Boston High School: St. Mary's (Lynn)

No. 3 Malden Catholic claims 3rd straight Serino title

December, 29, 2014
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MALDEN, Mass. – Sometimes getting “the usual” is what the doctored ordered, as was the case for Malden Catholic yesterday in the Christie Serino tournament final.

The Lancers offense leaned on junior star Matt Filipe who delivered with a two-goal, one-assist performance to power Malden Catholic to a 3-0 victory over Austin Prep. The Lancers have now won all three Serino tournaments.

“Matt's a man-child,” Malden Catholic coach John McLean said. “You know he's going to get his goals, but he's got to understand that he's got to play both ends of the rink. He's very dominant when he wants to be. I like him on my team; I wouldn't want to coach against him.”

After getting the primary assist on a first-period goal by defenseman John McLean III, Filipe took over in the second. Just more than five minutes in he was able to finesse the puck home short side to double the lead. Less than four minutes later he cut through the Austin defense and buried a shot to pad the lead.

While Filipe led the MC offense it was junior goaltender Alex Reissis backboned the defense. Reissis turned aside all 28 shots that Austin sent his way and stopped 11 as the Cougars turned up the pressure in the third.

“Reissis has been great all year,” Filipe said. “As for helping me as an offensive player, you can take that extra offensive chance knowing you got Reese back there to hold down the fort.”

For the Cougars, the game was a story of fits and bursts. AP would put together sizable stretches of dominant play only for the Lancers to counterattack and convert on their chances.

Austin had the benefit of four power plays to Malden Catholic's one, but finishing chances wasn't meant to be.

“We've played in spurts really well,” Austin Prep coach Louis Finocchario said. “We do have some different faces in different positions. The thing is right now, how I can describe our team, is we're not where we finished last year. We need to get back to basics, keep things simple. Once we defined simple consistently I think we'll be a much better team.”

REMEMBERING CHRIS: For McLean, playing in a tournament named for a former mentor takes on added meaning. Chris Serino coached MC and laid the groundwork for their current run of dominance in four straight Super 8 championships.

Now, three years since Serino's passing, the Lancers have won all six of their games in the tournament. McLean said that the tournament, and the program, will always be about Serino.

“It's not my tournament, it's Chris’s,” McLean said. “I think it's very special that the school's doing this for him. I coached with him for a long time, and he asked me to take over the program. I still consider Malden Catholic his program, not mine. I love the guy. I learned a lot from him so whatever we can do to keep that tradition going I'm all for it.”

HINGHAM WINS EXCITING CONSOLATION GAME: After leading by three late in the second period, Hingham had to weather the St. Mary's storm to beat the Spartans, 5-4, in the Serino consolation game.

The Harbormen rode their first line of Billy McNally, Matt Demelis, and Matt Egan. The line, a pair of sophomores and a junior, scored a goal and added an eye-popping seven assists. McNally and Demelis assisted on Will Jones’s eventual game-winning goal in the middle of the third.

“They're the guys with the most skill and always an offensive threat out there,” Hingham coach Tony Messina said. “We just got to teach them to play stronger defense and we'll have something going.”

St. Mary's opened the scoring when Branden Willis rocketed home a blast on the power play early in the first. After that Hingham took over. The Harbormen used a pressing forecheck to force the Spartans into numerous turnovers and converted. Marc O'Rourke tied the game midway through the period, but it was a pair of goals 12 second apart by Egan and Jeff Gordon deep in the first that put Hingham in the driver's seat.

A goal from Nick Droster put Hingham up 4-1 midway through the second, and St. Mary's Mike Zampanti cut into the lead three minutes later.

Hingham seemed poised to run away with it before penalties reeled it in. The Harbormen sent seven players to the box and none of the penalties drew complaints from Messina.

“Very uncharacteristic of us,” Messina said. “They were obvious penalties, nothing where you could blame anyone. We've got to learn from that going forward.”

Zampanti and Joe Scalli both scored power play goals to make it a 5-4 game with four minutes left.

Despite winning the hard way, the “W” was a wanted change for Messina after last year's Harbormen made it a habit of losing close games to good teams.

“When you have a 4-1 lead you'd like to seal the deal,” Messina said. “We got an inexperienced team, so I think we're going to learn the hard way.

“Last year was tough, unexpected. We had tough games and lost all of them. I told the guys we lost this game last year. We outplayed them, outshot them, and lost. This one we won. It looks optimistic. The guys did a lot of work over the summer, and I think we'll be competitive all year long.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 5, No. 8 St. Mary's 2

December, 18, 2014
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LYNN, Mass. – It took a while for BC High to shift into gear, but once it did, the Eagles scored three goals in two minutes and two seconds of the second period to cruise past St. Mary's, 5-2, at Connery Rink.

After a listless first period that saw St Mary's score on their first two shots, the Eagles took over. BC High put 19 shots on cage in the second period.

Pat Riley got the comeback going just inside 10 minutes into the period when he lobbed a lazy knuckler at Connor Jennings that snuck under his right arm and into the cage. Pat Kramer tied it a minute later when he buried a feed from Billy Roche at the top of the crease.

Jack Duffey netted the game-winner 62 seconds later when he scooped up his own rebound and lofted it into the top of the net.

“I just think we got outworked the first period,” BC High coach John Flaherty said. “St. Mary's came out, worked hard, and they capitalized on their chances. I think once we figured out it wasn't coming easy, and we had to put some work behind our effort, things started to turn around. That's what you saw. You saw a different team in the second.”

The Eagles kept the pressure going in the third, putting 10 more shots on cage. Brendan Evitts gave the Eagles an insurance goal early in the period and Jack Nisbet finished the job with a goal in the final two minutes.

In total, 10 different Eagles reached the score sheet.

“Top to bottom we're full,” Kramer said. “Everyone's good. We don't have a bad line so it's great to see everyone scoring and contributing. It's not one person or two people scoring the goals every game.”

The Eagles outshot the Spartans, 35-9.

GROWING PAINS: For a young St. Mary's squad yesterday was about learning how to play together.

In the opening period everything went smoothly. The Spartans clogged BC High's passing lanes and were able to spring multiple breakaway chances and utilize the stretch pass with regularity.

Mike Zampanti finished the first breakaway just 69 seconds into the game going low glove side. Dante Maribito scored five minutes later far, stick side to double the lead going into the intermission.

Then it all came apart as the Eagles asserted their physical dominance and took over.

For coach Mark Lee though, the game was about the positives.“I think everyone gave a great effort it's just as the end we had breakdowns that good teams capitalize on, and that's a very good team,” Lee said. “This is a young group. That's tough when you're flying high up 2-0, but for them to come back we knew this was a good team.”

Despite allowing five goals, Jennings did deliver a few highlights turning aside 30 shots and keeping St. Mary's in the game despite the Eagle onslaught.“It's his first start of the season,” Lee said. “I thought he kept us in it early and did a great job.”

Cathedral takes boys' hockey preseason No. 1

December, 16, 2014
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For the first time in the history of ESPN Boston's MIAA boys' hockey Top 25 poll, Springfield Cathedral begins the season at No. 1.

The Panthers host six Division 1 college recruits on their roster to begin the year, but start the year with a pair of Catholic Conference powers in BC High (No. 2) and four-time defending Super 8 champion Malden Catholic (No. 3) on their tail.

For a look at the complete preseason poll, click HERE.

Here's more on how our first poll of the year breaks down:

Super 8 takes shape?: Projecting out a way-too-early field of 10 for the Super 8 at the top end of our preseason poll, there's a bit of a different look from last year's tournament field.

The old stalwarts are included, with Central Catholic, Catholic Memorial, Xaverian and Austin Prep all represented in the top 10. However, there could be a bitter race developing in the Catholic Central Large, with both Arlington Catholic and St. Mary's (Lynn) debuting in the top 10. Our top 10 also features one public school side with Reading checking in at No. 6.

Looking further down the poll, all of last year's field of 10 teams make the initial cut. Braintree (No. 11), Duxbury (14) and Archbishop Williams (15) remain in the Top 25 to start the year. We wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Wamps make another run at the state's premiere tournament.

CCL bears watching: As we just alluded to, the key to the Super 8 this year could be the Catholic Central Large race. Aside from the Catholic Conference, (which finds all of its members in our opening poll), the CCL checks in with the second highest number of member teams in the poll with four. We could be in for a real treat watching AC, St. Mary's and the incumbent AP vie for the league crown, and don't forget about Archies.

It's highly feasible that the league will carry up to three Super 8 berths this year, so the drama will be aplenty.

Handicapping the statewide races: Looking beyond the Division 1 ranks, Tewksbury ranks as the highest Division 2 squad at No. 21. The Redmen should be view as a prohibitive favorite to win the state crown after losing to eventual champion Beverly in last year's D2 North final. In the South region, Canton checks in at No. 25, leading a strong contingent of Hockomock League schools (Franklin and Oliver Ames) in the Last 10 Out section of the poll.

Defending Division 3 state champion Shrewsbury also cracks the poll at No. 24. The Colonials could be primed for a repeat performance with a high-flying offense led by brothers Dan and Jack Quinlivan -- both of whom will challenge for the statewide scoring title this season.
St. Mary's of Lynn Athletic Director Jeff Newhall announced this afternoon that the Spartans will be renewing their Thanksgiving football series after a 20-year hiatus.

Previously, the Spartans had been facing cross-town rival Lynn Tech on Thanksgiving, while Fenwick has been squaring off with prep school Pingree, of the independent New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).

With this series returning to the Thanksgiving docket, that means two thirds of the Catholic Central League's Large division members will be facing off on the holiday (Archbishop Williams and Cardinal Spellman already have a Thanksgiving series). That means the league title could still be up for a grabs, a move other leagues such as the Catholic Conference have moved towards in order to preserve their league championships in lieu of the new MIAA State Championship formula.

The MIAA's formal "power ranking" formula was used to determine the CCL's automatic qualifiers this season, and Newhall said the league is considering using it again in 2015.

Courtesy of Newhall, here is the official press release on the series return:



St. Mary’s and Bishop Fenwick are pleased to announce that after more than 20 years they will once again be Thanksgiving football game rivals.

Below are a few facts about the games and please feel free to contact the coach and or athletic director of each of the schools.

1. The game will be held on Thanksgiving Eve, with next year’s game at Manning Field, Wednesday, November 25, 2015. The following year Fenwick will host on Thanksgiving Eve, Wednesday, November 23, 2016.

2. The game will count towards Catholic Central League standings and will be the only regular season game scheduled between the schools (excluding possible playoff match-up).

3. The two football teams St. Mary’s (2012) and Bishop Fenwick (2013, 2014) represent the past three MIAA Div. 5 North and Catholic Central League Champions, with Fenwick claiming a state title in 2013.





Notes: Garrett Reagan hockey summit

December, 8, 2014
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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. _ The task at hand is a dubious one for Chris Kelly, but there is no doubt the first-year Matignon head hockey coach has the pedigree and knowledge to put this program back on the map.

In spite the Warriors reaching the postseason a year ago under, then head coach, Dan Lupo, this once-fabled program has not basked in much glory since the days of legendary coach Marty Pierce, who stepped down in 2004, having won eight state championships and responsible for sending a number of players to the NHL, including Steve Leach, Shawn McEachern, Niko Dimitrakos and Tom O'Regan.

Kelly was a member of two of those state title runs in 1982 and '83, serving as team captain on the latter. With Lupo forced to depart due to work commitments, Kelly was brought on board last August following a successful stint at Wayland High School.

"What I am trying to accomplish here is to not worry too much about what has happened in the past,” said Kelly, during Sunday's Garrett Reagan Hockey Summit at New England Sports Center. “We are trying to build a future of our own. I don't ever like to compare myself to Coach Pierce because I have too much respect for him. I am trying to build a future here, but always be thinking about the tradition of Matignon. I want to get these kids on board to begin a tradition and hopefully people outside the Matignon community can understand what we are trying to accomplish.”

Kelly points out the life lessons he learned as a player under Pierce's tutelage, and now as coach, are immeasurable. Learning from one of the best hockey minds this state has ever produced, far-exceed the basic game fundamentals and strategies.

"I wouldn't be in this position if it wasn't for Coach Pierce,” Kelly said. “He is a mentor and a role model of mine. I wish everyone knew Marty the way I do. He has helped so many people inside the hockey community and outside. I just think the world of him. What I instill into my players is what I have taken from Marty and that is the three D's _ discipline, desire and defense. That is what he preached and that is what I am now preaching. I started using that method when I was at Wayland.”

The Warriors will have their hands full playing in the highly-formidable Catholic Central League, playing the likes of Arlington Catholic, Archbishop Williams, Austin Prep and St. Mary's of Lynn.

"I would like to see us be competitive in our league,” said Kelly. “I would like to see us get into the postseason tournament this year and win a game or two to start. But it is a very tough league with some very good coaches.”

A few years back Matignon was in the midst of a numbers crunch as the enrollment dwindled. In fact, under former coach Angus Means, the team managed to dress just 11 players on a nightly basis. At one point there was even discussion to close down the school entirely. But during the past couple of years, a revitalization has taken place as enrollment figures are on the upswing.

“The numbers are there,” said Kelly. “We did a lot of work back in August to now of getting kids to come to the school. Some kids were on the fence when Coach Lupo left but I worked the phones, went to tournaments over the summer and met with parents to try to get those kids to come here. It has been quite surprising in terms of our talent level right now. We have a lot of senior leadership and things have projected a little faster than I had first anticipated.”

Matignon will be led by goaltender Ben Parker, winger Johnny Andrews, center Mike MacPherson and defenseman Cam Monagle.

MC stockpiled on defense: There is no mistaking the fact that Malden Catholic head coach John McLean has enjoyed the fruits of his labor, having now won the last four Super 8 Tournament titles.

Known for its well-balanced play at both ends of the ice, most are quick to identify MC's quick-strike offense as the reason why the Lancers are considered the best team state-wide. But don't sleep on the defense. Especially this year.

[+] EnlargeJohn McLean
Scott Barboza/ESPNMalden Catholic senior captain John McLean leads the Lancers on their run for a fifth straight Super 8 championship.
The Lancers are the deepest in that department for the first time in McLean's nine years at the helm.

“This is the strongest defensive corps that I've ever had here,” said McLean. “We go six deep. We have five returnees and a transfer (Matt Ciulla) from Dexter Southfield School. I'm very excited and having that many defensemen will certainly help us. My biggest thing right now if figuring out what our lines will be. We have four or five games over the next two weeks so we will mix and match and go from there.”

The defense will be led by McLean's son, John III. The 6-1 senior has been nothing short of brilliant during his tenure here, well-regarded for his physicality and his penchant of knocking opponents off of their lanes.

"We've got some new guys in this year and I think Matt Ciulla is going to be a huge asset for us,” he said. “Also, all of our forwards come back and help play defense so it is all one unit out there.”

With the departures of center Ara Nazarian and forward Tyler Sifferlen (both now playing in the USHL), McLean will be looked upon to provide much of the leadership for this year's club.

"I want to represent MC in making sure we continue to be a very good hockey program,” the younger McLean said. “Everyone on our schedule is good so we haven't won a thing this year and basically this is a new team. We are starting at square one again. We have lost a lot of senior leadership from last year so I just want to be a good leader on and off the ice and help our younger kids develop so they can be our future leaders both in school and on the ice.”

Cathedral set for new heights: Three straight years Springfield Cathedral has arguably had the most talent team, top to bottom, over all other programs in the state. Having reached the Super 8 Tournament in all three of those years, the best the Panthers could do was reach the semifinals before bowing out.

This season, once again, SC has all the weapons in place for a return trip to the Super 8. The question is how far can they go this time? Losing just one player from last year (goaltender John Liqouri) to graduation, there is no reason why the Panthers cannot advance to the finals this season.

"I do think it is our year,” said stellar senior forward Peter Crinella. “Everyone is back but John. We're looking good and it is our hope we can break past the semifinal round this time around and make it to the championship and take it home with us.”

Panthers coach Brian Foley says the team has spent a majority of the off season working out together in the weight room, and building leg strength through plyometrics and speed drills in an effort to enhance strength, speed and endurance.

"We're still trying to figure out who is who right now,” Foley said. “We've got a little competition going on our fourth line. We have 12 forwards, seven defensmen and three goalies back. The biggest thing I have seen this year is the size and strength difference from a year ago with everybody. All committed to the off season workouts and physically, everyone seems to be bigger, stronger and faster.”

Shrewsbury back for seconds?: Steve Turnblom wants it. So too, does his team. Having hoisted the Division 3 state championship trophy a year ago, the Colonials have a taste for another crown three months from now. Who can argue that notion?

Gone from a year ago are several key components, especially on the defensive side. Following the departures of defensemen Sean Hallice, Cole Ambach, Cole Vincequere and Matt Dillon, who transferred to Cushing Academy, Shrewsbury has left a huge void. Offense took a hit as well with the graduations of forward/center Dave Belbin and forward Derrick Dell'Olio.

"We lost some solid players but 8 of our 9 forwards are back,” said Turnblom. “We continue to stress defense more than anything here. Last year we limited teams to 10-15 shots per game which gave us a big advantage. We need to play well in our own end.”

But all is certainly not lost. The Colonials return seniors Dan and Jack Quinlivan, Tyler O'Keefe and Joe Buduo on offense. All of whom well-capable to score from anywhere inside the offensive zone.

"We know we've got some holes to fill but I think we will be better in certain areas,” said co-captain Dan Quinlivan. “I don't think we'll be as talented as we were but I do feel we will be more-prepared for each game that we play. The intensity here is going to be high. The goal is to get back to the state finals and we feel we can get there. It was the best thing that happened to us last year and we want it again.”

Shrewsbury has upgraded its schedule this year by adding Springfield Cathedral and Newton South, as well as its annual grudge match versus St. John's (Shrewsbury).

"The kids want to win another title and they know how to do it,” Turnblom said. “But I told them we are starting from scratch again and everyone is going to be gunning for them. They need to work hard all the time and continue getting better. Our kids wanted a better schedule because they want to play some of those better teams. You play better competition then you, yourself, will get better.”

Pioneers looking to stay the course: Under the direction of first-year head coach Mike Mead last season, St. John's (Shrewsbury) reached the Division 1 North tournament. After knocking off Burlington in the quarterfinals, they fell to Arlington in the next round.

Two major components from that team (defensemen Bryan Nelson and goaltender Mario Pizzeri) are gone. Both, no doubt, will be sorely missed but Mead says you cannot dwell on the past and it is time to move forward.

"We have some good seniors coming back so I'm very excited as we head into the season,” Mead said.

Players like defenseman Brendan Doherty and Michael Parente will be expected to handle the brunt of action inside their own zone, while Kevin Quinlivan, Patrick Storer and Dan Barlok will be responsible for putting the puck into the back of the net. Goaltending will still be this team's primary concern as sophomore Matt Mongeau and junior Alex Franchi will begin the year platooning between the pipes.

"Both are young goalies who are battling it out," Mead said. "Neither has any varsity experience because Mario played every game last year for us. But I think both paid close attention to what Mario was doing in his preparations for every game and hopefully some of that has rubbed off on both of them. We shall see.”

The Pioneers have added powers Central Catholic and Catholic Memorial to an already grueling schedule that also includes Springfield Cathedral, BC High, Xaverian and St. John's Prep.

ESPN Boston state football championship predictions

September, 4, 2014
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Before the MIAA football season kicks off this weekend, ESPN Boston editors Scott Barboza and Brendan C. Hall give their state championship predictions for the season:

Scott Barboza, ESPNBoston.com High Schools Editor

Division 1: Xaverian
The Division 1 field could look a lot as it did last year; I think there’s a real potential for Central Catholic vs. Everett and Attleboro vs. Xaverian rematches in the North and South districts, respectively. But this race all comes down to depth, and the Hawks have plenty of it across all positions. This time, Xaverian will not be denied at Gillette Stadium.

Division 2: Mansfield
Once again, Division 2 South should prove one of the most tightly contested sectional races across the state this year, but I see the Hornets moving through. With a defensive core that returns starters such as Curtis Boisvert, Connor Finerty, Q’Ra Guichard and Brendan Hill, the Hornets are built for the postseason. That bodes well if they are to meet St. John’s (Shrewsbury) in the state final again, as the Pioneers are primed for another Gillette visit.

Division 3: Marblehead
The Magicians ran into a loaded and experience Tewksbury squad in the North final last year, but this is their year. The Southern districts will be extremely competitive – particularly with many of the Hockomock League’s Davenport Division’ s entrants (Oliver Ames, Stoughton) loading up for this season. However, with Brooks Tyrrell running behind a hulking offensive line, including UMass commit Derek Dumais and Dan Marino, Marblehead is running all the way to the hardware.

Division 4: Dennis-Yarmouth
The Dolphins were denied of the title last year by a talented Doherty squad in the game of the day during championship Saturday. They won’t get fooled again. D-Y is likely to see another challenger from the Central district again – perhaps Doherty once again, or Shepherd Hill – but the Dolphins will come away champions behind Mr. Football candidate Michael Dunn, just as they did a few years back with his cousin Matt Montalto under center.

Division 5: Auburn
The Rockets are a few years off their historic winning streak, but they’ll climb back to the top of the hill with another impressive rushing attack led by preseason All-State Mark Wright. Watch out for Bishop Fenwick to again make a run at Gillette behind returning All-State Rufus Rushins, but Auburn wins out.

Division 6: Pope John Paul II
Had the Lions made the cut in the South sectional playoffs, they might have been the favorite last year. The one-two punch of Ryan Barabe and Diego Meritus will propel one of the state’s top offensive units – regardless of division – to a championship. Of course, PJP will not be without challengers, however, particularly in their own sectional playoff, where challengers Diman, Mashpee and Millis lurk.

*****

Brendan C. Hall, ESPNBoston.com High Schools Editor

Division 1: Xaverian
Hard to pick against the Hawks and their loaded crop of scholarship-caliber talent as they seek to avenge last year’s state final loss. When the smoke clears, this could be one of Charlie Stevenson’s best defenses in a long time, led by Damion Wood and defending ESPNBoston Defensive Player of the Year Joe Gaziano. The North bracket should be a tough battle, but I think Everett has enough talent to outlast that field.

Division 2: St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Going with the vengeance theme here again in D2, as one of the state’s most feared hitters, Boston College-bound safety Davon Jones, looks for another swing at it. Mansfield should be the prohibitive favorite in Eastern Mass., but once again the power is in the South portion and it’s a cauldron. Don’t be surprised if Natick or Marshfield makes it out of the bracket.

Division 3: Marblehead
Jim Rudloff loves to play the underdog card, but there’s no way the Magicians aren’t the lead dog in this race, with returning All-State tailback Brooks Tyrrell once again running behind an offensive line with Division 1 scholarship talent. This race gets interesting in the southern districts, where a number of teams have a good shot at reaching Gillette, and I have no idea who to pick. Walpole? Oliver Ames? Stoughton? Plymouth North?

Division 4: Shepherd Hill
Plain and simple, this is a Division 1-sized offensive line playing in Division 4, led by one of the state’s best hoggies in Chris Lindstrom, with an impressive blend of power and speed at the skill positions. They should get a tough battle from Doherty in the Central district. Once again, it could come down to Holliston and Dennis-Yarmouth in the East, but I like D-Y’s chances of returning to Gillette.

Division 5: Auburn
I picked the Rockets to win last year, and that sputtered. But on the heels of an explosive breakout campaign from Mark Wright, here’s hoping second time’s a charm. A number of Catholic Central teams could stake their claim in the East, led by St. Mary’s and Bishop Fenwick, but keep an eye on Northbridge out of the Central district as well.

Division 6: Pope John Paul II
A year after getting left out of the inaugural South football playoffs, Lions come back roaring with an even more explosive offense, triggered under center by Ryan Barabe and led in the backfield by workhorse Diego Meritus. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Millis come out of the South either, and Boston English is my favorite in the North with slippery dual-threat QB Emmanuel Almonte.

St. Mary's Skinnion commits to Trinity

April, 29, 2014
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St. Mary's (Lynn) hockey senior goaltender Lauren Skinnion has committed to Trinity College, Spartans head coach Frank Pagliuca told ESPN Boston, Monday.

The Boxford resident backstopped the Spartans to a Division 1 state championship in 2012-13 and was 10-6-0 with a 1.42 goals against average, 94 save percentage and six shutouts in her senior season.

"Lauren exemplifies the definition of a student-athlete," Pagliuca said. "She had a tremendous career on the ice at St. Mary's. She was one of the key components to the team's success over the past couple years.

"In addition, Lauren excelled in the classroom, as a top 10 student in her grade. The combination of those factors allowed Lauren to pursue a variety of college options. I believe Trinity is a great fit for her academically and athletically."

Marshfield's Cataldo leads South in romp of All-Star Classic

March, 22, 2014
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WORCESTER, Mass. -- Team members of Saturday's 5th annual Aleppo Shriners/Mass. State Hockey Coaches Association All-Star Classic show up knowing little about the strengths and weakness of their fellow linemates. Having not practiced together, the only thing to do is learn on the fly.

The South stars were the quick learners, as all of its lines meshed brilliantly en route to a one-sided 7-1 triumph at the DCU Center.

"You don't really see an all star game finish 7-1," said South and Braintree head coach David Fasano. "It's usually 8-7 or 9-8. But all of our goaltenders played great. We were putting lines together an hour before the game so to come out and move the puck around the way we did was pretty incredible. There was some very good play making out there. There is no system in place so to speak and the goaltenders know they are going to see a lot of shots so to their credit they made some great stops. The way our kids were moving the puck around they looked like they had been playing together for a very long time."

After racing out to a 4-1 lead after the first period, this game was never in doubt. Despite facing 43 shots, South's three goaltenders (St. John's of Shrewsbury’s Mario Pizzeri, Framingham's Al Lynch and Brookline's Jake Paul) were outstanding between the pipes.

"We got an early goal on them and I think that sort of set the momentum for us," said Pizzeri, who will play at Assumption College next year. "This was certainly a fun way to go out and a great way to end my high school career."

Offensively, Marshfield forward David Cataldo led the attack as he found the back of net twice. His rebound goal coming at 6:46 of the opening period set the gears in motion for the South squad. Three minutes later, Braintree's Nick Ward made it a two-goal affair after taking a diagonal pass from Trevor O'Brien and beating Springfield Cathedral goaltender John Liquori low glove side.

Wachusett Regional's Marc Happy, taking a well-executed behind the net feed from Jim Currier, ripped a one-timer past Pizzeri to bring his team to within a goal at 10:21 but that is as close as the North stars would get.

"I'm disappointed in regards to the final outcome but this is truly a great event and the fact that it is helping a great cause with Shriners Hospitals," said North and Winchester forward Brendan Greene.

Just 32 seconds after Happy's score, Duxbury's Nick Marrocco, standing in front of the crease, back-handed a shot by Liquori to give South back its two-goal advantage.

Things seemed to snowball from there. With less than three minutes remaining in the period, Cataldo, off a well-timed pass from Robbie Souza, ripped a shot into the back of the net from the left slot to send South into the first intermission leading by three goals.

"Surprisingly we had some very good chemistry among all of us despite having never played together," Cataldo said. "All of the lines seemed to be clicking today. You are going to develop chemistry with all of these kids coming to this game. All of them can play hockey, they can adjust and they learn to play with other kids very quickly. That is why they are here.

“It's cool to play with all of these guys because you read about them during the season."

Early in the middle frame, South picked up right where it left off to end the first. Just 2:21 into the period, Archbishop Williams forward Mike Sorenti, taking a pass from Xaverian's Antonio Marini down low, skated across the front of the crease and patiently waited for St. Mary's of Lynn goalie Bailey MacBurnie to commit before sending a shot beyond the senior's out-stretched right leg pad to make it 5-1.

With North seeing its opportunities being stoned regularly, South continued to maintain its offensive charge. Xaverian's Ricky Smith padded the lead to five at 13:56 with a laser from 20 feet out that MacBurnie never saw.

"It was fun to go out there and play with a bunch of new guys," said South defenseman and St. John's (Shrewsbury) standout Bryan Nelson. "A lot of the guys I knew from playing with or against in squirts and pee-wees. It was nice to see them and catch up on things with them. This felt more like a summer tournament game. It was a lot of fun."

To its credit, North wasn't about to go down easily during the final period. Opening up the offense a bit more, they sent 19 shots toward Paul but none got past him. Meanwhile, Dartmouth's Joseph Correia added to North's misery by tallying an unassisted goal at 13:10. South also finished with 43 shots.

"The real surprise in all of this is the one goal by them on the other end," Fasano said. "That is unheard of in these types of games whether it be high school, college or the NHL. Usually those kinds of games have some pretty-big numbers. This was a lot of fun to be apart of and was a great show put on by both the Shriners and the Worcester Sharks."

D1 North: Reading 2, St. Mary's 0

March, 6, 2014
3/06/14
1:39
AM ET
BILLERICA, Mass. – For more than an hour, it was a staring contest between Reading and St. Mary's in the second Division 1 North semifinal at the Chelmsford Forum.

St. Mary's blinked first.

After 32:48 of scoreless hockey, Reading's Sean Verrier wriggled free in the slot and roof a point-blank shot into the top corner of the goal to put the Rockets ahead. Jake Barbera would add another goal with just over a minute left to ice Reading's 2-0 win.

“It feels great [with] a lot talk about them being the best,” Verrier said. “Everyone saying we should have been knocked out in the first round. If we keep playing the way we do I say we'll keep going the way we're going.”

After an even first period the Rockets took over. Reading outshot the Spartans 27-9 over the final 30 minutes. The Rocket defense forced St. Mary's to the outside and minimized chances. Ian Lapham anchored the Reading defense posting a 15-save shutout.

“[The defense] did for the most part keep things out side,” Reading coach Mark Doherty said. “Ian was rock solid. I'm glad for him. He responded nicely tonight.

“I didn't think they had a ton of outstanding chances tonight, but he made it a lot more comforting. You could tell he was in a pretty good zone tonight.”

The Spartans offense, which features five players with seven or more goals, was unable to sync up. As the game progressed, and especially after Reading took the lead, St. Mary's pressed hard and stressed themselves into making mistakes.

St. Mary's coach Mark Lee chalked the performance up to a young team not knowing how to step into the moment.

“I think the grips on the sticks got a little tighter and everyone was pressing too hard,” Lee said. “That's not our normal flow. We go out and try to outwork the opponent. We just got away from our gameplan a bit. A lot of it was Reading; they're a well-coached team. We didn't have our A-game, but some of that had to do with Reading and some had to do with our inexperience. Doesn't take away from the great season we've had.”

BAILEY'S LAST RIDE: With 2.4 seconds remaining, and the game's result secure, everyone on the St. Mary's looked down the ice towards the final faceoff of the season. Senior goaltender Bailey MacBurnie looked up at the clock. His gaze hung there until the horn's blare had faded and the handshake lines had formed. It was the end to a sterling career.

MacBurnie, who keyed St. Mary's run to an undefeated season and the two-seed in the 2012 Super 8 tournament returned from a year at Brewster Academy to anchor another deep tournament run for the Spartans.

“He came back this year and anchored our team,” Lee said. “He kept us in every game. He's a vocal kid on and off the ice. He's meant the world to this team and the program this year.”

MacBurnie finished the season with a 1.74 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.

Against the Rockets, he turned aside 31 shots.

“I definitely owe it to all these coaches,” MacBurnie said. “They really made me into the player I am today, and I’ll take that wherever I go.

“I'm definitely happy I came back. It's been just an amazing experience. I'm just happy that all these young guys got a taste of it; it makes them hungry.”

The MacBurnie family though still has work to do for the Spartans. Bailey's younger brother Shawn, a junior, led St Mary's with 29 points this season.

“He's really transformed into a really great player,” Bailey said. “He's a golfer, but I think hockey's his new number one. I can't wait to see him next year.”

REBUILT AND REVIVED: Before the start of the season many wrote Reading off as facing a rebuilding year. After racking up a pedestrian 7-7-2 record through the end of January the Rockets flipped the proverbial switch and are 8-1-0 since.

Doherty said his team found the metaphorical “it” and have rolled since.

“We're a group of guys that can bring a lot to the table, and we didn't realize that in the beginning,” Barbera said. “As the year progressed we said we got a shot at this. We wanted to work at it, put in the time and effort at practice, and it's amazing how far we've come.”

Reading has outscored its opponents 39-12 since finding its mojo in its last nine game and have a date with league rival Wilmington on Monday night for the right to play for a state championship.

Reading beat Wilmington, 6-3, in the first game of the season back on Dec. 14.

Since the turn of the century the D1 North final has featured at least one team from the Middlesex League. This year's will be the fourth time, and third year in a row, that it will be an all-Middlesex League final.

“The league continues to have success, success, success, and we still have a ton of detractors out there,” Doherty said. “That's sort of a burr that's always in my side, and thank god we get to prove it again. I'm grateful to be in the finals against Wilmington. It's going to a tough game.”

D1 North: Wilmington 3, Arlington 2 (OT)

March, 5, 2014
3/05/14
10:29
PM ET
BILLERICA, Mass. -- Luke Foley was in the position he is most accustomed to.

The 6-foot-2 forward of the Wilmington Wildcats objective is to hover around the front of the crease in an attempt to screen out an opposing goaltender or, better still, is fortunate enough redirect a shot headed in his direction.

In overtime of Wednesday night's Division 1 North semifinal, the senior captain performed the latter and because of it, the Wilmington lives to play another day. Foley got enough of his stick off a shot by Jim Davey from the right wing circle to slip it in-between the pads of Arlington netminder Mike Schiller at 2:32 of overtime to give the Wildcats a thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Spy Ponders at Chelmsford Forum.

"That is basically my offense," said Foley. "I looked to be in front of the net and that is where I get most of my goals. I'm lucky [Davey] got the puck through and I was able to get a tip on it and put it in."

The win, Wilmington's 13th straight in the postseason dating back to 2011-2012 season, advances them to Monday night's final against Reading — a 2-0 winner over St. Mary's of Lynn — beginning at 8 p.m. from Tsongas Arena.

"[Winning 13 in a row] is a lot about confidence," Foley said. "We need to continue to be confident in front of our goalie. He is such a huge part of our success. He stops plenty of shots. He doesn't panic and always knows what to do. That rubs off on everyone else."

After winning back-to-back Division 2 state crowns, the move up to Division 1 this season did not faze the third-seeded Wildcats (15-3-7) in the least. Playing in a predominantly Division 1 league (Middlesex) throughout the season has prepared them well for tight contests like this one.

"We've been in a lot of games this season where we've had to come back," Wilmington head coach Steve Scanlon said. "That always pays dividends because the kids know they are capable of coming back. We had some bad patches tonight but the kids kept working and played hard. In the overtime, I told the kids to keep shooting towards the net and good things will happen. There is nothing that can replace the experience of going deep in a tournament. I've got nine kids on this team who have been to the championship at TD Garden twice and it does pay for you later. Although sometimes you do get down, we know we are never out of it."

Trailing 2-0, Wilmington mounted its comeback late in the opening period. Junior winger Steven DeFuria got things started by ripping a shot from the left circle, which eluded Spy Ponders starting goalie Ryan Cote.

As is Arlington's custom throughout the season, head coach John Messuri platoons Cote and Schiller on a regular basis. Cote stopped 14-of-15 shots before giving way to Schiller midway through the second period.

After a wide-open opening frame in which 23 shots were totaled (13 by the Spy Ponders), things settled down abruptly during the middle 15 minutes. Even though Arlington managed to put up 11 shots in the period, none got by Foley. The senior was solid between the pipes making 34 saves.

"Drew is a big-game kid for us," said Scanlon. "He's the most even-keeled athlete I've ever coached."

Early in the third, Wilmington would notch the equalizer after junior Joe Castellano fired a hard shot that Schiller initially grabbed with his catching glove. But the senior couldn't keep it in the mitt as the puck trickled out and over the goal line at 2:31.

For the remainder of the frame, both teams had several quality attempts on net but neither could bag the go-ahead tally which led to a six minute extra period that lasted only a couple of minutes thanks to Luke Foley’s heroics.

The second-seeded Spy Ponders (14-4-5) looked to be in good shape early in this one. Junior forward Jack Kelly, on the power play, guided the puck down the ice, cut between a pair of defenders before sending a shot over Drew Foley's right shoulder at 3:14 of the opening period.

Five minutes later, with Arlington playing short-handed, Kelly stuck it to the Wildcats once again. A turnover inside the Spy Ponders' defensive zone allowed an odd-man rush to ensue. With Seth Coiley working the puck down the left side, the senior waited till the last second before dishing a crossing feed over to Kelly who put it into the back of the net to put his team up by a pair. As it turned out, that would the only offense registered by Arlington for the remainder of the evening as Wilmington began taking away the passing lanes and allowing Drew Foley to do what he does best in goal.

"I thought we played good the whole game," said Messuri. "I don't think we took our foot off the gas pedal. They chipped away but I still thought we controlled most of the play. Our kids played great and their kids played great and somebody has to lose unfortunately. Goalies are the most-important part of a team and tonight their kid stood on his head. Our kids have nothing to be ashamed about. I'm very proud of all of them."

D1 North: St. Mary's 4, Winchester 3 (SO)

March, 1, 2014
3/01/14
10:57
PM ET
WOBURN, Mass. -- The old adage of one team wanting it more than the other does not apply here.

Both St. Mary's of Lynn and Winchester left their collective hearts and souls on the Ned O'Brien Rink ice following Saturday night's Division 1 North quarterfinal match up.

When it was all said and done, a full 45 minutes of regulation had been played as well as two six minute overtime periods and an eight round shootout to finally decide a victor as the top-seeded Spartans prevailed, 4-3.

St. Mary's senior forward Chris Donovan concluded this edge-of-your-seat marathon by beating Sachems outstanding junior goaltender James Offner with a backhand shot over his stick and move his club into Wednesday night's semifinal against No. 4 Reading (a 5-3 winner over Melrose) at Chelmsford Forum with the opening face off scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

"When I got that puck in the shootout I knew what I was going to do with it," said an exasperated Donovan at game's end. "I wanted to go short side because during the previous shootouts I saw the opposing goalie making all the saves on his glove side. I felt he was going to have a weak blocker side. When I came down on him I saw him leaning more towards his backhand side so I knew he was going to have to shift. Once he shifted, I pumped and then went backhand on him. This was a big win over a very good team and I'm just glad we were able to get the job done."

St. Mary's converted 2-of-8 shots during the shootout, while the Sachems went 1-for-8. The Spartans (16-4-2) other score in the shootout came from Chris Price in the fifth round. Senior Nolan Redler had the lone tally for No. 8 Winchester (12-6-5), coming in the second round.

Bailey MacBurnie was equally instrumental in this triumph. The senior netminder made several magnificent saves in regulation and then came up huge in the shootout, allowing just the one marker.

"I think I'm pretty good in shootouts because we work on them every day in practice," said MacBurnie, finishing with 31 saves. "I wasn't feeling that much pressure. It was more like whatever happens, happens."

Prior to that, this contest, in front of a full house, had its share of twists and plots. The Sachems had built a 3-1 lead after two periods only to watch in vain as the Spartans storm back with a pair of goals in the third from defensman Clay Yianocopoulus and forward Shawn MacBurnie to deadlock things. During the two overtime frames, nothing was settled in spite St. Mary's out-shooting the Winchester 7-4. That set the stage for a classic finish that ended in celebration for one team and bitter disappointment for another.

"We didn't have our A game early on but we just kept battling," St. Mary's head coach Mark Lee said. "We finally got things going in the third. I give our team credit because they fought through things, never quit and got us into overtime and the shootout. To end a game like this is pretty sweet. There is just no quit in our kids. This team wants to keep it going. They actually like each other and want to be together. It really is like a family. They are just a great group of kids that won't die for you and just want to continue to work.

"We felt very confident during the shootout having Bailey in net for us. I thought he did a tremendous job to keep us us shooting in the shootout. I also give a lot of credit to Chris Donovan. He didn't see a lot of action today but he helped move this team along to the next round of the playoffs."

Ironically, for Winchester, this marks the second time in as many years its has seen its season end on a shootout. Last year, in the North final, the Sachems were defeated by Burlington in similar fashion.

"Another tough way to end the season," Winchester head coach Matt Spang said. "It is what it is. It's tough for things to end this way for this group of guys for a second year in a row. I thought James was great for all night in net for us. I'm very proud of him and all of our team. Our guys can't walk out of this rink with any regrets. They spilled their guts out there tonight, and as a coach, I cannot ask for anything more than that. They gave me everything they had."

Price, a junior, would open the scoring with a power play goal coming at 57 seconds of the first period. But the Sachems answered one minute later when Andrew Chalas managed to slip a shot in between MacBurnie's pads to knot things at 1-1. Winchester went ahead at 4:42 of the frame after Brendan Greene pushed in a rebound, coming off an initial shot by David Troiano.

With less than a minute remaining in the period, St. Mary's watched a golden opportunity to tie things fall by the wayside. Forward Jordan Manthorne was awarded a penalty shot but his attempt sailed wide of its intended target keeping the Sachems in front. They would then add to their lead just 3:17 into the middle period. Danny Marx, standing all alone inside the left circle, ripped a shot which caromed off the right pipe and into the back of the net.

For a team that was given serious consideration only a week ago for a Super 8 bid, St. Mary's didn't look the part over the first 30 minutes. In that sequence, the Spartans had six power play opportunities but were only able to convert just one for a score. With just 15 minutes remaining in their season, it was now do or die for them.

Looking for any kind of boost, Yianocopolus gave them one. The junior flashed towards the net following a Price shot from the left point. Offner (37 saves) initially stopped Price's laser but the puck trickled behind him where an alert Yianocopoulus managed to push it over the goal line at 3:25, making it a 3-2 affair.

With new-found momentum, St. Mary's would tie it up five minutes later. With Winchester playing a man short because of a delay of game penalty, Shawn MacBurnie fired a short side goal underneath Offner's blocker and suddenly it was a brand new game. The Spartans were 2-of-8 on their power play chances while the Sachems finished 1-for-5.

"At the beginning of the game I didn't feel like I was getting into the rhythm I wanted to and I thought it might end badly for us," said Bailey MacBurnie. "In the third period, myself, Jordan [Manthorne] and Chris [Price] really got our guys going. We all said that this would be it for us if we didn't get something going. Everyone really played their hearts out in that third period. We have a strong team and a strong coaching staff so we were not going to give up no matter what."

D1 North: Reading 5, Melrose 3

March, 1, 2014
3/01/14
10:48
PM ET
WOBURN, Mass. -- On more than one occasion Reading head coach Mark Doherty was breathing a sigh of relief. Even after several minutes had passed following his team's 5-3 comeback victory over Melrose in Saturday afternoon's Division 1 North quarterfinal at Ned O'Brien Rink, Doherty was still mopping his brow.

Down a goal after two periods, the Rockets were still in search of that elusive tying marker midway through the third. Then lightning struck quickly and often, and as a result, changed the entire complexion of this contest for good.

Senior forward Mike Thomson picked off an errant inside the Red Raiders zone and snapped a shot from the left circle past goaltender Tyler Brown at 7:25 to tie matters at 2 apiece. Roughly four minutes later, the comeback trail continued. James Donaghey, a senior, and junior Sean Verrier scored just nine seconds apart to put Reading ahead to stay.

"Melrose is a scary opponent," said Doherty. "They are big, physical and have a lot of athletes. It started to get a little tense on our bench after they went up 2-0 on us in the first period. I just told our kids to settle down because I knew we were just going to keep fighting. We knew we had enough talent but we just needed to keep fighting."

The fourth-seeded Rockets (14-8-2) advance to Wednesday's semifinal versus No. 1 St. Mary's of Lynn beginning at 7:10 p.m. from the Chelmsford Forum. No. 4 Melrose closes its season at 13-5-5.

After starting the game a bit on the flat side, the Red Raiders began to pick up the tempo midway through the opening period. By that time, Reading had already peppered Brown (15 saves) with five shots to Melrose's none. However, Brown was able to turn aside all and keep the game scoreless.

It didn't stay that way for long though. The Red Raiders started to generate some scoring opportunities once inside Reading's zone. Junior Brian McGlaughlin, on the power play, capitalized on his chance, lighting the lamp at 7:28 with a rebound goal. Then, only 30 seconds later, Melrose added to its margin with McGlaughlin again doing the honors. Standing in front of Rockets goalie Ian Lapham, the forward hurled a hard wrist shot between the senior's leg pads to send the Red Raiders into the first intermission on top 2-0.

In a contest filled with physicality up and down the ice, Reading finally sliced into the deficit at 1:49 of the middle frame. Thomson picked off a John Morreale pass just in front of the blue line and fired a point-blank laser past an unsuspecting Brown to make it 2-1.

"(Thomson) is one of the more-talented kids we've had here," Doherty said. "He's always had the ability but was sort of a late bloomer. He has tremendous talent. He is one of the best forwards in the state. Clearly his first goal in the second period got us back in this game."

That would be all the scoring in the period as Lapham (15 saves) came up with several key stops to deny Melrose a chance to pad its total.

Despite trailing by a goal, the Rockets knew they had the firepower to overtake the Red Raiders. But early in the third, they couldn't buy a goal as Brown continued to hold his ground. But Reading never backed down. Once Thomson converted his steal into a tying score, the opening of the flood gates soon followed.

Donaghey's goal, at 11:42, came off a rebound as the forward went low glove side. On the play, Melrose never picked up Donaghey, who was left unattended as he made the shot just in front of the crease. Looking stunned after watching their lead evaporate, Verrier grabbed a loose puck and was allowed to skate in alone on Brown before lining wrist shot under the catching glove at 11:51, putting the Rockets in front 4-2.

"Those two goals were huge obviously," Doherty said. "It changed the whole game."

The Red Raiders needed to regroup in a hurry to keep their playoff aspirations alive. They did just that as senior Eric Mercer, standing just inside his own blue line, blasted a shot through traffic past Lapham 5-hole bringing Melrose to within one at 12:53. But with time ticking down to under a minute and Brown pulled for the extra attacker, the Red Raiders could draw no further. Verrier added insult to injury by striking for an empty net goal with two seconds left.

"We just stuck together because we knew we could win this game," said Thomson. "We got that first goal and they just kept coming after that. We felt we were the better team and just went out there and played hard. With each goal we were getting more and more momentum and it kept going from there."

Top MIAA hoop performances: Feb. 27

February, 28, 2014
2/28/14
1:27
AM ET
Each and every night throughout the MIAA basketball playoff season, we will highlight the state's top performances. Here are my top performances from Thursday night's slate of MIAA basketball state tournament play.

As a reminder, readers are encouraged to submit their top performances via email (bhall@espnboston.com) or tweeting at ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan Hall (@BHallESPN). Deadline for all submissions each night is midnight.

1. Alyssa Guyon, Jr. F, Ludlow
Monster night on the boards for Guyon, as she recorded 26 points and 21 rebounds in the Lions' 58-47 D2 West win over Quabbin.

2. Bridget Herlihy, Jr. F, and Brianna Herlihy, Soph. F, Braintree
The sisters combined for 29 points and 26 rebounds in the Wamps' 58-39 Division 1 South quarterfinal win over King Philip.

3. Tom Nadeau, Sr. G, Stoneham
Scored 26 points and added six assists in the Spartans' D3 North win over North Reading.

4. Kendra Hicks, Sr. F, Springfield Central
Notched a double-double in the Golden Eagles' D1 West win over Shepherd Hill, recording 15 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks.

5. Lauren Carnevale, Sr. F, Pittsfield
Had a double-double in the Generals' 57-42 D2 West win over Belchertown, recording 18 points and 15 rebounds.

6. Chris Lockett, Jr. F, St. Mary's (Lynn)
Had 24 points in the Spartans' 70-48 rout of Maimonides in D4 North.

7. Steve McGrath, Sr. F, Stoneham
Along with 23 points, had eight rebounds, six steals and three blocks in the Spartans' win over North Reading

8. Joey Crane, Sr. F, Cardinal Spellman
Recorded a double-double in the Cardinals' rout of Dedham in D3 South, with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

9. Karlie O'Driscoll, Sr. F, Sharon
Came up with 15 pts, nine rebounds and 8 steals in the Eagles' 52-50 thriller over Oliver Ames in D2 South.

10. K.C. Cunningham, Jr. G, Worcester South
Had 20 points in the Colonels' 63-51 upset of top-seeded Fitchburg in D1 Central Quarterfinals.

Snapshot: St. Anselm's 'Miss Hockey' line

February, 27, 2014
2/27/14
6:00
PM ET
St. Anselm women's hockey captured the ECAC Open Women's Championship on Sunday, defeating Holy Cross, and that Hawks squad has a distinct Massachusetts tinge with all three of our ESPN Boston Miss Hockey award winners represented.

Sabrina Ianetti (St. Mary's, 2011), Martha Findley (Duxbury, 2012) and Alison Butler (St. Mary's, 2013) all made their way to Manchester after graduation and, for most of this season, the trio played together on the same forward line.

The line arrangement came with adjustment as Findley (below left in photo) converted to forward after having played defense with the Dragons.

Butler (below right) put together an impressive campaign as a true freshman, scoring eight goals for 14 points in 27 games, while Ianetti, a junior, posted 6-5-11 totals.

Thoughts from Super 8 Selection Saturday

February, 22, 2014
2/22/14
4:49
PM ET
FRANKLIN, Mass. – With the field set for the Super 8 tournament, here are a couple lingering thoughts from a somewhat speedy deliberation at the MIAA headquarters Saturday morning:

Somewhat according to script: An interesting subplot to the Super 8 selection process is how the tournament committee processes the recommendations handed on from the earlier Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association (MSHCA).

While there is recent precedent for the committee flip-flopping selections from the Top 10 recommendations, this year, the committee was in lockstep. After a lengthy deliberation between Catholic Memorial and St. Mary’s of Lynn during the MSHCA meeting, the Knights earned the 10th spot in the nominations and the committee selection.

The Spartans will start the Division 1 North tournament among its top seeds and a threat for the state championship title.

Interestingly, with the Knights taking the 10th and final play-in game spot, CM will have a rematch from their season-ending loss to Braintee (3-0) on Friday.

Publics have its piece of the pie: Speaking of those aforementioned Wamps, who ostensibly punched their ticket on the final day of the season at Walter Brown, they were among two of the hottest teams in the state – both of which happened to be public schools.

After questioning whether the Super 8 would be an all-Catholic affair for much of the year – myself included – Duxbury and Braintree played their way into the Top 10 in the final weeks of the season. Both teams left their best hockey for the final weeks, with the Dragons beating No. 1 seed BC High in the Buddy Ferreira Classic championship game, and the Wamps ending the regular season with a win over CM.

Duxbury slid into the No. 6 seed, assuring them Super 8 berth, while No. 7 seed Braintree faces their second straight tilt against CM in a play-in game, Monday (7:45 p.m.) at Stoneham Arena, before what is assured to be an overflow Braintree contingent.

“In the last five years or so, we’ve been in that 11-to-15 spot, or in the Top 20, but couldn’t make that last jump,” Wamps head coach Dave Fasano said. “Even though we started out of the gate slow, we made the run we had to make. Do we wish we could have had some game back early in the year? Yes, but what we did in the last two weeks shows we are a good team.”

The day was met with such optimism that a extemporaneous “viewing party” broke out at Fasano’s home – unbeknownst to the coach. When he left the meeting, his son sent pictures of Braintree’s team huddled around the living room television, watching the stream of Tweets from the meeting room from a connected computer feed.

For a group playing its best hockey at the right time of the year, Fasano was simply looking forward to getting back in the rink.

“The good thing is we’re playing next week,” he quipped.

Meanwhile, the Dragons have a few more days off before they begin their best-of-three, first-round series against No. 3 Springfield Cathedral.

“Our guys, they were just focused down the stretch,” Duxbury head coach John Blake said. “They wanted to play meaningful games. But I think our strength this year is that we’ve been able to focus on one game at a time, and we knew we had limited opportunities in our schedule where we needed to make some noise in big games. And our guys are battle-tested.”

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