Boston High School: Shrewsbury

A-B boys' lax finishes season at No. 1

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
After capturing the program's first state title, Acton-Boxborough finishes the season in the top spot of our statewide MIAA boys' lacrosse Top 25 poll.

The Colonials finished the regular season at No. 1 and then went on to beat Duxbury, in overtime, to secure their first title.

The full poll can be accessed HERE.

CHAMPIONS REIGN: Medfield, which captured its sixth overall championship, was the highest ranking Division 2 squad, checking in at No. 3 after dispatching rival Hingham in the title game.

Cohasset, which interrupted Dover-Sherborn's run in Division 3, also hopped into the top 10, showing at No. 8.

NEW BLOOD: Five teams that made their Top 25 debuts this season made the cut in the final poll of the year, adding to the notion that parity might have finally come to Massachusetts lacrosse.

Bridgewater-Raynham makes its highest showing at No. 12 after reaching the Division 1 South quarterfinals. Shrewsbury (No. 15) and Westfield (16) both climbed into the poll -- with the Bombers making their debut in the final rankings -- after huge upsets in Division 2, coming over St. John's and last year's state champion Longmeadow, respectively.

Wakefield (24) and Melrose (25) also held it down on the back end after making their debuts in the final weeks of the regular season.

D2 semifinal: Medfield 14, Shrewsbury 1

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
WORCESTER, Mass. -- Medfield made it look easy Tuesday night, dominating all phases of the game and rolling to a 14-1 victory over Shrewsbury in a Division 2 state semifinal.

The Warriors (22-2) dominated the face-off X, winning 16 of 18 face-offs thanks to the play of All-American Brian Brissell, and buried the Colonials (20-5) with a series of cuts and pinpoint passes that allowed senior Tyler Hagan to score four goals and classmate Jack Isaf to add a hat trick.

"When you move the defense on every dodge, it makes it hard for them to think about who’s got slide help, and when they go for that slide somebody behind them cuts and gets open," Medfield coach John Isaf said. “It really depends on what we see from the sideline and how aggressive they’re being on defense. How hard they’re sliding and things like that. Then we’ll go with whatever works.”

Medfield asserted itself right from the start, scoring four goals in the game's opening six minutes, including two by Isaf before two minutes had rolled off the clock. The Warriors would then take a 6-0 lead into the second quarter. Senior Matthew Treiber scored a pair early in the second, and Hagan went on an individual three-goal run to push the score to 11-0 at intermission.

"It was just off-ball cuts for me," Hagan said of his productive night. "They seemed to kind of take their mind off the off-ball cuts and seemed to fall asleep a little bit, so a couple of those goals I just kind of snuck by."

Senior captain Matthew Crowell scored his second goal less than a minute into the third quarter, but Shrewsbury's All-American goalie Chris Gorman made four saves the rest of the period to momentarily stop the bleeding. But Isaf completed his hat trick less than two minutes into the fourth, pushing the game into "running clock" mode, and Thomas Sears scored his second of the game just two minutes later.

By the time Derick Tinsley got Shrewsbury on the board with five minutes to play in the fourth, Medfield had already scored 14 times.

After the game, Shrewsbury coach Nate Skermont was pleased with his team's effort, but said the Colonials simply ran into one of the state's elite teams.

"When they (Medfield) have the ball, there are three or four things that they can do to beat you that teams in Central Mass can't do," Skermont said. "I was pleased with our effort. We knew what we wanted to do, and we did it, but we just ran into a team that was that much better (Tuesday)."

For the Colonials, it was a bitter end to what had been a season of firsts. Shrewsbury captured its first district championship in program history Saturday with a win over Westfield, and scored one of the biggest wins in program history the previous Tuesday against rival St. John's in the district semifinas.

"I would not trade this team for any team anywhere," Skermont said of this year's Colonials. "That will never change. We will always be champions. Nobody can ever take that away from us. We're district champs, something nobody in our school has ever done, and we'll always be the first to do that, and I'll always cherish that and always have these kids' backs.”

Medfield will now move on to the Division 2 state championship game at Boston University's Nickerson Field. The Warriors will face Hingham in a rematch of last season's Division 2 Eastern Mass final. Game time has yet to be set.

D2 Central/West: Shrewsbury 7, St. John's (S) 6

June, 3, 2014
Jun 3
SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- There were plenty of moments where you thought Shrewsbury would fade away against cross-town rival St. John's, but the Colonials went on a run in the game's final 11 minutes to score the upset over the Pioneers.

After failing to score in their first meeting with St. John's, Shrewsbury shocked its long-time nemesis, 7-6, as attackman Derick Tinsley threw home a rebound goal with less than two minutes to play. The play began after Shrewsbury's All-American goalie Chris Gorman robbed St. John's All-American attackman Drew Smiley for one of his seven saves, then Colonial middie Alex Chin picked up the ground ball and began sprinting the other way. But he would be stopped by the Pioneers' All-American goalie Steven Kerr, only to see Tinsley swoop in between four St. John's defender to clean up the miss.

"This was definitely our biggest game," Tinsley said. "Biggest thing I've ever done in my life, actually. This was our championship."

But Shrewsbury still needed one final defensive stop from its star goalie. With St. John's playing a man up and 43 seconds left on the clock, Gorman came away with another big save, stoning St. John's sophomore Andrew Cox, then clearing it immediately to ice the game.

"This was the best game I've ever played in," Gorman said. "Great opponent, the most fun (game). It's the best day of my life."

Things didn't start out quite so promisingly for the Colonials though, as Smiley scored the first of his four goals just minutes into the game, followed by a score from St. John's junior Jared Ward on the Pioneers' next possession. Tinsley scored the first of his three goals to get Shrewsbury on the board, but an acrobatic goal by Smiley quickly stretched the lead back to two. Even when Shrewsbury managed to tie things up in the third, thanks to a dodging goal by Chin, Smiley reasserted himself, scoring off a pass from Cox as he cut to the cage, then the next time down on a powerful drive from the alley.

With the Colonials down two and only 12 minutes to play, Shrewsbury coach Nate Skermont knew his team still felt it could pull off the upset.

"Even when we fell behind, we just kept grinding it out," Skermont said. "Belief is a powerful word, and that's what we kept saying in the huddle. Keep believing and keep working hard."

The Colonials struck quickly, as Buduo and Tinsley each scored their second goals of the game in the period's opening two minutes. Just under three minutes later, Buduo fooled the St. John's defense with a tricky pass-fake to complete his hat trick and give Shrewsbury its first lead.

From there on out, Tinsley's put back and Gorman's last save would carry the Colonials to the Division 2 Central/West championship game against Westfield. It will be a match up few predicted, with Westfield coming off an upset of its own, defeating reigning Division 2 state champion Longmeadow on Tuesday.

That game will be played Saturday at Worcester's Foley Stadium. Faceoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Central Mass. lax All-Americans announced

May, 29, 2014
May 29
The Central Mass. Lacrosse Coaches Association unveiled its boys' lacrosse All-American list Wednesday night.

Here's a look at the honorees, per correspondent Joe Parello:

Quintin Forbes, M, Groton-Dunstable, Bentley

Chris Gorman, G, Shrewsbury, Eastern Connecticut

Drew Smiley, A, St. John's, Navy

Steven Kerr, G, St. John's, Western New England

Tom Bishop, LSM, Wachusett, Clarkson

Academic All-Americans:
Miles Massida, M, North Middlesex, BU

Ben Foley, M/A, Tyngsborough, James Madison

Nabeel Tokatli, M, Worcester, WPI

Recap: No. 8 St. John's (S) 9, No. 18 Shrewsbury 0

April, 27, 2014
Apr 27
SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- Amidst talk that upstart Shrewsbury, not defending district champion St. John's (Shrewsbury), might be the best team in Central Massachusetts, the No. 8 Pioneers sent a message to their rival Sunday: lacrosse in the heart of the Commonwealth still belongs to them.

Behind hat tricks from junior Jared Ward and sophomore Andrew Cox, St. John's cruised to a 9-0 win on a rainy afternoon at Shrewsbury High.

"I thought we played really well from the beginning," St. John's coach Terry Leary said. "I thought we had very few unforced errors, and that's something we've been pushing as we move toward the second half of the season."

It was a breakout day not only for the St. John's (9-0) midfield, which scored six of the team's nine goals, but also for senior goalie Steve Kerr. After waiting his turn behind now-graduated A.J. Arnold a season ago, Kerr is leading Central Mass in goals against average, at only 2.56 allowed per game. His six first quarter saves thwarted any chance Shrewsbury (9-1) had of making this a game.

"I think it was a great day for our defense," senior attackman Drew Smiley said. "Our offense has been getting the credit, but our defense has been there all year. Steve Kerr has been playing amazing all year too."

After Kerr weathered the initial storm, there wasn't much for him to do, however, as the St. John's defense limited Shrewsbury to just two more shots on goal the rest of the day. That, combined with an astonishing 20-2 advantage on ground balls, allowed St. John's to work its way out of an offensive funk, thanks to stellar play from its midfield.

The midfield, led by Cox' three goals, scored six goals total, dominated the face-off X thanks to senior Connor Maloney, and forced the normally solid Shrewsbury midfield into a number of mistakes.

"We came into the huddle [in the first quarter] and we kind of said to our middies, 'you guys can step up and you guys can control this game,'" Smiley said. "Andrew Cox, the sophomore, had a huge game. It was kind of his breakout game, and we've been waiting for him to do that all season. He's a great athlete."

Ward got things going for St. John's, scoring two goals in the first quarter, and Cox' first goal in the second quarter gave the Pioneers a 4-0 halftime lead. Cox opened the second half with a blast over Shrewsbury star goalie Chris Gorman's right shoulder to extend the lead and then added another cutting goal on a pass from senior Kevin Butler moments later.

Ward completed his hat trick and pushed the game to its final score of 9-0 midway through the fourth, establishing St. John's as the unquestioned team to beat in Central Massachusetts.

"It was a huge win for us," Smiley said. "Beating a team like Shrewsbury, they're one of the best teams in Central Mass, it's a great feeling, and we knew they were gonna bring it."

The road gets no easier for the Pioneers, as they get set to host a pair of talented Eastern Mass opponents. St. John's will first welcome St. John's Prep, Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., then Xaverian, Thursday at 4 p.m.
For the first time since the conclusion of last regular season, Duxbury claims the No. 1 spot in our boys' lacrosse Top 25 poll this week.

The Dragons vaulted to the top spot following their win over former No. 1 Xaverian earlier in the week.

For this week's complete poll, click HERE.

Here's more from this week's update:

Welcome new faces: Three teams made their season debuts in this week's poll, including No. 24 Bridgewater-Raynham which makes the program's first appearance in the poll's four-year history.

Undefeated Shrewsbury (9-0) checks in at No. 18, ahead of its battle of Central Mass. unbeatens against crosstown rival, No. 8 St. John's of Shrewsbury on Sunday. Also, North Andover returns to the poll for the first time since last season, climbing to No. 21 after a momentous upset of No. 6 Lincoln-Sudbury at the Coaches Challenge Cup earlier this week.

MC caps season at No. 1 in Top 25

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
For the fourth straight season, Malden Catholic ended the boys' hockey season as the No. 1 team in our statewide MIAA Top 25 poll.

The Lancers, four-time repeating Super 8 champions, have now finished in the top spot in each one of our ESPN Boston end-of-season polls, after beating Austin Prep in the D1A final for a second straight year.

For the complete poll, click HERE.

Rockets blast off: Reading, champions of the state Division 1 tournament, was the first non-Super 8 team to appear in the poll, checking in at No. 9.

After seeing a great deal of turnover with a deep and talented senior class last year, the Rockets played their best hockey to run through the North tournament and beat Braintree (No. 10) at the Garden. While Reading suffered a four-game losing streak late in the season, the Rockets won 11 of their last 12 games, including the postseason, to skate away champions at the Garden for the first time since their Super 8 win in 2008.

Dominance: Both Div. 2 champion Beverly and D3 winner Shrewsbury found their way into the poll. The Panthers, predictably, were the highest ranked non-Division 1 team, slotting in at No. 13, after losing just one game all season.

Meanwhile, the Colonials flexed their muscle at the Garden, beating Eastern Mass. champion Hanover, 7-1, and finished the season at No. 24. Shrewsbury was the only D3 entrant in our preseason poll, as well.
BOSTON -- Greg Story has the highlights from the first three games of Sunday's MIAA hockey championships at TD Garden.

In the early action, Westwood girls claimed their first Division 2 state title with a win over Wellesley. North champion Reading knocked off Braintree in the Division 1 boys' state championship, while Shrewsbury rolled over Hanover in the Div. 3 final.

ESPN Boston High Schools editor Scott Barboza joined in with analysis from each game in this segment:

(Video produced by Greg Story)

D3 boys final: Shrewsbury 7, Hanover 1

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16

BOSTON – Midway through the season, Shrewsbury coach Steve Turnblom moved sophomore Matt Dillon from the blue line to first-line forward.

That move has paid off all season long for the Colonials and Sunday was no different as Dillon scored a goal and registered five assists in Shrewsbury’s 7-1 win over Hanover in the Div. 3 state title game.

“A big game like that, having seven goals up on the board it means a lot to put up points like that but at the same time you have to worry about the team accomplishment more than that,” Dillon said.

After the game, Turnblom had nothing put praise for his sophomore forward.

“He’s just an incredibly talented kid who moves the puck, great talent and great vision,” Turnblom said. “He’s been doing it all year long and leads the Central Mass in scoring.”

Dillon is just one example of many who have bought into the pass-first offense that Turnblom runs. Hanover had no answer for the Colonials crisp and fluid passing game, showcased by their huge advantage in shots on net. Shrewsbury opened up by outshooting the Indians 18-5 in the opening period and 35-14 in the game.

“We make them pass, you don’t come back from the first half of the year if you don’t pass the puck,” Turnblom said. “Setting everyone up, that’s key getting, assists and playing the game property. If you want to play past high school that’s how you have to play.”

Despite the heavy barrage of shots in the opening stanza, it was Hanover the opened up the scoring. At 5:26 of the period, Landon Hasenfuss rifled a shot on net on a 2-on-1 rush that was stopped by William Shipman. But Matt McDougall was there for the rebound, which hardly squeaked past the goal line before it was cleared out by a defender.

“Nothing worse than when you are dominating at the other end, getting a lot of shots and chances and they get a breakout and score at the other end,” Turnblom said.

For the remaining 40 minutes of regulation however, it was all Shrewsbury.

Five minutes after the opening tally, the Colonials lightning-quick offense struck twice. The first came from Dan Quinlivan who was fed a beautiful backhanded pass through the crease form Dillon for the easy goal. Fifty-four seconds later, Cole Vincequere picked the top-right corner from the right point to give Shrewsbury an all-of-a-sudden 2-1 lead.

But the back-breaker came with what looked like no time left on the clock.

Shrewsbury broke out with a 2-on-1 rush with Dillon feeding Jack Quinlivan for the goal with no time left on the clock.

After a conference with the goal judge, the goal was allowed and one second was put back on the clock as Shrewsbury skated to the locker room with a 3-1.

“What happened is they are a hell of a hockey team, they could be a Division 1 team,” said Hanover coach Jonny Abban. “We came out slow. To get this far in the tournament you need to bring your ‘A’ game every shift and we took some shifts off and we paid for it.”

The rout is on: The Colonials wasted no time in the second period, as just 31 seconds into the period, Dave Belbin picked the top-left corner from the left dot.
All the bounces went Shrewsbury’s for the rest of the game. Five minuats later it was Dillon’s turn to score a goal when his shot got from below the dot got a fortuitous bounce, deflecting off a Hanover skate and in.

Jack Quinlivan and Matt Ward added two more goals as the Colonials coasted the remainder of the game to capture the Div. 3 title.

“It’s awesome,” said Turnblom. “To see these kids that I’ve had since they were freshman and to get a shot to come here and win it was huge I’m very happy for them.”

Something has to give: Entering Sunday’s title game, the two teams were on a combined 18 game win streak. Shrewsbury was dismantling any team that stood in their way while the Indians coasted through the Div. 3 South.

But when the two teams took the ice, it was apparent that Shrewsbury was the faster team.

In the beginning of the year, coach knew a lot of hype was around this team but we hadn’t done anything yet and had the whole season to go,” senior defensemen Cole Vincequere said. “To really make a difference we had to bring home a medal.”

D3 state semifinal: Shrewsbury 6, Westfield 0

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- If you had told the Shrewsbury hockey team prior to Thursday night's Division 3 state semifinal against Westfield that they would hardly break a sweat and display pure dominance, no one would have believed it.

The Colonials dominated play from start to finish, rolling to a 6-0 victory over the defending state champions at MassMutual Center.

"To be honest we didn't think it was going to be a shootout like that," said senior Dave Belbin, who scored a goal and added an assist. "It was only 2-0 us going into the third period and that's the kind of game we expected. Their goalie stood on his head to keep them in it but ours did too. It's been a long journey for us but all of us have worked hard and it's starting to pay off."

Shrewsbury (20-2-1) advances to Sunday's state final against Hanover (18-7-0) at TD Garden beginning at 11. The Colonials won state crowns in 2009 and 1999.

Leading by a pair after 30 minutes, Shrewsbury left no doubt in this one scoring four times in the final frame. Sean Hallice scored at 5:11 to make it 3-0 by rushing hard toward the net, taking a clean pass from Jack Quinivan, and sending a quick wrist shot by Matt Blascak (29 saves). Less than a minute later, Trevor Shea notched his second of the evening with a rebound goal off an initial shot from Belbin.

"That team was just to much for us," said Bombers head coach C.B. Matthews, Jr., his team finishing the year at 16-6-3. "They had four lines that could come at us. We just couldn't contain them. They are one of the best team's we've played for sure. Our goalie kept us in it early but they eventually just wore us down."

Dan Quinlivan and brother Jack closed out the scoring with two more tallies coming at 10:23 and 13:29, respectively. Shrewsbury netminder William Shipman earned the shutout, stopping all 10 shots he faced.

"We wanted to start this game off really tough," said Hallace. "We wanted to keep attacking and not let go. We played well but I thought we could play better. We just shooting the puck on net. Once we got the third goal went in things started to go our way more. Now we get ready for Sunday. "

The Colonials offense set the precedent early, skating circles around the Bombers throughout the opening 15 minutes. Westfield did a lot of standing around, watching Shrewsbury controlling the action mostly inside its own zone.

Blascak was doing a superb job bailing his team out early and often as Shrewsbury peppered the senior consistently but had nothing to show for it.
With all the attempts on net in the frame (12 total), you had to figure it was just a matter of time before one found the back of the net for the Colonials. At 10:58, it did. Jack Quinlivan, standing along the left half board, wired a pass to Dave Belbin in front of the crease. The senior controlled the pass and sent a quick wrister past Blascak giving Shrewsbury a 1-0 lead.

The scenario remained the same for the Colonials in the middle period. Westfield seemed sluggish and wasn't going after the puck with the same tenacity as Shrewsbury was. In fact, on several occasions, the Bombers appeared content in waiting for the puck to come to them. The Colonials, on the other hand, weren't waiting around, often picking off Bomber passes in the lanes.

Shrewsbury extended its lead to two goals at 6:03 of the period when Trevor O'Keefe, skating into the left slot untouched, took a diagonal feed from Shea and poked it past Blascak stick side. Westfield's non-existent offense managed its first shot in the period with 2:39 remaining.

"For the last three-and-a-half months this team has been working very hard and it's all starting to pay off now," Colonials head coach Steve Turnblom said. "Once we got our legs we started moving the puck fast. That's our game. We were able to get a couple of the net and it took off from there. We've been a tough team to play against once we get a lead because of our puck possession. We don't give away the puck much."

D3 Central final: Shrewsbury 4, Wachusett 1

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
FITCHBURG, Mass. -- There were little reminders left everywhere. Shrewsbury head coach Steve Turnblom made it a habit to remind his team about the past.

So too, did his assistant coaches. Previous articles on unforgiving postseason losses to Wachusett were taped to locker room walls for all eyes to see and ponder.

To know the history of the Colonials' underachieving battles against the Mountaineers in the Central Mass. Division 3 tournament in recent years is to understand that Wachusett has owned Shrewsbury. In the last three seasons, the Colonials have been bounced out of the playoffs by Wachusett.

So in Monday night's Central Mass. Division 3 final between the two powers, questions lingered as to whether or not history would reap its ugly head yet again on Shrewsbury or would the script be different this time around?

As a result, the Colonials chose the latter, scoring a pair of goals in each of the first two periods and, in the process, posted a 4-1 triumph at the Wallace Civic Center. The win was the Colonials third over Wachusett this year, after beating them twice during the regular season.

No. 1 Shrewsbury (19-2-1) moves on to the state semifinals where it will meet defending state champion Westfield (14-5-3) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield.

"Everyone was telling me all week that you can't beat a team three times in a season so I was a little worried," admitted Turnblom. "But I knew if we came to play we would have a good shot. It is very impressive for these kids to beat them three times in a season."

To get over the hurdle of believing they could defeat the No. 3 Mountaineers (16-5-2) when it mattered most, the Colonials went out and did just that. Goals by Tyler O'Keefe and Cole Amback (on the power play) at 14:01 and 14:57, respectively, of the opening period had Shrewsbury on top 2-0 heading into the first intermission.

After going toe-to-toe against its Quinn Conference rivals for the first 13 minutes of this contest, giving up those two late markers sent Wachusett into the dressing room a deflated and dejected bunch.

That demeanor seemed to carry itself over into the middle frame. At 2:31, junior Joseph Buduo, taking a diagonal pass from Dave Belbin, sent a shot into the top right corner of the net to extend the Colonials advantage to 3-0. Five minutes later, Buduo would answer the call again. This time the forward gathered a bouncing puck in front of Wachusett starting goaltender Jake Strasser (16 saves on 20 shots) and hoisted a quick wrist shot past the senior's catching glove.

"We just went out there and played as hard as we could," Buduo said. "We wanted to crash the net on Strasser because he likes to play out a lot. That team has knocked us out of the playoffs the past three years so getting a little revenge tonight really feels good."

Following Buduo's second tally, Strasser was pulled in favor Andrew Carter. The junior managed to hold down the fort for the remainder of the game, stopping all 8 shots he faced. By then, though, the damage had already been done. The Mountaineers offense struggled mightily throughout, unable to gain much consistency with the puck as Shrewsbury's defense and forwards swarmed all over them once they got across the red line.

Wachusett was also playing shorthanded. Defenseman Matt Cappucci did not dress due to a concussion. Sam Pridotkas, another defenseman, received a season-ending disqualification for a hitting from behind penalty in an first round game against Westboro. In addition, center Brian Boulette was home with flu-like symptoms. Never one to make excuses, Wachusett head coach Matt Lane said that was not the difference in the outcome of this one.

"The kids who came to the rink tonight gave it all they had," he said. "I told them for the last 22 minutes of this game it was 1-0 us and we held them without a score. But Shrewsbury caught fire at the end of the first and later in the second period with a couple of nice goals. But we cannot and will not make excuses. Our guys played their hearts out. We never seemed to recover from the goal they got with 3 seconds left in the first period. They move the puck well all night and are always cycling to the slot and it's tough to stay with them. We just couldn't break the ice against them."

With less than two minutes remaining in the second, Wachusett senior forward Marc Happy scored a power-play goal but it did little to rattle Shrewsbury. The Colonials blanketed the Mountaineers over the last 15 minutes, limiting them to just five shots.

"We had two articles posted in our locker room showing last year's loss to them," said Turnblom, referring to his club's 2-1 overtime defeat in the CMass semifinals. "I told the kids to remember the tears and all the sadness they felt after that loss and take it to the ice tonight because they had a good shot to win. That was certainly momentum for us. We got those two goals in the first period to give us the lead, and once we got those, we tried to play solid defense after that and I felt we pretty-much achieved that."

D2 girls quarter: Westwood 4, Shrewsbury 2

March, 8, 2014
Mar 8
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – With only one game under its belt in the last 15 days, Westwood girls’ hockey head coach Justin DeSorgher was worried how long it was take his Wolverines to get their feet back under them.

But those worries were put to sleep early as just 21 seconds into the game Kim Egizi scored her first of three goals on a deflection down low, leading the fourth-seeded Wolverines to a 4-2 victory over No. 12 Shrewsbury in the Div. 2 quarterfinals.

“Last game we had a rough first period,” said Edizi. “Our goal was to go in in that first period and go as hard as we possibly could and that first couple shirts and just get it low and get that momentum.”

The Wolverines used their team speed to slow own the Shrewsbury attack and dominate time on attack, as seen with their 21-11 shot advantage. The standout was the second period when the Wolverines launched 10 shots on net and broke through for two power-play goals, both from Egizi.

Staring down a 3-1 deficit heading into the third period, the Colonials caught a break and build up some momentum to end the period.

With 1:23 left in the period, Lauren Ineson picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated in for a breakaway, to bring Shrewsbury within one.

“Big, big momentum and we almost scored with 10 seconds to go right after that,” Shrewsbury head coach Frank Panarelli said. “But we had some momentum but just a couple bounces and breaks weren’t there.”

But Westwood stiffened up in the third period and kept the Colonials off the board while getting an insurance goal from Ela Hazar to advance into the semifinals.

“We can score quick, I actually like how we more than when we scored,” DeSorgher said. “I thought our two big advantages against that team were speed and depth.”

“Overall I wasn’t happy with our speed and I thought we played to their level a little bit.”

Crashing the net: The Westwood goals weren’t flashy but were plenty effective. Over the past two weeks, the Wolverines have been preaching to keep the puck low and crash the net and Egizi bought into that system.

“I think one of our goals were to get shots on net and just crash and all three of my goals were out in front of the net,” said Egizi. “Lauren White was just rocketing shots from the top and I was just in front of the net and got my stick on it.”

Having a pair of power play goals in the middle period was the difference for Westwood, once again set up by getting bodies in front.

“We had a shot from the point and got bodies in front and we got a piece of it,”

DeSorgher said. “We have tried to preach that and been successful when we do it but get away from it at times.”

Back to the semifinals: Another year, another trip to the semifinals for Westwood. This marks the third year in a row that the Wolverines are on the cusp of playing at the Garden.

With Falmouth on the other side of the Div. 2 bracket, the Wolverines will avoid their kryptonite that has ended their season the last two years.

With their repeated success in the postseason over the last three years however, Westwood doesn’t take it for granted.

If you make an expectation of something that tangible and don’t make it, how do you feel?” said DeSorgher. “We want to keep improving each day and get better and better.”

Recap: Groton-Dunstable 2, No. 22 Shrewsbury 1

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
GROTON, Mass. -- You had to wonder if there was anyone out there who could give the Shrewsbury Colonials a legitimate challenge. So far, that had not come to fruition as No. 22 Shrewsbury was beating up clubs by an average of four goals.

Some believed it would come Wednesday night against Groton-Dunstable. The Crusaders, a team that prides itself on tough, physical play, have never been known to back down against anyone. Perhaps, with so many lop-sided victories to their credit this season, the Colonials were finally going to face an opponent worthy enough to keep them on their toes the entire 45 minutes.

G-D not only gave Shrewsbury a run for its money, it went one step better. The Crusaders rallied back from a one-goal deficit, by scoring a pair of unanswered markers in the closing period, and handed the Colonials a stunning 2-1 defeat at Frank "Junie'' O'Brien Rink on the campus of the Groton School.

Against a team that came in averaging just about eight goals per game, G-D executed the perfect defensive strategy and took away Shrewsbury's best intangible — speed.

The Crusaders stationed players around the neutral zone, clogging up the Colonials' skating lanes. They also created chaos once the Colonials did move puck across the red line, blocking shots in front and tying up the forwards as to not allowing them to generate any open space to move in.

"We tried to slow their defense down so they couldn't release the puck as fast," second-year Crusaders head coach Phil Rowley said. "I had a guy sitting up high trying to block all of that and we had another guy coming back to pick up their open wing.

“We played them straight up. We feel we can go one-to-one on anybody. We may not always win the battle but we're not going to lose the battle either. A lot of our battles tonight I felt we did a really nice job. I think the kids are now starting to figure it out.”

G-D improves to 5-3-0 while the Colonials suffer their first loss of the season, dropping to 7-1-0.

When the two clubs met two weeks ago, Shrewsbury tallied three goals in the third period to come away victorious, 4-2.

Obviously that loss remained stuck inside the Crusaders' heads.

To a player, there was a belief that if they could keep things close going into the final period, they would have a chance.

Trailing 1-0 after two periods, G-D realized it had that chance. With the defense poking and checking Shrewsbury off its projected lanes, senior goaltender Jason Robes (23 saves) was doing a yeoman-like job holding down the fort between the pipes.

Just 1:08 into the third period, the Crusaders knotted things at 1-1. After G-D won the draw inside the right face off circle, Eric Niemoller pushed a pass over to J.J. Tardif, standing alone just in front Shrewsbury goalie Matt Andrews (10 saves). Tardif flipped a shot over Andrews' right shoulder and into the back of the net.

Playing with some newfound enthusiasm, the Crusaders continued to dictate the tempo over the next several minutes. They were beating the Colonials to loose pucks and forcing them to control the puck along the boards instead of the middle of the ice.

Midway through the period, G-D grabbed the lead for good.

Senior Connor Maguire had control of the puck just inside the blue line. But the defensman lost his footing and fell down. However, with no Shrewsbury player within 10 feet of him, Maguire was able to stand up and rifle a shot through traffic and between Andrews' leg pads at 7:28.

"I kind of lost my footing a little bit but was still able to keep the puck inside the zone," Maguire said. "I saw a wide-open lane that doesn't come up all that much. I took a slap shot and it went in. I think their goalie might've thought the puck went outside the zone and looked a bit unprepared as he was standing upright. Luckily my shot was quick enough to get in. I kept it low and it ended up going 5-hole."

For the remainder of the period, G-D's strategy was to play not to lose. The Crusaders were doing everything possible to disrupt any Shrewsbury player with the puck on his stick. The Colonials' best opportunity to tie the game came with just under two minutes remaining. Defenseman Cole Vincequere ripped a howitzer just inside the blue line that sailed through traffic. But somehow Robes was able to pick it up, snagging it with his catching glove. All Vincequere could do at that point was drop to one knee in utter disbelief.

"Our defense did a great job blocking shots in front of me," Robes said. "I just tried to see the puck as well as I could, try to be ready and fortunately I was. This is a huge team win for us."

Following a scoreless first period, in which Shrewsbury had severe difficulty trying to get its offense kick-started, the scenario would continue for much of the middle frame as well. But at 11:51, the Colonials took advantage of a rare odd-man rush as Adam Twitchell, a sophomore forward, finished it off by burying a shot past Robes, putting his team on the board first.

Shrewsbury out-shot G-D 11-2 in the period yet only had the one goal to show for it. It seemed to be an early indication of things to come. Despite out-shooting their opponent by a 2-to-1 ratio, there was an eerie feeling hovering around the Shrewsbury bench that this was not going to be their night.

"We knew we would be in for a war coming up here," Colonials head coach Steve Turnblom said. "We really hadn't had a lot of tough games like this and G-D played us tough tonight. Their goalie played great and kept them in it. They were able to hang around till the end and we weren't able to bury the puck when it counted. They shut down the middle of the ice on us and were forcing us to play around the perimeter.”

He continued, “A lot of teams have tried to do that against us but that team was successful in doing so against us. Sometimes when you are beating teams by a lot you end up taking certain things granted like winning face offs and tying up your man. We didn't do that and we certainly got a little refresher course tonight because of it."

BC High claims No. 1 in boys' hockey poll

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
For the second straight week, we have a new No. 1 atop our statewide MIAA boys' hockey Top 25 poll.

BC High, for the second time in poll history, takes the top spot this week, following the Eagles' Catholic Conference win over former No. 1, Malden Catholic, last Wednesday.

For this week's complete poll, click HERE.

(Editor's note: Records are as of Tuesday, Jan. 14.)

Here come the Cougars: Arlington Catholic hit its all-time high-water mark in our poll, rising to No. 3 this week. The Cougars are unbeaten (6-0-1) to start the season and made a move up the Top 10 last week, following their win over former No. 3 squad, Central Catholic.

Colonials rolling along: Shrewsbury also made its best-ever showing in the poll, as the Colonials move to No. 22 this week. They are the only remaining team in the state to have not dropped a point at 8-0-0. And, as John McGuirk wrote yesterday, the Colonials have their sights firmly set on the TD Garden.

Breaking and entering: Three teams moved into the poll this week, with Winchester returning after a two-week hiatus. The Sachems moved to No. 15 this week.

Meanwhile, Mansfield and Acton-Boxborough occupy the final two spots of the poll this week. Both squads are making their first poll appearance this year.

The Hornets moved to No. 24, after displacing formerly ranked Oliver Ames with an impressive 6-2 win last Wednesday.

The Colonials check in at No. 25, after outsting previously ranked Waltham in a 4-1 victory.

No. 22 Shrewsbury eyes D3 state title

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- It was right around the midway point of last year's hockey season when people began taking notice of Shrewsbury High's upstart team.

The Colonials were being reminded often on how good it looked and how great they could be. But it wasn't too long after when the Colonials, themselves, started buying into the hype — perhaps a bit too much.

You could make a case that Shrewsbury's top-scoring line of a year ago was as good as any in the state; it was certainly best in Central Mass. They were a multi-talented group with an uncanny ability of moving the puck around on a dime inside an opponent's defensive zone. The trio worked so beautifully together that they combined for an eye-catching 125 points.

The belief was that Shrewsbury had enough talent to whisk past its competitors in district play and would finish it off with a MIAA state championship trophy in tow.

It didn’t go quite according to script.

In last February's Division 3 Central Mass. semifinal played at Fitchburg's Wallace Civic Center, the favored Colonials endured a gut-wrenching 2-1 overtime loss to Wachusett Regional. Suddenly, in the span of a millisecond, all of the talk, predictions and championship dreams had vanished.

Even today, almost a year later, the loss continues to gnaw at them. But instead of feeling sorry for themselves, the Colonials are using it as motivation.

Just a month into this season and it appears as though the motivation is working.

The Colonials, ranked No. 24 in ESPN Boston’s MIAA Top 25 poll, have sprinted out of the starting block with reckless abandon. Following Monday night's win over Hudson, Shrewsbury presently sits at 8-0. They are averaging over seven goals per game and have yet to be seriously tested. For this team, which last won a state championship in 2009, it has an agenda to meet and it won't conclude until they are the last ones standing come March inside TD Garden.

"That loss to Wachusett last year is what is driving us this year," said junior forward and leading scorer Dan Quinlivan (11 goals, 6 assists), who is paired with twin brother Jack and junior Trevor Shea to form one of Shrewsbury's four solid lines. "You never want to go out that way, especially in overtime like we did. It was a lesson learned."

Last year, the Quinlivans were teamed with first-line center Dave Belbin in forming one of region’s most formidable trios. The chemistry between them, not to mention their speed, puck-handling accuracy and precision-like passing skills were crisp and fluent.

This season, third-year head coach Steve Turnblom made a surprise move when he decided to tweak his lines a bit in an attempt to get more scoring production from other team members. Belbin now anchors a line with fellow senior Derek Dell'Olio and sophomore Adam Twitchell.

"Moving guys around has helped us a lot," sophomore defenseman Matt Dillon said. "Last year Dave, Jack and Dan were putting up most of the points. This year we have Dave's line and then we have Jack and Dan's line. Our third and fourth lines are contributing as well. The depth we have in all four of our lines has helped out quite a bit."

Dan Quinlivan said, "Last year the better programs had players who could shut our first line down at times. This year we have goal scorers on every line."

With each shift, Shrewsbury appears to be playing with a purpose. Its tempo is fast and furious the entire 45 minutes. Its hybrid offensive style has left a few opponents scrambling for the bench in an effort to catch their breath.

"Our speed is a factor no doubt," said Belbin, who netted 22 goals and added 20 assists a year ago. "But at the same time we knew we needed to be more-sound defensively. I think that is where we have stepped it up this year (having allowed just 12 goals). Last year the focus was on scoring points. This year, there is more attention being paid to keeping teams off the boards, create some havoc in our defensive zone and finish off our checks. The points will come off of that."

With upcoming games against such powers as St. John's (Shrewsbury), Wachusett, Groton-Dunstable and Longmeadow, the Colonials realize they have the firepower to win a state title. But the Colonials can also expect to see the best from every opponent they face. No matter the record.

"We know we are going to get everyone's A-gamem which I think is good because our guys will be ready for it," Turnblom said. "However, there is that old cliché that anyone can beat anyone. We certainly understand that. How we get better from game to game is the key for us. It's all about the little things you need to do to get better as a team. Going out and slapping teams around, but being sloppy in doing it, does us no good.

“Eventually that will come back to bite you as we know, especially when you are in a big game against a Wachusett, or St. John's, or during the playoffs. We still need to tighten things up at both ends of the ice and keep our minds focused in every game that we play. It is so important for all of us to know exactly what each one is doing out there."

Perhaps, most importantly, there is no trace of selfishness to be found in Shrewsbury’s game. To a player, all have a particular role and they execute.

"Come playoff time everyone should understand their roles here," said winger turned center Jack Quinlivan, who paced Shrewsbury with 25 goals last season. "Everyone will get their shot at some point, you just don't know when. But when that opportunity does come you have to be ready for it."

An area that plagued the Colonials a year ago was an inconsistency in goal.

As productive as Shrewsbury's offense was, its goaltenders were allowing nearly as much at the other end of the ice. It was an issue Turnblom knew he needed to address once the season came to an end. This year, he has three goaltenders, all of whom, he says are capable of stoning the opposition.

At present, seniors Will Shipman and Matt Andrews are the front-runners with sophomore Shane Gorrie not far behind. Combined, the team’s goals against average sits below 2.00.

Andrews came on board this year after transferring from nearby St. John's of Shrewsbury. Dropping down from a Division 1 level program to Division 3 did raise a few eyebrows but Andrews stands by his decision.

"I've known most of the guys on this team for a very long time," Andrews said. "This was something I really wanted to do. I hang out with most of these guys all the time. It wasn't really a sports thing for me but more about being with my friends. It's a joy playing with all of them again and being apart of this team."

Turnblom felt he also needed to shore up his team's defensive play. New addition Sean Hallice, who spent the last couple of seasons playing juniors before opting out and joining Shrewsbury this season, has been nothing short of spectacular. Not only can the senior shadow an opposing club's top offensive threat, but has also proven to be a valuable commodity offensively, registering six goals and seven assists. He, along with Dillon, Cole Vincequere and Cole Ambach have given the Colonials' defense some much-needed depth. In addition, their ability to transition the puck swiftly up ice to the forwards has been well-received.

"Between our offense and defense it gives you a good feeling of confidence in all of our lines," Hallice said. "You quickly realize that if I screw up or someone else screws up we all have each other's backs."

Said Jack Quinlivan, "The defense has been very good at getting the puck up to forwards quickly. We constantly try to suck the life out of teams with our speed. If teams can't stay with us they eventually wear down."

There are some pessimists who are quick to point out that the majority of Shrewsbury's schedule offers little challenge. Even though the Colonials traditionally play in the most-competitive Division 3 conference (the Quinn) in Central Mass., there are some weaknesses this year. Hudson, Marlborough and Auburn, all of whom have enjoyed success in the past, are in rebuilding modes and not expected to contend this year. Therefore, Shrewsbury will rely heavily on its upcoming confrontations against conference foe Wachusett (twice), St. John's, Groton-Dunstable and Longmeadow to prepare them for what lies ahead.

"You cannot take anyone lightly no matter who we play," Dillon said. "You have to treat every team the same and be ready to play every game."

Wachusett has been a thorn in the Colonials' sides the past few seasons. The Mountaineers, who fell to eventual state champ Westfield in last year's state semifinal, have not lost to Shrewsbury in three years. They look to keep that trend going when the two clubs square off next Saturday.

"We realize it will be a difficult task to try and stop a team that is averaging nearly eight goals a game," Wachusett coach Matt Lane said. "They have something like 10 different players who have already scored multiple goals. We know it'll take a strong defensive effort and outstanding goaltending on our part to stay in the game with them."

Should the Colonials stumble a bit during the season, it still appears likely they will have sewn up a playoff spot by month's end. When this does occur, don't expect them to rest on their laurels.

The team's first priority is to be the No. 1 seed in next month's Central Mass. tournament and begin, what they hope, is a solid postseason run that will carry them to Boston this time around.

"We know we have a good team," Ambach said. "But we can't go out there thinking we are best team because we all know what happened last year. We are always looking for ways to improve. We just need to keep things on an even keel throughout the entire season and not get too far ahead of ourselves."