Boston High School: Jim Duran

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

December, 20, 2012

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.

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.”

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.”

Recap: No. 5 Woburn 3, No. 16 Winchester 2

January, 12, 2012

WOBURN, Mass. -- Wednesday night’s grudge match between Middlesex League rivals No. 5 Woburn and No. 16 Winchester was about what you’d think it to be — one physical hockey game.

Despite trailing 2-0 in the second period, the Tanners were lifted on the strength of a three-goal second period. All Woburn had to do was endure the onslaught of the Sachems’ best shot in the third period to grind out a 3-2 win.

“They tough, they’re aggressive, they’re really gritty,” Woburn head coach Jim Duran said. “We knew we had our work cut for us.”

The Tanners (6-0-0, 3-1-1) thought they’d claimed a 1-0 lead in the first, only to see Jared Baker’s breakaway shot, which zipped out of the net nearly as quickly as it arrived, washed out.

Winchester (3-4-2, 1-1-1) capitalized on the no-goal call, gaining the lead on Drew Mills’ tally midway through the first period. Mills followed with his second of the game in the second period, boosting the Sachems to a 2-0 advantage four minutes in.

That’s when Woburn turned a switch on. The Tanners owned the rest of the period, scoring three straight goals, for which Winchester had no answer.

Senior co-captain Casey Shea was the catalyst to all three Tanner goals, picking up three assists, even if he might have been a little rusty.

“He was a little sluggish in the first period,”Duran said of Shea. “He’s been out for a week and a half with chicken pox and he hasn’t played. He’s only been able to practice one day, on Tuesday, it just shows that he’s got a lot of heart.”

Shea’s linemate Danny Holland was the beneficiary of two of his dishes. Holland’s goals, which were sandwiched around Jake Secatore’s blast from the point, included the game-winner, which was scored with eight seconds remaining in the second period off a neutral zone turnover.

Winchester carried play for the bulk of the third, but were limited in their chances to get clean looks at netminder Jeremy Flibotte.

Weathering the storm of the Sachems’ best shots in the final minute, Woburn escaped with the two points.

“We got caught in a long change, and one line was out there longer than they should’ve,” Duran said. “And then, we had to mix and match a little bit … We were lucky to get through those final 20 seconds or so, Jeremy came up with a couple big saves for us.”

Recap: No. 5 Woburn 3, No. 2 SJP 2

December, 29, 2011

WOBURN, Mass. -- St. John’s Prep and Woburn provided one of the many highlights to last year’s Super 8 tournament with a riveting overtime battle.

The Eagles got the better of that one, edging the Tanners 4-3, en route to their Super 8 final appearance.

Wednesday night’s matchup between the two squads didn’t disappoint either, but the No. 5 Tanners emerged with a more favorable result this time around, sweating out a 3-2 win over No. 2 Prep at O’Brien Rink.

Senior winger Danny Holland collected the game-winning goal midway through the third period, breaking a 2-2 deadlock.

“My wingman Johnny Dirienzo, he made a great pass coming across,” Holland said the goal. “I made a tip around one of the defensemen, I beat him to the corner, came out and just took a shot on net.”

Down the stretch, the Tanners defense held with senior captain Jake Secatore logging Chara-like minutes and sophomore goaltender Jeremy Flibotte making the saves.

Otherwise, the matchup was about as even as can be with the teams hitting the dressing room tied 1-1 at the first intermission and 2-2 after two.

Prep (3-1-0) claimed an early advantage with sophomore center Tyler Bird collecting his third goal on the young season. Woburn (2-1-1) tied the game just a minute later with John Concannon burying a wrister set up by talented freshmen siblings Nicholas and Christian Baldino.

The teams’ stars took over the action in the second, with two Hockey East commits trading goals.

UMass-Lowell commit Casey Shea broke his goalless skid with his first tally of the season. The Tanners senior captain skated circles around two Prep defensemen before beating goaltender David Letarte five-hole with a backhander.

With 12:31 remaining in the second, Prep star Sam Kurker left his imprint on the game. The rugged forward and BU-commit broke off the left wing boards, muscling off a Woburn defenseman before cutting to the slot and letting of a wicked wrister, beating Flibotte stick-side.

“We told ours wings to watch him coming off the wall in the second period,” Tanner head coach Jim Duran said of defending Kurker, who tallied his eighth goal of the season. “He was just too strong sometimes when he was coming off the half wall. He just fought through our checks.”

Woburn’s adjustments were evident in the game’s final minutes. The Tanners did good work to keep the Eagles to the outside and keeping sightlines clear for Flibotte.

“I don’t think we generated enough quality scoring chances,” Prep head coach Kristian Hanson said. “We had some shots from the perimeter, but we weren’t able to get to the net, try to get a rebound goal. I didn’t see that and I would’ve liked to.”

It’s not a stretch to say that the Super 8 squads from last season could find themselves in the same situation come the end of the season. But plenty has changed for Prep, which lost two-thirds of its top line from a year ago.

“It’s such a new group that, right now, it’s game by game,” Hanson said. “We have a lot players stepping into new roles.”

The constants for Prep are Kurker, Letarte and fellow senior captain and defenseman Nick Pandalena. Pandalena, who is committed to playing for BC’s golf team next season, is a big, physical blue-liner who’s not afraid of contact. With an improved skating game, Pandalena will be the crucial cog to an otherwise green blue line.

However, he wasn’t the only ESPN Boston preseason All-State defenseman on the ice. That honor also goes to Secatore, who proved his value in the third period. After a slow start to the game, the Tanner captain hardly left the ice during the final seven minutes of the contest, as Prep set up shop in the offensive zone and increased the forecheck.

Secatore’s effort is old hat to his teammates though.

“Jake Secatore, he’s just unbelievable,” Holland summed it up.

“He’s a great leader,” Duran added about Secatore, who played strong as a pairing with senior Adam Tanner. “He doesn’t say much, but he just works so hard in practice … He’s so strong, he skates so well. I just don’t think he realizes how good he can be.”

Top 5: The quest for the Super 8 title

December, 14, 2011
With a good number of team's kicking off their hockey schedules on Wednesday night, we thought we'd take a closer look at our Top 5 preseason teams, handicapping the field of could-be Super 8 contenders this season:

(All records and stats from 2010-11)

1. Malden Catholic (21-1-2)
Players to watch: Brendan Collier, Sr. F, 24-39--63; Ryan Fitzgerald, Jr. F, 24-42-66; Mike Iovanna, Jr. F, 10-18--28; Tyler Sifferlen, So. F, 4-7--11; Brendan White, Jr. D, 2-7--9; Colin MacGillivray, Jr. D, 1-7--8.

Key losses: F Mike Vecchione, D Connor Evangelista, F Nick Roberto, G Pat Young.

The skinny: The returning Super 8 champions now have the bull's-eye on their backs, and they're OK with that. The Lancers finally finished the season on top, in no small part thanks to the leadership of Vecchione. Now the torch has been passed to Collier, who inherits the "C' this season. The Charlestown native and BU commit leads a re-tooled lineup. However, MC isn't without its questions. Top-line center Ryan Fitzgerald is on the shelf until around New Year's with a seperated shoulder. Catholic Conference All-Star Connor Evangelista is among the offseason defections and leaves a hole at the top of the Lancers' blue line corps. MC will also breaking in junior goaltender Connor Maloney after the graduation of Pat Young (1.33 GAA). On top of that, the Lancers have a new head coach in John McLean, who's filling in for Chris Serino, who's taken a medical leave. Still, for all those questions, there's still an awful lot of talent around with Iovanna figuring to make a big leap, playing the wing spot vacated by Vecchione. Freshman Ara Nazarian is a name that will be mentioned around the state for quite some time.

X-factor: White and MacGillivray. For all the attention paid to MC's front-line offensive talent, when you get down to the nitty-gritty of playoff time, teams need the horses on the blue line to take control of games. Both are more-than-capable defenders. Fitzgerald's younger sib, Casey, a freshman blue-liner is also a name to watch in the coming seasons.

2. St. John’s Prep (18-6-1)
Players to watch: Sam Kurker, Sr. F, 15-10--25; David Letarte, Sr. G, 2.52 GAA; Nick Pandalena, Sr. D, 2-10--12; Dillon Gargano, Jr. D, 1-1--2; Tyler Bird, So. F, 3-3--6.

Key losses: F Colin Blackwell, F Shane Eiserman, F John Farrow, D Joe Currie.

The skinny: Perhaps none of last year's Super 8 field lost more front-line talent than the Eagles. ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey Colin Blackwell matriculated to Harvard and is now tearing up the ECAC. Also, talented freshman Shane Eiserman left for the prep schools. What the Prep returns, however, could also be envy of most teams. It all starts up front with BU-commit Kurker, who's a true power forward in the old sense of the word; the Eagles will lean on Kurker to improve upon his 15-goal campaign last season. The Eagles also lost most of the blue line, with Nick Pandalena the only returner from their top 5. But the Prep is still built from the net out with Letarte returning between the pipes.

X-factor: Letarte. With a young defense in front of him and possible dip in scoring, it will take an even larger effort from the senior netminder to return Prep to a Super 8 title game.

3. BC High (15-6-3)
Players to watch: Matt Sullivan, Sr. F; Tom Besinger, So. F; Brian Furey, Sr. D; Peter Cronin, Jr. G.

Key losses: F Mike Cashman, F Terence Durkin, F Andrew White,

The skinny: Last year was about the Eagles' return to prominence. Now, this year is all about taking that next step. Still, the roster is young, but they're also battle-tested. "The guys we had last year were excellent leaders," BC High head coach John Flaherty said," now we're asking this group to build upon that moving forward, being leaders on and off the ice." That leadership now falls to Sullivan and Furey. Still, for a unit that's relatively young, there's some talent to be had, including Besinger who was among our Top 5 rookies to watch from last season.

X-factor: Cronin. The then-sophomore netminder turned some heads during the Super 8 tournament last season, as the Eagles went toe-to-toe with MC in the crossover round. If he can repeat that kind of performance, the Eagles are in good hands.

4. Catholic Memorial (8-10-2)
Players to watch: Liam Coughlin, Jr. F, 10-11--21; Jared Beckwith, Sr. D, 4-10--14; Shane Starrett, Jr. G, 1.77 GAA; Jack O'Hear, Jr. F.

Key losses: D Marc Hetnick, F Dan O'Hear, F Chris Stathopoulos, G Tommy Knox.

The skinny: By far the best team in the state not involved in the playoffs last season. With that said, the Knights were fairly green on the blue line last year and took their lumps. The hope is that they'll learn from those experiences. carrying into this season. CM figures to turn a weakness into a strength this year with a deep D corps led by Beckwith, in addition to returners Kevin Bletzer, Dennis Medeiros, Justin Ryder, Ryan Sullivan and John Allaire. The Knights also figure to be strong in net with Starrett after posting a .968 save percentage last year in nine games.

X-factor: Coughlin. An ESPN Boston All-Stater, bears watching in his second year with the Knights and could be the breakout performer of the year. He has the talent and size to change the complexion of game. If he applies himself physically, there's no defense in the state who can match him.

5. Woburn (18-5-2)
Players to watch: Casey Shea, Sr. F, 21-28--49; Danny Holland, Sr. F, 10-14--24; Jake Secatore, Sr. D, 1-12--13.

Key losses: F Alex Holland, D Brian Dulong, G Cam McGlashing, D Brian Smith.

The skinny: A year later, we still find ourselves wondering what could've been in the Super 8 tournament -- had the Tanners gotten a couple of bounces here and there. But, as Woburn head coach Jim Duran told us at the time, "Teams make their own luck in hockey." This year, the Tanners hope the luck breaks their way because they don't lack on talent. UMass-Lowell commit Casey Shea will be perhaps the most dynamic offensive threat in the state (save for the top-liners at MC), and Holland isn't far behind. This group can skate and make plays in tight spaces. In a word, they're fun to watch. The Tanners also return one of the steadiest D-men in the state in Secatore.

X-factor: Sophomore goaltender Jeremy Flibotte. He's tabbed to be McGlashing's replacement in net and saw time sparingly during last season. Can the netminder hold up to the rigors of postseason play? We'll find out.

Woburn's Shea commits to UMass-Lowell

November, 9, 2011
Woburn hockey head coach Jim Duran confirmed Wednesday that senior forward Casey Shea has given a verbal commitent to UMass-Lowell.

Shea will join the River Hawks in either the 2013-14 or 2014-15 season. Last season, the winger helped lift the Tanners to a Super 8 appearance and was an ESPN Boston All-State Best of the Rest selection.

"It's a tremendous accomplishment and a credit to public school hockey," Duran said. "We're very excited for Casey."

Super 8 ends in tie for Needham, Woburn

March, 13, 2011
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. –- It wasn’t the experience either team envisioned when the Super Eight tournament field was announced.

Sixth-seeded Needham and seventh-seeded Woburn each entered Sunday’s third-round game with an 0-2 record in pool play and no chance of advancing to the semifinals. Each team completed the tournament without a victory as well, as the teams skated to a 2-2 tie at Merrimack College’s Lawler Arena.

“Very proud of the way our kids played,” Woburn coach Jim Duran said. “It’s such a difficult game to come back and play when you’re not really playing for anything except for pride. There was no bologna out there. It was a good showing by both teams.”

Needham was trying to protect a 2-1 lead, but Woburn’s John Concannon capped the scoring with 5:28 to play. Because St. John’s Prep (2-0) and BC High (2-0) had already secured spots in the semifinals from Group 2, there was no overtime period.

Following the game, Needham coach Bill Giusti suggested it might benefit everyone if the tournament format is changed.

“It’s a tough game to play when you have two 0-2 teams,” he said. “I think maybe the format should be changed and maybe go to a Hockey East format (best-of-three series) and the winner moves on. Really I don’t think there’s gonna be any more games or any more time. Not only that, it makes the first and second seeds that much more important.

“I think it’s a better way. Unfortunately we’ve been involved in this game two years in a row. Last year with Winchester 0-2 and us 0-2. No one is in the stands either.”

Junior forward Daniel Holland also scored for Woburn, which completed its season with an 18-5-2 record. Junior defenseman Jake Secatore assisted on both Woburn goals.

The Tanners won a play-in game against Springfield Cathedral, and then lost one-goal games against St. John’s Prep (4-3 in overtime) and BC High (1-0) before Sunday’s contest.

Needham received goals from junior forwards D.J. Walsh and Timmy Parlato. The Rockets completed their season 12-8-5. The Rockets lost to BC High (2-0) and to St. John’s Prep (5-1) in its other tournament games.

“A tie was probably just for both of these teams,” Guisti said. “Luckily both teams were pretty disciplined.”

Woburn opened the scoring when Holland converted a rebound from close range at 4:46 of the second period.

Needham answered quickly. Walsh tied the contest 32 seconds later, and Needham took its first lead when Parlato beat goaltender Cam McGlashing on a shot from the right point at 7:12 of the second. Parlato’s goal came with one second left on a Needham power play.

“We talked before the game, not only did we want to play this for the seniors but also we wanted to play it for next year,” Duran said. “We showed we can play in the tournament. If we came here and had lost 5-0 they might have said we were just lucky to hang in there against those two teams [BC High and St. John’s Prep].

“I think we had a good effort tonight, and I think this gives us a lot of experience for next year. It gives us an idea do of what to expect and what it takes to get to that next level.”

Cronin, BC High 'D' hold up Woburn

March, 10, 2011

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Sinatra sang it best, saying that luck had a very unladylike way of running out sometimes. But, at other times, she just happens to give you a brush.

That certainly happened for BC High in myriad ways during a thrilling 1-0 shutout win over seventh seed Woburn in their second-round Super Eight tournament game Wednesday night.

“I think somebody said before that you’ve got to be lucky to be good sometimes, and that’s what we were tonight,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “I asked one of my assistants if it was too late to play the lottery tonight.”

Lotto tickets aside, No. 3 seed BC High did come up with a winning combination for their second win of the tournament and, while pinning the second loss on the Tanners, ensured that both they and St. John’s Prep would advance from their pool into the crossover round — with another matchup to come this weekend between the two Catholic Conference rivals.

However, the Eagles weren’t just lucky, they were good from the net out with sophomore netminder Peter Cronin earning his second straight shutout with a 21-save performance.

“It’s just much a credit to them as it is to me for these shutouts,” Cronin said of the defensive corps in front of him. “I’m not getting shutouts, we’re getting shutouts. They came up big for me. Jack Buckley had a couple of blocked shots as well as [Brian] Furey and [Matt] Doherty, who pulled that one out from in back of me.”

BC High got all the offense it would need with four minutes remaining in the first period.

Terence Durkin barreled into the Tanners’ zone, weaving inside and outside to beat a pair of Woburn defenders. He then slid a backside pass to Tom Besinger, who was streaking up ice on the offside wing, and he took care of the rest, poking the puck into a gaping net.

It was the only puck the Eagles could get past Tanners goaltender Cam McGlashing, who matched Cronin save for save.

“It could easily have been four or five to nothing,” Woburn head coach Jim Duran said of McGlashing, who made 23 stops. “We didn’t play very well in the first period.”

The Tanners ratcheted up the pressure in the second period and worked to draw three power play opportunities. However, each of Woburn’s chances on the man-advantage was either met by Cronin, his defensemen, or the cold shoulder of lady luck.

Woburn had perhaps its best chance of the period with 7:20 remaining. On the power play, the Tanners worked for a chance in front of Cronin, who made the save on the initial shot, but was out of position for the rebound. The Tanner put back was then stopped by Eagles defensemen Brian Furey's skate on the goal line.

Woburn had another splendid opportunity to tie the game later in the period, only to skate away wondering what had just happened. Junior forward Casey Shea, who’s been on fire with six goals in his previous two games, had a crack at an open net on a one-timer but whiffed on the attempt as the blade of his stick came undone from the shaft, leaving him to slap his stick down in disgust.

“I think luck goes both ways,” Duran said. “They had a lot of chances that they missed, or Cam [McGlashing] came up with a big save. But when Casey [Shea] broke his stick, I was thinking maybe this isn’t our night. That would usually be in the back of the net.”

The Tanners continued to push the issue in the third, but were stopped at every turn by Cronin and his minions. No play was finer than Buckley’s blocks on two consecutive blasts from the point with about five minutes remaining.

“Woburn came to play and they were desperate,” Flaherty said. “We knew they were going to be. They have skilled players and they have kids that are dangerous every time they touch the puck. Peter [Cronin] was back there to make the saves that he needed to and some of the other ones that I probably didn’t expect him to make.”

MIAA hockey playoff notebook

March, 8, 2011
With no action on the local rinks on Monday, we decided to clear out the ole trusty reporter's notebook after a busy first week of tournament play.

Saturday’s first-round Super Eight matchup was a family affair for the Evangelista clan.

The family’s attention was divided between cousins Conor, of top-seeded Malden Catholic, and Tommy, of eighth-seeded Central Catholic.

Adding another dimension to the matchup was that Conor, a junior defenseman on the Lancers’ top pairing, would be duking it out all night with Tommy, a junior center, and the Raiders’ top line.

“My cousin’s really fast, so I told my uncle that I’d have to break Tommy’s blades to have a chance out there, so that he didn’t burn me,” Conor said with a smile. “We talked a lot before the game though.”

Conor may have gotten the last laugh, as Malden Catholic held off Central in a 4-3 victory, but the cousins also have had opportunities to play on the same side while growing and most recently as last summer during the Hockey Night in Boston tournament.

It’s also evident that talent runs through the bloodline. Conor was among the top scoring defensemen in the state with 27 points during the regular season, while Tommy has been a consistent scoring threat for Central with 17 goals and 20 assists this season.

“We didn’t have anything else on the side,” Conor said of his pregame conversations with Tommy, “just bragging rights.”

You can ascribe many labels to Mike Vecchione’s play, but you might soon have to apply the title all-time leader to his very impressive resume.

With three assists during Malden Catholic’s 4-3 win over Central Catholic on Saturday, Vecchione tied the Catholic Conference’s single-season scoring record with his 73rd point. The UNH commit entered Super Eight play with 26 goals and 44 assists for the regular season.

“I had no idea,” Vecchione replied after being informed of the milestone. “That’s a great feat.”

It seems fitting that Vecchione would tie the record with assists since it’s the selfless manner that has allowed the winger to prosper to unparalleled heights playing alongside linemates Brendan Collier (63 points regular season) and Ryan Fitzgerald (66 points).

Every year, there seems to be a breakout player who takes his game another level to lift his team in the Super Eight. Think of then junior Tim Driscoll willing the Harbormen to the title last year, including his game-winning goal in the final.

It’s safe to say that the early leader in the clubhouse in this year’s young tournament is Woburn forward Casey Shea. The junior forward led the Tanners in scoring this season, so his postseason brilliance thus far hasn’t come as a surprise. But he’s certainly set a tremendous pace.

Shea made a big splash in Woburn’s win over Springfield Cathedral in a play-in game on Monday with five goals, including a natural hat trick in the first period. So what did he do to follow up that performance? He only turned in a SportsCenter-worthy goal, beating two St. John’s Prep defenders in alone, deking them out of their skates before finding the back of the net once again.

“Casey did what he usually does,” Tanners head coach Jim Duran said of the goal.

Who could’ve seen Coyle-Cassidy’s overtime upset over top-seeded Mansfield in Division 2 South this weekend? Well, we hate to toot our own horn as did have the Warriors as one of our dark horse teams in our postseason picks.

All kidding aside, there’s a concurrent theme to C-C’s upset, as well as that of Scituate over top-ranked Bourne in D-3 South, and that’s strength of schedule.

The Warriors entered postseason play with a marginal record of 9-9-2. However, the degree to which they’d been tested in their 20 game schedule was without parallel in D-2. Aside from turning in their eighth straight Eastern Athletic Conference title, Dave Borges’ team played a schedule that included four Super Eight field teams, including BC High, Hingham St. Mary's of Lynn and Springfield Cathedral, and a host of other Division 1 teams. Granted, the Warriors took their lumps against both BC High and Hingham, but they showed why they could be such a dangerous postseason team tying up Cathedral, 2-2, just one week before the Panthers slipped into a Super Eight play-in game.

St. John's Prep prevails in OT over Woburn

March, 5, 2011

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- St. John’s Prep’s 4-3 triumph over Woburn in Saturday night’s Super 8 tournament game required some extra effort.

There was no celebration at the end of regulation. The game didn’t end until senior forward John Farrow scored his second goal of the game 6:13 into overtime.

After Woburn goaltender Cam McGlashing stopped Colin Blackwell’s initial shot, Farrow swept in the rebound during a scramble in front of the Woburn goal.

“A fortunate bounce went pretty much right to my stick,” Farrow said. “I just swung at it and my teammates jumped on me, so I knew it went it. I just tried to swing at the rebound after Colin took it hard to the net and luckily it went in for us.”

Farrow scored nine goals in St. John’s Prep’s previous 20 games.

“Either team could have won it,” St John’s Prep coach Kristian Hanson said. “I thought David [goaltender David Letarte] played great in the overtime and we were fortunate to get the goal.”

Blackwell, a senior forward, and junior forward Sam Kurker also scored for second-seeded St. John’s Prep, which improved its record to 15-5-1. Blackwell, who will play at Harvard, leads the team in goals (25), assists (22) and points (47).

Freshman forward Shane Eiserman assisted on two of his team’s four goals.

The Eagles, who beat Woburn 6-0 during the regular season, are 10-1-0 in their last 11 games.

The loss dropped seventh-seeded Woburn’s record to 18-4-1. The Tanners, who played their way into the field by beating Springfield Cathedral 5-2 in a play-in game, received goals from Dan Holland, his brother Alex Holland and Casey Shea.

“We had a lot of chances in overtime, we just couldn’t finish,” Woburn coach Jim Duran said. “We thought we could hang in there and maybe steal one. It’s only one game and we’re in a three-game tournament here.”

Shea’s goal, a backhanded shot while he was cutting through the slot, came with 6:41 remaining in the third period. Shea scored all five goals in the victory over Springfield Cathedral. He has a team-high 22 goals this season.

“That kid Shea is a heckuva player,” Hanson said. “He was dangerous the whole game.”

St. John’s Prep led 2-1 after one period.

Woburn opened the scoring at 5:32, when Dan Holland circled the net and beat Letarte from a tough angle in the right faceoff circle. The goal, which was unassisted, was Holland’s 11th of the season.

The Eagles responded by scoring twice in 93 seconds. First Blackwell tied the game when he received a centering pass from Eiserman and tipped the puck past McGlashing at 9:00.

St. John’s Prep took a 2-1 lead at 10:33, when Kurker’s soft shot from the right circle found room between McGlashing and the left post. It was Kurker’s 16th goal of the season. Defenseman Nick Pandelena collected the only assist.

The Eagles extended their lead to 3-1 44 seconds into the second period. Farrow beat McGlashing with a shot between his pads.

Woburn’s Alex Holland made it a one-goal game when he scored from a tough angle to Letarte’s left. The goal, Holland’s 18th of the season, came at 2:59 of the second.

“After we made it 3-1 they got a goal pretty quick,” Hanson said. “I really felt [the third goal] was going to be kind of a momentum swing for us. Then when they made it 3-2 I think it let the wind out of our sails a bit.”

Woburn failed to score on two power-play opportunities in the second.

Each team will be back in action Wednesday. St. John’s Prep will face Needham, and Woburn will meet BC High. Both games will be played at Merrimack College.

“The first game is always huge” Farrow said. “We knew it was going to be a different game than when we played them the first time. That was real important for us to come out with a win going forward.”

Shea does it all to play Woburn on

March, 1, 2011

BILLERICA, Mass. -- Typically, when Casey Shea is on his game, he isn’t standing center stage. A deft playmaker, the junior forward takes pride in playing an unselfish game, making the key transition pass or setting up a teammate for a goal.

During Monday night’s Super Eight play-in game at Chelmsford Forum, Shea was thrust into the spotlight with a performance to be remembered, scoring each of the seventh-seed Tanners’ five goals in a 5-2 win over No. 10 seed Springfield Cathedral.

“Casey’s at his best when he’s distributing the puck to everybody,” Woburn head coach Jim Duran said of Shea. “And he’s a finisher, he doesn’t always seem like that because he’s usually setting somebody up, but tonight he finished.”

Shea netted a natural hat trick during the first period, kicking Woburn (18-3-1) off to a 3-0 lead.

“We put them back on their heels,” Shea added.

He then scored for two more in the second period with one coming on the power play and another coming shorthanded, in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Shea first scratched the scoreboard midway through the first. He beat Cathedral goaltender Zac Rondeau, finishing on the backhand through the 5-hole. Assists went to Alex Holland and Cole Connolly on the play. Shea then transitioned a defensive zone turnover into his second goal with 2:31 remaining, beating Rondeau who was caught out of the crease.

He finished the trifecta with a power-play goal with five seconds remaining.

“We were cycling down low and nobody came near me,” Shea said.

So he stepped out front, in on Rondeau, faked the pass the slot and buried it 5-hole. It was the first power-play goal for the Tanners on three attempts with the man advantage in the period.

“Their goalie is good, but we capitalized on our chances early,” Duran said. “It took the wind out of their sails and they weren’t getting many chances.”

Although the Panthers (12-10-1) were given four power play chances in the second, they failed to cash in with any goals.

Meanwhile, Shea kept up his pace, nabbing his fourth of the game on the man-advantage with assists from Jake Secatore (his second) and Adam Tanner.

Shea’s fifth came on the strangest of hockey sights. With 7.7 seconds remaining in the second, when Rondeau vacated his net on a delayed penalty call. As Rondeau charged toward the net, an errant Panther pass back to the point skipped along the length of the ice into the Cathedral net.

Confusion ensued as to which player should receive credit for the goal. It was originally given to defenseman Brian Dulong by the official scorer. However, video taken by Boston Herald staff pointed to Shea as the last Tanner to touch the puck. The consensus among media row was that Shea had in fact scored No. 5 after taking a look at the incontrovertible evidence.

However, in addition to Shea’s brilliance, the Tanners put forth a solid defensive effort early on with senior goaltender Cam McGlashing making some key saves. Coupled with a pesky forecheck and a quality penalty kill, Woburn took the Panthers out of the game before they could even get started.

“That’s really the name of the game for us, getting turnovers and trying to get the puck to net and, hopefully, get a rebound.”

Cathedral head coach Brian Foley added, “I think if we could play them four times in a row, maybe we’d draw even, but clearly we caught them on their night. They did everything they needed to do to win.”

Sam Burke and Matt Peloquin scored late goals to get the Panthers on the board.

Cathedral now moves onto play as the top seed in the Division 1 South tournament while Woburn moves on to Saturday’s Super Eight play at Merrimack College.

No. 4 Prep shuts out No. 3 Woburn

February, 15, 2011
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The official beginning of Super Eight watch-list season started with a bang last night at Ristuccia Memorial Arena, where No. 4 St. John’s Prep soundly defeated No. 3 Woburn, 6-0.

The Eagles (10-5-1) got off to a 1-0 lead in the first period on a breakaway goal for Colin Blackwell (goal, two assists), and pulled away on four second-period goals.

“I think the first period was kind of a 50-50 game,” Blackwell said. “They took it to us, they worked down low pretty well, so we came into the second period just firing on all cylinders, trying to get pucks to the net. Once we got pucks to the net we got some power plays and maintained possession of the puck down low and took the momentum and it swung our way.”

The Prep made a point of crashing the net in the second period, and the results were overwhelming.

Sam Kurker (goal, assist) made it 2-0 just t 1:54 into the frame, punching in his own rebound after taking a backhander from the right circle. John Farrow pushed the lead to 3-0 just 34 seconds later on a back-door feed from Shane Eiserman, and added a second goal at 8:05 from the low slot.

“That was something we talked about between the first and second period, was getting more traffic in front of the net,” Prep head coach Kristian Hanson said. “ I think we were getting some perimeter shots in the first period. We wanted to kind of penetrate that perimeter and get in front and get some traffic. The kids were buzzing and once we got that second goal we built off that.”

Kurker, who missed the Prep’s 4-1 loss at Springfield Cathedral on Saturday with an injury, made an impressive diagonal pass across the slot at 12:27 to set up Eiserman for a power play goal that extended the lead to 5-0.

“I’m disappointed in the result, but not disappointed in the game,” Woburn head coach Jim Duran said. “I thought we played pretty good, just when you make mistakes against really good teams they capitalize on them, and we left too many guys in front of the net.”

Woburn (12-3-1) had good scoring opportunities of its own, but the St. John’s Prep blue liners had an excellent game in front of goaltender Dan Letarte, who robbed the Tanners on several good chances.

“We talked tonight about playing like a Woburn,” Hanson said. “Play like a team like that; that plays with a lot of heart and desire and blocks shots, and that’s what makes them successful. Sometimes I think we get away from that because we think we’re maybe too talented to block shots, and we’re not. You need to do the small things, the simple things, get dirty, and that’s how you’re successful.”

Senior and first-year varsity player Matt West was particularly effective in that area, as he saved two goals when the game was still in doubt by blocking shots on open nets.

“I thought we had a lot of good chances,” said Duran. “I just think (St. John’s Prep) was a little bit quicker, and when we have those chances we have to bury them, and we didn’t do that, and their chances, they buried them.”

No. 10 Woburn claims key Middlesex test

February, 13, 2011
WOBURN, Mass. -- No. 10 Woburn made sure that it will be in the Middlesex League race down to the wire with Reading and Winchester, as the host Tanners earned an impressive 4-1 win over ninth-ranked Reading last night at O’Brien Rink.

A relatively even first period ended with the teams tied at 1-1, but Woburn (12-2-1, 11-2-0) ran away with the contest in the final 30 minutes. The Tanners outshot Reading (11-4-1, 9-2-0) by counts of 19-1 and 14-5 in the second and third periods, and 48-15 overall.

Woburn’s forecheck dominated the offensive zone in the middle period and led directly to the game winner for Eddie Aprile at 7:17. Bobby Smith stole the puck with a hard check in the left corner and centered to Aprile for the finish.

“The forechecking is really working,” Aprile said. “ Everyone’s working hard and forechecking and we’re getting opportunities off of that.”

Casey Shea, who tied the game on a redirection at 13:49 of the first, pushed the lead to 3-1 just 1:10 later with a wrist shot inside the right post from the low slot. The onslaught continued in the third period, with Aprile adding the final goal from low in the right circle.

“They truly wanted it a lot more than us; that’s the reality of it,” Reading coach Mark Doherty said.

Reading goaltender Andrew Keen made 44 saves in a noble effort, but the constant pressure and deep turnovers simply gave the Tanners too many good scoring chances.

“We’re happy with the performance tonight because of the fact that we got a lot of chances,” Woburn head coach Jim Duran said.

Zach Coughlin scored Reading’s only goal at 11:00 of the first, cleaning up a rebound off a shot by Tom Crowley. Daniel Holland and Smith each had two assists for the Tanners.

The win gives Woburn a season split with Reading and a good boost for the stretch run, but the race for the league crown is far from over. The Rockets have five games remaining on the league schedule over the next two weeks, while Woburn has three, including a crucial match-up with Winchester next Saturday.

Woburn suffered a 2-0 loss to Winchester on Jan. 15, while the Rockets and Sachems split their season series.

No. 21 Woburn hits its stride

January, 6, 2011
WOBURN, Mass. – After a 3-1 loss to Wakefield on Monday, No. 21 Woburn returned to the rink for Tuesday practice. Then, head coach Jim Duran preached about the Tanners’ return to playing the style of hockey that makes them successful.

After taking a 4-1 Middlesex League victory over No. 17 Burlington on Wednesday at O’Brien Arena, it looks as though Duran’s team heeded his advice.

“On Monday, we lost a lot of one-on-one battles,” Duran said. “I think tonight was the first night that we’ve played to our potential, on the forecheck and trying to cause turnovers. That’s what we tried to do and that’s what we’ve had success year after year doing. I think the kids did that tonight.”

The Tanners (4-1-0, 4-1-0) took an early lead on Bobby Smith’s snipe 9:49 into the first period. Smith unleashed a wrist shot with laser precision underneath the crossbar and just above the shoulder of Burlington goaltender Nick DeSimone.

Yet for much of the first period the teams were even, playing a spirited, hard-hitting 15 minutes of play.

The second period, however, belonged to Woburn, which out-shot the Devils 15-7.

“We turned the puck over to them a lot in the neutral zone,” Burlington head coach Bob Conceison said. “I felt like our D was flat-footed a lot. They have quick forwards and they created opportunities off of the neutral zone forecheck.”

The Tanners’ continued pressure paid off when Eddie Aprile knocked home the rebound from an Adam Tanner shot for a 2-0 lead in the second.

Woburn picked up where they left off two minutes into the third on John Concannon’s goal assisted by Tom Arsenault and Jared Baker.

Burlington (3-2-1, 3-2-0) got on the board with 7:27 remaining in the contest on R.J. Caruso’s power play blast set up by Stephen Mattos and Joey Centrella. The Tanners closed out scoring with a tremendous individual effort by Casey Shea, who scored with a deke while going one-on-one with the goaltender. Smith added the assist to finish with a two-point game.

Tanners goaltender Jon Braese finished with 27 saves to earn the win.

It was clear their coach’s message has gotten through.

“I just the think the kids skated,” Duran said. “They wanted it and kept going, going and going.”

The Woburn girls’ hockey team made it a sweep of their border rivals with a 7-1 win over Burlington in the early game Wednesday at O’Brien.

Colleen Martell led the Tanners (5-1-0, 4-1-0), tallying a hat trick in her second straight game.