmet. He’s breathing deeply.

It echoes Guisti’s message to the team before the game.

“When you guys get back in here between periods, you should be gasping for air that’s how hard you’ve skated out there.”

Walsh’s plastic facemask is fogged up. He draws a couple deep breaths, stands and follows his team out.

The Rockets lost 1-0.

Recap: No. 8 Needham 3, Xaverian 0

January, 26, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10's a crowd: A Super 8 primer

February, 28, 2011
We’re hours away from dropping the puck in the postseason with tonight’s Super Eight play-in games.

But we took a little time to sort out the Super Eight field, providing a primer on the teams.

Take a peek:

1. Malden Catholic (16-2-2)
Marquee wins: Lancers had wins over five of the 10 Super Eight teams and that doesn’t even include what might have been their most impressive win, an early season triumph over New Jersey powerhouse Delbarton.

Players to watch: F Mike Vecchione, F Ryan Fitzgerald, F Brendan Collier, D Connor Evangelista, F Nick Roberto.

The skinny: Wire to wire, unquestionably the top-ranked team in the state. As in the last couple of seasons, the Lancers enter the Super Eight with lofty expectations and seemingly nothing short of a title will satisfy. MC’s depth reaches far beyond its top line of three Division 1 college recruits (Collier, Fitzgerald and Vecchione) and its team speed and passing ability are without parallel. Not only can they score, they can defend as well, led by top defensive pairing of Evangelista and Colin MacGillivray.

X-factor: It’s funny how the postseason seems to shave away certain goals into missed chances and oftentimes it due to a hot netminder. So if those once plentiful goals start to ebb away, it will be left to senior goaltender Pat Young to shine. Young is capable between the pipes and he might just show that he’s been the most overlooked element to MC’s success.

2. St. John’s Prep (14-5-1)
Marquee wins: As the runners up in the Catholic Conference, the Eagles nabbed a pair of league wins against both BC High and Catholic Memorial, but it might have been Prep’s win against the Knights on Friday that showed they can truly be a threat in the Super Eight. Playing against a CM team with nothing to lose and everything to gain, the Eagles ratcheted up the D in a playoff-like atmosphere.

Players to watch: F Colin Blackwell, F Shane Eiserman, F Sam Kurker, G David Letarte, D Joe Currie.

The skinny: Outside of MC, the Eagles have the deepest collection of eye-popping offensive talent. Blackwell, a Harvard commit, is equally adept as a playmaker as he is a sniper. Eiserman is wise and mature beyond his years as a freshman while Kurker provides grit and a nice scoring complement. The blue line was the perceived weakness of the squad, but they’ve come a long way with Currie providing veteran leadership, in addition to Scott Derrickson who played a strong second half.

X-factor: Kurker. When the junior winger gets hot, he’s hard to stop and creates a dynamism to Prep’s offense.

3. BC High (13-4-3)
Marquee wins: The Eagles finished strong, winning their final six games in addition to the Cape Cod Classic tournament to end the season. Their 5-4 shootout with Catholic Memorial was also a classic, as usual. Does a tie against Malden Catholic count as well? Sure.

Players to watch: F Mike Cashman, F Terence Durkin, F Andrew White, D Jack Buckley, D Brendan O’Malley.

The skinny: The Eagles play with plenty of speed, a point of emphasis for first-year head coach John Flaherty when assembling this year’s varsity roster, and the young roster has gelled together quickly. More than anything, BC High has taken play to their opponents. They’re aggressive on the forecheck and know how to use their speed to their advantage.

X-factor: Experience. The Eagles haven’t been to the postseason since 2008, so a good portion of their roster hasn’t experienced playoff hockey. How long will it take them to acclimate? A period? A shift? “Hopefully, not even that,” Flaherty said. “At the end of the day, it’s just another hockey game. It’s not different from any others.”

4. Weymouth (17-3-2)
Marquee wins: The Wildcats’ 5-2 win over fellow Super Eight entrant and longtime rival Hingham at Pilgrim was about as good as it gets for the Weymouth seniors who’d never beaten the Harbormen before. “It’s a monkey they’ve wanted to get off their backs,” head coach Matt Cataldo told ESPN Boston after the game.

Players to watch: F Tyler Piacentini, F Riley Flanagan, G Brian Brady, F/D Trevor King, D Andy Sheridan.

The skinny: When are people finally going to stop saying that Piancentini is too small to play on the big stage? He can flat out score. Hey, it worked for Nathan Gerbe, right? Not only does Weymouth have scoring punch, they’re well suited for a long postseason run with Brady, a senior, in nets. Outside of MC, the Wildcats were perhaps the state’s most consistent team from start to finish and that means something coming in a year of great parity.

X-factor: King has played on the blue line and stepped up front to play center as well this season. Whether it’s moving the puck out of his own end, or stepping in to win a faceoff, versatility always comes in handy this time of year.

5. Hingham (13-5-4)
Marquee wins: It might not look as impressive as their upset over Malden Catholic on paper, but the Harbormen’s 5-3 win over St. Mary’s of Lynn on Feb. 5 got them going. After upsetting the Lancers, Hingham went through a tough 0-3-1 stretch before turning things around with a comeback win that had the intensity of Super Eight matchup.

Players to watch: F Tim Driscoll, D Alex Pompeo, F Matt Hughes, F Austin O’Connor, D Steven Bellew.

The skinny: Let’s call spades a spade: the Harbormen are the defending champions, so that has to count for something. Simply put, they’ve been there and done that, so nerves won’t be an issue. Although there was a good amount of turnover from last year’s roster, a few of their stalwarts remain in Holy Cross commit Driscoll and Pompeo, who is among the best defensemen in the state. They are terrific building blocks to a Super Eight champion-caliber squad.

X-factor: Derek McInnis was superb during last year’s run to the title, but head coach Tony Messina likes to roll his goaltenders and senior Kevin Granatino has been solid in the second half of the season. That gives the Harbormen perhaps the greatest depth in goal in the tournament.

6. Needham (12-6-4)
Marquee wins: Where would the Rockets have been without their 3-2 win over Weymouth on Feb. 9? It was a season-turner. Their 4-3 win over Springfield Cathedral was their raison d’Ítre to the tournament.

Players to watch: D Chris Joyce, F Tom Coleman, F Jeff Rosata, D Scott Atkinson.

The skinny: Who’d have thought the Rockets would end up with the sixth seed after (literally) being left off the table in the first round of Super Eight voting. Of course, head coach Bill Guisti has built Needham into one of the state’s premier public school programs and is evidenced by their tough out-of-conference schedule which includes several Catholic Conference teams. So the Rockets are used to playing the best. Joyce is in the conversation when it comes to the state’s best defensemen and we’ve always loved the jam Needham’s forward play with. They’re truly a tough team to play.

X-factor: Akin to the Harbormen, it will be interesting to see how Needham’s goaltending tandem of Evan MacDonald and Connor Murray shapes up. They’re both talented and capable of carrying the load.

7. Woburn (17-3-1)
Marquee wins: Life in the Middlesex League night in and night out is no easy thing, so we take the fact that the Tanners were 14-2-0 against league competition as a marquee accomplishment.

Players to watch: F Casey Shea, F Alex Holland, F Daniel Holland, F Eddie Aprile, D Brian Dulong.

The skinny: We had the Tanners pegged for the top six, which means they would have avoided playing Cathedral in tonight’s play-in game. But so is life and Woburn enters the tournament as one of the most consistent teams throughout the season …

X-factor: … However, the Tanners haven’t played much in the way of their out-of-conference schedule (a Their 6-0 thumping at the hands of St. John’s Prep was a good harbinger.

8. Central Catholic (16-5-1)
Marquee wins: It was early, but the Raiders’ 4-3 win over St. John’s Prep is about as good as it gets.

Players to watch: F Tommy Evangelista, G Kyle Williams, F Nick Pelrine, F/D Nick Leonard, D Ricky Sheehan.

The skinny: The Raiders looked like they might have been on the bubble with fellow DCL/MVC co-champion Billerica coming down the last couple weeks of the season, but Central showed what they are capable of with a huge 6-3 win over No. 4 seed Weymouth on the next to last day of the season. If that team shows up, the Raiders will be extremely dangerous. Evangelista is simply fun to watch.

X-factor: Williams is that type of goaltender who is capable of stealing games for his team.

9. St. Mary’s of Lynn (14-5-3)
Marquee wins: The Spartans had some tough luck in their out-of-conference schedule and had just a 7-5-3 record against fellow playoff teams. However, they were simply dominant in the Catholic Central (7-0-3), allowing just 12 goals in 10 games.

Players to watch: G Donald Hesse, D Cam Kennedy, F Bobby Mullins, F Christopher Surrette, F Tim Aylward.

The skinny: There’s no bones about why the Spartans are in the fold and that is their defense, which all starts in net with Hesse. Among the elite netminders in the state, Hesse is a game-changer and showed in last year’s Division 1 North tournament that he’s capable of putting a team on his back. Kennedy is an underrated blue-liner who is equally adept leading the breakout from his own end as he is clearing out the crease.

X-factor: It comes down to the ability for the Spartans to get those mucking-type goals in key situations and then shutting teams down.

10. Springfield Cathedral (12-9-1)
Marquee wins: All but one of the Panthers’ games was against a playoff opponent, so they’re battled tested and held their own against teams that were considered for the Super Eight, going 4-4-0.

Players to watch: G Zac Rondeau, D Sean Kavanagh, F Frank Crinella, F Dante Christofori.

The skinny: The Panthers always seem to find a way into the Super Eight field and play one of the toughest schedules in the state. They might not be as talented as their previous Super Eight predecessors, but they play good defense in front of Rondeau, who is capable of stealing games on his own.

X-factor: Kavanagh is one of the great hidden jewels in the state.

No. 14 Needham topples No. 2 Weymouth

February, 10, 2011
WELLESLEY, Mass. -- After No. 2 Weymouth handed No. 14 Needham their first Bay State Conference loss in two seasons in January, the Rockets knew they’d have to step their game up in the second and final meeting of the season between the two teams Wednesday night at Babson College.

Despite coming out with their best effort, scoring two goals in the opening three and a half minutes, Needham needed a third-period goal from Jeff Rosata to come away with a 3-2 win over the Wildcats.

“We had a very good practice yesterday and they came out flying tonight," Needham head coach Bill Guisti said. "It was one of our better starts of the season."

Tom Coleman got the scoring started at 2:24 in the first, sticking home a rebound on a D.J. Walsh shot. Just over a minute later, J.P. McHale doubled the lead with a beautiful backhand pass from Lucas Davis.

Weymouth head coach Matt Cataldo called their timeout immediately after the goal.

“I told them [they] deserve better than this,” Cataldo said of his timeout talk, “we worked too hard, we worked too much, and we’re too good of a team to put forth this type of an effort.”

And they were a different team after that, forcing pressure on Needham that eventually led to a goal at 12:58 in the first period. Riley Flanagan tapped in a rebound from a Danny White shot after some good forechecking by the Wildcats made it difficult for Needham to clear their zone.

After a physical and goal-less second period, Needham entered the third with a 2-1 advantage. That lasted only 44 seconds as Weymouth senior Nick Peatfield skated behind Needham’s goal and delivered a beautiful backhand pass to forward Jonathan Wilson who finished high into the top corner.

The Rockets didn’t take long to answer. At 4:10 into the third period, Coleman hit a long cross-ice pass from inside his blue line to Rosata, just across the redline, and Rosata was one-on-one with Weymouth goalie Brian Brady whom he deked once and backhanded high into the net for a 3-2 lead.

But Weymouth didn’t go out easy. With just over a minute left in regulation, the Wildcats pulled their goalie for an extra skater and forced four good saves out of Needham netminder Evan MacDonald, the first of which came on Flanagan straight off a faceoff.

“Coach Guisti warned me before the game of the shot right off the faceoff,” MacDonald said , “the kid (Flanagan) is a very good face-off man. I give credit to Weymouth, the tried their best and gave it their all. We came out flying tonight and had luck on our side.”

“Hopefully, we’ll enjoy this win for a day or two, but we have got to get back to business on Saturday night against Braintree,” Guisti said looking forward.

With the win Needham improves to 9-5-3 overall and 9-2-1 in conference. Weymouth suffers just their second loss overall (14-2-1) and their first conference loss of the season (11-1-1). The Wildcats hold a 1-point lead over Braintree in the Bay State Conference Standings.

Needham 2:24 Tom Coleman from DJ Walsh
Needham 3:11 JP McHale from Lucas Davis

Weymouth 12:58 Riley Flanagan from Danny White
Weymouth 0:44 Jonathan Wilson from Nick Peatfield
Needham 4:10 Jeff Rosata from Coleman

No. 6 Weymouth takes BSC battle

January, 13, 2011
With two goals from Bob Ganley and three assists from Patrick O’Keefe, the No. 6 Weymouth Widcats handed the No. 7 Needham Rockets their first Bay State Conference loss in two years.

“I though offensively they played very well, very solid," Weymouth head coach Matt Cataldo said of his second line. “That’s what we’ve been looking for, we’ve got our first line that’s just been pumping goals in and it’s good to see Bob [Ganley] and Ian [Sheridan] and Okie [Patrick O’Keefe] step up and bury their chances."

Ganley, a senior forward, got the scoring started just 2:06 into the first period. Ian Sheridan found O’Keefe behind the net who then passed to a wide open Ganley in front of the net and he put the puck through Needham goalie Connor Murray’s five hole for a 1-0 lead. Riley Flanagan made it 2-0 Weymouth at 7:28 in the second period after a nice pass from O’Keefe sent Flanagan through on a breakaway, which he finished high glove side.

Needham made it a one-goal game with just 4:47 remaining in the second when Jeff Rosata roofed a goal past Brian Brady from a tight angle and it was 2-1 at the second intermission.

But it was Weymouth that came out with more fire in the third period.

“Like we talked about in between the second and the third period, this is for the league title, and that’s how we treated that third period” said Cataldo.

Senior captain Tyler Piacentini scored the third goal for the Wildcats at 2:23 into the final period and Ganley added his second goal a minute and thirty-six seconds later.

“Weymouth is a good team, we know this is the team to beat in the Bay State League,” Needham head coach Bill Guisti said of the Wildcats, “I tip my cap to Weymouth, they wanted it more than us.”

The win moves Weymouth to 8-1-0 overall and 6-0-0 in Conference, while Needham falls to 4-3-1 with a 4-1-0 BSC record. The two teams will meet again on Feb. 9.

No. 9 Xaverian rallies past No. 10 Needham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Junior goalie David Michaels had 25 saves in the victory.

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

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

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