Boston High School: Mark Leonard

Masco topples Newburyport, Tewksbury advances

March, 1, 2011
STONEHAM, Mass. -- Newburyport's run in Division 2 North is over, and it was a familiar foe that brought down the two-time champions.

Ninth-seeded Masconomet (14-6-2) and head coach Bill Blackwell —who grew up 10 doors down from No. 8 Newburyport (12-5-4) head coach Paul Yameen in Lawrence when they were kids — watched the Clippers take them out twice in the regular season by a combined score of 11-4.

But on Tuesday night at Stoneham Arena in the first round of the Division 2 North, Blackwell and the Chieftains came up big when it mattered most with a 3-2 victory.

“They have been the North champs the past couple of years and I said to my coaching staff that they are not going down easy,” Blackwell said. “We got some good bounces and made some things happen, and we hung on. Believe me we hung on.”

The Chieftains popped in two goals in the first period to take charge of the contest, but what would happen over the next two periods would stun just about any person who studied physics.

The Clippers clanged three or four posts in the game, including a turnaround shot from Cooper Hines with 13:30 left to go in the second. Hines had a wide open net when he was able to send the shot on, but the puck clanged off the right post and darted across the goal line and out to keep the Clippers off the board.

Kris Holmes potted his first of two goals to break the dry spell at 3:43, but Pat Crosby would answer back at 11:09 off a nice feed from Scott Woods from behind the net to push it back to a two-goal game.

Holmes got his second on a strange play to begin the third, when the puck somehow found its way under and through Casey Tudor’s pad, and the puck wasn’t quite sure if it wanted to cross the line, but finally did at 1:13 of the third period.

“One of the coaches said to me ‘You guys could have had four or five goals,’” Blackwell said. “They could have had four or five goals. There were so many loose pucks, but guys missed them. I don’t know how.”

Newburyport came out with three shots on net in their first shift, and then were stymied by David Eidel’s flukie goal that got under the glove of the Clippers’ goalie. Small mistakes like that, which turned into big ones — including a too many men on the ice penalty when the Clippers were trying to pull the goalie with a minute left in regulation — ended the two-year run.

“It just wasn’t our day,” Yameen said. “Sometimes you have to get knocked down to get back up again. I expect we will get back up again.”

In the other game at Stoneham Arena, No. 6 Tewksbury (15-5-1) kept it’s cool in a fiery 4-2 win over No. 11 Peabody (11-6-4) to advance to the next round of the Div. 2 tournament.

The Tanners had three players ejected in the game and had 11 whistles blown in the third period alone, with several of those matching minors.

Rob Houghton cut into the 3-1 lead with 7:03 remaining in the game for the Tanners. But over the next several minutes, the physical play turned in to whistles, and Tewksbury was able to add an empty-netter from Ryan Doherty in the final minute of play to push the lead back to a two-goal game.

“We need to keep our cool at all times,” Derek Doherty said. “I tell my kids if you retaliate then you are hurting the team.”

Tewksbury dominated the first period and came out on top after the first 15 minutes with a 1-0 lead thanks to a slap shot on the power play from Robert Pruyne.

Peabody tied it up in the second off an improbable tip shot from Mike Chiappini. The Tanners seemed to have some life in period heading into their first tally after a sluggish start to the game, but all of that momentum was taken away a minute later when Dan Ladderbush poked home a goal in traffic.

Peabody barreled in on the breakaway on Nicolas Cunha not once, twice, but three times in the second period to no avail.

The Tanners had several opportunities to pop in goals before the penalty-filled third period, but Cunha was good to stop 16 of the 18 shots headed his way.

“I thought we had some real good chances and we just couldn’t find the goal,” said Peabody head coach Mark Leonard.

LeBlanc, Scarfo lead Winthrop in rout

February, 10, 2011
WINTHROP, Mass. -- Dale Dunbar and his Winthrop Vikings might not have been trying to send a message with its 9-0 win over Peabody (9-3-3) on Wednesday night at Larsen Rink, but the rest of the Northeastern Conference North division is probably paying very close attention to it.

The Vikings (9-2-4) scored two or more goals in every period and extended their unbeaten streak to 11, as they have gone 9-0-2 in that span.

“I don’t know if we are looking to be sending messages as much as we want to make sure that we are not getting ahead of ourselves,” said Dunbar, whose team has already cinched a tournament spot. “We just want to make sure we are focused on each opponent.”

Chris LeBlanc and Joseph Scarfo each had two goals and an assist, while five other Vikings notched a goal in the game.

The Tanners were without their No. 1 goalie Derek Savage because of disciplinary reasons, and the Vikings made sure to pepper the inexperience in between the pipes. The Vikings outshot the Tanners, 12-4, in the period and LeBlanc scooped up a loose puck, turned and wristed a shot past Joe Powers five minutes into the first period.

Scarfo would get his first on the power-play 1:01 later off a nice series of passes from Ryan McKinnon and LeBlanc.

The Tanners picked up the hitting in the period to try and slow down the Winthrop rushes, but the Vikings struck right back and kept the dominant play moving into the second period.

Bobby Clewer made a strong rush to the net and Chris Page made a heads up move to trail the play and collect the loose puck to push the lead to 3-0 at 9:35 of the second.

Matt Todisco’s first attempt at a break up the right side was stoned by Powers, but his persistence on the next trip down the ice resulted differently as he snapped a shot by the sophomore with 2:14 left in the period.

The two goals were a nice addition to the scoreboard, but it was the Vikings ability to force the Tanners into mistakes in their own end and immediately fire shots back on net that helped them keep control of the game.

“One of our adjustments was making sure the third man high was back,” said Dunbar, whose team outshot the Tanners, 35-10. “Peabody likes to stretch the zone wide. They like to switch ice and spring a guy, but they weren’t able to do it tonight. Every pass that was coming towards the middle we were there in position.”

The Vikings popped home five goals on 13 shots in the final period, while holding the Tanners — mostly reserves — to one shot in the period.

Tyler Pettee, Clewer and Mitch Paulson all recorded goals in the third period.

The loss of Savage came at a bad time for Mark Leonard against a hot Vikings team, and the Tanners’ chances of a repeat North division crown could be dwindling, as the top-goalie will miss the next game against Beverly.

However, the Tanners have already clinched a tournament spot, so the pressures of missing Savage won’t be detrimental to a postseason run.

“It’s just one of those nights,” said Leonard, whose team beat the Vikings 3-1 earlier in the year. “Winthrop was on from the start tonight.

“You really need a full team to compete against a team like that.”

No. 23 Peabody opens title defense with win

December, 16, 2010

PEABODY, Mass. -- After raising their 2009-10 Northeastern Conference championship banner to the rafters, it took a while for Peabody High hockey’s title defense to swing into full gear Tuesday night.

The No. 23 Tanners were out-shot (14-5) and out-played through the first period by league rival Winthrop. However, Peabody goaltender Derek Savage rode out the storm and his team went to the break in a scoreless tie.

Although the Vikings got on the board first during the second period, the Tanners stepped up their forecheck and asserted their physical brand of play while scoring the next three goals and taking a 3-1 win in a chippy season-opener.

“They definitely had us back on our heels to start there,” Peabody head coach Mark Leonard said. “But as the game wore on, our forecheck picked up and I thought we had the better of the play in the third.

“I challenged them after the first period. I wasn’t happy and neither were they.”

Winthrop (0-1-1, 0-1-0) broke the stalemate midway through the second period when Chris Leblanc fired a one-timer that trickled through Savage’s pads and barely snuck past the goal line. Joseph Scarfo had the assist.

The Tanners (1-0-0) responded little more than a minute later on Ryan Noftle’s goal set up by Tom Marmiani and Tommy Burns.

“That’s been our problem, we’re not capitalizing on our chances, especially early in the game,” Vikings head coach Dale Dunbar said. “We’re letting teams hang around. I thought they did a nice job with their physical presence, taking us off pucks and changing the momentum of the game.”

Marmiani got on the score sheet again, netting what would prove the game-winning goal 2:36 into the third period. He banged home the rebound off a shot from the point by defenseman Eric Muise.

“He told us to keep working hard, get everything to the net, play the body and play physical,” Marmiani said of Leonard’s message to the team at the first intermission.

Peabody added an insurance marker later in the third on the power play. Connor Purcell knocked home a rebound with assists going to Nico Manganiello and Muise, who picked up his second point of the night while contributing steady play on the Tanners’ specialty units.

Meanwhile, the defense tightened in front of Savage, limiting chances. The senior netminder finished with 25 saves while earning the win.

“It was a great game, as it always is against those guys,” Leonard said. “We’re very evenly matched and we knew that one play here or there could make the difference in the game. There weren’t many mistakes, it was just a hard-fought game both ways.”

  • Winthrop caused fits for Peabody in its own end early on with an aggressive and effective forecheck. The Vikings swarmed to Tanners puckcarriers, flooding one side of the ice. “When we swung the puck around, they almost had three guys there,” Leonard explained. “So we made an adjustment to bring our winger down lower and that really got them chasing us deep. That helped us a little bit. We really just picked up our intensity and we got some momentum.”
  • The Tanners ventured onto the ice for the first time in 2010-11, a new look team without last year’s potent top line of Andrew Bucci, Matt Rodgers and Derrik Pereira, who scored more than two-thirds of their goals last year. While Leonard realizes his team might not have a plethora of pretty goals like last year, he’s been preaching for his players to take care of business in front of the net to pick up the slack. “There aren’t a lot of goals left in that locker room,” Leonard quipped. “We work a lot on rebounds and crashing the net. That’s how we got a couple of our goals today.” Through one game, mission accomplished.
  • Winthrop, which opened with a 3-3 tie against No. 16 Wilmington on Monday, saw much of the same in game No. 2. Had the Vikings cashed in on some of their opportunities, they might be sitting pretty with two wins right now. It’s clear the Vikings are a talented team with Leblanc and defenseman Jake Rand exhibiting some eye-popping talent against Peabody. It just comes down to execution. “I don’t want to keep saying it’s early in the year,” Dunbar said. “These are huge games, in my eyes, they’re four-point games, especially early in the season.” Odds are they’ll be right there with Peabody in the thick of the Northeastern race.