Boston High School: Ryan Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald on Bruins: 'A great honor'

July, 1, 2013
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Ryan Fitzgerald became the second generation of his family drafted into the NHL Sunday night, when he was selected by his hometown Bruins in the fourth round (120th overall).

Following in his father’s footsteps (Tom Fitzgerald was drafted by the New York Islanders in the first round in 1986), the Boston College-bound North Reading native realized a childhood dream, joining the team his father finished his NHL career with in 2006. He also got to share the moment with his dad, who was working the Pittsburgh Penguins’ draft table in his capacity as the team’s assistant general manager.

The family connections don’t stop there. His uncle, Scott, is the Bruins assistant director of amateur scouting, so it truly was a family affair.

Fitzgerald, who skated last year with the Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League, graduated from Malden Catholic and, while skating with the Lancers, was part of back-to-back MIAA Super 8 tournament championship teams in 2010-11 and 2011-12.

We caught up with Fitzgerald Monday morning to get the wrap on his draft night experience:

On waiting to hear his name called: “It’s a long night. I was sitting there with my brother, Casey, and his friend, Andrew Brandano (player at St. John’s Prep). My dad was on pin and needles all night, definitely a little nerve-wracking for him. He stayed on the floor the first round, and then came up to sit with us for the second, third, fourth rounds. When it finally happened, it was a big sigh of relief for him.”

On whether he knew Bruins would be destination: “With my uncle, I’m pretty familiar with organization. It’s a team that I talked to a lot during the process. I thought they might be a team that was interested in me. I met with them at the draft combine and met with a bunch of their local guys. I came out and trained with them one time, so I knew they were interested. My uncle told me they had a close eye on me. It’s really a great honor.”

On the draft day experience: “When you walk into the rink, it’s amazing. You’ve seen it on TV, but it’s completely different in person. It’s just a great atmosphere. You wouldn’t think that it’d be that rowdy at a draft, but the fans show up and they get into it. It’s great.”

On what his brother, Casey (also a BC commit), means to him: “He’s been great. He’s a great brother and he was really supportive through everything. He always is. His draft is coming up soon, so he got to sit back and take it all in. I’ll be there for him when he goes through it, too.”

On which team he was rooting for in Eastern Conference final: “You’re always a Bruins fan, growing up here, but you’re a part of the Pittsburgh family with my dad working for them. But when they played the Bruins, it was a stressful time in the Fitzgerald house. After the Bruins won, it was tough, but we wanted the Bruins to win [the Cup] because of my uncle. We were rooting for the team and for him to win it.”

MC alum Fitzgerald selected by Bruins

June, 30, 2013
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Former Malden Catholic standout Ryan Fitzgerald was selected by the Boston Bruins 120th overall (4th round) in Sunday's NHL draft.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound center skated with the Valley Junior Warriors of the Eastern Junior Hockey League last year. In his three previous seasons at Malden Catholic, the North Reading native won back-to-back Super 8 championships with the Lancers while being named a first-team selection to the ESPN Boston All-State team.

Fitzgerald, who will skate at Boston College next season, is the son of former Bruin and current Pittsburgh Penguins assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald and nephew of Bruins assistant director of amateur scouting, Scott Fitzgerald.

Scouts dish on local NHL Draft class

June, 29, 2013
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The NHL Draft commences Sunday in Newark, N.J., and there is a crop of New England-raised players hoping to hear their name called.

So we took the task to the Northeast regional scouts of an Eastern and a Western Conference team to give their evaluations of some of the region’s best and brightest.

So here’s a look at some of the local skaters to watch out for and their scouting evaluation heading into the Draft:

(Editor’s note: Players appear by NHL Central Scouting rankings among North American skaters.)

Ryan Fitzgerald, C, Valley Junior Warriors (EJHL)
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 170 lbs.
Hometown: North Reading, Mass. (Malden Catholic H.S.)
College commitment: Boston College
Central Scouting final ranking: 56

Scout's take: “He has tremendous hockey sense, with great vision and quick hands. He’s an undersized player, but has tremendous balance and is solid on the puck. He thinks the game at a high level.”

Zach Sanford, LW, Middlesex Islanders (EJHL)
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Hometown: Auburn, N.H. (Pinkerton Academy)
College commitment: Boston College
Central Scouting final ranking: 60

Scout's take: “He’s still very raw and a little unpolished, but he’s got the frame. He’s rangy and you know he has some weight to put on. He’s can play a pretty physical game, but he has to add to his frame. He had a tough start to the season in the E.J., but then averaged a point per game down the stretch.”

Anthony Florentino, D, South Kent / Selects
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 220 lbs.
Hometown: West Roxbury, Mass. (Xaverian Brothers)
College commitment: Providence College
Central Scouting final ranking: 75
Scout's Take: “He’s the top [defensive] prospect in the draft locally. He’s got a heavy shot and skates well. Plus, you get a four-year projection on him as a true freshman headed to college. He’s got a chance. He’s the youngest of four boys, so he’s been pushed around a bit and that’s made him tough to play against. He’s gone a little under the radar.”

Jason Salvaggio, C/LW, South Kent / Selects / Indiana Ice (USHL)
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 190 lbs.
Hometown: Hanson, Mass. (Xaverian Brothers)
College: UNH
Central Scouting final ranking: 97

Scout's Take: “He’s got a little edge to his game. Good hands, good shot. His size is OK, but big enough to play. I think the question is whether he can process the game at a high level. I think UNH will help him. He has skill and can skate, but can he process when it’s moving really fast?”

Wiley Sherman, D, Hotchkiss School
Height: 6’6”
Weight: 210 lbs.
Hometown: Greenwich, Conn.
College: Harvard
Central Scouting final ranking: 104

Scout's Take: “He’s obviously a big frame at 6-6, and hecan defend. He’s an excellent skater for someone so tall. He has a great base and foundation to play on. Has a little meanness, too, and he’ll do whatever has to to protect the house. I think of him along the lines of a Hal Gill.”

Brian Pinho, C, St. John’s Prep
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 171 lbs.
Hometown: North Andover, Mass.
College: Providence College
Central Scouting final ranking: 109

Scout's Take: “He’s an excellent skater, a natural skater and a high-energy guy. I think he projects as a good energy line guy, a good solid two-way player.”

Ryan Segalla, D, Salisbury School
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 194 lbs.
Hometown: Hanover, Mass.
College: UConn
Central Scouting final ranking: 169

Scout's Take: “He has an over-the-top compete level. It’s second to none for kids around New England. He might play a little out of control at time, but he’s very strong, extremely physical. He’s tenacious.”

Shane Starrett, G, South Kent / Selects
Height: 6’5”
Weight: 180 lbs.
Hometown: Bellingham, Mass. (Catholic Memorial)
College: Boston University
Central Scouting final goaltenders ranking: 15

Scout's Take: “Goalies are hard to predict, it’s the one [position] that’s probably hardest to predict. He’s got the size to play — the way goaltenders are going now. The only question is the level of hockey that he’s played at.”
The NHL Central Scouting service released its final rankings of North American skaters and goaltenders ahead of the NHL Draft Wednesday morning.

Former Malden Catholic standout and Valley Junior Warriors (EJHL) product Ryan Fitzgerald leads the New England skaters, checking in at No. 56.

Here's the list of skaters with local ties who made the cut:

(The full list can be found here):

SKATERS:
56. C Ryan Fitzgerald, Valley Junior Warriors (EJHL - Malden Catholic, North Reading), Previous Ranking - 46
60. LW Zach Sanford, Islanders (EJHL - Pinkerton Academy, Auburn, N.H.), Previous Ranking - 83
75. D Anthony Florentino, South Kent School, Previous Ranking - 79
94. C Nick Huthinson, Avon Old Farms, Previous Ranking - 133
97. LW/C Jason Salvaggio, South Kent School, Previous Ranking - 90
104. D Wiley Sherman, Hotchkiss School, Previous Ranking - 125
109. C Brian Pinho, St. John's Prep, Previous Ranking - 117
138. LW Miles Wood, Noble and Greenough, Previous Ranking - 163
169. D Ryan Segalla, Salisbury School, Previous Ranking - 136
182. C John Stevens, Salisbury School, Previous Ranking - 162
185. D Connor Light, Phillips Andover, Previous Ranking - 178
186. RW Ross Olsson, Cedar Rapids (USHL - Billerica Memorial), Previous Ranking - 121
187. LW Tyler Hill, Chicago (USHL - Hotchkiss), Previous Ranking - 85
195. C Daniel LaFontaine, Avon Old Farms, Previous Ranking - 172
198. D Quin Pompi, Berkshire, Previous Ranking - 160
201. RW Thomas Aldworth, Cushing Academy, Previous Ranking - Unranked
206. D Tyler Wood, Noble and Greenough, Previous Ranking - 197

GOALTENDERS:
15. Shane Starrett, South Kent School (Catholic Memorial), Previous Ranking - 35
26. Merrick Madsen, Proctor Academy, Previous Ranking - 34
Valley Junior Warriors and former Malden Catholic standout center Ryan Fitzgerald leads the list of locals on the NHL Central Scouting's Midterm Rankings of North American skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft, which were released today.

Fitzgerald, who has 13 goals for 14 points for 27 points through 22 games with the Warriors, was ranked 46th on the list released Tuesday morning.

Here's the complete list of New England skaters making the grade:
46. Ryan Fitzgerald, C, Valley Jr. Warriors - EJHL (North Reading, Mass. - Malden Catholic)
79. Anthony Florentino, D, South Kent School
83. Zach Sanford, LW, Islanders - EJHL (Pinkerton Academy)
85. Tyler Hill, LW, Hotchkiss School
90. Jason Salvaggio, C/LW, South Kent School (Hanson, Mass. - Xaverian Brothers)
117. Brian Pinho, C, St. John's Prep
120. Eddie Ellis, LW, Phillips Andover (Burlington, Mass.)
121. Ross Olsson, RW, Lincoln - USHL (Billerica, Mass.)
125. Wiley Sherman, D, Hotchkiss School
133. Nick Hutchinson, C, Avon Old Farms
136. Ryan Segalla, D, Salisbury School
160. Quin Pompi, D, Berkshire School
163. Miles Wood, LW, Noble and Greenough
172. Daniel LaFontaine, C, Avon Old Farms
178. Connor Light, D, Phillips Andover
191. Mark Hamilton, D, Salisbury School
197. Tyler Wood, D, Noble and Greenough

Goaltenders:
34. Merrick Madsen, Proctor Academy
35. Shane Starrett, South Kent School (Bellingham, Mass. - Catholic Memorial)

Fitzgerald makes U.S. World Junior A roster

October, 18, 2012
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Former Malden Catholic standout and current Valley Junior Warriors center Ryan Fitzgerald today was named to the U.S.A. Hockey Junior Select Team that will play in November's World Junior A Challenge in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The North Reading resident and Boston College commit is the only skater on the 22-player roster who currently isn't on a United States Hockey League roster.

However, New England is also represented by the Indiana Ice's Robbie Baillargeon, a native of Enfield, Conn. and formerly of Enfield High School, who is headed to Boston University next fall.

Locals on NHL Central Scouting watch list

September, 20, 2012
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The NHL players might be locked out, but we're peering into the future with the arrival of the NHL Central Scouting's watch list, identifying players to keep an eye on for the 2013 Draft.

Again, New England skaters abound on the list, with high schoolers to collegians with local roots making the grade on the bureau's initial scouting list.

Capping an already excellent week, St. John's Prep senior center Brian Pinho -- who just committed to Providence -- is the lone MIAA skater making the list this year.

Also from the local ponds, former Malden Catholic standout Ryan Fitzgerald, who will play with the EJHL's Valley Junior Warriors along with fellow watch lister Devin Tringale (Lawrence Academy), and Phillips Andover's Eddie Ellis made strong initial marks as each earned a B-grade. Former Billerica standout Ross Olsson, who will skate with the Lincoln Stars of the United State Hockey League this year, also was given a B-grade.

Here's how the locals broke down:

(For the entire list of North American skaters, click here.)

MASSACHUSETTS HIGH SCHOOLS
B SKATERS

Eddie Ellis (Burlington, Mass. - Harvard), LW, Phillips Andover, 6'1.75, 200

C SKATERS
Connor Brassard (Fitchburg, Mass.), D, Cushing Academy, 6'0.25, 176
Alexander Gonye, LW, Deerfield Academy, 6'1, 175
Brian Pinho (North Andover, Mass. - Providence College), C, St. John's Prep, 6'0.25, 171

C GOALTENDERS
Brendan McMenimen, G, Governor's Academy, 6'0, 196
Drew Michals, G, Lawrence Academy, 5'11.5, 162

CONNECTICUT HIGH SCHOOLS
B SKATERS

Tyler Hill, LW, Hotchkiss School, 6'5.75, 220

C SKATERS
Mitchell Allen, RW, Kent School, 6'2.25, 173
Anthony Florentino (West Roxbury, Mass. - Providence College), D, South Kent School, 6'0.5, 209
Daniel Lafontaine, C, Avon Old Farms, 5'10, 160
Jason Salvaggio, C/LW, South Kent School, 5'11.5, 187
Ryan Segalla, D, Salisbury, 6'0.75, 184
Wiley Sherman (Greenwich, Conn. - Harvard), D, Hotchkiss School, 6'6, 196

NEW HAMPSHIRE HIGH SCHOOLS
C GOALTENDERS

Merrick Madsen (Acton, Calif. - Harvard), G, Proctor Academy, 6'4.5, 177

EASTERN JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
B SKATERS
Ryan Fitzgerald, (North Reading, Mass. - Boston College), C, Valley Junior Warriors, 5'9.5, 168

C SKATERS
Joshua Couturier (Newbury, Mass. - Northeastern), D, Junior Bruins, 6'1, 166
Devin Tringale (Medford, Mass. - Harvard), LW, Valley Junior Warriors, 5'11.75, 193

UNITED STATES HOCKEY LEAGUE
B SKATERS

Ross Olsson (Billerica, Mass. - Northeastern), RW, Lincoln, 6'3.5, 202

COLLEGE SKATERS
EASTERN COLLEGE ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

C SKATERS
Nicholas Bligh (Milton, Mass - South Shore Kings/Dexter/Milton), C, Dartmouth, 5'11.5, 175

HOCKEY EAST
C SKATERS

Cameron Darcy, (South Boston, Mass. - U.S. NTDP), C/RW, Northeastern, 6'0, 189
Frank Vatrano, (East Longmeadow, Mass. - U.S. NTDP), LW, Boston College, 5'10, 218

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

March, 23, 2012
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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.

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

Super 8 final: Malden Catholic 3, BC High 1

March, 18, 2012
3/18/12
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BOSTON – Every championship means something. But the Division 1A Super 8 crown won by Malden Catholic meant everything.

To players such as junior Mike Iovanna, whose game-winner helped push the Lancers past BC High, 3-1 at TD Garden.

And to Chris Serino, MC's cancer stricken head coach, who although too ill to perform his whistle-tooting duties, played a huge emotional role in Malden's second consecutive crown.

“You know what,” said Iovanna, whose backhander with 8:06 gone in the third snapped a 1-1 tie, “we did it for him. It's tough to see him like that. Our season was based on him.”

[+] EnlargeMalden Catholic Hockey
Jon Mahoney/ESPNBoston.comMike Iovanna tallied what would prove the game-winning goal during the third period of Malden Catholic's Super 8 title game victory over BC High Sunday at TD Garden.
Senior defenseman Colin MacGillivray was in hearty agreement.

“Everything on that ice was dedicated to him,” said MacGillivray. “We just did it for him. We wanted it, and we did it.”

They did, but not without a struggle, after having spotted BC High an early goal.

The Eagles grabbed that lead on Sam Topham's tally, 1:59 into the contest.

Showing no reluctance to jump into the offense, Topham, a sophomore defenseman, took a feed from freshman Tim Larocque, barged to the bottom of the left circle, then threaded in his tight-angle shot which caught Lancers' junior goalie Connor Maloney by surprise.

“Those were all things we worked on this week in practice,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “Driving wide. We knew where they were vulnerable.”

Matters opened up in the second period, which put both goaltenders on the hot seat.

BC High netminder Peter Cronin faced 17 shots in the second stanza, including Iovanna's sharp wrister which he gloved.

The Eagles missed out on a golden scoring chance a minute later, when Michael Brooks was set up by linemate Tom Besinger, but missed the open net.

“That wasn't the only one,” said Flaherty. “Three or four pucks that laid there for us to bury. When you're playing with the fire power of Malden Catholic, you need to be mistake free and capitalize on everything they give you.”

Instead, was the Lancers who exploited a BC High breakdown and used it to tie the contest, 1-1, at 11:28.

Brendan Collier, working a 2-on-1 with Ryan Fitzgerald, took Sifferlen's cross-ice pass, put a head fake on Cronin and tucked the puck inside the right post.

The stalemate continued until midway through the third, when an uncleared puck in the Eagles zone ended up on Nick Rolli's stick near the blue line.

Rolli saw Iovanna cutting to the net and deftly fed him the puck.

“We were really pressuring them down low,” said Iovanna. “They couldn't get it out. We kept banging on them.”

Iovanna finished the play by lifting a back hander over Cronin's shoulder from six feet away.

Lancers freshman Casey Fitzgerald put the game out of reach with 4.6 seconds remaining, when he sent a shot 150 feet into an open net.

By that time, the Malden faithful, including Serino who was in attandence, were able to celebrate this sweetest title.

“I've been there since my freshman year,” MacGillivray said. “We've basically been a family together. It sounds weird, but [Coach Serino] is like the father of the family. We did it for him.”

Said MCinterim coach John McLean, “It's mission accomplish. It's been a very long, tough season, mentally and physically. The kids dug down in the third period and did what they had to do.”

With hockey being such a close-knit fraternity, Serino, who is still Lancers athletic director, had a real presence in the Eagles' dressing room, too, one that was still grieving the in-season passings of the fathers of two BC High sophomores.

“We were playing for our own cause,” Flaherty said. “Two of our kids lost their dads. (But) I have the utmost respect for Chris Serino. He just came into my locker room and congratulated our guys. That's what true Chris Serino is. Here's a guy fighting for his life and he takes the time out of celebrating with his team to come into my locker room.

"That's what hockey is. It's a family.”

MIAA hockey championships primer, picks

March, 16, 2012
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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: Malden Catholic 4, Central Cath. 0

March, 15, 2012
3/15/12
1:27
AM ET


NORTH ANDOVER – Local hockey fans who hadn't heard of Malden Catholic forward Ara Nazarian before this year's Super 8 tournament have probably heard of him now.

Nazarian, a freshman, collected a goal – his fifth in four Super 8 games – to help the top-seeded Lancers defeat seventh-seeded Central Catholic 4-0 Wednesday in the Super 8 semifinals.

“He tends to figure out the game at each level as he moves up,” Malden Catholic head coach John McLean said. “He's got a pretty good hockey IQ and when he gets a chance he's gonna put it in the net.

“I know what he can do because I've coached him since he was a Mite. He scored in some big games [during the regular season] and he's scored some big ones here. He's a big-time player.”

Malden Catholic, last year's Super 8 champion, also received goals from sophomore defenseman Nick Rolli, senior forward Brendan Collier and junior forward Ryan Fitzgerald.

The victory earned the Lancers a spot in the Super 8 championship game, where they will face BC High on Sunday (6 p.m.) at TD Banknorth Garden. BC High moved on with a 3-2 triumph over St. John's Prep in Wednesday's other semifinal.

“I've had them [BC High] marked from Day 1 as the team that would be there,” McLean said. “Just nonstop. Great coach, great kids and it's gonna be a great game.”

Central Catholic made the program's deepest run in the Super 8 tournament.

“The kids fought all the way to the end,” Central Catholic head coach Mike Jankowski said. “We wanted to be a little more conservative in our own zone. Give up a little bit. Be patient. The kids stayed with it. They did a great job.”

SHOOTING BLANKS
Although Malden Catholic collected both goals scored in the second period, the best chances in the period belonged to the Raiders.

Malden Catholic goaltender Connor Maloney stopped Central Catholic's Corey Webber on a penalty shot with 4:15 left in the period, and then Maloney stopped Michael Hovnanian's breakaway attempt with 3:36 remaining in the period.

“You gotta put those away when you're in trouble,” Jankowksi said. “When you don't finish them the sticks start to get a little heavier.”

“[Maloney] made a few more big saves besides those two,” McLean added. “He kept us in it. This is two games in a row where our offense gets going and we forget we have to play defense. The kids get excited when they score the goals and hear the fans, but defense wins hockey games.

“Maloney had a great game tonight. He was our player of the game.”

OLD FRIENDS MEET AGAIN
Sunday's game will be the fourth time Malden Catholic and BC High have faced each other this season. Malden Catholic posted a 7-4 victory during the regular season, and a 3-1 victory earlier in the Super 8 tournament. The teams also skated to a 2-2 tie during the regular season.

“I'm looking forward to it,” McLean said. “We always have good games with them. It's gonna come down to who going to eat the puck, block a shot. Who's gonna want to get in front and get dirty. I think it's gonna come down to heart. I think it's gonna be a great game for the fans.”

MC's Super 8 run inspired by Serino

March, 14, 2012
3/14/12
3:04
AM ET
MALDEN, Mass. -- Malden Catholic hockey's season had an auspicious start when head coach Chris Serino announced he was stepping aside for the season to deal with health problems in December.

The program was entrusted to John McLean, who took over as head coach in the interim, along with fellow longtime assistants Phil Antonelli and Pat Driscoll.

The Lancers haven't disappointed as the No. 1 team in our Top 25 poll throughout the season. But the pressure will mount on Wednesday, as they look to advance to the TD Garden and secure their second straight Division 1A title. Still, the biggest goal the Lancers hope to live up to is the ability to deliver another title in honor of their ailing coach, who is undergoing treatment in a bout with throat cancer.

We visited MC's practice on Monday to file this story:

Super 8 recap: Malden Catholic 7, Hingham 2

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
11:43
PM ET


NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — All it took was the first couple of seconds into the game and one could see that it could be a long day for Hingham.

Ryan Fitzgerald set the tone with his breakaway rush after the opening faceoff as the talented forward and his linemmates helped Malden Catholic finish off Hingham, 7-2, final first round game of the Super Eight.

“I think as a whole we realized we needed to pick it up a little,” Fitzgerald said. “On the first shift we poured it out and it showed. We got a lot of good chances in the beginning of the game and we just wanted to apply it for the rest of the night.”

Lancers head coach John McLean could see that maybe his first line was struggling to find the back of the net and he was happy to see his team find the scoring touch at the right time.

“It was good that our guys finally got on the scoreboard and played the way that they can in the offensive zone,” McLean said. “We talked about it at practice and we rely on them a lot. They really have been struggling a bit, squeezing the stick too much.”



Fitzgerald was the pace-setter with three goals and one assists, while Brendan Collier scored two goals and two assists. Ara Narazarian also potted a pair for Malden Catholic in the victory.

“We’ve just focused on our game plan,” Fitzgerald said. “We practice it every day and we just had to bring it back to the basics and stay with that.”

Lost in the offensive explosion were a number of great saves by Connor Maloney in the second period. Maloney got out of position on two or three rushes by the Harbormen, but he was able to square up those chances that could have seriously altered the complexion of the dominating victory.

“We didn’t do a good job in our end,” said McLean. “[Maloney] came up with some huge saves. The kids felt really good after the second period, but I kind of blasted them. The net was empty. They probably missed three empty nets. It could have been a different game if they put that puck in the net. He saved us on a few.”

“You know you are only going to get so many chances,” added Hingham head coach Tony Messina. “We had two or three. It looked like open nets or partially open nets and we couldn’t put it home. It would have changed the complexion in terms of the way the kids were thinking about it. We could only keep them down for so long.”

Super 8: Malden Catholic 3, St. John's (S) 2

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
3:10
AM ET


NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- With one period to play in Sunday night's Super 8 game between top-seeded Malden Catholic and eighth-seeded St. John's of Shrewsbury, everyone in attendance at Merrimack College's Lawler Arena was on upset alert.

The underdog Pioneers carried a one-goal lead into the third and were 15 minutes away from making headlines. Those 15 minutes were dominated by Malden Catholic, however. The Lancers scored two third-period goals and held St. John's to one shot on goal in the period to escape with a 3-2 victory.

“Gotta' give St. John's Shrewsbury all the credit,” Malden Catholic coach John McLean said. “I thought they played hard, they were smart, they clogged up the middle. We got a lot of shots on net, but I wouldn't say a lot of quality shots.

“We just kept digging and rolling out three lines. Told the guys to get pucks to the net, crash the net. You know what? It worked out in the end.”

Boston College-bound center Ryan Fitzgerald collected the game-winning goal with 34.7 seconds to play after he swatted in his own rebound after receiving a pass from Brendan Collier.

“Brendan gave me a nice pass from behind the net,” Fitzgerald said. “I just kept whacking at it and it ended up in the back of the net. It was just a matter of time before we got rewarded for our hard work.

“There was some frustration in the room [after two periods] but we kept our heads high and stuck with our game plan.”

Malden Catholic, last year's Super 8 champion, tied the game when defenseman Colin MacGillivray scored 3:02 into the third. The Lancers outshot the Pioneers 37-5 and improved their record to 16-1-4.

Senior forward Connor Bertram and junior forward Vin D'Amato provided the goals for St. John's Shrewsbury, which had to beat Needham in a play-in game to reach the field of eight. The Pioneers dropped to 16-5-3.

The Pioneers gained the momentum when Bertram opened the scoring 2:02 into the first period. Ara Nazarian tied the game on a backhanded shot from the left circle 8:00 into the second, then St. John's Shrewsbury regained the lead on D'Amato's 25th goal with 3:08 left in the second.

St. John's goaltender Mario Pizzeri made 34 saves, but it wasn't enough.

“Our leaders stood up when they had to,” McLean said. “Fitzy [Fitzgerald] and Brendan Collier have been carrying us all year. They went out there and they did the job. They're clutch players.”

ON TARGET
Perhaps the best way to describe the Pioneers' performance through two periods is efficient. St. John's scored on one of its three shots in the opening period, and on its only shot in the second.

“We wanted to keep their quality shots down as much as we could,” St. John's coach Brian Murphy said. “[Mario] kept us in there. I thought he played very well.

“We wanted to keep it away from their top guns, who are obviously very skilled, and see if we could chip a couple in, which we were able to do. It was a good, quality team effort. We wanted to keep it as close as we could for as long as we could. We just couldn't get the third one.”

UP NEXT
Each team will return to action Tuesday night at Merrimack College. St. John's will face Hingham at 5:45, and Malden Catholic will meet BC High at 8:15.

“I'm happy with the way we played, we just have to score earlier,” McLean said. “I thought St. John's did a very good job tonight.”

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.

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