Boston High School: Sean McCann

A long journey for St. Sebastian's D'Orsi

February, 13, 2015
Feb 13
Will D'Orsi recalls the first time he ever put on skates.

Just four years old at the time, D'Orsi did not have the luxury of other kids his age who could go to a frozen pond in town, or have their mom or dad drive them to a nearby rink to hone their skills.

You see, D'Orsi was living in England with his family at the time. England, hardly considered hockey haven, only had a couple of rinks available in which D'Orsi's father, Scott, or mother, Deborah, would have to drive long distances to get to.

"We lived in England from when I was three to when I was five," said D'Orsi, "I think there were just two rinks in all of England so we had some long rides. But I vividly remember me being that young and loving every minute I was on the ice.

And where is D'Orsi today?

He is a prominent fixture on the St. Sebastian's hockey team, leading the Arrows in scoring. A first-line centerman, D'Orsi is considered one of the more prolific players at the prep school level.

He began competing at a high level while playing at the Fessenden School. Upon graduation, D'Orsi decided to attend Belmont Hill which lasted for one year before opting to transfer to St. Sebastian's for his sophomore season.

"Belmont Hill just wasn't the right fit for me," he said. "So I came to St. Sebastian's. Coming over here is the best decision I have ever made in my high school career. The hockey has been great and Coach (Sean) McCann has done a great job with the program along with my own development. It is an environment that I wanted to be in and it has been great for me personally."

Athough the Arrows (10-8-3) have been a bit downtrodden this season, it has not affected D'Orsi's play one iota. The senior continues to flourish nightly despite the team's rough times, having tabulated 13 goals and added 19 assists so far. D'Orsi, along with fellow linemates R.J. Murphy and John Rourke have combined for 76 points already this season.

"The funny thing is that all three of them have been centermen at one time or another," said McCann. "They all can skate, can handle the puck and all have very good instincts. I wanted to put them all together to give them some flexibility from the standpoint of if you are a left winger it is OK to cut to the middle to take the center spot."

D'Orsi has emerged as the leader of this valuable trio, excelling in his abilities to control the puck and set up his teammates.

"Will's skill set is very good," adds McCann. "He is a tremendous skater and has spent years and years working on that. He also has very good hands. He does an excellent job in his ability to control the puck and be able to protect it. That makes him a threat anytime he is out on the ice.

“He also has a very high hockey IQ. He immediately draws players to him which allows him the ability to dish the puck to someone else or be able to create an opening for himself.”

During his sophomore year, D'Orsi accepted a scholarship to play at Yale – the same school his father played at from 1986-1990. For the younger D'Orsi, there was little hesitation on making his decision to become a future Bulldog.

He is the second D'Orsi child to receive an athletic scholarship. Older sister Hope, a standout lacrosse player, is midfielder at the University of Richmond.

"My dad played at Yale and the coaching staff was aware of that," D'Orsi said. "Once they noticed me they wanted to get me on campus. Being that my dad went there, Yale was always going to be at the top of my list. I had always wanted to play hockey at an Ivy League school.

“I can't honestly give you one reason why but academics has always been important to me. I looked at Yale and Harvard, but Yale became more appealing to me and they have been playing some great hockey, having recently won a national championship (in 2013 under head coach and Worcester native Keith Allain). My dad is certainly excited about it.”

D'Orsi's transformation from being a solid player to an elite one began after taking part in the Select Under-16 Festival for two years before joining the U.S. Under-17 Select Team as part of the Five Nations Hockey Tournament in the summer of 2013. It was there that the Sudbury native quickly realized it was now time to bring his game up another level.

"It was during the Under-17 Select when I started to take things a lot more seriously,” he said. “I knew the reason I was asked to the camp was an opportunity for me to tryout and hopefully make the team and represent our country in the tournament. I knew I needed to establish myself in an effort to get noticed by the coaches.

He added, “Coaches also wanted to see guys who would do the little things and go into the dirty areas on the ice. That was what was going to establish you over the other handful of players. I stuck to that and got the call that I had made the team. We went to Slovakia and won the gold medal. It was a great experience. For me, it was just an honor to put on that USA jersey."

D'Orsi, along with Thayer Academy's Lincoln Griffin, were the only two Massachusetts prodigies selected to the Under-17 select team.

In spite of the experience D'Orsi had gained from playing against international competition, there were parts of his game that still required some developing. Among them was his apprehensiveness to contact. McCann took notice of this and leaned heavily on D'Orsi, who stands 5-11, 170 pounds, to become more physical on the ice with or without the puck on his stick.

"Because of the coaches constantly talking to him, Will has become a player who is a lot more physical than when he first arrived here," McCann said. "I think that has added a different dimension to his game. It has allowed him to get better opportunities and it has allowed him to get the puck more and to set up other guys because he is now willing to have contact.”

McCann was certainly the right person to drive D'Orsi and teach him the proper mechanics which, in turn, has established him into being one of the top prep players in the country.

In his own college career, McCann was an outstanding defenseman at Harvard, earning him All-Amerca honors and being a finalist for Hobey Baker Award during his senior season in 1994. That year, he helped guide the Crimson to the Frozen Four, where they fell to eventual national champion Lake Superior State in the semifinal round.

Prior to coming to St. Sebastian's in 2009, McCann served as an assistant coach at Harvard.

"Will plays the game the right way," McCann said. "He will do well for himself whether it is in the game or outside the game. He's a great person."

In order to exceed at the next level, D'Orsi is aware his shortcomings on the ice. It is an issue he is relentless on correcting by the time he arrives in New Haven next fall.

"What has got me whatever success I have had so far is skill with the puck, shooting the puck and stick-handling" said D'Orsi. "What I feel I need to get better at is supporting the puck all over the ice and being gritty in every single battle.

“I am mindful of all of it. I've learned that you can be highly skilled and look like one of the best players on the ice but if you aren't willing to do those other things then maybe you aren't as big an asset as you might appear to be."

Recap: Nobles 4, St. Sebastian's 0

January, 8, 2015
Jan 8
NEEDHAM, Mass. -- It is a rivalry that often goes unnoticed except by those who play in it.

Noble & Greenough and St. Sebastian's are separated by a few mere miles along Great Plain Avenue. Annually, these two prep schools have wage fierce battles against one another, whether it be on the field, court or in the rink. It is also a secret to nobody that both schools often compete against each other in soliciting the region's top student-athletes.

From a hockey standpoint, the Bulldogs and Arrows are not short on possessing exceptional talent. Wednesday night, the two programs squared off in a highly-anticipated ISL Keller Division match up.

Nursing a one goal lead after two periods, Nobles would break it open in the final frame, scoring three times to come away with a 4-0 victory inside Henry T. Lane Rink.

The Bulldogs (7-3-1) received solid contributions from forwards Mike Fahie and Cam Burke, both scoring a pair of goals. Not to be excluded, Miles Wood and Luke Stevens each registered two assists, while junior goaltender Brendan Cytulik stopped all 22 shots he faced.

"St. Seb's is just down the street from us and it's a big rivalry," said Fahie, a junior. "This is the second ISL game that we've played. This is for first place in the ISL because St. Seb's is right behind us. It feels good to get this win."

The opening frame was more of a feeling out process as neither club could find the back of the net. Things would heat up a bit in the second period as both teams pushed their respective offenses to a higher level. The Arrows (7-4-1) opened the frame with some quality looks on Cytulik, but had nothing to show for it.

Likewise, Nobles was also finding open lanes inside the offensive zone. It would finally pay off when Burke, a sophomore, took a quick feed from Stevens from the right circle and ripped a one-timer past Danny Higgins at 7:21, putting the Bulldogs ahead 1-0.

"I thought we were out-competed in the first period but thought we were better in the second and third periods," said Bulldogs head coach Brian Day, his club putting up 31 shots, including 14 in the final period. "I thought as the game progressed we got progressively better. We kept most of their shots to the outside and didn't give up any second chance opportunities. I thought it was a good defensive effort and our forwards did a nice job getting back to help out defensively. I feel we still need to manage the puck better in the neutral zone. There were some instances where we had a chance to go but then we turned it over and now their coming the other way. We need to clean that up better so to make it harder for opposing teams to score."

Nobles defense also progressed as the game moved forward. Led by Pat Murray, Billy Sweezey and Alex Hreib, the objective was to tie up the neutral zone and pinch St. Seb's along the boards every time they moved the puck up ice. The defense also payed close attention to senior sniper Will D'Orsi throughout. The Yale-bound forward had some solid attempts on net, but, for much of the contest, was held in check.

Clinging to its one-goal advantage entering the second intermission, Nobles knew it could not sit back and rely on Cytulik to solely hold down the fort. Instead, the Bulldogs played uptempo to begin the period. Immediately, they applied pressure inside the attacking zone. The dividends from it would show quickly after Fahie poked in a rebound just 53 seconds in.

Continuing to show balanced movement with the puck, the Bulldogs added to their lead midway through the frame. Wood, a Boston College commit, laid a nice pass to wide-open Fahie, who blistered a shot by Higgins putting Nobles up by three goals.

"Coached talked to us after the second period and said we needed to come out harder," Fahie said. "The first period we were a little down and in the second period we started to pick it up. During the third period we played more to our system by pressing the net. We were able to get shots on net and just banged them in. I was fortunate to get two goals but my line mates set me up pretty good."

St. Seb's, who put up 18 shots over the first two periods, suddenly found its offense nearly non-existent over the final 18 minutes due in part to Nobles' strong forechecking and ability to shut down the passing lanes. It was becoming more evident that the Arrows were growing frustrated with the sudden offensive drop off. That, in turn, would allow the Bulldogs to capitalize yet again as Burke, standing alone between the two circles, found enough daylight to slip his shot past Higgins with under two minutes remaining and close this one out.

"When Nobles scored its second goal I think we lost the emotional push in the game," said St. Seb's head coach Sean McCann. "We took a step backward in how aggressive we were. We were trying to push pressure on their defense and tire them out and if you had looked at the end of the second period I thought we had done that. But without continued pressure, we allowed them to sit back and feel comfortable.

"The third and fourth goals were just insurance for them because we didn't play the way we had in the first two periods. We had some good looks but didn't capitalize on them. We just didn't drive hard enough which is something we need to address."

Recap: St. Seb's 3, Catholic Memorial 0

December, 24, 2014
ALLSTON, Mass. -- St. Sebastian’s was just too much for Catholic Memorial on Tuesday night at Harvard’s Bright Landry Rink.

The Arrows capitalized on three plays in transition and were stingy in their own end as they shut out the Knights, 3-0, to win the Kevin T. Mutch Cup.

“[St. Sebastian’s] is an exceptional team,” said longtime Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson. “We’ve played Delbarton, Mount Saint Charles and Bishop Hendricken. They’re by far and away the best team we’ve played. We don’t have enough real good players like they have.”

The Arrows’ top line featuring Yale recruit Will D’Orsi centering R.J. Murphy and John Rourke provided much of the offensive spark. Murphy drew first blood at the 6:07 mark of the first period when he finished off a nice cross crease pass from D’Orsi on a two-on-one.

With a power play carrying over from the end of the first period the Arrows extended their lead to 2-0 just 38 seconds into the second frame. The top power play unit was moving the puck around the Knights zone with ease when Eric Jeremiah’s shot was blocked and seemingly landed right on D’Orsi’s stick for an easy goal.

Paul McAuliffe gave St. Seb’s a 3-0 advantage with 1:19 to play in the second period on a transition play. McAuliffe picked up a pass from Christian Reenstierna before driving to the net. As he was falling down he lifted a backhand that snuck between CM goaltender Brandon Collett and the near post.

St. Sebastian’s senior goaltender Danny Higgins held down the fort against minimal pushback from a Catholic Memorial squad that mustered little in the way of offense. It was the first shutout of the season for the Arrows’ captain.

“It’s great to have him back there,” St. Sebastian’s head coach Sean McCann said. “He’s a senior. He’s an older kid and has experience back there. He’s a calming force for us. I feel comfortable with him back there. He makes the saves that we require out of him.”

Speed Kills: D’Orsi, Murphy and Rourke put on quite a show in the first period with their speed and chemistry. The three really feed off each other and seem to know where to look to find the others.

“The reason is because they can skate,” said McCann. “They can handle the puck and be creative offensively. They’ve all been centermen before. They feel comfortable filling each other’s roles. They do it well coming up the ice. They have a good sense of each other.”

D’Orsi is the most well known of the group, having committed to Yale. He’s got tremendous speed and is crafty with the puck.

“[Speed] is a huge asset for his game,” McCann said. “He surprises defensemen because it doesn’t look like he’s going that much faster when he hits that next gear. He’s just such a smooth skater he’s able to keep that next gear and get by defensemen.”

Murphy has above average speed, but brings a little more physicality and power to the offensive zone than D’Orsi’s more finesse style. Murphy who made the team last year as a freshman has stepped up his game to a whole new level in his second varsity season.

“He’s always had tremendous skill. He can really shoot the puck. The thing he’s done is become a better skater overall. He’s had more patience with the puck. He’s finding his spots. He’s doing a better job as we go along,” McCann said of Murphy who was an invitee to last summer’s USA Hockey Select 16 Festival in Amherst, NY.

Work in Progress: It’s not often a coach sees positives from a 3-0 shutout loss in which his team had little in the way of scoring chances, but Hanson came away with some optimism for the future from Tuesday’s outing.

“The positive I can take out of that game is that in our end of the ice, they never bottled us up for any long stretches. We didn’t turn the puck over which kept them from coming away with easy scoring opportunities,” said Hanson. “The last period they only had two shots on goal. We played with a lot more courage and enthusiasm.”

On the other hand, Hanson was concerned with his team’s inability to play physically and prevent the transitional success that the Arrows enjoyed.

“They got their three goals in transition. It was a real lack of us being physical enough in our offensive zone which led to them having numbers,” said Hanson.

As he was much of last season, Collett will be the driving force between this year’s Knights. The junior goaltender made several nice saves including one midway through the second period on Murphy where he went post-to-post before sticking out the glove.

“Our goaltending will definitely be a strength all season,” Hanson said.

Hanson’s defense did a fairly good job containing the Arrows’ high-powered attack outside of the transitional plays and the power play tally. Led by juniors Frank Cosolito and Declan O’Malley, the Knights have some good size on the backend, but are still very much a work in progress.

“Our defensemen, the young guys that we’re bringing along, are a work in progress,” Hanson said. “As a coach my goal is by February 1st to have them much better than they are now.”

The Knights will look to take some of the lessons learned from tonight’s game and move forward starting with a nonconference tilt against St. John’s (Shrewsbury) at Loring Arena on Saturday in the first round of the Silverback tournament.

Recap: Thayer Academy 6, St. Sebastian's 3

January, 24, 2014

CANTON, Mass. -- Tony Amonte, the third-year boys’ hockey coach at Thayer Academy, likes to offer up comparisons between the ISL's Keller Division to that of the Southeastern Conference in football. Both present major challenges and nothing ever comes easy.

Friday night, Amonte's Tigers learned that lesson all to well. After jumping out to a four-goal lead, Thayer watched in vain as divisional foe St. Sebastian's mounted a flurry to close to within a goal. But the Tigers had enough ammunition in the end to withstand the onslaught and pull out 6-3 victory in the 17th annual Arthur T. Valicenti Cup game at the Sportsplex.

"In high school hockey there are no guarantees,'' said Amonte, his team improving to 13-3-0. "There are so many swings and ups and downs in every game. St. Sebastian's always brings it and we didn't expect any less than that. In this league every game is battle. You lose one and you could be out of a championship. It's that important every game and it's the team that can maintain that level that always wins the league every year."

Fresh off a loss to St. Paul's School only 24 hours earlier, no one could blame Thayer if they began this tilt a bit flat. But it was quite the opposite. The Tigers opened strong, controlling the opening 18 minutes by working the puck inside the Arrows' zone and keeping St. Sebastian's out of theirs.

For its reward, Thayer scored three times in span of 4:32 during the opening stanza.

Defenseman Steve Cochrane got things started by ripping a shot just a few feet in front of his blue line to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 4:20. Less than two minutes later, Kyle Peterson, another defenseman, wristed a rebound to an open right side of the net to make it a two-goal advantage. Thayer had no intentions of slowing down. Catching St. Sebastian's back on its heels a bit, the Tigers continued to instigate their quick up-the-ice strategy. Forward Lincoln Griffin made it a 3-0 game with a re-direct in front of Arrows goaltender Teddy Loughborough (20 saves), coming at 8:52.

The momentum Thayer had enjoyed during the opening frame carried into the second period. At 8:18, Neil Conway scored on a spin-around just to the right of Loughborough, upping the lead to 4-0. With their backs pushed firmly against the wall, the Arrows had a choice to make. They could either wave the towel or come back fighting. They chose the latter and, as a result, made things quite interesting.

"We did not play a good first period," Arrows coach Sean McCann said. "They were all over us and we couldn't do the things we wanted to do. We struggled moving the puck and just couldn't connect the dots going up the ice. In the second period we started to get some momentum and were making better decisions with the puck."

St. Sebastian's caught a huge break after a pair of TIgers were sent to the penalty box, giving them a 5-on-3 power play for 54 seconds. Working the puck inside Thayer's end, the Arrows sent two hard shots towards Tigers netminder Bob McGovern. The second one deflected off of McGovern's leg pad and out to junior forward Will D'Orsi, who quickly flipped a shot just under the crossbar at 13:55, putting the Arrows on the board.

"For a team as young as we are I think this was a great thing to battle like we did and compete the way we did," added McCann, whose team falls to 6-9-1 after starting the year 5-1-1. "We are a team that has to learn a lot. We have a lot of young kids playing crucial minutes for us. It's a good learning experience but I hate to use that term because nobody wants to hear about learning experiences, these kids want to win."

With time winding down in the middle frame, St. Sebastian's capitalize on a Thayer mental breakdown. With the Tigers trying to score another goal before intermission, they forgot to play defense. That allowed senior forward Corey Ronan to break out through the neutral zone and remain a full-step ahead of the defense. Skating in alone on McGovern, who opted to stay in the crease instead of coming out to challenge the puck-handler, Ronan was able to slip a shot past the senior just before the horn sounded and send the Arrows into the second intermission down by only two.

"We had a good first period," said Amonte, who played at Thayer in the late 1980s, prior to spending 16 solid seasons in the NHL. "There was a bit of lull in the second period. There was a coaching error on their second goal. We were thinking offense in the final seconds of the period when we should've been thinking protect that three-goal lead. But you are always looking for more. The way I coach, you really don't think about defense because I played forward and you are always thinking about getting that next goal.

“They made a great play and Corey Ronan is a tremendously fast player and made a great move. We also know you can't get into the box against good teams like St. Sebastian's. You have to be discipline, especially when you are already on the penalty kill and then you take another penalty. That's what hurts you."

Realizing it was now back in the hunt, St. Sebastian's drew a bit closer only a few minutes into the third. Nick Flanagan found the back of the net to cut the deficit to 4-3 at 11:01.

Suddenly, everything Thayer had built early on was now in jeopardy. Momentum had clearly shifted over to the side of the Arrows. Following Flanagan's marker, McGovern managed to fend off a couple more on-line assaults from St. Sebastian's.

But for how long?

"Our team has a good mixture of skill and work ethic," McGovern said. "Last year I don't think we won a game by more than two goals so we were dialed in the whole 54 minutes. This year we have been able to run away with some games so it is actually good for us to be in a tight game like this right up to the very end. Games like this will only help us."

The Tigers were then skating around in desperation mode, attempting to rediscover their scoring edge.

At 14:38, sophomore Christian Simeone provided it. The forward scored off a rebound to give the Tigers a little breathing space. Then, with a little less than three minutes remaining, Griffin sealed this one up with his second goal, slipping a shot between Loughborough's leg pads just before colliding with the senior. Officials awarded the goal to Griffin, stating the puck had crossed the goal line before there was impact.

"St. Sebastian's had a lot of momentum in the third period so we knew we needed to come back strong and finish," said Griffin. "The second period was probably our worst period by far. We knew we had to stick to our game plan, work hard and finish off checks. Once we started doing that again, we knew it would work out for us."

St. Seb's Ronan commits to UConn

October, 23, 2013
St. Sebastian's hockey senior forward Corey Ronan has given a verbal commitment to the University of Connecticut, Arrows head coach Sean McCann confirmed to ESPN Boston.

Ronan, a Franklin native, is expected to join the Huskies for the 2014-15 campaign.

Last season, Ronan put up 11-19-30 total in 28 games played with St. Seb's after a 32-point season as a sophomore.

"Corey is an outstanding kid," McCann said. "He is a leader because of his work ethic and determination is unmatched and his desire to win is exceptional. He has tremendous speed, which presents opportunities for him offensively."

But McCann also acknowledged what makes Ronan, son of former BU star and Montreal Canadien Ed Ronan, really tick.

"Corey plays the full sheet [of ice]," McCann said. "He works as hard defensively as he does offensively, and he is a dangerous penalty killer. I can't say enough about Corey's character, one can never have enough kids like him on your team."

NEPSAC: Thayer 4, St. Sebastian's 3 (OT)

February, 28, 2013

CANTON, Mass. -- Jonathan Sheedy swooped around the goal, arms raised in the air. A look of incredulousness was written on the senior captain’s face as he looked for his nearest teammate to hug.

With the figures “5:05” emblazoned on the scoreboard, Sheedy stopped time, delivering a 4-3 overtime win for Thayer Academy Wednesday at the Canton SpotsPlex.

Reflecting on his game-winner against St. Sebastian’s in the NEPSAC Martin/Earl Tournament quarterfinal tilt between ISL rivals, all Sheedy could think of is the last couple seasons and how far the Tigers have come.

“We’ve had two losing seasons in the last three years,” Sheedy said. “The fact that we were in the tournament this year, I was wicked happy for that. Now, we get to go to Salem, play in the semifinals Saturday. It’s just amazing.”

Thayer held a 3-0 lead in the second, despite the Arrows carrying play in the period. But Seb’s kept at it and finally solved Tigers netminder Bob McGovern (29 saves), scoring three unanswered goals, including two goals from senior forward James McLaughlin, to tie it in the third.

It was a familiar script.

“It was almost a mirror image of the other day, it was the same kind of game that we played on Saturday,” Tigers head coach Tony Amonte said of his team’s 3-1 win over the Arrows in last weekend’s Valicenti Cup game. “They won the second period, the only difference today was that they won the third.”

The Tigers jumped to a 2-0 lead at 14:19 of the second with freshman Ty Amonte tallying his second of the game on the set-up from Lincoln Griffin off a 2-on-1 break. Thayer struck again exactly one minute later on defenseman Jack Judge’s blast from the point.

However, the Arrows countered with an important goal just 17 seconds later with Tommy Kelley ripping off a one-timer on Corey Ronan’s feed.

“We needed to get one before the end of the period,” St. Seb’s head coach Sean McCann said. “We were fortunate to have a bang-bang play near the crease. It was a nice play by our guys and that helped us carry momentum into the third period.”

After being held scoreless on five previous power-play opportunities, the Arrows found the back of the net for the first time with the man-advantage to start the third. McLaughlin scored his first of two goals at 6:10 of the third. He then scored the equalizer with 7:31 remaining in regulation.

After being outplayed for the bulk of two periods, Thayer brought its skating legs to the overtime session. Spurred on a by a key save by McGovern in the opening minute of overtime, the Tigers began getting pucks to the Arrows’ net with greater consistency.

It was all part of Amonte’s message to his team at the break: don’t make it too fancy.

“How many pretty goals do you see in an overtime?” the 16-season NHL veteran and Thayer alum said. “A la today, there’s no pretty goals in overtime at any level. So I told them to relax, go out there, play their game and just get pucks to the net.”

As the Tigers advance to play Avon Old Farms in Saturday’s tournament semifinal at the The Icecenter in Salem, N.H. (5:30 p.m.), they feel as though they’re playing with house money.

“This is all gravy,” Amonte said. “For us, we didn’t even expect to make the tournament, so we’ll give it our best and see what happens.”

In Thayer’s net, McGovern presents a conundrum for opposing players. That is, where exactly can you shoot?

The 6-foot, 3-inch, butterfly-style netminder affords snipers little space to shoot. And, with his sound positional play in the crease, seldom will you find the Tigers’ backstop out of place.

McGovern’s effort in the last two games against St. Seb’s even drew the praise of the opposing coach.

“He’s played really well this year,” McCann said. “We played them on Saturday and he was outstanding. He was so good today, so going down three-to-nothing, we were a little concerned about what we were going to be able to do.”

Recap: St. Sebastian's 3, Catholic Memorial 1

December, 21, 2012

ALLSTON, Mass. – Skill plus hard work might equal success, but for two periods of Thursday’s Kevin T. Mutch Memorial Game against Catholic Memorial, St. Sebastian’s head coach Sean McCann thought the Arrows were coasting on skill alone.

Although the Arrows held a 2-1 lead over the Knights coming out of the second intermission, it’s what St. Seb’s did to close out its 3-1 win that most impressed the bench boss.

“In the first two periods, we were turning over pucks, we weren’t making good decisions, our positioning from a defensive standpoint was very poor,” McCann said. “I think the way we came out in the third and competed and were more physical, we did those things and I think the little things add up.”

While Noah Hanifin’s power-play goal at 4:41 of the second period provided the difference for the Arrows (6-2-0), McCann lit a fire under his troops during the second intermission.

The message was clear: close it out.

“He told us to stop playing as individuals and start playing as a team,” said Hanifin, a sophomore defenseman and Boston College commit. “That go everybody going.”

In the third, the Arrows added an insurance marker on Will D’Orsi’s snipe at 9:05. What was more telling was the manner in which St. Seb’s controlled play in the final stanza, outshooting the Knights (3-1-0) by a 11-4 margin.

James McLaughlin provided the Arrows with a 1-0 lead just before the first intermission, walking out front from the end boards and beating CM freshman goaltender Brendan Collett (26 saves) 5-hole on the backhand.

Hanifin’s blue-line blast on the man-advantage gave St. Seb’s a two-goal cushion before Knights winger Beau Starrett put the Knights on the board less than a minute later in the second.

Despite surrendering a power-play goal that proved to be the deciding tally on Thursday, the Knights penalty kill unit did good to stave off several Arrows man-advantages. CM was put to the test while skating two men down for 1:07 at the tail end of the second. The Knights surrendered just two shots from the periphery on the kill.

What’s more encouraging for CM is that its effort came in the face of one of Massachusetts hockey’s most feared shots.

Hanifin is a legitimate weapon on the power play, with a heavy shot, nose for the cage and terrific lateral skating ability to boot.

As a result, McCann’s given Hanifin the explicit task of taking on the quarterbacking duties of the power play unit this year as a sophomore.

“He sees the ice very well and his lateral movement is very good, especially for a young kid,” McCann said. “He realizes that when he has an opportunity to shoot or pass, he’s taking it for the most part.”

But, as Thursday’s collective effort with the man-advantage showed, there’s still room for improvement by the Arrows unit.

“I think the big thing is that we have a quite a few skilled players and that we need to continue to move the puck faster,” McCann said. “Sometimes we hold onto it too long.”

It’s a point solidified by Hanifin’s game-winner.

“Our goal on the power play is to get movement and get shots to the net,” Hanifin said. “I saw a lane there, I took a rip and it happened to go in.”

The Knights received a tremendous effort from their freshman goaltender. Collett was undeterred by St. Seb’s blend of speed and size at the forward position and stood tall during the Knights’ man-down situations.

Perhaps his greatest attribute is his rebound control, however. His coach has taken notice.

“He doesn’t leave any bunnies out there,” CM head coach Bill Hanson quipped.

For the 19th year, the Mutch Memorial Game raised money for local charities. In the past, the proceeds had gone toward the Kevin T. Mutch Scholarship Fund, but in recent years, the proceeds have been distributed to a plethora of deserving causes.

This year’s game funds will again go to The Jimmy Fund.

Recap: No. 4 CM 2, St. Sebastian's 1

December, 22, 2011

ALLSTON, Mass. – Showing great discipline in their defensive system, No. 4 Catholic Memorial beat ISL rival and fellow hockey powerhouse St. Sebastian’s, 2-1, Wednesday night at Harvard University’s Bright Hockey Center.

The Knights got 29 saves from junior goaltender Shane Starrett, but it was the efforts of the defensemen in front of the lanky goalie and the back check of CM’s forwards that helped ground the high-flying Arrows’ attack in the teams’ annual Kevin Mutch Cup game.

“Those five guys, they played terrific,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said of his blue-liners. “They played well because they knew they had support coming back from the forwards. They moved the puck well, they were opportunistic and our goaltender is our goaltender.”

Starrett was particularly strong in the second period, when St. Seb’s out-shot the Knights, 14-5.

Despite not putting a shot on goal through the first half of the period, the Knights took the advantage on the scoreboard, scoring two second-period goals.

John Malewicz found the back of the net on CM’s second shot of the period with 6:13 remaining. A little more than a minute later, senior captain and defenseman Jared Beckwith followed with the Knights’ second tally. Winger Beau Starrett took an assist on the play in addition to setting a screen in front of Arrows netminder Gordon Donnelly.

Both teams exhibited supreme speed throughout. So it was the Arrows’ transition game that had Hanson worried during the first intermission.

“We had to make an adjustment,” Hanson said. “We concentrated on not letting them get chances in transition.”

In addition to limiting St. Seb’s chance coming through the neutral zone, the Knights sagged their forwards down low on defense, limiting the Arrows’ chances in close and keeping shots to the periphery.

“When you collapse all five guys down low, it makes it harder to those second and third chances,” St. Seb’s coach Sean McCann said. “We were focused more of creating offense off the rush by taking speed wide and then driving to the net hard.

“I think we’ve got to be able to create two ways, on the rush and in the offensive zone, whether it’s looking for a guy on the short side or getting shots on net. We have to get a little more traffic in front of the goaltender.”

St. Seb’s has plenty of offensive firepower, and they’re young to boot. With eighth-grader Cameron Askew and ninth-grade defenseman Noah Hanifin garnering many headlines (both have already given commitments to Northeastern and BC, respectively), the Arrows will be a tough opponent in the Keller Division for years to come.

“We’re not the type of school that’s going to bring in juniors and senior to load up the team,” McCann said. “We’re a school that tries to bring in younger kids in, through the seventh, eighth and ninth grades and really develop them. That’s not going to change.

“But, when you have a good number of players returning from last season, and coming off a pretty successful season like last year, you expect those kids to mature and do better.”

The Arrows had several last-minute chances to tie the game. After a CM penalty with a little more than a minute to play in the third, the teams skated 4-on-4; St. Seb’s had an one-man advantage with Donnelly pulled from the net.

Although the Arrows were unable to finish and scrounge up the equalizer, there were a few things to take away:
  1. Askew is the real deal: An exceptional rush, while splitting two CM defensemen during the second period was a rare lapse in the Knights’ otherwise solid night. The 6-foot-2, 180-pounder came flying through the neutral zone, puck on a string, dangled and let off a back-hander that Starrett turned away. Along with his goal later in the period, Askew showed why he’s such a hot commodity at such a young age.
  2. So is Danny O’Regan: While the youngsters grab more of the attention, let’s not forget about the senior captain, who’s scheduled to join a deep local class headed to Comm Ave. and join BU hockey in 2013. There was no better example of the hockey IQ he possesses than during a crucial point of the third period. With time winding down, O’Regan skated to a loose puck along the half wing boards. Then using his body, he shielded the puck from two on-coming CM defenders, creating a mismatch, before shoveling a nice saucer pass along the blue line for a shot from the point. It’s all those little things that help make good hockey teams and hockey players.
The Kevin Mutch Cup was awarded during a postgame ceremony. The annual matchup, which is dedicated in the memory of the former St. Seb’s and BU standout who was killed in 1992, is hosted by Mutch’s alma mater. The proceeds from the game are donated to Dana Farber.

“We always look forward to playing a team like CM, especially with their long and rich tradition there, like St. Sebastian’s does as well, it creates a great event that both teams look forward to,” McCann said. “It always means a lot going into this game and you could see it by the intensity of the game tonight.”