Boston High School: Paul Noonan

D1 South: Barnstable 4, Milton 3

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1
11:48
PM ET
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – Notice to the remainder of Division 1: When Barnstable's first line is clicking, watch out.

No. 3 Milton found that out in the first period of Saturday's Div. 1 South quarterfinal with the Red Raiders when Mike McDonough and Donnie Brodd each scored two goals. Cody Pasic also added assists on all four goals as Barnstable held on for a 4-3 win.

“That first period was the best we’ve ever played and the best I’ve seen a high school play,” said Brodd. “I’ve known Cody since I was about six years old with baseball and hockey we know each other real well and we know where the other is so it works out real well.”

Donnie Brodd had the first two goals for No. 6 Barnstable at 7:35 and 9:06 of the first period, while McDonough had a power-play goal 27 seconds later and again at the 13:42 mark.

“We’ve got five or six kids that are very good and when they are on the ice they control the whole game, Barnstable coach Scott Nickerson said. “The last few games our first line has been dominate and five-on-five, they play exceptionally well.”

Despite four Barnstable goals in the first period, Milton got a boost from Jack Halloran right before the end of the period.

With 2.3 seconds left, Halloran went streaking down the left wing, and sent a wrister past Barnstable goaltender Kevin Huska inside the far post.

The Red Raiders offense sputtered in the second and third periods, mainly due to penalties. Barnstable outshot the Wildcats 15-6 in the opening stanza, but over the final 30 minutes, it was Milton that owned the advantage. Four Barnstable power plays gave the Wildcats a 16-11 shot advantage to end the game.

“I think penalties hurt us not in the fact we gave up power play goals but the fact it took away from our momentum,” Nickerson said. “On five-on-five, we dominated but when you have to kill three penalties in a row with you top guy killing penalties, it starts to slow things downs.”

On their fourth and final power play, the Wildcats’ special teams unit broke through. At 2:01 of the third period, Owen Bligh took a shot from right wing that Huska made the initial stop. The puck popped straight up into the air, landed behind Huska and crawled past the goal line to bring the Wildcats within one.

“I credit my senior and the captains for taking change and going down fighting and leaving everything on the ice,” Milton coach Paul Noonan said.

Milton got the first eight shots on net to open the third, but Huska rose to the occasion, keeping the Red Raiders on top. His two biggest saves came with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game when Connor Richard scooped the puck up behind the net and attempted the wraparound.

“I think [Huska] played well enough to win us a game but I think it was a team win,” said Nickerson. “But when needed to he made the saves.”

Onto the semifinals: With the win, the Red Raiders are two wins away from hauling in the Div. 1 South hardware and moving onto the T.D. Garden. They will match up with No. 7 Norwood, who knocked off No. 2 Archbishop Williams on Saturday night.

But whoever Barnstable is playing, Nickerson feels confident in his team that they can take on anyone.

“I honestly feel that we’ve had better teams in the past but I don’t think we’ve had teams playing as well as this team is right now or in a situation that is lined up as well to win a state tournament.”

D1 South final: Milton 3, Natick 1

March, 12, 2012
3/12/12
12:25
AM ET
BOURNE, Mass. -- Milton senior defenseman Dan Curran screamed to the rafters, which were teeming with his team’s supporters, “the Red Army is moving on, the Red Army is moving on.”

Indeed the Wildcats from Milton High School are moving on, to the TD Garden next weekend where they will play for the Division I state title.

Third-seeded Milton (19-3-2) got two goals in the first period and held back a feisty Natick (10-9-4) team yesterday at Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne, taking a 3-1 decision to capture the Division 1 south sectional title.

Curran’s twin brother Paul Curran was a big reason that Milton’s boots are still walking. The senior forward factored in all three of his team’s goals, scoring one just 10 seconds into the game and then assisting on the next two.

“It’s just something that you’ve always wanted, something you’ve dreamed about since youth hockey, senior year to be going to the Boston Garden to play for the state championship. Having all of these fans behind you, having the whole town behind, it just makes it that much better,” Paul Curran said after posing for a celebratory photograph at center ice with his teammates.

Wildcats head coach Paul Noonan said that booking the trip to the Garden is a happy surprise for his Wildcats. “I knew that we had a good team with some talent, and a lot of seniors (when the season started),” Noonan said. “It’s the best team we’ve had in a while, so I knew that we’d make at least a half decent run. But if I told you that I knew we’d be going to the Garden, I’d be a liar.”

Before the ice had finished drying from its pre-game cleaning the Wildcats were on the scoreboard. Paul Curran was sent in by Brian Higgins and punched it by Derek Kwok to set the tone for the afternoon.

“He’s a special player,” Noonan said. “He plays with his heart. He’s all passion, and he’s our leader. He makes things happen.”

The 'Cats flew around the ice and dominated the opening 15 minutes of the game, outshooting the Red & Blue by an 8-1 count. Ryan McDougall doubled the lead at 6:32 on a Frisbee from the right point that sailed through a ton of traffic and right by a completely screened Kwok. Terrence Walsh, who also assisted on the first goal, and Curran picked up the helpers.

Natick was lucky not to be down by another goal or two when they were finally able to regroup in the locker room after the period had ended. Curran just missed making it a 3-0 game with a backhander on a power play chance with 4:18 left in the stanza.

“We got an early goal there, and then we got a second one just a little while later and it’s easier to play with a two-goal lead, that made it a lot easier for us,” Noonan said.

It was during that late power play that Natick finally got a shot on goal when Andrew Newis stole the puck in the neutral zone and streaked in alone against Jay Hankard. Newis was unable to get solid wood on his shorthanded bid and the Milton keeper made the save to keep his team ahead by a pair after one.

“I can’t say enough about [Hankard],” Noonan said. “To go the whole period without seeing a shot and then the first one to be a shorthanded breakaway…he’s been awesome. We’re fortunate to have him.”

Hankard stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced in the game. During the south tourney he allowed just two goals in the three the Wildcats played.

“It’s so much better as a forward knowing you’ve got that wall behind you,” Paul Curran said. “He’s just been so good, especially in the playoffs.”

Each team scored a second period goal. Natick, which came out with much better energy after the break, cut the deficit in half at 4:17 of the second when the puck left a scrum near Hankard and found the blade of Mike Perry in the slot. The Red and Blue forward wasted no time delivering a wrister towards the net that sailed over Hankard’s left leg pad and sneaked inside the nearside post to make it 2-1.

Three minutes later Milton reclaimed the two-goal advantage. The high-scoring Higgins finished off a quick strike by the Wildcats. Milton won a faceoff outside the zone and zig-zagged the puck up the right side with Walsh feeding Curran, who slid it to Higgins in the middle. Higgins crossed over and beat Derek Kwok through the five-hole for the Cats’ third strike of the afternoon.

Neither team scored in the third period and each spent the bulk of stanza switching between their power play and penalty kill units. The game itself was riddled with penalties as 23 total infractions were cited against the teams.

One team’s dream come true was another’s nightmare. Natick had an impressive run just to be in the south title game come to a close, finishing off a season that had some very high highs and extremely low lows. Early in the season the Red and Blue were shocked when freshman Justin Bailey passed away unexpectedly. The team had an emotional season and rallied to qualify on the last day of the regular season, beginning a storybook run that had a tough ending.

“I knew that we had the talent to be here. We have the goaltender, one or two solid lines. We had suspensions, injuries, Justin dying, we had some adversity throughout the year,” Red & Blue head coach Karl Infanger said. “We definitely had the talent to be here, with a little emotional punch to get over the top. But I think it all kind of caught up with us today.”

“I give a lot of credit to Natick. That’s a good team over there and they had to take the long road to get here. They had to win their last game of the year to get into the tourney, they had to beat the same team again in the tourney, they had beat Needham, a Super 8 team. Then they had to beat Norwood, the best team in the Bay State League. I tell you, that’s a high mountain to climb. We’re fortunate to be here,” Noonan said.

D1 South: Milton 2, Braintree 0

March, 8, 2012
3/08/12
11:58
PM ET


BOURNE, Mass. -- Milton punched its ticket to the MIAA Division I South regional championship game Thursday night at Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne.

Behind a 26-save effort by senior goalie Jay Hankard, the Wildcats held back a feisty Braintree team 2-0 to claim their spot in the sectional final. Milton will return to Gallo in an attempt to end Cinderella’s time at the ball on Sunday when they meet No. 9 Natick in the south finals, 1-0 winners earlier in the night over Norwood.

The second-seeded Wildcats (18-3-3) overcame a slow start to finish strongly and march on to the last line on the south bracket. Despite Braintree (14-7-3) taking it to them for most of the first two periods, the higher seed proved to be the more opportunistic of the clubs. Milton cashed in a power play chance late in the second period and then got some insurance on a transition play midway through the third, posting the only tallies on the scoreboard for the night.

“I thought that we deserved a little bit of a better fate. Obviously, Milton’s a great team, about as good as you’re going to see in the state. We knew that we had to contain them, and I believe that their first line got both of their goals,” Braintree head coach Dave Fasano said.

Indeed it was Milton’s heralded first line that did all of the damage. The unit struck first at 11:49 of the second with a power play goal. Derek Curley redirected a shot by Brian Higgins from the bottom of the left wing circle, tipping it through Dan Murphy’s 5-hole to finally end the double shutout.

Milton's first line then added some welcomed insurance when Higgins struck to double his team’s lead at 5:02 of the third. Just seconds after a huge save by Hankard the shifty forward got free and cut in from the right wing to the slot, sniping one past Murphy to double his team’s lead.

“That’s Higgy, he can skate and he can sneak up on you,” Milton head coach Paul Noonan said. “When he gets that puck in the slot, just him and the goalie, he’s pretty good.”



Hankard’s save that preceded the goal was a left pad stop on James Flaherty, who labeled a bomb for the far post on a rip from the right point. The keeper said he didn’t see it until the last second and that instincts took over.

“Those are reaction saves, see the puck, kick it out. It was through a screen, I couldn’t see it, then I saw it at the last second and just got my toe on it,” he said.

Fasano said that the stop by Hankard was a back-breaker.

“It could have been 1-1 right there,” he said.

To Noonan, it was just more of the same as he and his squad have come to expect great things from their keeper.

“Our goalie, he’s excellent. He’s been like that all year. I know a lot of people talk about our first line that we have, it’s pretty good. But (Hankard) and the defensemen, Danny Curran, Johnny Murtaugh, they’ve been awesome. They’ve been very good all year.”

Braintree, which had dominated the first period thoroughly, outshooting the Wildcats, 7-1, came painfully close to pulling within one, but it was not a night where the puck bounced the Wamps’ way. Tom Troy let one rip from between the hash marks that deflected to the left wing circle where Nick Ward was all alone. With half an empty goal to fire for Ward dented the nearside pipe.

“You’ve got to have some puck luck, and we just didn’t tonight,” Fasano said. “It didn’t bounce our way…credit Milton, they’re a heck of a team.”

Braintree did get a power play out of the flurry, a hooking call that went against Murtagh, but the extra-man scenario did not play out the way the Wamps would have liked. Braintree did not muster a shot on goal during the power play as they could not get anything set up at all.

From that point forward the Wildcats managed to keep their Bay State League rivals in check.

With 1:50 to go in the game Connor Fenton let a big slapper fly from the left point that Hankard punched away with his blocker. That was the last shot on net in the game for Braintree. Milton kept the puck in the neutral zone and beyond the rest of the way and never allowed Braintree to pull Murphy for an extra attacker.

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