Boston High School: Joe Bassi

D2 North: Wilmington, N. Andover advance

March, 3, 2012
STONEHAM, Mass. -- Friday night's Division 2 North doubleheader at Stoneham Arena finished with two teams moving on to the sectional semifinals in one fantastic night of hockey.

First up, No. 8 Wilmington knocked off top-seeded Lynnfield in a 2-1 nail-biter.

The Pioneers (18-4-1) brought their game early as the Wildcats (13-4-5) found themselves contained in their own defensive zone for the majority of the first period. But after a slow start, Wilmington’s physical play began to open up space for their offense. The defense held strong and the offense was opportunistic, allowing the Wildcats to cling to a one-goal lead.

Goaltender Drew Foley stood on his head early for the Wildcats, stopping all 12 first period shots generated by Lynnfield’s offense. The solid presence in net allowed Wilmington to survive the initial onslaught brought on by the Pioneers.

“He’s our ‘X’ factor,” Wildcats head coach Steve Scanlon said after the game. “He’s one kid who doesn’t get rattled, he’s able to get scored on and bounce right back.”

After the first period, the play began to tilt in Wilmington’s favor. Both teams went up and down the ice, trading chances in a back and forth battle. Earning every inch of ice was a grind, especially for Lynnfield who began struggling to enter the offensive zone cleanly as the Wildcats began dominating the physical play.

It was captain Dalton Rolli who set the physical standard early and often, leaving Lynnfield bodies all over the ice.

“He’s a real physical player.” Scanlon said. “He’s our captain; he’s our leader, and he set the tone early he got out there and started banging bodies.”

The Wildcats put the Pioneers’ defense on their heels after the first period. After attacking the Lynnfield net for the first five minutes of the second period, Wilmington was able to put one home on a slap shot from blue-liner Brian Pickett which deflected through the open five-hole of goalie Joe Bassi.

Pickett added an early third period goal on a hard wrist shot from the slot that would prove to be the game-winning goal.

Lynnfield found their legs and were able to crack Foley to come within a goal of sending the game to overtime. Despite a frantic finish, the Wildcats held on and advanced.

The night cap also played to a one-goal game with No. 4 Danvers facing off against No. 5 North Andover.

Despite carrying the play, the Scarlet Knights (16-4-4) found themselves knotted in a 0-0 tie with the Falcons (15-6-0) entering the third period. A late goal came with just more than three minutes left in the final frame, and North Andover made no mistakes with the lead, holding on to win 1-0.

The Falcons exhibited a “bend, don’t break” mentality throughout all three periods of play. North Andover was consistently on the attack, utilizing their speed to back Danvers’ defensemen off allowing them easy breakouts and access to the offensive zone.

Danvers survived numerous flurries and scrums in their own crease without letting the rubber cross the line.

The two teams entered the third period tied 0-0. Both had their opportunities, but North Andover was consistently able to generate offense until finally, with 3:20 left in the game, forward Derek Hunter jammed a bouncing puck through the pads of goalie Steve Wilkinson amidst a crowd of flying sticks and bodies.

Danvers head coach Kevin Brown understands a team can only withstand so much.

“You get to that point in the game, and they had just rung one off the post ... in games when it’s tough to score like that it’s usually a funny bounce one way or the other that seals it,” he said. “Unfortunately, for us, the puck didn’t bounce in our direction.”

For North Andover, the win did not come easily, but their persistence paid off.

“We played a good game, you know, we had a lot of chances,” North Andover coach Pete Marfione said. “Sometimes you get a little frustrated when it takes that long to bury one but we’ll take a 1-0 win any day.”

The victors of the two games will play each other on Tuesday, March 7 at the Chelmsford Forum for an opportunity to play for the Division 2 North title.

Recap: Kasabuski Tournament Day 1

December, 27, 2011

SAUGUS, Mass. -- As far as holiday tournaments go, it’s somewhat unusual to find such an important league matchup as Tuesday’s Catholic Central Conference battle between No. 13 St. Mary’s of Lynn and No. 16 Austin Prep at the Kasabuski Tourney on Tuesday.

The Spartans and Cougars brought a playoff-life atmosphere to a game that remained scoreless through two periods, but was filled with physical play.

Both teams scored on their first shots of the third, but St. Mary’s scoring opportunities kept piling up, adding up to a 3-1 victory.

“We’ve developed a little rivalry over the years and we knew it was going to be a battle until the end,” Spartans head coach Mark Lee said.

Scott Corcoran had AP (2-1-0, 2-1-0) to a 1-0 lead seconds into the third with the aide of a perfect cross-ice feed from captain Ryan Quinn.

St. Mary’s (5-1-0, 2-0-0) responded with some strong net front presence as Cam O’Neill tipped home his fourth goal of the season.

The score remained tied -- due in no small part to a sensational effort by Cougars freshman goaltender Elijah Harris -- until the final minutes of the game when the Spartans took advantage of the sixth power play surrendered by the Cougars.

“Whenever you take six penalties,” AP head coach Louis Finocchiaro said, “with two big ones in the third period … To have two penalty kills in the last six, seven minutes of the game, that hurt us big time.”

Spartans senior captain Bobby Mullins netted a power-play marker with 1:52 remaining, leaving the Cougars little time for a counter attack.

Sophomore transfer Jarrod Fitzpatrick iced the victory with an empty-net goal in the final minute with his team-leading fifth goal of the season.

“That’s a real goal for us, we want to repeat as league champions,” Lee said. “To do that, you have to start with Austin Prep. It’s always a battle.”

No. 1 Malden Catholic’s 8-1 win over Bishop Fenwick saw the Lancers taking things in stride, as usual.

One particular bright spot for MC (3-1-0) though was the return of top line center Ryan Fitzgerald.

The junior assistant captain missed the first four games of the season after nursing a separated shoulder, but made his season debut centering the Lancers’ top line along with Brendan Collier (4 goals on Tuesday) and Mike Iovanna.

Fitzgerald got back into the flow of the game with a goal of his own in the second period, although a bit rusty.

“I was pretty winded out there,” Fitzgerald said. “The shoulder is fine. It’s a just a matter of getting back into game shape. That’ll just take a few games.”

Getting back into the game will be made easier by his linemates as the Lancers eye a run at a repeat Super 8 title.

“Obviously, I’ve had the chemistry with Brendan from playing together, but with Mikey I [Iovanna] comig onto the line, I’ve played with him my whole life, so it’s not new. We’ve had history. It’s pretty easy to mesh with those guys. They make it pretty easy.”

The Cape Ann League and the Northeastern Conference are typically two of the strongest divisions in the state from top to bottom and this year promises to be no different.

So, with two teams looking to make noise in this year’s Div. 2 North tournament meeting on Tuesday between Lynnfield and Danvers, Pioneers head coach Vin Mirasolo reflected on a quality win after taking a 5-3 decision over the Falcons (2-2-0)

“The way we look at it, there could be any of about 15 teams in Division 2 that could be the team,” Mirasolo said. “I think we’re that mix that could, at any day, get it done.

“I like our mix [in the locker room]. It’s a good group that’s working hard and we continue to improve.”

Lynnfield (3-1-0) had its skating legs under them, led by top scorers Dylan Costa, John Festa and Greg Meininger.

But it was the depth the Pioneers exhibited on Tuesday that was most encouraging.

“We got production out of all three lines and then our sophomore goalie [Joe Bassi] made all the saves he had to make. It was a pretty good effort, overall. We’re still not where we need to be, but we’re getting there.”

No. 10 Wakefield used a late charge to beat Saugus, 3-1, in the the day's early game between two teams which call Kasabuski home.

The Warriors (3-1-0) took an early 1-0 lead in the first period with Kevin Doherty cashing in on a broken play. Kurt Roderigues tallied the lone Sachems (1-2-1) goal to tie the game before the period was out.

That's the way it would remain until there was 1:25 remaining in regulation, when Ryan Andrews tallied the game-winner.

Kyle Leone scored an empty-netter to cap it.