Boston High School: Providence College

Perhaps no player had a bigger breakout performance at last year’s Super 8 hockey tournament than Springfield Cathedral freshman forward Riley Prattson.

The Tolland, Conn. native was a key cog on the Panthers’ vibrant power play and blossomed in the second half of the season to finish fourth on the team in points with 46 (16 G, 30 A).

Last week, Prattson announced his verbal commitment to Providence College via his Twitter account. We caught up with Prattson to talk about his decision:

On choosing PC: “When I was visiting schools, it was overwhelming at first because I would get the same feeling from all of them – that I liked the school, but It didn't give me a definite feeling of if I wanted to go there or not. But when I visited Providence, as soon as I got in the rink and met with the coaches, I got a feeling that I wanted to come to this school. The coaches and I really connected, I got a great feel from the campus, and the combination of great academics and great athletics really sealed the deal on my decision.”

On when he’ll arrive at PC: “As to when I'm targeted to go, we're just going to take it year by year, because in the end I need to keep getting better as a player and hold up my end of the bargain if I want to play college hockey at such a high level.”

On where he fits in PC’s system: “It's kind of hard to tell if my game would fit with the team’s system because systems are always changing as teams develop and get better. But that being said, I feel I would fit well into whatever is thrown at me because adapting to certain conditions and changing aspects of my game is something I feel that I'd be able to do well. So I feel I my game would fit into the Friars’ systems, or I could make it fit.”

On summertime hockey: “For the summer, I've done a tournament with the U-16 Springfield Rifles, the New England player development camp at UNH and the Select 15 National Camp, which I feel is enough for me because no matter how much I miss playing it, it's always good to take a break from playing in the offseason. Other than that just working out with my brother [Cathedral forward Zac], trying to get bigger, stronger and faster. [I’m] also working on my shot and stick-handling, and trying to become a better player.”

On next season at Cathedral: “For every season, my goal as a player is trying to get better. I'm really excited for next season because we have a special team with lots of skill and talent and dedicated players that we're all hoping will all do their part to take us to the Super 8.”

On his Super 8 experience last year: “Personally, I have gained confidence because I have experience with what playoff, Super 8 high school hockey is like. The atmosphere gets more intense and the play gets faster the further you go into the tournament. It's also great to have almost every player on the team returning, because we all know what needs to be done to get to the Super 8 and go deep into the tournament. And we're hoping to do just that.”

All's perfect for Lancaster, Skowhegan field hockey

November, 20, 2013
What is it like to go through your entire high school career and never lose a game? Skowhegan’s Allison Lancaster can answer that.

MaineDuring her four years playing field hockey for the Indians, Skowhegan finished 76-0, winning four state championships. The 76 straight wins for the Indians are also a state record. Lancaster finished this season with 19 goals and 25 assists this season as a center midfielder, and is one of three finalists for the Miss Maine Field Hockey Award, given annually to the top senior player in the state. Lancaster plans to play at Providence College next fall.

Q: You said after the state game that your teammates have changed your life forever. How so?

A: “I not only do I consider the girls I play with to be my teammates but they are also my sisters. Being on a team is an experience very few people get to appreciate. I firmly believe that for any team to be successful, there is a certain bond that has to be established between teammates and between players and coaches. A strong connection will allow a player to be confident in their play; about when and where to pass the ball and how to react in any situation. This confidence and friendship even extends to life off of the field. Having played with these girls, and having devoting so much time being around them, we have really become a closely knit family. There isn’t a girl on my team that hasn’t completely earned my trust.

“It took a lot of time and effort to achieve this relationship between everybody on the team, though. If an outsider could have seen the team during the beginning of our off-season in comparison to our team now, they would have thought we were a completely different team. Going through this bond building process, though, and knowing that every step of the way these girls have your back no matter what, it just really changes you. I wouldn’t trade anyone of them for the world. I love them all. That is why we are such great friends that make up such an amazing team.”

Q: It seemed like you played in a lot of pain this season. Talk about some of your injuries.

A: “I definitely had one of my most injury-prone seasons this year. As my mom put it, ‘Allison, you are so focused on the game that you are unaware of the dangerous situations in which you put your body.’ I clearly have a one-track mind when it comes to field hockey – win. So, when I get the chance to fulfill the role of my position, be it defense or offense, I take it. The kind of athlete I am allows me to make the game-changing plays, but also unfortunately causes a few bumps and bruises along the way. That’s just the nature of the game, though.

”This year I had a few nagging issues with my ankles due to the quick shift in weight that happens when I change direction. For my senior homecoming, I had to attend the festivities in flats and an ankle brace that made it pretty difficult to dance! Another injury occurred during our Mt. Blue game, where I somehow managed to dislocate my knee-cap when I caught an opponent’s field hockey stick between the legs. However, I managed to push my cartilage back into place in a few minutes and continued to play. That was an interesting one to try and explain to my coach. I cartwheeled over players in our game against Oxford Hills and busted open my chin. That was one of my finer moments. I would have liked to see it on film because I’m sure I could have aired on the hit TV show ‘Wipeout.’ Then you have the typical swollen and bleeding fingers and toes but hey, that’s par for the course in the game of field hockey. Overall though, our trainer, Tyler, could rehabilitate most of my injuries. Thanks to him, I barely missed any game play.”

Q: Your team never lost a game in all four years of your high school career. Between that and the Skowhegan field hockey tradition, did you feel like there was a lot of pressure on the team this season?

A: “Starting off, a lot of teams underestimated our capabilities, and I actually think it worked out in our favor. Yes, we lost almost all of our starters, and consequently we had to rebuild our team from scratch. However, I had the utmost confidence in our team and coaching staff. We proved every game to our fans, detractors and most importantly to ourselves that we could look adversity in the eye and overcome it. It would just take a lot of hard work and dedication. I personally put a lot of pressure on myself to be a role model as a captain, to make sure I gave everything I was capable of in every game we played. I think a lot of the girls followed suit and did the same. As a team we never went into a game knowing a hundred percent that we had it in the bag, which, quite honestly, was a very different perspective from years past. We took it one game at a time and focused on the improvements we needed to make for the next game. We motivated ourselves to train hard and play hard, that’s how we ended up as the 2013 State Champions. Having never lost a game in four years is an indescribable feeling. I am so proud of our accomplishments.”

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A midsummer hockey notebook

July, 24, 2013
Catching up on a few notes from the (melted) local ponds of late:

The NHL Draft always brings surprises, and Dexter School’s Tim Harrison was no exception.

Now, it shouldn’t come be a complete head-scratcher that the 6-foot-3 winger who’s committed to Colgate was selected by the Calgary Flames in the sixth round in last month’s draft. However, in the buildup, Harrison was ignored by NHL Central Scouting and its compilation of the top prospects in North America. The Duxbury native did not appear on the service’s “Watch List,” midterm or final rankings reports.

Despite the lack of love from the league’s draft gurus, Harrison attracted attention from the scouting staffs of the Flames and Chicago Blackhawks during the spring and scored high marks with Calgary’s brass during the pre-draft process. So much so that the Flames took Harrison with the 157th overall pick.

“It’s a tough draw,” Dexter head coach Dan Donato told ESPN Boston. “Teams aren’t going to show their cards throughout the process, but you can get hints every now and then.”

Harrison is a bit of a character (he’s described himself as such), and is known around Dexter hockey as the straight-shooting, loquacious sort. If you need further proof, check out this segment with Flames TV from the team’s development camp earlier this month (WATCH HERE).

His gift for gab, along with the willingness to use his frame in playing the physical game, helped Harrison leave an impression on Calgary’s staff. After having an one-on-one with Harrison, one Flames scout remarked to Donato that Harrison was perhaps the best interview he’d had with a prospect in decades.

But Harrison’s also made his presence felt on ice. During development camp, as highlighted during the aforementioned clip from Calgary, Harrison also dazzled the fans with a couple of nifty moves on penalty shot drills. He also mixed it up with fellow campers on ice, showing he has a mean streak.

Just don’t be fooled by it.

“He’s a pretty mello kid, actually,” Donato said. “Colgate’s getting a great kid. Don’t know what his role will be there, but what I know is that both they and the Flamers are getting a really good kid.”

And a hoot.

Notre Dame joins Hockey East this year, but the Irish already made a splash in the northeast recently with the commitment of Noble and Greenough center Cal Burke.

Burke, a Boxborough native, led the Bulldogs in scoring (34 points) last season. A 1997 birthdate, the 5-foot-10, 160-pounder also was selected by Cedar Rapids in May’s USHL Draft. Burke’s date of arrival in South Bend is intended for 2015-16.

“He’s a gifted player and he’s a great match for their program,” Nobles head coach Brian Day said. “Cal truly plays an all-around game. He’s a smart player and he incorporates his teammates well into the play.”

While the Irish catch a top recruit, Burke’s commitment could come with two-fold implications. For Notre Dame, entering a new conference otherwise situated exclusively in New England, perhaps Jeff Jackson’s staff will increasingly dip into the regional talent pool. With its present roster consisting primarily of players from the Midwest and out to the Pacific Ocean, can we expect Notre Dame to come east for more than road trips?

“There would definitely be advantages,” Day said to the notion. “If kids are in the Northeast, their families don’t have to always go out to Indiana to see their games, given that they’ll be playing here now. Plus, it’s a national brand, everybody’s heard of Notre Dame.”

There were a couple of other Hockey East commitments coming from local skaters during the last week or so.

First, Austin Prep’s Nolan Vesey will become the third member of his immediate family to play college hockey, verballing to Maine. A four-year standout for the Cougars, Nolan joins father Jim (Merrimack) and older brother Jimmy (Harvard).

Nolan Vesey is a modern-day rarity though, having playing four years of MIAA hockey before earning a college hockey scholarship. Jim Clark of the Boston Herald spoke to Vesey last week about the subject last week, and the forward was candid about the struggles in staying close to home.

“I’d be the first one to tell you, my first few years at Austin I was looking at prep schools,” Vesey told Clark.

Joining Vesey among the most recent local Hockey East commits, Phillips Exeter defenseman Spenser Young announced he’d committed to Providence College earlier this week via Twitter. The rising sophomore and Brentwood, N.H. native chose the Friars from a host of interested H.E. schools.
For the third straight year, St. John’s Prep hockey produced an NHL Draft pick.

Following in the footsteps of former ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey Colin Blackwell (Harvard) and current BU Terrier Sam Kurker before him, recent Prep grad Brian Pinho became the most recent of head coach Kristian Hanson's players to hear his name on Draft day, selected by the Washington Captials in the sixth round (174th overall) on Sunday.

We caught up with the North Andover resident and Providence College commit on Monday to get his Draft night experience:

On whether he thought Washington would be destination: “I had a feeling. They were one of the teams that I had an interview and a meeting with them. I had a hunch that it might be Vancouver, Anaheim or Boston though. So I kept watching those teams as their picks came up through the rounds. But I really didn’t have a good sense where I’d go.”

On the Draft process: “There were a lot of different types of meeting. With Washington, we actually just met up at a Dunkin’ Donuts. In the meetings, you just go over your strengths and weaknesses, but the key is to be honest with them. They want you to be honest. You don’t want to say you’re the strongest skater in the world when you’re not because they already know. When I went to meet with the Bruins, it was at the Garden. I worked out, had lunch with them. Looking back on Washington, it was pretty basic. They asked me questions about my game, how I saw myself as a player and it was a background check on family, my parents, siblings, what they do. Basic stuff like that.”

On how he watched the Draft: “We stayed at home. My brother had a couple of his friends over, had a couple of my buddies over, hanging out by pool. We had a TV set up by the shed. When it got later and the bugs were out, we moved inside and watched the TV.”

On how he might fit into Washington’s system: “I think I can fit in there, being a two-way player, playing my game. Obviously, they have a lot of big scorers like [Alex] Ovechkin, [Mike] Ribeiro, but I think it would be more a two-way, defensive forward, being able to move the puck and see the ice well.”

On his offseason regimen: “Actually, I just got back in Boyle’s [gym]. I’m there at 7 a.m. with a group that has Chris Kreider in it, the Rangers forward. It’s good motivation having a guy like that around. It pushes you. Then, from 2-4, I’ll head to Ristuccia and work on my skating with Paul Vincent. I’ve been doing that for the past several years. We do a lot of edge work there, and before I started there, I’d never really don that. I was horrible at it initially, but then you get really strong on your edges and that’s really what you need at the next level. You have to be able to skate, it’s the most important part of hockey. I love Mr. Vincent, I think that I owe a lot to him.”

Barry, Bettencourt give lax commitments

December, 3, 2012
The Laxachusetts club lacrosse team announced the verbal commitments for two of its players last week.

Defenseman Jon Barry committed to Providence while midfielder Teddy Bettencourt is headed to Michigan. Here's a little on each of the players:

Jon Barry, '14 D, Thayer Academy -- Also a hockey standout at Thayer under Tony Amonte, Barry was converted from middie to defense on the lacrosse field a year ago.

Teddy Bettencourt, '15 M, Governor's Academy -- Was a part of the Gov’s ISL championship football team and is widely regarded as one of the fastest 2015 middies in the country. He was selected a Maverick Showtime All-Star this past summer as well as starring for the Laxachusetts AA team at the Baltimore Kickoff, The Baltimore Crab Feast and the NSCLA championships.

La Salle's Lemos commits to Providence

November, 23, 2012
Former La Salle (R.I.) Academy hockey standout center Bryan Lemos has committed to Providence College. This story was first reported by Mike McMahon of College Hockey News.

Lemos, an East Providence native, now plays for the Boston Jr. Bruins, but played last season as a sophomore for the Rams, tallying 13-15-28 totals in 18 games and was named to the Providence Journal’s All-State team. Lemos continues to attend La Salle.

In the spring, Lemos was selected in the fourth round of USHL Futures Draft by the Youngstown Phantoms.

It is expected that Lemos will join the Friars for the 2014-15 season.

Xaverian's Sperzel commits to Providence

October, 23, 2012
Xaverian junior midfielder D.J. Sperzel has committed to play lacrosse at Providence College, his father Jim told us Tuesday. He will join the Friars' 2014 recruiting class.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder is also a two-way starter on the Hawks' football team. Last summer, Sperzel played with his Team Central club team at the Brine All-American Classic, Brine Shootout and Baltimore Kickoff.

Laxachusetts announces latest commitments

September, 18, 2012
The Laxachusetts lacrosse club has seen a group of its 2013 and '14 players give college commitments during the last week.

Here's a look at the team members and their college destinations:

Class of 2013
Brendan Altieri, Norwood - Skidmore

Brendan Fitzgerald, Duxbury - Beloit

Jon Gomer, Duxbury - Sacred Heart (Will PG at Brewster Academy)

Conor Hilton, St. Sebastian's - Providence College

Andrew Melvin, Medfield - Bates

Bobby O’Brien, Duxbury - Merrimack

Class of 2014
Shane Rinkus, Dexter - UMass

New England Roundup: Connecticut

November, 10, 2011
One interesting subplot that's developed during the Connecticut high school football season is the competition for the state's Gatorade Player of the Year.

ConnecticutThrough eight weeks the prime contenders are a pair of senior quarterbacks: Masuk's Casey Cochran and Cromwell's Anthony Morales.

Cochran, who won the award last year, has directed Masuk to 21 consecutive victories and may play for the best team in the state. He's completed 88 of 111 passes for 2,123 yards this season. Cochran has thrown 27 touchdown passes and has been intercepted three times.

Despite Cochran's gaudy numbers, it's Morales who leads the state in touchdown passes (30) and passing yardage (2,376). Morales, who is playing for his third coach in as many years, has completed 105 of 147 passes and has been intercepted four times. He has thrown for at least four touchdowns in five of Cromwell's eight games.

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New England Roundup: Connecticut

September, 1, 2011
Malik Golden didn't know it at the time, but when his Cheshire Academy team defeated New Hampton (N.H.) Prep, 49-20, in the New England Prep School Athletic Council's Dan Rourke Bowl last fall, a friendship was born that would end up shaping Golden's future.

ConnecticutGolden crossed paths with New Hampton quarterback/defensive back Jake Kiley that day, and their friendship grew when each attended a football camp at Penn State last spring.

Kiley committed to Penn State earlier this summer, and then did his best to persuade Golden to do the same.

“We're going to be roommates – at least that's the plan,” Golden said last Wednesday, shortly after he committed to Penn State. “We got the best of him that day, but Jake's a great player.

“It's one of the toughest decisions I've every made in my life. To be honest I went with my gut feeling. Every person I talked to had nothing but good things to say about Penn State. I just confirmed that during my visit there [earlier this month].”

Kiley is expected to play defensive back at Penn State. Although most schools recruited Golden to play wide receiver, he may join Kiley in Penn State's defensive backfield.

“That's something I wanted to talk about during my visit,” Golden said. “Wherever the team needs me. We'll see when I get on campus.”

Golden, who is entering his senior year, made 48 receptions for 680 yards and five touchdowns in nine games last season. His best performance came against New Hampton. He rushed for 197 yards and caught nine passes for 105 yards that day.

Golden said he was also considering Boston College, Connecticut and Iowa.

“It's all done,” Golden said. “It feels good.”

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Feehan's Lexi Sells commits to Providence

May, 18, 2011
Bishop Feehan guard Lexi Sells has verbally committed to Providence College, her father George told ESPN HoopGurlz.

The 5-foot-9 Attleboro resident -- ranked the No. 54 overall prospect for the Class of 2012, in the latest ESPNU HoopGurlz 100 -- helped lead the Shamrocks to a share of the Eastern Athletic Conference title, and an appearance in the Division 2 South semifinals this past season.

Sells averaged 19.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and four steals per game for the 16-7 Shamrocks.

"She very much wanted to go there and they offered her tonight," George Sells told ESPN HoopGurlz in an email message.