Boston High School: Patrick Mannion

Super 8 recap: BC High 4, Hingham 2

March, 4, 2012
3/04/12
3:35
PM ET


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
3/02/12
6:25
PM ET
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
2/24/12
7:16
PM ET
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:
1

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:
2

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:
3

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:
5

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:
4

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:
6

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."

THE FINAL FOUR (PLAY-IN TEAMS)

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:
10

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:
17

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. 13 St. Mary's 5, No. 9 Hingham 1

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
1:31
AM ET
LYNN, Mass. -- St. Mary's put together about as complete an effort as a hockey team can expect in its fourth game of the season. In the process, they also made a rather loud statement that they are ready, willing and able to lock horns with the upper echelon programs around the state.

Junior defenseman Andrew Markham scored twice, the first two goals of his career, and the 13th-ranked Spartans hit on three of seven power play chances to take a 5-1 decision over No. 9 Hingham Wednesday night at Connery Rink.

"What this game did for us as a team is it gave us a lot of confidence and proved that we can play with the best teams," Spartans head coach Mark Lee said. "Three complete periods of hockey. We did a great job on special teams, killing penalties, and our power play was pretty nice too. It really feels good to see the team progressing the way they're progressing."

Penalties doomed the Harbormen (1-2) all night and St. Mary's (3-1) showed right off the bat that were ready to pounce. Markham got things going during a first period, extra man situation, blasting a slap shot from the point that was initially stopped but trickled through the pads of Hingham goalie John Grenier.

Patrick Mannion got it back just 1:11 into the second, taking a feed from John Carlson on the goal line and scoring from a tough angle on a shot that tucked in front of the far post.

A 5-on-3 situation, one of two in the second, led to St. Mary's retaining the lead just over two minuets later. Hingham got it back to just a man down, but Markham was able to score on another shot from the blue line, with assists from Cam O'Neill and Jarrod Fitzpatrick.

The floodgates opened from there, as the Spartans got goals from Frank Moreschi, Nikko Markham and Eric MacAdams (first career score for the eight-grade forward) over the final five minutes of the period.

Cam O'Neill finished with three assists for St. Mary's, while Bobby Mullins added two. Sophomore goalie Bailey MacBurnie turned in a solid effort with 14 saves.

"Beating a team like this is going speak volumes for our confidence," Lee said. "Make no mistake about it, this was a total team effort. I thought our goaltender played a great game. he made big stops when we needed them. Our defensive corps and offensive lines...it was just a complete team effort. That's the only way you're going to beat a team like that."

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