Boston High School: Mike Murray

Recap: No. 23 Norwood 4, No. 7 Needham 3

February, 2, 2012
(Highlights courtesy of the Needham Channel)

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- In a matchup of perennial powers of the Bay State League’s respective hockey divisions, No. 23 Norwood’s 4-3 victory over No. 7 Needham was more than just two old rivals going at it.

In the big picture of things, it meant a whole lot more.

For the Mustangs (11-2-4, 8-0-4), Wednesday’s battle at the Babson Skating Center was a valediction, proof positive they will be a very tough out for any potential postseason opponent. The win over the Rockets is a marquee note to an already successful season.

On the other hand, it seems as though a hole might have been punched in the Rockets’ Super 8 tournament resume. Coupled with a costly early January loss to No. 16 Braintree – whom the Rockets now trail by a point in the Bay State Carey – Needham has only complicated their once presumed path back to the state’s top hockey tournament.

But, in short, it was matter of the Mustangs working their game plan to perfection.

Norwood scored twice within 23 seconds, running to a 2-0 lead less than four minutes in. Goals by Peter Kelly and Mike Murray allowed the Mustangs to settle in and focus on shutting down the Rockets’ counter attack.

“We were able to stay with our forecheck, which bottled them up a little bit in that first period,” Norwood head coach Bill Clifford said.

Playing against a sticky 1-2-2 front, Needham (12-3-0, 9-2-0) struggled early on to put consistent pressure on Mustangs goaltender Jordan Davis (34 saves).

The Rockets finally cracked Davis midway through the second period, with senior forward Chris Lambert cleaning up a rebound from the low slot.

But Norwood had an answer.

Senior captain Brendan Cathcart (1 G, 1 A) was the beneficiary of Tyler Gover’s dogged work behind the net with 1:18 remaining in the second. Gover fought off the checks of Needham’s blue-line tandem to shovel a centering pass to Cathcart for the goal. It was part of a three-assist game for Norwood’s junior forward.

“This game went a lot like the Braintree game,” Needham head coach Bill Guisti said. “We came out a little bit sluggish and they got those two goals. It’s like just said to our guys, we can’t be spotting these good teams two goals.”

Needham freshman forward James Fisher cut the lead to one 12 seconds after Cathcart’s tally.

However, Mustangs sophomore forward Mark Powers dealt the Rockets a knockout blow at 1:23 of the third. Swinging beneath the goal line, Powers settled in back of the Rockets’ cage, only to hit the brakes and shift back to his left. With Needham netminder Connor Murray buying the deke, Powers shifted back around, depositing the puck in a gaping net with Murray slow to break from the right side post.

Needham made a furious comeback attempt in the final minute with goaltender pulled. Timmy Parlato picking up his second point of the game on his goal with 12.3 seconds remaining.

Despite a couple more good looks at the Norwood cage off the ensuing faceoff, the Mustangs held tight and pocketed their biggest win to date.

“It gave us a little confidence and we hung on,” Clifford said of the quick start. “I thought we played a great game, they did a good job around the boards, the forecheck was good, the defensive zone coverage was good.

“They’ve been working hard all year and it’s starting to pay off for them.”

Norwood constantly has another player, another coach on their side, watching from the other side of the glass.

This year would have been Matt Brown’s senior season with the Mustangs. And, while Brown’s hockey career ended on that fateful night in January 2010, the resilient 17-year-old remains a guiding presence to the program.

“He’s with us all the time,” Clifford said of Brown. “He comes to games, practices, pasta dinners. The kids are always over his house hanging out, so they have a good bond together.”

Brown has provided more than moral support to his teammates on the ice, he’s been another set of eyes for Clifford’s coaching staff.

“He always tells me exactly what he sees, and he does a good job. He knows the game inside and out. He tells me some things that I miss.”

New England Roundup: Vermont

January, 1, 2011
The Vermont boys' high school hockey season isn’t even three weeks old, but Champlain Valley Union may have already established itself as the team to beat in Division I.

VermontCVU raised its record to 5-0 by defeating Rice 8-1 Thursday night.

“From what I’ve read it does seem like we have that bulls-eye on us,” first-year CVU coach Mike Murray said. “We’re an explosive club and we’re eight deep in defensemen. That gets overshadowed by our offense.”

Forward Robbie Dobrowksi is an early favorite to be named Vermont’s Mr. Hockey. Dobrowski, who led team with 31 goals and 22 assists last season, collected nine points in CVU’s first two games – victories over Waterville (Maine) and Scarborough (Maine). He had three goals and two assists in the 6-0 triumph over Waterville, and added a goal and three assists in the 9-2 victory over Scarborough.

Dobrowski, who has 20 points in five games, has been a starter since he was a freshman.

“He’s a quick skater,” Murray said. “He’s got a very accurate shot and he sees the ice well. This year he’s figured out that he has to play at the other end of the ice as well.

“He’s also a 4.0 student. I know Middlebury is very interested in him.”

CVU’s Kyle Logan and Derek Goodwin are also among the top offensive players in the state. Goodwin, Logan and Dobrowski each scored twice in Thursday’s victory over Rice.

Goodwin has 10 goals through five games.

Eric MacLean is the team’s only senior defenseman. If there’s a question mark it’s in goal, where junior Jason O’Brien is a first-year starter.

“We’ll probably go where he takes us,” Murray said.

CVU will enter the new year as one of four unbeaten teams in Division I. St. Albans, Essex and Rutland are the others.

Although it was the No. 7 seed last season, CVU advanced to the Division I championship game, where where its improbable run ended with a 4-1 loss to Spaulding. The Redhawks, who won the Division I state title in 2009, have reached the Division I championship game in each of the last three seasons.


Bodel Zabili scored nine of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter to lead Burlington to a 51-46 victory over Essex last Thursday in a matchup of programs that met in the 2010 Division I championship game.

Curtis Rodgers added 12 points for Burlington.

Senior guard Ben Farris tossed in a game-high 22 for Essex, which beat Burlington 44-37 to win last season’s title. Essex was within a point, 45-44, after Farris made back-to-back 3-pointers, but Burlington hung pulled away after Farris was called for an intentional foul with 29 seconds to play.

In other action, Rutland made 9 of 11 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter and improved its record to 6-0 by defeating Spaulding, 51-41, in the Fran Pinard Holiday Tournament’s championship game.

Alex Snyder led the Rutland offense with 19 points. Troy Davine added 17.

Rutland overcame an eight-point halftime deficit to beat Mount Mansfield 58-55 in the tournament’s opening round. Rutland has won the Pinard Tournament in each of the last four years.


After one game, the Stowe administration had seen enough and brought a premature end to the school’s girls basketball season.

After a meeting that included parents, players and Stowe athletic director Joanna Graves, the decision was made to cancel the remainder of the 2010-11 season because of lack of players.

Stowe had five players eligible for games scheduled before the holiday break, and one of those five players was nursing an injured knee.


Jim Hill has been in charge of the Otter Valley football team’s defense for the past nine seasons, but he’ll have a lot more to worry about this fall.

Hill, 34, was recently named Otter Valley’s head coach. He replaces Dennis Perry, who retired after serving as the program’s head coach for six seasons.

Hill was a captain and an all-state linebacker at Rutland. He graduated from high school in 1994 and played football for one season at Dean Junior College.
Hill will remain in his position as Otter Valley’s boys lacrosse coach.

Roger Brown has covered high school sports in New England since 1992. He currently covers high school and college football in the Northeast for ESPN/Scouts Inc.