Boston High School: Shane O'Halloran

D1 North: Arlington Catholic 2, Burlington 0

March, 1, 2015
Mar 1
WOBURN, Mass.—For the last three seasons, the postseason has not been kind to the Arlington Catholic Cougars after three straight years with a first-game exit.

This year, the Cougars were determined to turn that around and took another step forward with a 2-0 win over Burlington, the No. 1 seed, at the O’Brien Rink Saturday night and will now face Andover Thursday night for a spot in the Division I North final.

Arlington Catholic (14-7-2) was led by a penalty killing unit that needed to kill off five Burlington power plays – with three in the game’s first five minutes – and senior goaltender Dylan Morris, who was stout in the victory making 26 saves.

“I will tell you that our penalty kill is the best around and it is as simple as that,” said Cougars coach Dan Shine. “I am very proud of that. I am not proud when we take the penalties, but we kill penalties very well. We have guys that have bought into that and they do a phenomenal job. I can’t say enough about it because I think that saved the game.”

Burlington (14-3-6) controlled play in the first period, aided by the power play, but could not put any of their 12 shots past Morris.

Late in the second period, the Cougars broke through on Burlington goalie Nick Howard (16 saves) when first year senior Paul Frisoli fired a hard wrist shot that changed direction on the way and sailed over Howard’s shoulder for a 1-0 lead at the 12:31 mark.

“We took Paul on the team and we weren’t sure if it was going to work out,” said Shine. “He has really stepped up the last month of the season. It took him a while because he never played at this level before. He is one of those pleasant surprises.”

Just 2:49 into the third period, the Cougars doubled their lead when senior Ryan Smith drove hard to net and with his back facing the Burlington net, slipped a backhander past Howard.

“Andy [Somerville] was coming down the wing and he saw me coming through the slot and I got turned around and just threw it at the net,’ said Smith. “I have been on this team for four years and this year we came together and said this year is going to be different. The win against Billerica was a big step and we carried that over into tonight.”

Burlington’s best chance to cut into the lead came with 11:23 left in the third period when Tommy Hanafin found a loose puck at the doorstep and an open side but Morris stretched out with his arms and smothered the bid at the right post.

ROGERS LEADS DEFENSE: While AC goalie Dylan Morris was solid in the Cougars cage, his defense led by senior John Rogers were instrumental in the victory.

Rogers logged major minutes on the back end and on several occasions broke up a Devils attempt with a body check or a simple stick in the passing or shooting lane.

In the first period, Rogers quickly turned defense to offense with a rush past a Burlington defenseman into the Burlington zone and shifting to his forehand before being denied by Howard, nearly getting AC on the board.

In the game’s final minute, Rogers was all over the defensive end and as the final seconds waned down, he scaled the puck down the river out of harm’s way, yet again.

“He is the man,” said Shine. “You saw that rush he had early in the game and he blew right by a guy. I don’t know how that didn’t go in. He has really done a great job for us and he is a great leader.”

DEVILS BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD: In a recent two-year stretch, all the Burlington hockey program did was win state titles.

Now, after a first-round exit last year and this postseason where the Devils lost two games to Woburn and AC without scoring a goal over six periods, the Devils must regroup.

“I don’t know what happened,” said Burlington coach Bob Conceison. “We did everything well and I thought we played a great game tonight. We had numerous opportunities but we didn’t bury them. The kids have a lot to be proud of but that’s a tough way to end.”

Burlington will return a very strong junior class including forwards Robby McLean, Robby Ryan, Tommy Hanafin, and Anthony Nikolopolous.

Defensemen Josh Boulos, Shane O’Halloran, and goalie Nick Howard will all be back next season on the back end as well so expect Burlington to be back in the mix.

“We do have a lot coming back and kids just need to get better at what they do,” added Conceison. “If these kids get better then I think we will be a real good team next year.”

Recap: No. 13 Burlington 3, No. 20 Wilmington 3

February, 1, 2014
WILMINGTON, Mass. — With four state titles between the two teams in the last two seasons, there is really no surprise that nothing was settled between Burlington and Wilmington, Saturday at Ristuccia Arena – or in their 1-1 tie back on New Year’s Day.

Freshman Jason Collins pounced on a loose puck and unleashed a wicked slap shot to the top right corner past Burlington goalie Mike Guleserian that ultimately earned the Wildcats a point.

Wilmington goaltender Drew Foley stopped Burlington’s Shane O’Halloran on a breakaway with 1:34 left to preserve the 3-3 tie for Wilmington, which was without head coach Steve Scanlon, who was hospitalized with an infection.

“We came back and showed some character in that third period and battled through,” said Wilmington assistant coach Mark DiGiovanni. “It is always a battle with Burlington. We look forward to playing these guys and our guys always give our best against them.”

Wilmington got on the board just 1:54 into the game on a power play when Jim Davey’s point shot was re-directed by Luke Foley past Guleserian for a 1-0 lead.

The Red Devils would answer midway through the first when Kyle Kurtz tipped home a Josh Boulos shot to tie the game at one.

Anthony Nikolopolous gave the Devils the lead just 37 seconds into the second period when he cleaned up the rebound of a Robby McLean bid.

Wilmington needed a spark heading into the third period and got it from senior Cody McGowan who battled a puck loose at the left face-off circle and fired a dart over Guleserian’s shoulder from a tough angle.

Burlington answered just 45 seconds later when Tommy Hanafin crashed the net and finished off a pass from Ryan Sheldon to give the Devils the lead before Wilmington’s fine freshman evened things up.

Burlington held on to the point fighting off two Wilmington power plays with less than four minutes in the game.

It was both teams’ sixth tie of the season.

“We have a lot of ties and it was a tough tie for us because they tied us,” said Burlington coach Bob Conceison. “It was a tough game between two pretty even teams. We took a couple penalties in the third period that we survived but we need to do a better job of that.”

Foley comes up big: With Wilmington on a late game power play, Drew Foley had to emerge with his biggest save of the day.

Burlington defenseman Shane O’Halloran who was being used as a forward on the penalty kill broke free on a clean breakaway and busted in on Foley who closed the pads on O’Halloran to keep the game even for the Wildcats.

“You are always biting your nails when you see them go down on a breakaway,” added DiGiovanni. “But you also have a sense of confidence in the back of your head too that you have Drew (Foley) in there. He will win games for you and he will keep you in games.”

Foley finished with 25 saves on the day, but none was bigger than his last.

Surprise visit: On Thursday, Burlington High legend Jay Pandolfo officially announced his retirement from the NHL after 15 seasons and two Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils.

Ironcially, Pandolfo ended up on skates on Thursday visiting the Burlington Ice Palace and his old high school hockey coach, Bob Conceison, and took a twirl around the old barn with the team.

“We stay in touch and he said he was going to come down and skate and ironically it was the day he announced his retirement,” said Conceison.

For a Burlington team that has been struggling to score goals, who better to lean on than Pandolfo, who led Burlington to its first Super Eight appearance back in 1993, which was their only appearance until the 2008-09 team that lost in the final to Catholic Memorial.

“He pointed some things out to our forwards,” added Conceison. “I wanted him to work with them on getting to the net. He is a just a great guy and he sat in on some meetings and talked to the kids in the locker room as a group.”

Pandolfo’s retired No. 9 hangs in the entrance of the Ice Palace.

Recap: No. 13 Burlington 2, No. 20 Reading 0

January, 27, 2014
BURLINGTON, Mass. — Nearly six weeks ago, the Burlington Red Devils walked out of Burbank Arena in Reading with their heads down after being on the wrong end of a 6-1 thumping at the hands of Reading.

Since then, the Devils have gone on an 11-game unbeaten streak (8-0-3) including a methodical 2-0 shutout of the Rockets on Monday night at the Ice Palace behind a second straight shutout by senior goaltender Mike Guleserian.

“It was an important win for our kids because they handled us very easily back in December,” Burlington coach Bob Conceison said. “I think it was important to have a good performance tonight and I thought we played a real good all-around game and I thought Mike (Guleserian) was tremendous.”

Senior captain Joey Scali scored the game’s first goal late in the first period when he buried the rebound of a Josh Boulos point shot past Reading goalie, Ian Lapham.

Scali, who went without a goal in the first seven games of the season, would also set up the Devil’s second goal.

He cruised into the offensive zone down the right wing board and sent a cross ice pass to Robby McLean who ripped a slap shot inside the left post from a tough angle below the left face-off circle to give Burlington a cushion with 8:22 left in the game.

“I thought this was a big win for us,” said Scali. “I have really meshed with my line mates over the last few games. We got to keep it going. We have a big stretch of games coming up.”

After mustering just three first period shots, the Rockets turned up the pressure in the second and third periods but could not solve Guleserian (20 saves) who continues to provide the Devils a solid backstop.

Rockets sputtering: The Rockets are on a streak of their own but headed in the wrong direction, as the loss put the always respected Rockets at 0-5-2 over their last seven games and 6-7-2 overall.

Make no mistake about it, the Rockets play one of the toughest schedules in the state for a public school team but their recent lack of punch has coach Mark Doherty looking for answers.

“We are getting chances but are just not finishing,” said Doherty. “Their goalie was strong tonight and they are always tough in their barn. I thought we had a good amount of chances but we just need to keep working at it.”

The Rockets have seven games to turn things around and will be a real tough out should they land in the Division I North tournament.

Line of defense: While Guleserian continues his strong season, the Red Devils four defensemen have provided little breathing room for opponents.

Having two shutdown pairs of defensemen is a luxury for coach Bob Conceison.

Senior captain Adam Crowley is paired with sophomore Shane O’Halloran while junior Mike Bibbey and sophomore Josh Boulos provide a second shut down pairing. They were all part of last year’s Division I state champions and their experience has stabilized the Devils defensive zone.

The numbers bear out the impressive results as Burlington is allowing just 1.6 goals per game and have allowed opponents to score three or more goals just twice this season.

“They have been so good in front of me,” said Guleserian. “They make my job a whole lot easier back there and I am lucky to have those guys playing in front of me.”