Boston High School: Lincoln Griffin

NEPSAC hockey: Belmont Hill 5, Thayer 4

March, 7, 2015
Mar 7
BELMONT, Mass. -- Once the final horn sounded, it wasn't so much a celebration as it was a sigh of relief for Belmont Hill.

The Hillies, somehow, someway, managed to withstand a tenacious flurry put forth by Thayer during the closing minutes of Saturday's semifinal round of the Martin/Earl Large School tournament to prevail 5-4 at the Jordan Athletic Center.

Counting their blessings upon exiting the ice, No. 4 Belmont Hill (17-6-8) advances to the title game at St. Anselm College's Sullivan Ice Arena on Sunday (2:30 p.m.) where it will face No. 3 Brooks (a 4-3 overtime victor over Choate). The Hillies defeated Brooks, 4-0, back on Feb. 27. Belmont Hill last won a New England Prep title in 1990.

Make no mistake about it, the Hillies needed to every second of regulation time to pull this one out.

The eighth-seeded Tigers, fresh off a victory over top-seed Brunswick on Wednesday, gave Belmont Hill fits throughout. Having lost to the Hillies twice during the regular season, Thayer was determined not to make it a third straight.

Jumping out to a 2-1 lead after one period, Thayer (15-12-3) appeared primed for another upset. After a roller coaster season in which they stood just one game over .500 in mid-February, the Tigers began to peak towards the end of the season and carried that momentum into the playoffs.

Belmont Hill knew this as well, and made conscious effort to try and slow down its ISL rivals. Just 20 seconds into the second period, things started going the Hillies way. Sam Helsler, a forward, blazed down the left side and fired a shot which sailed past Tigers goaltender Mike Royer into the low right corner of the net to even this tilt 2-2. Hesler's tally was the first of three for him on the afternoon.

"I think I just got a few lucky bounces," said a humbled Hesler, who hails from Boxborough. "This was just a good team win. This game was really intense throughout. Thayer is a very good team and are really well-coached. We had beaten them twice during the season but to beat them three times, we knew that would be a huge challenge but I think we were really prepared coming into it."

Play resumed following Hesler's score with each club getting some quality chances on net but to no avail. However, that would change midway through the frame. At 10:09, with the Tigers swarming the Hillies net, senior Lincoln Griffin was able to corral a loose puck in front and slip it past Belmont Hill netminder Matt Barrow (24 saves) to give the lead back to Thayer at 3-2.

Four minutes would pass before Hesler was back at it again. Standing just inside his own blue line, the sophomore flipped a shot towards Royer (26 saves) that took an awkward bounce off of his left pad and into the net knotting things at 3-apiece heading into the final frame.

Less than three minutes into the third, Belmont Hill would claim the lead for good. Hesler, positioned along the left half wall inside Thayer's zone, saw Royer attempting to scamper back to the front of his crease after sweeping the puck along the boards. Before Royer could reach his spot, Hesler fired a shot into the open net giving the Hillies a 4-3 advantage. Ten minutes later, Belmont Hill would extend its lead to two goals. A well-executed tic-tac-toe ensemble by Evan Daddario, Christian O'Neill and Charlie Michalowski was capped with Michalowski sending a quick wrist shot into an open left side of the net.

"I was really proud of some of the team decisions we made," said Hillies head coach Jeremiah McCarthy. "As the game went along I thought we started winning more of the battles. Certainly in the first half of the game, Thayer got the better of us. But as the game wore along I thought our boys continued to stay positive and played strong. At the end, Thayer had some chances to tie the game but fortunately they stayed out of the back of the net."

In spite of the deficit, the Tigers had zero intentions of letting the Hillies walk out of this one cleanly. Just two minutes after Michalowski's marker, his second of the game, Griffin, with his team playing shorthanded, brought Thayer back.

The Walpole native and future Northeastern Huskie swiped the puck away from defenseman Charlie Barrow at center ice and bolted in all alone on Matt Barrow. Griffin, who also registered a hat trick on the day, beat the junior low side (his 28th of the season) to make it a one goal affair.

"Thayer has some special players and Lincoln Griffin is an extraordinary player," McCarthy said. "We tried to have an antidote for him but he got us a few times. Thayer came out very prepared today. They did so many things right. I actually feel a little guilty being the winning team because of how well and how hard that team competed against us. (Head coach) Tony (Amonte) does a great job and they are a team that no one wants to play. We will take this win and run with it because I felt Thayer had equal, if not better, rights to play in the championship tomorrow. They certainly played well enough to win."

For the remainder of the period, which felt like an eternity for Belmont Hill and its huge throng of fans on hand, it was white knuckle time. The Tigers continued to maintain a strong presence inside the Hillies zone, setting up a multitude of opportunities in its quest for the equalizer. In the process, though, Hesler was able to show his versatility as being not only an offensive standout, but a defensive specialist as well. Hesler got in front of a pair of hard shots in the final minute, blocking both. When he wasn't doing it, the burden fell on Matt Barrow's shoulders, who was exceptional down the stretch after making some big-time stops.

"Matt has been solid for us all season and we certainly needed him today," Hesler said. "At the start of the year this team was really young and made some mistakes. But a lot of the guys have now matured and I really think we are coming together at the right time."

The Tigers wasted no time striking first, scoring just 39 seconds in. Kyle Peterson, situated alone inside the left circle, ripped a shot under Barrow's right arm. But Michalowski, from West Roxbury, knotted things at 1-1 later in the period after taking a behind the net pass from Charlie McConnell and sending a one-timer past Royer. But less than a minute had gone by before Thayer moved back out in front. With a mad scramble taking place in front of the Hillies goal, Griffin found the loose puck and was able to poke it over the goal line. The Tigers dictated much of the tempo during the opening period but as things transpired, they started to lose their grip and allowed Belmont Hill to take control.

"Ever since I've come back to Thayer (in 2010) our motto has been to work hard and usually good things will happen," said Tony Amonte. "But today we were on the wrong side of a few bounces and that is how things go. We are proud of our effort today and proud of our kids from all this season and we wish our four seniors all the best in the future. Obviously, losing Lincoln will be a huge hole for us to fill but that just means opportunities for other guys to step up. It always hurts to lose, especially at the end of the year, but we'll get over it and move on and be ready to go next year."

NEPSAC Finals Set: Following a series of semifinals held Saturday, the finals for the NEPSAC championships have been determined.

In the Piatelli/Simmons Small School final, No. 1 St. Mark's will play No. 3 Westminster at noon. Belmont Hill and Brooks will follow at 2:30. In the Stuart/Corkery (Elite 8) contest, No. 5 Salisbury (winners of the last two Elite 8 crowns) takes on No. 7 Dexter at 5 p.m.

Recap: Thayer Academy 6, St. Sebastian's 3

January, 24, 2014

CANTON, Mass. -- Tony Amonte, the third-year boys’ hockey coach at Thayer Academy, likes to offer up comparisons between the ISL's Keller Division to that of the Southeastern Conference in football. Both present major challenges and nothing ever comes easy.

Friday night, Amonte's Tigers learned that lesson all to well. After jumping out to a four-goal lead, Thayer watched in vain as divisional foe St. Sebastian's mounted a flurry to close to within a goal. But the Tigers had enough ammunition in the end to withstand the onslaught and pull out 6-3 victory in the 17th annual Arthur T. Valicenti Cup game at the Sportsplex.

"In high school hockey there are no guarantees,'' said Amonte, his team improving to 13-3-0. "There are so many swings and ups and downs in every game. St. Sebastian's always brings it and we didn't expect any less than that. In this league every game is battle. You lose one and you could be out of a championship. It's that important every game and it's the team that can maintain that level that always wins the league every year."

Fresh off a loss to St. Paul's School only 24 hours earlier, no one could blame Thayer if they began this tilt a bit flat. But it was quite the opposite. The Tigers opened strong, controlling the opening 18 minutes by working the puck inside the Arrows' zone and keeping St. Sebastian's out of theirs.

For its reward, Thayer scored three times in span of 4:32 during the opening stanza.

Defenseman Steve Cochrane got things started by ripping a shot just a few feet in front of his blue line to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 4:20. Less than two minutes later, Kyle Peterson, another defenseman, wristed a rebound to an open right side of the net to make it a two-goal advantage. Thayer had no intentions of slowing down. Catching St. Sebastian's back on its heels a bit, the Tigers continued to instigate their quick up-the-ice strategy. Forward Lincoln Griffin made it a 3-0 game with a re-direct in front of Arrows goaltender Teddy Loughborough (20 saves), coming at 8:52.

The momentum Thayer had enjoyed during the opening frame carried into the second period. At 8:18, Neil Conway scored on a spin-around just to the right of Loughborough, upping the lead to 4-0. With their backs pushed firmly against the wall, the Arrows had a choice to make. They could either wave the towel or come back fighting. They chose the latter and, as a result, made things quite interesting.

"We did not play a good first period," Arrows coach Sean McCann said. "They were all over us and we couldn't do the things we wanted to do. We struggled moving the puck and just couldn't connect the dots going up the ice. In the second period we started to get some momentum and were making better decisions with the puck."

St. Sebastian's caught a huge break after a pair of TIgers were sent to the penalty box, giving them a 5-on-3 power play for 54 seconds. Working the puck inside Thayer's end, the Arrows sent two hard shots towards Tigers netminder Bob McGovern. The second one deflected off of McGovern's leg pad and out to junior forward Will D'Orsi, who quickly flipped a shot just under the crossbar at 13:55, putting the Arrows on the board.

"For a team as young as we are I think this was a great thing to battle like we did and compete the way we did," added McCann, whose team falls to 6-9-1 after starting the year 5-1-1. "We are a team that has to learn a lot. We have a lot of young kids playing crucial minutes for us. It's a good learning experience but I hate to use that term because nobody wants to hear about learning experiences, these kids want to win."

With time winding down in the middle frame, St. Sebastian's capitalize on a Thayer mental breakdown. With the Tigers trying to score another goal before intermission, they forgot to play defense. That allowed senior forward Corey Ronan to break out through the neutral zone and remain a full-step ahead of the defense. Skating in alone on McGovern, who opted to stay in the crease instead of coming out to challenge the puck-handler, Ronan was able to slip a shot past the senior just before the horn sounded and send the Arrows into the second intermission down by only two.

"We had a good first period," said Amonte, who played at Thayer in the late 1980s, prior to spending 16 solid seasons in the NHL. "There was a bit of lull in the second period. There was a coaching error on their second goal. We were thinking offense in the final seconds of the period when we should've been thinking protect that three-goal lead. But you are always looking for more. The way I coach, you really don't think about defense because I played forward and you are always thinking about getting that next goal.

“They made a great play and Corey Ronan is a tremendously fast player and made a great move. We also know you can't get into the box against good teams like St. Sebastian's. You have to be discipline, especially when you are already on the penalty kill and then you take another penalty. That's what hurts you."

Realizing it was now back in the hunt, St. Sebastian's drew a bit closer only a few minutes into the third. Nick Flanagan found the back of the net to cut the deficit to 4-3 at 11:01.

Suddenly, everything Thayer had built early on was now in jeopardy. Momentum had clearly shifted over to the side of the Arrows. Following Flanagan's marker, McGovern managed to fend off a couple more on-line assaults from St. Sebastian's.

But for how long?

"Our team has a good mixture of skill and work ethic," McGovern said. "Last year I don't think we won a game by more than two goals so we were dialed in the whole 54 minutes. This year we have been able to run away with some games so it is actually good for us to be in a tight game like this right up to the very end. Games like this will only help us."

The Tigers were then skating around in desperation mode, attempting to rediscover their scoring edge.

At 14:38, sophomore Christian Simeone provided it. The forward scored off a rebound to give the Tigers a little breathing space. Then, with a little less than three minutes remaining, Griffin sealed this one up with his second goal, slipping a shot between Loughborough's leg pads just before colliding with the senior. Officials awarded the goal to Griffin, stating the puck had crossed the goal line before there was impact.

"St. Sebastian's had a lot of momentum in the third period so we knew we needed to come back strong and finish," said Griffin. "The second period was probably our worst period by far. We knew we had to stick to our game plan, work hard and finish off checks. Once we started doing that again, we knew it would work out for us."

Askew among locals on track for USHL

May, 6, 2013
While South Boston native Cam Askew already had been selected in the United States Hockey League's Draft last year, the Cushing Academy forward was tied to the top of Phase 1 of the 2013 Draft.

Holding the top pick in Monday's draft proceedings, the Indiana Ice decided to forego using their pick, instead signing a tender with the Boston University commit. Indiana had selected Askew with the 89th overall pick last May.

This is the second year of the tender system by USHL rules. All players signed to tenders guarantee that they will play in a minimum of 50 percent of their teams games in the upcoming season.

Here's a look at all the skaters with local connections who were selected during Monday's proceedings:

Round 1, Pick 11: Ryan Dmowski (Oakdale, Conn.), C , The Gunnery - Des Moines

Round 3, Pick 5: Charlie Kelleher (Longmeadow), F, Boston Junior Bruins - Cedar Rapids

Round 3, Pick 15: Spencer Young (Brentwood, N.H.), D, Phillips Exeter - Dubuque

Round 4, Pick 3: Austin Rook (Shrewsbury), D, Rivers - Des Moines

Round 4, Pick 5: Cal Burke (Boxborough), C, Noble & Greenough - Cedar Rapids

Round 5, Pick 3: Callum Booth (Montreal, PQ), G, Salisbury - Muskegon

Round 5, Pick 15: Lincoln Griffin (Walpole), F, Thayer Academy - Dubuque

Round 6, Pick 5: Erik Foley (Mansfield), F, Tabor Academy - Cedar Rapids

Round 6, Pick 10: Liam Darcy (South Berwick, Maine), D, Berwick Academy - Green Bay

Round 7, Pick 15: Elijah Harris (Haverhill), G, Austin Prep - Dubuque

NEPSAC: Thayer 4, St. Sebastian's 3 (OT)

February, 28, 2013

CANTON, Mass. -- Jonathan Sheedy swooped around the goal, arms raised in the air. A look of incredulousness was written on the senior captain’s face as he looked for his nearest teammate to hug.

With the figures “5:05” emblazoned on the scoreboard, Sheedy stopped time, delivering a 4-3 overtime win for Thayer Academy Wednesday at the Canton SpotsPlex.

Reflecting on his game-winner against St. Sebastian’s in the NEPSAC Martin/Earl Tournament quarterfinal tilt between ISL rivals, all Sheedy could think of is the last couple seasons and how far the Tigers have come.

“We’ve had two losing seasons in the last three years,” Sheedy said. “The fact that we were in the tournament this year, I was wicked happy for that. Now, we get to go to Salem, play in the semifinals Saturday. It’s just amazing.”

Thayer held a 3-0 lead in the second, despite the Arrows carrying play in the period. But Seb’s kept at it and finally solved Tigers netminder Bob McGovern (29 saves), scoring three unanswered goals, including two goals from senior forward James McLaughlin, to tie it in the third.

It was a familiar script.

“It was almost a mirror image of the other day, it was the same kind of game that we played on Saturday,” Tigers head coach Tony Amonte said of his team’s 3-1 win over the Arrows in last weekend’s Valicenti Cup game. “They won the second period, the only difference today was that they won the third.”

The Tigers jumped to a 2-0 lead at 14:19 of the second with freshman Ty Amonte tallying his second of the game on the set-up from Lincoln Griffin off a 2-on-1 break. Thayer struck again exactly one minute later on defenseman Jack Judge’s blast from the point.

However, the Arrows countered with an important goal just 17 seconds later with Tommy Kelley ripping off a one-timer on Corey Ronan’s feed.

“We needed to get one before the end of the period,” St. Seb’s head coach Sean McCann said. “We were fortunate to have a bang-bang play near the crease. It was a nice play by our guys and that helped us carry momentum into the third period.”

After being held scoreless on five previous power-play opportunities, the Arrows found the back of the net for the first time with the man-advantage to start the third. McLaughlin scored his first of two goals at 6:10 of the third. He then scored the equalizer with 7:31 remaining in regulation.

After being outplayed for the bulk of two periods, Thayer brought its skating legs to the overtime session. Spurred on a by a key save by McGovern in the opening minute of overtime, the Tigers began getting pucks to the Arrows’ net with greater consistency.

It was all part of Amonte’s message to his team at the break: don’t make it too fancy.

“How many pretty goals do you see in an overtime?” the 16-season NHL veteran and Thayer alum said. “A la today, there’s no pretty goals in overtime at any level. So I told them to relax, go out there, play their game and just get pucks to the net.”

As the Tigers advance to play Avon Old Farms in Saturday’s tournament semifinal at the The Icecenter in Salem, N.H. (5:30 p.m.), they feel as though they’re playing with house money.

“This is all gravy,” Amonte said. “For us, we didn’t even expect to make the tournament, so we’ll give it our best and see what happens.”

In Thayer’s net, McGovern presents a conundrum for opposing players. That is, where exactly can you shoot?

The 6-foot, 3-inch, butterfly-style netminder affords snipers little space to shoot. And, with his sound positional play in the crease, seldom will you find the Tigers’ backstop out of place.

McGovern’s effort in the last two games against St. Seb’s even drew the praise of the opposing coach.

“He’s played really well this year,” McCann said. “We played them on Saturday and he was outstanding. He was so good today, so going down three-to-nothing, we were a little concerned about what we were going to be able to do.”

Thayer's Griffin commits to Northeastern

February, 26, 2013
Thayer Academy hockey sophomore forward Lincoln Griffin has given a verbal commitment to Northeastern, Tigers head coach Tony Amonte confirmed.

Griffin, a 1997 birthdate player, is expected to join the Huskies for the 2016-17 season.

"Lincoln is a player with an amazing work ethic and a player who, on daily basis, is always working on some aspect of his game," Amonte said. "He is the one player on my team that always seems to find a way to get the job done."

The Walpole native led the Tigers in scoring as a freshman last season and again leads Thayer in scoring for the 2012-13 season with 14-23-37 totals through 23 games played.

"I was shocked that he wasn't scooped up earlier," Amonte added. "You can just see the drive and passion in his game every time he steps on the ice."

Thayer hosts ISL rival St. Sebastian's Wednesday in a NEPSAC tournament quarter-final game at the Canton SportsPlex (3:30 p.m.).