Boston High School: Matt Sullivan

ESPN Boston's MIAA Boys' Hockey All-State Team

March, 23, 2012
First Team:
All-StateF – Brendan Collier, Sr., Malden Catholic
The two-time ESPN Boston All-Stater closed out his senior season with a second straight Super 8 title and claimed our Mr. Hockey Award. The Charlestown native and Boston University commit scored 26 goals with assists for 65 points, a figure which led all Division 1 scorers. Collier, who also plays golf and lacrosse at MC, plans on playing a year of juniors next year before joining the Terriers.

All-StateF – Ryan Fitzgerald, Jr., Malden Catholic
The Lancers’ top-line pivot makes his second All-State team appearance, his first on the First Team. The North Reading native and Boston College commit again eclipsed the 50-point plateau (31-21-52), despite missing the first couple weeks of the season with a shoulder injury, and helped the Lancers to their second straight Super 8 title.

All-StateF – Sam Kurker, Sr., St. John’s Prep
When looking up the term power forward, the Eagles senior winger and captain fit the mold. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound forward finished with 32 goals and 28 assists for 60 points. The Boston University commit has also seen time with U.S. National Team Development Program and skated with the U-18 select team at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament during the summer.

All-StateD – Colin MacGillivray, Jr., Malden Catholic
The Lancers blue-liner is made in the mold of an old school rugged defenseman. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Peabody native played on MC’s top pairing through the season while posting three goals and 10 assists for 10 points for the repeat Super 8 champions.

All-StateD – Nikko Markham, Sr., St. Mary’s (Lynn)
The Catholic Central Conference Most Valuable Player and Spartans captain finished a sound career by leading St. Mary’s to a No. 2 seed in the Super 8. The Salem native was among the top point-scoring blue-liners in the state with six goals and 12 assists for 18 points.

All-StateG – Peter Cronin, Jr., BC High
For the second straight season, the Eagles went as their netminder went, and Cronin led BC High to its first Super 8 finals appearance since 2007. Playing in each of the Eagles’ 25 games, the Norwell resident posted a 2.00 goals against average and a 91.7 save percentage.

2nd Team:
All-StateF – Kevin Emmerling, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Perhaps the most skilled skater in the state, the Pioneers’ center provided a dynamic offensive punch to their Super 8 run. The Whitinsville native finished third in Division 1 scoring with 26 goals and 30 assists for 56 points. Emmerling is exploring his options for next year and hopes to play college hockey.

All-StateF – Conal Lynch, Sr., Boston Latin
Lynch also showed that Charlestown is again a hotbed of hockey, carrying the Wolfpack to a DCL/MVC Div. 2 championship. Lynch finished second in Division 2 in scoring with 35 goals and 18 assists for 53 points. The Wolfpack captain is weighing his options in pursuing prep or junior hockey next year.

All-StateF – Matt Sullivan, Sr., BC High
The senior captain was a true two-way center with a high hockey IQ. The Duxbury resident anchored the Eagles’ top line, scoring 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points and lifting BC High to its first Super 8 final appearance since 2007. He is pursuing prep and junior hockey opportunities for next season.

All-StateD – Casey Fitzgerald, Fr., Malden Catholic
The younger brother of Ryan, Casey catapulted himself onto the scene in his first year, filling the role of a puck-moving defenseman previously held by former All-Stater Conor Evangelista. The North Reading resident and Boston College commit tallied two goals and 15 assists for 17 points in his first year.

D – Peter Sikalis, Sr., Acton-Boxborough
The Colonials’ captain was the impetus behind their run to the D1 North semifinals. Sikalis had eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points while eating up boatloads of ice time for head coach Bob Lavin. The imposing 6-foot-3 defenseman is exploring his hockey options for next year.

All-StateG – David Letarte, Sr., St. John’s Prep
The captain has been the Eagles’ backbone during the last three seasons, leading Prep back to the Super 8 once again. Letarte had a 2.08 goals against average and a 91.3 save percentage in 18 games played. He is currently mulling over college and junior hockey offers for next year.

“Best of the Rest”
Nick Bertoni, F, Franklin
Tom Besinger, F, BC High
Tommy Bishop, F, Chelmsford
Matt Brazel, F, Hingham
Trevor Cimino, F, Burlington
Frank Crinella, F, Springfield Cathedral
Paul Curran, F, Milton
Vin D’Amato, F, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Jarrod Fitzpatrick, F, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
James Gordon, F, Hingham
Danny Holland, F, Woburn
Mike Iovanna, F, Malden Catholic
Connor Irving, F, Beverly
Mike Kelleher, F, Central Catholic
Chris Leblanc, F, Winthrop
Bobby Mullins, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Ara Nazarian, F, Malden Catholic
Andrew Newis, F, Natick
Jack O’Hear, F, Catholic Memorial
Cam O’Neill, F, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Jake O'Rourke, F, Medway
Cam Owens, F, Wilmington
Brian Pinho, F, St. John’s Prep
Dalton Rolli, F, Wilmington
Joe Strangie, F, Danvers
D.J. Walsh, F, Needham
Bryan Carter, D, Hudson
Connor Fenton, D, Braintree
Brian Furey, D, BC High
Pat Houghton, D, Westford Academy
Steve Mattos, D, Burlington
Nick Pandalena, D, St. John’s Prep
Jake Secatore, D, Woburn
Brendan White, D, Malden Catholic
Joe Cerulo, G, Wakefield
Jordan Davis, G, Norwood
Mike Donadio, G, Franklin
Bailey MacBurnie, G, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
Connor Murray, G, Needham
Connor Roddy, G, Medfield
Shane Starrett, G, Catholic Memorial
Steven Waites, G, Winthrop
Kyle Williams, G, Central Catholic

Coach of the Year
Chris Spillane, Franklin
Losing 15 seniors off of 2011's Division 2 state finalist team posed no problem to Spillane in guiding his team back to the Garden again. The 13-year Panthers bench boss is regarded as one of the finest in the state, but no season might have been more impressive for Spillane than getting this team back to the finals.

Karl Infanger, Natick
Mark Lee, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
John McLean, Malden Catholic

MIAA hockey championships primer, picks

March, 16, 2012
All eyes will be on the TD Garden Sunday as championships will be decided in six divisions of MIAA hockey title games.

We'll have you covered all day long, but until then, we provide to you a breakdown of each of the game and our prediction:

GIRLS’ FINALS Division 2
No. 1 Duxbury (21-0-1) vs. No. 7 Falmouth (16-4-1), 11 a.m., TD Garden
The Breakdown: If the Dragons win this game, they make a strong argument that they were the strongest girls’ hockey team in the state, regardless of division, with the potential for an undefeated season. As any strong hockey squad goes, the Dragons are built from goal out with sophomore goaltender Rachel Myette (0.91 GAA) looks for her second state title in as many seasons as starter. Duxbury’s blue line corps is regarded as the deepest in the state, led by ESPN Boston Ms. Hockey contender Martha Findley (4-19-23). Of course, Duxbury has plenty of offensive firepower to go along with their strong defensive play with junior forwards Hannah Murphy (18-27-45) and Lily Connolly (18-20-38) as leading scorers. Falmouth has been one of the stories of the tournament, making a run behind first-year head coach Erin Blood. The Clippers have also received strong play from a young goaltender in freshman Maddie Scavotto (1.26 GAA). Falmouth is also deep and experienced on the blue line with senior captain Brenna Callahan and junior Alexx Good. The Clippers have received scoring punch from a pair of freshman forwards in Kelly Ferreira (13-9-22) and Madison Haberl (11-12-23).

The Pick: The defending Division 2 champion Dragons spent half the season as the No. 1 team in our poll. We’re not about to go against them now. Duxbury, 4-1.

Division 1 No. 3 St. Mary’s (Lynn) (21-3-1) vs. No. 4 Arlington Catholic (20-3-1), 9 a.m.
The Breakdown: If two regular season meetings between these Central Catholic powers weren’t enough, we get a rubber match for all the marbles on Sunday. The Lady Spartans came away with two wins in the teams’ regular season series, including a defining 5-2 decision by St. Mary’s on Feb. 1 after they’d been upset by crosstown rival Winthrop/Lynn. Can’t underscore the coaching in this game enough, as Frank Pagliuca has turned in perhaps his finest performance behind the bench and Maggie Taverna has vaulted the Cougars back onto the state’s biggest stage in Year One. Taverna has been helped by one of the state’s most dynamic scorers in senior Natalie Flynn (19-15-34). Adrieana Rossini (8-14-22) has also come up with some huge postseason goals. On the blue line, AC has one of the state’s best in senior Rebecca Zappala. First-year transfers Kaleigh Finigan (30-goal season) and Brittani Lanzilli (25-28-53) have not disappointed while Alison Butler (team-leading 61 points) has taken a huge step forward. The Spartans blue line is airtight with preseason All-Stater Rachel Donahoe leading the group. Lauren Skinnion (7 SO) has been strong as a first-year starter in nets.

The Pick: Third time’s a charm? Not so. Spartans are too strong. St. Mary’s, 4-2.

BOYS’ FINALS Division 3
Medway (19-6-1) vs. Hudson (21-1-1), 1:30 p.m.

The Breakdown: This marks the return of one of the state’s great public hockey programs to its biggest stage in Hudson (seriously, look it up), with the Hawks making their first state finals appearance since 1978, when they took the Div. 1 title from Burlington. The Central sectional champions are strong up front with a trio of 30-point scorers in seniors Tyler Kirby, Tim Murphy and Blake Seymour. The Mustangs are paced by one of the state’s top snipers in Jake O’Rourke (43-13-56). This matchup will also feature two of most dominant D3 goalies in the state with Hudson junior Shane Barry and Medway junior Mike Narducci facing off with sub-2.00 goals against averages.

The Pick: We’re going with the storyline and perhaps the most consistent D3 team throughout the season. Hudson, 3-2.

Division 2 Wilmington (15-4-5) vs. No. 1 Franklin (19-2-3), 3:30 p.m.
The Breakdown: This might be the most intriguing matchup of the day. Both of these teams were among four Division 2 teams on the Mass. Hockey Coaches Association’s initial Super 8 Watch list a month ago and haven’t disappointed in the tournament. Franklin was here a year ago, when they had their hearts broken by Tewksbury in an overtime stunner. Many observers, including us, had last season pegged as the Panthers’ opportunity to break a nearly three-decade long drought, but Chris Spillane has showed why he’s one of the state’s premier coaches. It also hasn’t hurt that Franklin has received tremendous senior seasons from Adam Hall (17-25-42) and Nick Bertoni (25-15-40). Sophomore netminder Mike Donadio (1.64 GAA) has been a revelation. The Wildcats offense has taken off since Cam Owens’ (14-19-33) return to the lineup, while senior captain Dalton Rolli (9-16-25) is an underrated two-way presence. Junior forward Jake Rogers (12-6-20) has come up with some timely goals in the postseason. Sophomore netminder Drew Foley (1.69 GAA) has played his best when it’s counted most, carrying a three-plus game shutout streak into the Wildcats’ North sectional final with Winthrop.

The Pick: The last time the Panthers hoisted the trophy Coach Spillane skated. Unfortunately for the hockey hotbed, this isn’t the year either. Wilmington, 2-1 (OT).

Division 1 Burlington (17-2-6) vs. Milton (19-3-3), 8:15 p.m.
The Breakdown: The Red Devils pulled off a tough feat, bouncing back from a Super 8 play-in game loss (and a very competitive one at that) to pull themselves into the D1 championship. The Middlesex League champions have plenty of speed to burn, and senior assistant captain Trevor Cimino (17-22-39) is about as good a two-way forward as you’ll find. Along with Joe Berardi (22-13-35), Brett Romkey (17-3-20) and C.J. Grinnell (6-14-20), Burlington can score in piles. We’ve also come away impressed by their defensive corps led by Steve Mattos, in addition to Cody Crocker, Adam Crowley and Brien Diffley. The Wildcats ran the Bay State League gauntlet in the South sectional tournament to get to the Garden. Paul Curran (26-33-59) is one of the best pure scorers in the state, and along with top-liners Brian Higgins (23-29-52) and Terrance Walsh (16-33-49), Milton provides matchup problems. Blue-liner John Murtagh is a rock, logging boatloads of ice time, and senior netminder Jay Hankard is peaking at the right time

The Pick: Red Devils are simply too potent, but they’re the pick mostly because of the way they’re playing defensively right now in front of Derek DeCastro. Burlington, 6-3.

Division 1A No. 5 BC High (13-6-5) vs. No. 1 Malden Catholic (19-1-4), 6 p.m.
The Breakdown: After beating another Catholic Conference rival, St. John’s Prep, to advance to the final, Eagles head coach John Flaherty said he’s had a special feeling about this group. That feeling might have developed after BC High skated to a 2-2 tie with MC on Jan. 25, a game in which the Eagles in some regards out-played the Lancers. This will be the fourth meeting between these teams, with MC taking two wins, including a 3-1 win in the Super 8’s round robin last week. The crucible for BC High is which of their defensive units shows up: The out-of-sorts group that surrendered a 7-spot earlier this season to MC, or the cohesive group that bounced Prep and its top line? Of course, that all starts with junior goaltender Peter Cronin (2.00 GAA), who has turned in another solid tournament. Brian Furey leads a much improved blue-line group. The Eagles are also disciplined in their own zone, with Matt Sullivan (12-16-28) providing as much defensively as he does offensively. Everyone knows of the Lancers top line of Brendan Collier, Ryan Fitzgerald and Mike Iovanna, but freshman center Ara Nazarian has been the breakout star of the tournament, filling the scoresheet in every game and tallying five goals. It’s not just offense with MC, however, as you’d be hard pressed to find a deeper, more dynamic top three than Casey Fitzgerald, Colin MacGillivray and Brendan White. If netminder Connor Maloney plays as he did against Central Catholic in the crossover round, that’s game, set, and match.

The Pick: Doin’ it for CS5. MC, 5-3.

Super 8 recap: BC High 3, St. John's (S) 2 - OT

March, 11, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- The mathematics were simple enough for St. John’s (Shrewsbury). Win by two or more goals over BC High in yesterday’s third round of the Super 8 Tournament and you have a chance of extending your season into the crossover round.

Things were looking good for the Pioneers after two periods as they held a one-goal lead. But in the game of hockey things can turn on a dime. Tom Besinger, on the power play, tied the game for Eagles at 12:09 of the third after stuffing in his own rebound. With nothing decided after 45 minutes, this contest moved into an extra frame where BC High would go on to prevail 3-2.

"It was a great effort by us," Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. "St. John's is a very good hockey team. We were ahead 1-0 and they came back to go ahead. We could've packed it in at that point but we didn't. I'm proud of our kids' effort and resilience."

Senior forward Matt Sullivan notched the game-winner at 6:02 of overtime after stealing the puck away from Chris Coveney inside the St. John’s zone and flicked wrist shot past goaltender Mario Pizzeri glove side keeping the fifth-seeded Eagles (13-5-5) alive to play another day as they move into the crossover round beginning on Wednesday. The eighth-seeded Pioneers finish up at 15-7-3. All three of their loses in this tournament were decided by one goal, two coming by way of a shootout and overtime.

“We were up by one after two periods and I asked MIAA officials coming into the third period if we had to win by two goals,” said St. John’s coach Brian Murphy. “At first they didn’t know but midway through the period they confirmed it.

“We’re really proud with the way our guys played. They played these teams tooth and nail right to the end. We were certainly in every game and did ourselves proud. It’s fun completion but just tough to lose.”

BC High led 1-0 after one period when Sullivan, on the man-advantage, put back a rebound at 6:45.

Knowing their season was on the brink, the Pioneers needed to get their offense in gear in a hurry. In the middle period they did just that. An unassisted goal by Kevin Emmerling (6:18) and a Jay Duquette one-timer (10:59) propelled St. John's ahead 2-1 moving into the third.

The Pioneers opened up the frame strong and a couple of quality scoring opportunities were turned aside by Eagle netminder Peter Cronin (17 saves). That, in turn, would lead to Besinger making two swipes at the puck in front of Pizerri (33 saves) with the second one trickling through for the equalizer.

"St. John's wasn't the same team we saw earlier in the year," said Besinger, whose club defeated the Pioneers twice during the regular season 6-0 and 7-2. "They seemed to have some good chemistry going on. We just knew we had to continue to keep crashing the net in the third period and overtime period and were able to do that and come out ahead."

Super 8 recap: BC High 4, Hingham 2

March, 4, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- It was the Super 8’s version of when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object.

On one side you had Hingham, a team that has made it a ritual this season at finding the back of the net, scoring 72 times. On the opposite end stood BC High goaltender Peter Cronin. Regarded by many as one of the best at his trade holding down a miniscule 1.94 goals-against-average.

With these intangibles in place you knew something had to give in Sunday’s first-round contest at Merrimack College’s Lawler Arena.

On the strength of three power play goals, the fifth-seeded Eagles pulled away for a 4-2 victory. BC High (11-5-5) advances to the second round where it will take on top seed Malden Catholic Tuesday at a time to be determined. The Harbormen (16-5-2), seeded fourth, will meet No 8 St. John’s of Shrewsbury Tuesday, also at a time to be determined.

With the game knotted 2-2 after 30 minutes, sophomore forward Tom Besinger, on the man-advantage, opened the third by racing down the right side beating Hingham netminder John Grenier top shelf coming at 2:55 to give the Eagles the lead for good. It was Besinger’s second marker on the afternoon.

In the final minute, with Grenier (17 saves) pulled and BC High’s Bartley Regan in the penalty box for hooking, the Harbormen looked to benefit on their 6-on-4 advantage. But a blocked shot from the perimeter resulted in Matt Sullivan scoring an empty-net goal to close things out.

“In this tournament everyone is pretty even so anytime you get a man-advantage you almost have to take it and capitalize,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “Fortunately for us we capitalized on our man up situations and propelled past a very good Hingham team. Right now we’re playing confident when we are a man up.”

After a scoreless opening frame things heated up considerably in the second period. The Eagles fired the first salvo just 0:43 in with a power play blast by Besinger from the right point over Grenier’s right shoulder to make it 1-0.

“I felt nervous on my first shift but then our line started clicking and we started getting scoring opportunities and started to put the puck in the back of the net,” Besinger said. “We played [Grenier] earlier this season [in the Cape Cod Classic, won by BC High in a shootout] and I noticed he dropped his blocker to the ice when you get in close so I knew I had to go high on my shots.”

BC High had little time to enjoy its lead however as Ryan Linehan, off a turnover, scored shorthanded for Hingham just 22 seconds later knotting things at 1-1.

But at 4:52, senior defenseman Brian Furey was able to push the Eagles back in front with a laser over Grenier’s right shoulder from just inside the blue line, again coming with the man-advantage. Grenier, much like Cronin, had been stellar this season with a 1.88 GAA.

“They scored on their power play chances and we didn’t,” Hingham head coach Tony Messina said after his club went 0-for-4 on power play opportunities. “We had great penetration and good control of the puck in their zone but they did a good job blocking shots and keeping stuff out on the perimeter.”

Yet again the Harbormen stormed back. Just one minute after Furey’s tally, senior forward Patrick Mannion caught Cronin (17 saves) out of position and stuffed a shot low right corner to deadlock the contest at two goals apiece.

ESPN Boston Super 8 primer

March, 2, 2012
There are less than 48 hours remaining before the puck drops on the real Super 8 on Sunday at Merrimack College.

So we’re taking this opportunity to break down the final eight:

1. Malden Catholic (15-1-4)
Marquee wins: Pretty much all of them, minus the Lancers’ one loss to New Jersey powerhouse Delbarton.

Players to watch: F Brendan Collier (22-34-56); F Ryan Fitzgerald (26-14-40); F Mike Iovanna (14-23-37); F Tyler Sifferlen (9-14-23); F Ara Nazarian (10-16-26); D Casey Fitzgerald (1-15-16); D Colin MacGillivray (2-8-10); Brendan White (2-16-18).

The skinny: As in the last couple of years, this year’s Super 8 is viewed as the Lancers’ tournament to lose. Again, they have the best line in the state with Collier, Ryan Fitzgerald and Iovanna saddling into Mike Vecchione’s former spot. But MC’s true strength is depth. Sifferlen and Nazarian would occupy a spot on mostly any team’s top line. Super frosh and BC commit Casey Fitzgerald has filled Conor Evangelista’s role dutifully as a puck-moving defenseman.

X-factor: Goaltending. Connor Maloney watched last year’s Super 8 from the BC High bench behind Peter Cronin. Now, it’s his time to shine.

2. St. Mary’s of Lynn (18-1-3)
Marquee wins: Malden Catholic (Kasabuski Tournament tie); Hingham (5-1); Cathedral (3-2).

Players to watch: F Bobby Mullins (9-20-29); F Jarrod Fitzpatrick (14-7-21); F Cam O’Neill (14-15-29); F Brendan Mageary (13-11-24); F Tim Aylward (10-10-20); D Nikko Markham (6-12-18); D Bryan Wilkins (1-7-8); G Bailey MacBurnie (1.30 GAA, 94.1 save %).

The skinny: So what were the Spartans to do without perennial league all-star Donald Hesse as their backbone? Well, Mark Lee found a more-than-legitimate starter in MacBurnie, a sophomore, who’s played well along with a defensive corps led by Markham. Fitzpatrick has been another revelation in his first season with the Spartans. St. Mary’s has greater scoring depth than in year’s past. And they’re young, as freshman Eric MacAdams (4-14-18) has impressed seeing top-line action.

X-factor: How do the Spartans react in a tight game. In last year’s Super 8 play-in stab, and the Div. 1 tournaments of year’s past, one-goal games have come back to haunt them. If they can sweat out a couple of close decisions in this tournament, they might find themselves at the Garden.

3. St. John’s Prep (13-5-2)
Marquee wins: BC High (3-1); Hingham (2-1); Central Catholic (4-0).

Players to watch: F Sam Kurker (26-26-52); F Brian Pinho (14-20-34); F Tyler Bird (9-5-14), F Andrew Brandano (8-6-14); D Nick Pandalena (6-10-16); D Brent Murray (0-4-4); G David Letarte (2.02 GAA, 91.5 save %).

The skinny: We still haven’t gotten over last year’s championship game; it was simply amazing hockey. There’s no Colin Blackwell, but Kurker (BU commit) has really blossomed this season and has taken this team on his back the way his former linemate did last year. Pinho and Bird, along with Kurker, are a formidable first line to skate against, and are strong in all three zones. Pandalena is a mountain of a defenseman, but beyond him, the Eagles blue line was green entering the season. Murray has elevated his play to comprise a formidable top pairing.

X-factor: Letarte. I believe we said this last year as well. When the senior is on his game, he can be airtight.

4. Hingham (16-4-2)
Marquee wins: Marshfield (6-2); Catholic Memorial (3-2); St. John’s of Shrewsbury (4-0).

Players to watch: F James Gordon (21-17-38); F Matt Brazel (11-20-31); F Matt Hughes (13-11-24); F Ryan Linehan (8-12-20); F Patrick Mannion (6-12-18); F Sam D’Antuono (6-19-25); D Nolan Driscoll (2-7-9); G John Grenier (1.88 GAA, 90.1 save %).

The skinny: If this team had a motto, it would be “lacking experience, but not young.” During the Harbormen’s most recent Super 8 runs, a good portion of this year’s roster watched from way down the bench, or up in the gallery. But this team has collectively raised its game and is benefitted by great coaching. Gordon’s 20-goal season has been a pleasant surprise and Brazel is one worth watching for the next two years. The real revelation has been Grenier between the pipes. The Xaverian transfer is among the statewide leaders in goals against average.

X-factor: Grenier. He doesn’t fit the current mold of a big, butterfly goaltender. Instead, he relies on aggressively challenging the shooter and cutting down angles. We’ll see how it matches up with the precision passing games of MC and St. John’s (S) in pool play games.

5. BC High (10-5-5)
Marquee wins: St. John’s (twice); Prep (5-3); Cathedral (3-0).

Players to watch: F Matt Sullivan (9-15-24); F Tom Besinger (10-15-25); F Bartley Regan (7-6-13); F Steve DeForge (6-13-19); D Brian Furey (3-6-9); D Sam Topham (1-9-10); G Peter Cronin (2.00 GAA; 91.5 save %).

The skinny: Cronin lead this team to the crossover round last year, falling just short of an upset of MC. He was the revelation of last year’s tournament and, as usual, the Eagles will look to their goaltender to continue his strong play. Besinger might be the shiftiest forward in the tournament not named Kevin Emmerling. He’s not big, but he sure can skate. Furey has done a nice job leading a young Eagles blue-line corps this season. ‘Moe’ Regan has produced some dirty goals and has thrived in his role as a power forward, coming off his EMass D1 Super Bowl win.

X-factor: Sullivan. The Eagles’ soft-spoken leader is a lead-by-example type, but thrives in big-game atmospheres. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s a player we’re talking about months after the tournament.

6. Springfield Cathedral (10-6-6)
Marquee wins: BC High (4-3); Needham (1-0); CM (3-1).

Players to watch: F Frank Crinella (13-15-28); F Thomas Quinlan (11-5-16); F Peter Crinella (5-8-13); F Brendan Ashe (7-7-14); D Matt Foley (0-12-12); G John Liquori (2.40 GAA, 88.9 save %).

The skinny: The Panthers cracked the top six this year after getting bounced in a play-in game last year. This is a team that isn’t very flashy, but is consistently tough to play against, playing a brand of hockey that can be frustrating to opponents. Sophomore John Liquori has been steady, taking over for old stalwart Zac Rondeau. Liquori is the benefactor of a sound defensive squad that likes to play the body and takes care of its defensive assignments with diligence.

X-factor: Frank Crinella is perhaps the most talented player in the state who receives the least amount of deserved credit. This tournament could be a statement for him.

7. Central Catholic (13-3-5)
Marquee wins: Burlington (6-4, play-in game).

Players to watch: F Ryan Daigle (8-15-23); F Mike Kelleher (10-7-17); F Lloyd Hayes (15-8-23); F Alex Lester (7-9-16); F Zack Cote (10-4-14); D Jake Donahue (3-4-7); G Kyle Williams (2.13 GAA, 91.1 save %).

The skinny: Stop me if you’re heard this one before, but the Raiders again used a spirited second-half push after a slow start to get back into the top tournament. If they continue the fast and physical brand of hockey they played against Burlington, the Raiders will provide a tough test. Kelleher’s natural hat trick is a big boost to Central’s chances going forward; if he gets going, he’s one of the most potent pure scorers in the state.

X-factor: Williams. Shocking, right? As the goaltender goes, so goes the Raiders. And it’s no coincidence that Central played its best while last year’s ESPN Boston All-State netminder was at his finest.

8. St. John’s of Shrewsbury (15-4-3)
Marquee wins: Needham (5-4, play-in game).

Players to watch: F Kevin Emmerling (25-28-53); F Vin D’Amato (23-14-37); F Jay Duquette (11-22-33); F Hunter Burdick (6-9-15); D Nick Rutigliano (1-10-11).

The skinny: Akin to Central Catholic, the Pioneers took perhaps their biggest win of the season on Monday. In that shootout with Needham, they showed why they can go toe-to-toe with any team across the state with the top line of Emmerling, D’Amato and Duquette running and gunning …

X-factor: … but then there’s the defense. The Pioneers are going to need to tighten up in their own end. If they allow their three future opponents to enter the zone as they allowed the Rockets to run in the third period, there could be some lop-sided scores.

Final Super 8 field projection and mixtape

February, 24, 2012
On the final day of the regular season, and with less than 24 hours remaining before Saturday’s Super 8 committee selection meeting, we’ve cobbled together our final field projection for the state’s premier hockey tournament.

The top six seeds have remained pretty consistent down the stretch, but we see two new squads slipping in the back door to nab the final play-in game positions.

Also, we thought it was fitting to take a cue from friend, colleague and longtime Super 8 supporter Chris Forsberg, by way of John Buccigross, with a little musical tribute to each team, chronicling some of our favorite (or not so much, or otherwise noteworthy, whatever fits, right?) songs of the last year or so.

1. Malden Catholic (15-1-4)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking:

Where they ranked in last projection: 1

Why they’re in this spot: Lancers’ only loss of the season came against an out-of-state opponent (New Jersey powerhouse Delbarton), in addition to one of their ties (Hamden, Conn.). MC’s also been at No. 1 in our poll from “box to wire” to steal one of Chris Serino’s expressions. Plus, the Lancers will be a motivated squad headed into the tournament, playing for their ailing former coach.

Song that fits: Coldplay, “Us Against the World.” I’m a much bigger fan of the Brit-band’s early catalogue and was in attendance for one of their first U.S. shows. Not a huge fan of Mylo Xylato (or the last two albums for that matter) but this song fits, not to mention we know a couple Lancers will appreciate the nod. The message is clear, they’re doing it for Serino this year.

Lyric that fits: “Through chaos as it swirls/ It's us against the world.”

2. St. Mary’s of Lynn (18-1-3)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking:

Where they ranked in last projection: 2

Why they’re in this spot: The Spartans lone loss of the season came to the aforementioned Lancers in the first game of the high school hockey season; they even improved upon their first result, tying MC at the Kasabuski tourney. Perhaps the most steady team of the season, playing in front of sophomore goaltender Bailey MacBurnie (1.30 GAA in 21 games), who’s been a revelation.

Song that fits: My Morning Jacket, "The Day is Coming." Last year's "Circuital" wasn't one of my favorite band's best efforts (you see a pattern beginning to emerge here?), but this one's a gem from one of the most imaginative bands working today.

Lyric that fits: "If opportunity, rears its head/ Will you answer, or stay home in bed?"

3. Hingham (16-4-2)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking:

Where they ranked in last projection: 3

Why they’re in this spot: The wildcard of the season. Obviously, the Hingham brand of hockey is synonymous with the Super 8, but not even head coach Tony Messina knew exactly what he had coming into this season. The inexperienced, but talented Harbormen haven’t missed a stride this season. There’s no single sensation that’s carried the load, but Hingham is deep, evidenced by their five forwards (Sam D’Antuono, James Gordon, Matt Hughes, Ryan Linehan and Patrick Mannion) with 18 or more points on the season.

Song that fits: Real Estate: "It's Real." My favorite break-out band of the year. Their sophomore effort "Days" was one of the best albums of last calendar year. A must-listen for anybody who enjoys The Smiths, or songs about the Jersey coastline.

Lyric that fits: "I skated on the frozen Sea/ It's real as far as I can see."

4. St. John’s Prep (13-5-2)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking:

Where they ranked in last projection: 4

Why they’re in this spot: This spot could be a toss-up between the Eagles and the Eagles of BC High. In this instance, we’re going to slot Prep ahead of their Catholic Conference rivals on the tail end of their schedule. Although Prep and BC High tied their season series, both claimed two-goal victories, the committee might look at BC High’s recent ties at the Cape Cod Classic (wins for tournament purposes) as reason to slide them to No. 5. Looking beyond the play-in games, Prep’s top line of Tyler Bird, Brian Pinho and Sam Kurker is one of the few lines in the state that create problems for MC’s vaunted top line.

Song that fits: Avicii "Levels." A staple of Prep's warmup mix this season, and as ubiquitous a dance song in society this side of anything off of Daft Punk's "Discovery." Fully expect to hear this song about 1,000 times during the Super 8 at Lawler. Get ready.

Lyric that fits: "Oh, sometimes/ I get a good feeling." (Well, come to think of it, that's about all there is for lyrics.)

5. BC High (10-5-5)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking:

Where they ranked in last projection: 5

Why they’re in this spot: As we explained, there’s little separating the Eagles of Morrissey Blvd. and the aforementioned Eagles. It’s just that the Eagles’ two shootout wins and one-goal win over Archbishop Williams in the Cape Cod Classic this week might cost them a higher seed than this spot. In either case, they’re a shoo-in and a dangerous squad at that as goaltender Peter Cronin (.915 save percentage) has only matured since his eye-opening performance in last year’s tournament. Let’s not forget either, the Eagles a relatively young squad as well, with only four seniors (Adam Conway, Brian Furey, Bartley Regan and Matt Sullivan) on the roster.

Song that fits: M83, "Intro." This is the lead-in to Anthony Gonzalez's masterpiece "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" (yes, the song you skip over to get to "Midnight City"). My favorite album of last year, for those of us who still actually believe in the concept of the album.

Lyric that fits: "The battle's fought/ The deed is done/ Our silver hum runs deep and strong."

6. Springfield Cathedral (10-6-6)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking:

Where they ranked in last projection: 9

Why they’re in this spot: Outwardly, the Panthers don’t have the most striking record, but only three of their losses have come in-state. And all of those losses came against teams ranked before them in this projected field (BC High, MC, St. Mary’s). They’ve shown they can skate with the best in the state, albeit, they coughed up a point in a 5-5 with Prep after holding a 4-goal lead. But Wednesday’s hard-fought 1-0 win over Needham in their host tournament showed how difficult this team can be to play against. As in that game, sophomore John Liquori has been solid and senior captain Frank Crinella (13-15-28) is as tough to play against as he is talented.

Song that fits: The National, "Conversation 16." Trying to figure out what lead singer Matt Berninger's lyrics are about is like trying to do a Rubik's cube blind-folded. But they sure are interesting, if not entirely depressing. Great band, the band that Coldplay wishes they could be but are not, what with adoration of critics everwhere (including me).

Lyric that fits: "I was less than amazing/ Do not know what all the troubles are for."


7. Central Catholic (12-3-5)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking
: 7

Where they ranked in last projection: 6

Why they’re in this spot: We had the Raiders avoiding a play-in game in our previous field, but given their play down the stretch (3-0 loss to Andover stings), it feels like that’s exactly what they’re staring down for a second straight year. Still, as in year’s past, Central has made a Super 8 push with a strong second half and things seem to be falling into place with ESPN Boston preseason All-State goaltender Kyle Williams (2.00 GAA) playing his best hockey down the stretch.

Song that fits: At the Drive-In, "Rolodex Propaganda." OK, not a new song, but the reunion of the late-90's greatest band has me excited.

Lyric that fits: "Pinch history feel the pinch blistering/ Pinch me in my dreams cause I'm still not listening."

8. Burlington (14-1-6)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking:

Where they ranked in last projection: 8

Why they’re in this spot: An emphatic 7-3 win over a quality Chelmsford team Thursday night in the Cahoon Tournament championship is exactly the kind of emphatic statement that can help a team this time of year. As the winner’s of the Middlesex League’s small schools division, we believe the Red Devils will be the lone team representing one of the state’s toughest conferences. The only thing that could work against them is a high amount of ties. They’re also a little light in the marquee win category. Senior forwards Trevor Cimino and Brett Romkey were two of my favorite players to watch this season.

Song that fits: Bon Iver, "Minnesota, Wi." Just because Justin Vernon's Grammy acceptance is still one of the most priceless moments in recorded internet history.

Lyric that fits: "Never gonna break/ Not for a part in any gamut of the dark."

9. Needham (16-4-1)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking
: 8

Where they ranked in last projection: Out of Top 10

Why they’re in this spot: You could make the case that Wednesday’s Springfield Cathedral Tournament game against the Panthers was a battle for the right to take the sixth seed. Given that the Rockets played well, but came away with a 1-0 loss, that’s why they’re here. This isn’t an offensive juggernaut, and hopefully the Rockets’ recent goal-starved performances will not negatively affect them, but they play solid team defense. It starts from the goalmouth out with a dependable, experienced goaltender in Connor Murray. Senior captains Lucas Davis and D.J. Walsh are equally adept in the offensive zone as they are in their own end.

Song that fits: Jack White, "Love Interruption." As soon as we lost The White Stripes, White came back with this solo effort that cuts to the bone. After a couple tough Super 8 appearances, Needham's looking for more than just another appearance.

Lyric that fits: "Yeah, I won't let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me anymore."

10. Westford Academy (12-2-4)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking:

Where they ranked in last projection: Out of Top 10

Why they’re in this spot: Alright, so this is our boldest prediction, given that the Grey Ghosts still have one paramount game to play (as of the time of publication) against another Super 8 Watch List team in Milton at the Irish-American Shootout championship. We’re going to project that the Grey Ghosts make the DCL/MVC the only public school league with two representatives; you can make the case the DCL/MVC was the strongest public conference this season, top to bottom. In addition, I like the way the Grey Ghosts attack with speed. They also have one of the most underrated D-men in the state in senior captain Pat Houghton (1-15-16) in front of senior goaltender Zach Webert.

Song that fits: Holy Ghost!, "Hold On." Ghosts, get it? Plus, they're a Brendan Hall favorite.

Lyric that fits: "It seems like I've been here before."

Recap: No. 5 BC High 4, No. 11 CM 4

February, 4, 2012

BOSTON –- It was a kind of glass-half-full tie for No. 11 Catholic Memorial.

Akin to last season’s stretch run, the Knights have the quandary of needing points to qualify for the postseason tournament while in the thick of their Catholic Conference schedule – never an easy task.

The Knights were about 49 seconds away from taking two points from No. 5 BC High during their Ed Wright Cup game at Walter Brown Arena on Saturday. While CM settled for one in a 4-4 tie with the Eagles, the Knights came away with more plusses than minuses.

“The good news is in our last two games, we’ve scored nine goals,” an upbeat Knights head coach Bill Hanson said.

Still, the Knights (6-6-1, 2-3-1 Catholic) were in prime position for the victory, only to watch the Eagles (8-3-3, 2-2-3) to tie it in the final minute.

CM forward Aaron Marcel looked as thought he’d found the game-winning goal with 1:51 to play, breaking a 3-3 tie. However, with 49.3 seconds remaining, BC High senior captain Matt Sullivan cleaned up a rebound to knot the score again.

“We were just trying to keep the puck down low, and I think Steve DeForge took the puck off the half wall,” said Sullivan, who earned game MVP honors with two points. “He got shot off high on the goalie’s shoulder and I was able to get the rebound.”

The Knights held the lead on three occasions in the course of the back-and-forth affair.

Jack O’Hear had CM to a 1-0 in the first; Tom Besinger countered for BC High later in the first. Then, eighth-grader Kevin Hock popped in his third of the season for a 2-1 lead in the second.

The Eagles claimed their first lead of the game in the third with Michael Brooks banking in a one-timer in front off of Ryan McDonough’s centering pass, after a goal by DeForge had tied it.

John Malewicz tied the score, 3-3, with nine minutes remaining.

“All in all, it was a pretty typical CM, BC High game,” BC High head coach John Flaherty summed it up. “Records go out the window.”

Hanson, with a quick wit and ability to turn phases with the best of them, was in rare form following the contest.

When fielding a reporter’s question about CM’s ability to handle opposing team’s forechecks in recent weeks, the Knights bench boss pulled out a Korean War reference.

“We’re playing a lot better in the neutral zone right now, which is allowing us to get pucks deep,” Hanson said. “We’re not having opponents coming at us like the [Chinese] Red Army over the Yalu River.”

Aside from the colorful description, what was at the heart of Hanson’s message was that he was pleased overall with team’s ability to make easy transitions out of the defensive zone, coming with speed through the neutral zone. It has been a sore spot in CM’s recent efforts, but Saturday marked a vast improvement for the Knights’ blue-liners.

"We can play with the confidence that we can come back when we're down," Hanson said.

Scary sight in the second period when BC High sophomore forward Chris LaLiberte left the game.

LaLiberte was skating through the neutral zone, near the penalty boxes, when he was sandwiched between the checks of two CM skaters. After laying motionless for a couple of tense seconds, LaLiberte eventually skated off on his own power.

He even tried to swing back toward the Eagles’ bench, only to be sent off to the room for the afternoon by Flaherty.

“You just can’t take any chances with head injuries,” Flaherty added.

LaLiberte’s play drew Flaherty’s praise, despite giving himself up in the process.

“He’s played with one hand, he’s played on one leg,” he said of the winger. “That’s the type of kid he is. … He sacrificed himself to make that play. We went on a 2-on-1 because of what he did. That’s what he does, he plays hard every shift.”

Recap: No. 1 Malden Catholic 2, No. 5 BC High 2

January, 26, 2012

BOSTON -- The battle for the Catholic Conference played out Wednesday night at UMass-Boston, as top-ranked Malden Catholic took on No. 5 BC High in a heated and physical matchup.

The two rivals have been heading in different directions in the course of their past four games. Malden Catholic came into action, having won their last four, outscoring their opponents 24-13 along the way. For BC High, the offense has struggled of late and the Eagles have gone 1-2-1, including a tough loss to St. John's Prep on Saturday.

However, BC High's effort was much improved Wednesday. The Eagles used two power play goals to scrounge up a 2-2 tie against the Lancers, who held a 33-15 shot advantage.

From the puck drop, Malden Catholic (7-1-2, 4-0-1) carried the play. They peppered BC High goaltender Peter Cronin, who stopped 10 of 11 first-period shots. Only senior captain Brendan Collier found a way to put the puck past Croning in the opening frame on a beautiful feed from line mate Ryan Fitzgerald.

“Fitzy got the puck…and I saw that the defensemen were coming toward the middle,” Collier said, “and I kind of snuck behind the left defensemen and Fitzy put it in an area and let me skate towards it, and just – instinct, I made the move around Cronin and buried it.”

The goals proved to be few, but not far between. While on a power play, just 48 seconds after Malden Catholic took the lead, BC High assistant captain Bartley Regan pumped a rebound into a gaping net past the glove of a sprawling Peter Cronin, tying the game, 1-1.

The game then became a grind. Both teams threw their weight around in heavy doses and combined for a total of 14 minor penalties through the course of the game. It would prove more detrimental to Malden Catholic, as BC High (6-2-2, 2-2-2) took the lead on the power play on a pinpoint wrist shot from captain Matt Sullivan.

Malden Catholic head coach John McLean felt being on the penalty kill too long kept his team from playing their game.

“I don’t think we played as well as we can,” McLean said. “We spent most of the game in the penalty box, you know, that takes away from our offense. When we have three lines rolling we’re a good team."

BC High head coach John Flaherty was glad to take the man-advantages Malden Catholic was dishing out. He also liked the way the team took advantage of their opportunities on the power play.

“We were getting pucks to the net and getting bodies to the net, we tried to just simplify. Neither one of them were overly beautiful goals, but they got to the net and they went in.”

Only 29 seconds after BC High scored their second power-play goal, defensemen Colin MacGillivray stepped up into the high slot and ripped a shot which barely squeaked through Cronin’s pads.

During a physical third period, both teams tightened up their play. BC High struggled to get their offense going and could only muster six shots against goaltender Connor Maloney.

Defensively, the Eagles began closing gaps and giving the skilled offensive players from Malden Catholic less room to operate -- a strategy Flaherty says the team was prepared to execute.

“[Malden Catholic] has guys that are very skilled, and they can skate and they can make plays.” Flaherty said. “So at the very least you have to get in their way. They bang, and if you don’t bang your gonna get run over. It’s unlikely you’re gonna match their skill, but if you compete with them and work hard, then you’ve got a shot.”

It also helps to have Cronin between the pipes. He turned away all 12 third-period shots Malden Catholic threw at him.

The tie marked the first game versus a Catholic Conference opponent in which Malden Catholic could not earn a victory.

Cronin stopped 31 of 33 shots on the night.

“I just tried to take it one at a time," the Junior goalie from Norwell said. "If you’re too caught up on one maybe you should have had earlier, it’s gonna effect your mindset. You gotta just stay in the moment, you gotta think of the next one, the next one, and that’s how you gotta treat it, especially in a game like this against a team as good as this.”

It's the caliber of Cronin's performance the Eagles have come to expect.

“I’ve said it a number of times,”Flaherty said about his goaltender’s consistency, “and I’ll continue to say it. He gives us a chance to win or tie every night by his presence in the net. He makes some spectacular saves but more importantly, he makes the ones he’s suppose to make.”

Recap: No. 3 BC High 4, No. 6 CM 0

January, 14, 2012

BOSTON – Couldn’t have convinced anybody that No. 3 BC High would walk away with a 4-0 win over Catholic Conference rival sixth-ranked Catholic Memorial after the first period in Saturday’s matinee at Frozen Fenway.

The Eagles barely touched the offensive zone and were outshot, 12-3.

Then, something during the first intermission must have clicked.

“We were all nervous coming in because it’s a huge atmosphere,” Eagles senior assistant captain Bartley “Moe” Regan said. “We just bore down in the second period.”

With a renewed commitment to the forecheck, BC High (6-1-0, 2-1-0) scored the game’s first goal 39 seconds into the second period.

“We had [three] shots in the first period, and that’s unacceptable,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “I made sure [the team] understood that.”

Regan, the quarterback of the Eagles’ Super Bowl championship football team, now has a penchant for scoring big goals, netting what proved to be the game-winner of Saturday’s contest. Regan also potted the game-winner in the Eagles’ Catholic Conference-opener against St. John’s Prep.

Regan’s goal Saturday was his team-leading fifth of the season.

“He was a role player for us last year, but he’s been stepping up big for us this season,” senior captain Matt Sullivan said.

The Eagles kept coming with the onslaught through the second, when they outshot the Knights (4-4-0, 1-1-0) by a margin of 13-6.

Tom Besinger found Adam Foley on a perfectly executed 3-on-1 chance for a goal at 8:23.

Chris LaLiberte then put BC High to a 3-0 lead before the second intermission with the back-handed putback of a rebound with 1:29 remaining in the second.

Sullivan capped scoring with a top-shelf wrister at 5:35 of the third period, with an assist by Regan.

“That goal doesn’t happen but for Moe [Regan] getting on the forecheck,” Flaherty said. “And if there’s one guy that I want finishing a play, that’s 1-9 [Sullivan] because he can finish.”

BC High’s dominance of the second stemmed from an adjustment in how they attacked their transition game.

With the Eagles’ struggles to move out of their own end, playing on the wings in the first period, BC High started to look up the middle.

“We were trying to throw it up the wall a lot [in the first], then we noticed that the center was open on the breakout,” Sullivan said. “We just needed to pick our heads up and find that center.”

Not to be lost in the fray was BC High goaltender Peter Cronin’s third shutout of the season. While things got considerably easier for the junior in the later periods, Cronin (22 saves) was under siege at time in the first period and held the fort long enough for the Eagles to take off.

“It looked like we were a little bit in awe of the park,” Cronin said of the team’s slow start.

He added, “My teammates did a good job of keeping the shots to the outside, taking good angles to the puck.

Goals have come at a premium for CM in the first half of the season.

The Knights have just 14 goals through eight contests, yet they’ve remained afloat largely thanks to a stingy defense. CM has allowed a league-best 14 goals against, which has helped keep the Knights at .500, despite the offensive outage.

“They’re a good team, they work tremendously hard, but we’ve got to start scoring goals,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said. “We can’t expect out goaltender to throw shutouts all the time.”

Recap: No. 3 BC High 4, No. 16 Winchester 1

December, 31, 2011
bc high hockeyESPNBoston.comTom Besinger's two-point game and Peter Cronin's 18 saves lifted No. 3 BC High over No. 16 Winchester on Saturday.
BOSTON -- Third-ranked BC High stayed red hot with a balanced attack in a 4-1 victory against No. 16 Winchester (2-3-1) Saturday afternoon at Clark Athletic Center on the campus of UMass-Boston.

Tom Besinger scored a goal and added an assist, while seven of his other teammates recorded a point to push the Eagles record to 4-0 before the calendar changes. The Eagles have scored 23 goals in their first four games, while only surrendering three thanks to the efforts of netminder Peter Cronin (18 saves).

The Eagles main problem last year as a young team was scoring goals in bunches, but with a year under their belts and a little more seasoning after a trip to the Super Eight last season, the goals are coming much more steady so to date.

“This year we have been fortunate to do that,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “We are also now heading into a league schedule, so I don’t expect it to come that easy. I think we are going to have to work for it, but the good news is that we’ve got kind of a stroke going right now.”

The shots didn’t come in bunches yesterday for the Eagles in the first two periods — as they only peppered Winchester goalies 12 times — but the results came with four tallies in that span.

Besinger got the hosts on the board first at 8:47 of the first period when he snapped a wrist shot over the shoulder of the Sachems goalie just as a power play expired and before the Sachems player could get back into position.

Brian Furey sent a low drive towards the net later in the period and it looked to ricochet off the skate of a Winchester player in traffic and into the net with 2:14 left in the period. Bartley Regan and Ryan McDonough were credited with the assists.

“It’s tough to dig out of that hole,” Sachems head coach Matt Spang said. “We made it a little harder on ourselves.”

Tim Larocque kept the momentum going in the second period at 2:32 when he picked up a puck after Besinger carried it into the zone, moved towards the left circle and fired it into the net for the 3-0 lead, forcing a goalie change from the Winchester bench.

Winchester was credited with three power plays in the second period — one that carried over into the third period — but came up empty on each try. Matt Sullivan and Steve DeForge did a good job on the forecheck to limit the Sachems’ attempts in the Eagles’ zone, while Furey and company made sure to clear pucks and neutralize any threat once the Sachems did come over the blue line.

“We had to kill a few too many penalties to my liking,” Flaherty said. “You give a team like Winchester a man-up situation you are going to have to kill it. The guys up front did a good job. They applied some pressure when needed and kind of hemmed them in a couple times and we were able to clear it.”

Alex Sharp scored the lone goal of the third period to disallow Cronin from grabbing the shutout.

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.

Player Perspective: BC High's Matt Sullivan

December, 14, 2011
DORCHESTER, Mass. -- Matt Sullivan has been around hockey rinks just about as long as he can remember. His earliest memories of his father, former Bruins head coach and BC High hockey legend Mike Sullivan, were hanging around with his dad around NHL haunts.

Sullivan, a senior captain and forward with the Eagles, has followed in his father's footsteps to Morrissey Boulevard. With the Eagles advancing to the crossover round of last year's Super 8 tournament, expectations are high for the third-ranked Eagles. We caught up with ESPN Boston preseason All-State teamer after a recent scrimmage to take a look at the year ahead:

Q: What have you learned from your father in terms of playing the game of hockey?

A: “He’s a great dad. He comes home and does game film [Mike is an assistant with the New York Rangers], so I get to sit down next to him, going over plays and tells me what I should be doing. It’s hard sometimes though because he’s not home a lot of the time during the season. But we talk hockey all the time.”

Q: What’s your earliest memory being around the rink?

A: “I just remember when my dad was with the Calgary Flames one year, they had a Christmas party. I wasn’t old enough to skate yet, but he was pulling me around the ice on a sled. That’s probably the earliest memory I have with him.”

Q: What kind of example did last year’s senior class set for you seniors this year?

A: “Last year’s seniors were a great group. With Mike Cashman leading the squad, they really gave us a blueprint for this year. We’re a young team again this year, but we feel we need to lead in what this program is heading for and what we need to be doing this year. We’re just going to try to follow their lead from last year. Hopefully, we’ll have the same kinds of results.”

Q: With the team’s showing in the Super 8 last season, how can this year’s team build off of that?

A: “It showed us that we can beat anybody. Once you get to the tournament, it’s just anyone’s game. You have to play as hard as you can. When you play in the Super 8, it’s anyone’s game. You just have to get there and then see what happens.”

Q: What’s the mood around the team been during the preseason?

A: “We know we’re a young team coming in, but But we’re just working on getting better every day in practice. Coach [John Flaherty] has been talking a lot about manufacturing goals, wanting to be in the right sports at all the right times.”

Q: What are you plans for next year?

A: “I’m not sure yet. I kind of want to play out my options and see what comes up this season, hopefully get some looks this season and then, if not, go to preps or juniors.”

Q: Where’s the team’s place to hang out off the ice?

A: “Usually it’s the Papa Gino’s down the street in Dorchester. We’ll hang out there until practice, work on homework or hang out, get some food and then get ready to go for practice.”

Q: Who have you been working with on your line in the preseason?

A: “So far, I’ve been playing with Steve DeForge and John Stoneman. We’re working the puck really well. Steve has a good hockey sense and John’s a big boy and he can move the puck. On the power play, it’s Tom Besinger, he’s a really dynamic forward down in the corners. He’s been great. He just stepped in last year as a freshman and had a big role on the team. He’s done a great job so far.”

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

August, 2, 2011
Among golfers his age, who's better than Keene's Chelso Barrett?

New HampshireNobody in New Hampshire, that's for sure.

Nearing the start of his junior year at Keene High, Barrett finished runner-up at the 64th U.S. Junior Amateur Championship from July 18-23. The 16-year-old's sensational run in Bremerton, Wash., ended with a 6-and-5 setback in the tournament's 36-hole final at Gold Mountain Golf Club.

Barrett's dream finish on the 7,111-yard, par-72 Olympic Course was denied by Dallas 17-year-old Jordan Spieth, also the 2009 champion.

“It was disappointing coming in second. But at the same time, it was really big because I got (three) exemptions for USGA events in the future,” Barrett said from Fort Wayne, Ind., on the eve of the Junior PGA Championship Aug. 2-5. “I lost the tournament, but it wasn't really a loss.”

Spieth last year eliminated Barrett in the Round of 64. This summer, the Texas teenager became just the second golfer in the championship's history to win multiple titles. He joined Tiger Woods, a three-peat junior amateur champ from 1991-93.

Securing a spot in the final required Barrett bump considerable competition from the bracket. Taking lessons last February from Craig Shankland at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., paid off.

In just his second Junior Amateur, Barrett started strong. He carded a 36-hole, 1-under-par 143 (69-74) during stroke play. It lifted him to the Round of 64, where the tourney's format turned to match play.

Andrew Bonner of Ripon, Calif., was the first foe Barrett sent packing. The final score was 1-up.

The next win really fueled the teen's momentum.

Barrett defeated defending champion Jim Liu, 2-up. The Smithtown, N.Y., native was attempting to join Woods as the only other repeat king.

“After he beat the defending champion, I was shocked,” said Chelso's father, Hugh, New Hampshire's 1980 state amateur champ. “It's done so much for him. He was basically unknown (in major college golf) before that.”

But the upset was an attention-grabber. Barrett, whose surname is well known at Keene's Bretwood Golf Course, ousted Liu with birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.

The first of those back-to-back birdies applied the pressure. Barrett sank a 6-foot putt after striking a wonderful approach from 165 yards.

The second birdie cemented Barrett's victory. Liu needed a final-hole win to extend the bout. His tee shot proved troublesome, however, forcing him to concede No. 18.

“Basically, my bad shots weren't that bad,” Barrett said of the key to his near-No. 1 finish. “I didn't hit it great in the finals, but up until that point, I hit it solid. I kept the ball in play.”

He beat William Zalatoris of Plano, Texas, 2-and-1, in the Round of 16. Thus, he met his goal to reach the Round of 8.

Then, he exceeded personal expectation. He beat William Starke of Chapin, S.C., 1-up, in the quarterfinals.

He also beat Colombia's Nicholas Echavarria in 19 holes to survive the semifinals.

In the final, Barrett built a 2-up lead through two holes. But a double-bogey on No. 3 combined with Spieth's birdie on No. 6 squared the match.

Spieth took his second lead by winning the 13th hole. He didn't trail again.

Losing to Spieth, competing in his last junior event, wasn't a complete downer for Barrett. Advancing to the final match earned him exemptions to the 111th U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 22-28 in Erin, Wisc., and next year's U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship July 9-14 in Midway, Utah.

But he's most excited about the third exemption – earned by achieving his goal to make the quarterfinals cut.

He's assured a spot in next year's Junior Amateur, which takes place July 16-21 at the Golf Club of New England.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

June, 1, 2011

Rhode IslandThat’s the appropriate noun to use when referring to Smithfield High freshman Matt Kuhar – all five-feet, two-inches and 93 pounds of him. Kuhar became only the third freshman in Interscholastic League history to capture the state singles championship when he polished off North Kingstown senior and No. 2 seed Dan Hansen in straight sets – 6-3, 6-3.

The only other freshmen to win state titles are Gordie Ernst in 1982 (Ernst, who initially attended Hendricken before transferring to Cranston East in the fall of 1982, holds the state record with four singles championships) and South Kingstown’s Andy Singer in 2000.

In the process, top-seeded Kuhar extended his dual-match winning streak to 22-0 and beat the more experienced Hansen for a second time this season (albeit their first match was in April). And in that match, Hansen became one of only three players who would win one – repeat, one – set from Kuhar this season.

Kuhar’s combination of groundstrokes and backhands enabled him to win the first set in 30 minutes and break open the second set after building only a 2-1 lead.

The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for Hansen – and not only because he lost in last year’s finals to Wheeler’s Jessie Frieder.

Hansen on April 20 underwent surgery after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. But after missing just seven matches, he went 8-1 heading into the qualifying round on May 6.

(Read full post)

New England Roundup: New Hampshire

February, 23, 2011

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Manchester High School West's Valentine's Day victory made basketball coach Nick Moutsioulis wish his wallet could support a team trip to the Magic Kingdom.

"If I could pay for every one of the girls to go, I'd do it in a heartbeat," said Moutsioulis, his reference to Disney World and the visit made by the Super Bowl MVP after winning the biggest of games.

New HampshireYou see, West entered its Feb. 14 girls' hoop contest lugging a 77-game losing streak that dated to the 2007-08 season opener. But after three consecutive winless campaigns, and another 14 straight losses this winter, the Blue Knights stopped the frustration-filled skid with a 38-33 Division II road win at Pelham High.

"I'm still processing it. I don't even know how to react to a win," said 5-foot 8-inch forward Emily Colon, one of three seniors on West's varsity team that features just eight active players.

West's low participation in athletics isn't limited to girls' hoop. The loss of Bedford student-athletes to the opening of Bedford High in 2007 has affected most sports programs at the school.

The exodus that eventually shrunk West's population from 2,000-plus students to roughly 1,100, took place over several years. But West's ability to compete in most sports quickly declined.

Colon and classmate Brooke Brown were freshman call-ups to the varsity in 2007-08, West's first winless campaign. Routinely losing was a foreign feeling to these stars of the streak-snapping win; as ninth-graders they led their freshman team to a 12-4 record.

"We tried not to think about the negative," said Brown, a 5-foot-11 center, noting the team became the punchline to jokes that spread throughout the school.

Over time, however, staying positive proved tough. One winless season grew into two, which reached three last winter.

But worse than the lopsided losses -- and jokes generated by them -- was the sinking feeling caused by looking into the stands during home games.

(Read full post)


Basketball, New Hampshire, New England Roundup, Plymouth Regional (N.H.), Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, Hanover (N.H.), Salem (N.H.), Nashua North, Bedford (N.H.), Jeff LaCoste, Trinity (N.H.), Concord (N.H.), Steve Cuipa, Bishop Guertin (N.H.), Max Jacques, Eric Muite, Steve Cronan, Pinkerton (N.H.), Cody Patch, Ryan Moran, Luke Somers, Mike Mazzola, Chris Childs, Doug Gregory, Newport (N.H.), David Madol, Barry Chooljian, Zach Bridson, Matt Morris, Nate Lawrence, Ben Tammany, St. Thomas Aquinas (N.H.), David Owens, Mike Kelly, Milford (N.H.), Dimitri Floras, Matt Sullivan, Manchester West (N.H.), Nick Moutsioulis, Pelham (N.H.), Emily Colon, Brooke Brown, Sarah Soucy, Lebanon (N.H.), Windsor (Vt.), Kimball Union (N.H.), Taylor Russell, Keene (N.H.), Zach Hunnewell, Joel Pacheco, Joe DiPalma, C.J. Woods, Matt Ammann, Tyler Baulier, Merrimack (N.H.), Nick Corbett, Dover (N.H.), Winnacunnet (N.H.), Kyle Wilson, John Forte, Max Goudreau, Nick Hession, Souhegan (N.H.), Brian Liamos, Hollis/Brookline (N.H.), Sam McClain, Brendan McKenna, Kyle Behan, Laconia (N.H.), Sam Carney, Jeff Gratiano, John Doran Logsdon, Jonathan Roth, Thomas Baxter, Kearsarge (N.H.), Zachary Knight, Stevens (N.H.), Robert Ramirez, Brendan Demo, Gilford (N.H.), Jacob Ford, Franklin (N.H.), Josh Stout, David Boisvert, Todd Bircher, Al Miclovic, Brandon Lahaye, David Pfeifer, Oyster River (N.H.), Alex Jones, Ellie Thompson, Jahmar Gathright, Andre Williams, Molly McCabe, Monadnock Regional (N.H.), Gubby Naronha, Cathly Leibowitz, Timberlane Regional (N.H.), Jake Kappler, Andrew Tanner, Shane Tremblay, Londonderry (N.H.), Tanner Burke, Dominic Farrar, Tyler Elworth, Manchester Memorial (N.H.), Dave Garcia, Goffstown (N.H.), Zach Schofield, Mike Sarette, Peter Shea, Caleb Cejka, Zach MacPherson, Casey Quinn, Ryan Cohen, Mike Ponchak, Mike Sullivan, Jeremy Nault, Randy Cleary, Tyler Dustin, Dakota Simula, John Stark Regional (N.H.), Josh Medeiros, Warren Greenhalgh, Carleton Kleinschrodt, White Mountains Regional (N.H.), Windham (N.H.), Tyler Siverhus, Gage Fenton, Bow (N.H.), Pete LaRiviere, John Lefebvre, Ryan Manasian, Jonathan Scheidegger, Sanborn Regional (N.H.), Eddie O'Malley, Newfound Regional (N.H.), Campbell (N.H.), Olivia Bogaczyk, Courtney Thompson, Alex Halle, Abby Clark, Spaulding (N.H.), Colton Castonguay, Madison Goldstein, Josh Paige, Chris Moquin, James Montgomery, Josh Morgan, Mascenic Regional (N.H.), Pittsburg (N.H.), Colebrook (N.H.)