Boston High School: Steve DeForge

Super 8 semi: Austin Prep 2, BC High 1 (SO)

March, 14, 2014
Mar 14
4:07
AM ET


LOWELL, Mass. — J.J. Layton’s goal in the eighth round of the shootout propelled No. 4 see Austin Prep past No. 1 BC High, 2-1, in Thursday’s semifinal, setting up a rematch of last year’s final in the Super 8 championship game at the TD Garden on Sunday.

“I thought it was a tremendous high school hockey game. It was like a heavyweight fight, back-and-forth. It was an even hockey game. I’m happy we ended up with the better end of the stick in the shootout,” said Austin Prep head coach Louis Finnochiaro.

Austin Prep had a few ups-and-downs throughout the regular season, compounded by injuries to key players, but the Cougars appear to be hitting their stride.

“We had a big time effort from everybody from start to finish. We haven’t had that all year. We played three complete periods of hockey. We had everything going tonight,” stated Finnochiaro.

The Cougars will have the chance to knock No. 2 Malden Catholic, 3-1 winners over No. 3 Springfield Cathedral in the other semifinal Thursday, off its perch. The Lancers defeated Austin Prep, 3-2, to win their third straight Super 8 crown last March.

“I’m proud of our kids to get back to the final two years in a row. That’s an accomplishment itself. Obviously our goal is to go there, not hoping to win but expecting to win. Hopefully we can have some redemption back there in the finals. Our goal is to win this thing,” stated Finnochiaro.



Layton delivers in shootout: J.J. Layton has become known for his heavy hits and solid play in the defensive zone, but his offensive prowess was the difference in the eighth round of the shootout.

The big blue liner barreled in on the BC High net before quickly wristing a shot that sailed past the blocker of goaltender Brandon Payzant.

“Usually shootouts don’t go that far so I wasn’t even planning on going in,” Layton said. “Everyone told me to shoot. I came in slow and took the shot and it ended up going in. I’m still in shock right now.”

Layton showed he is a tough customer by playing through some dehydration issues in the third period. His foot cramped up, causing him to limp off the ice midway through the final period of regulation.

“He was a little dehydrated and started to cramp up a little. We got him some fluids. He always puts in a big time effort. It was appropriate for him to get the final goal in the shootout to win the game for us,” explained Finnochiaro.

Bobo Carpenter and Eric MacAdams were the other scorers for Austin Prep in the shootout, scoring in the second and fifth rounds, respectively.

Clutch performer: MacAdams broke through with the game’s first goal at the 10:54 mark of the second period. The sophomore winger busted up the right side, beating a BC High defender and cutting in on goal before lifting a shot above the shoulder of Payzant for the 1-0 lead.

“We were trying to get odd-man rushes the whole game,” MacAdams said. “[Cam Russo] fed me a good pass. I always try to get it to the net instead of swooping it around. Try to get a penalty or a scoring chance. Luckily it went in.”

MacAdams came up clutch again in the shootout with his Cougars on the verge of elimination. Going in the bottom of the fifth round with his team needing a goal to stay alive, his deke beat Payzant wide.

“There was a lot of pressure,” Finocchiaro said. “Finishing that up was phenomenal to keep us in and to get to sudden death. He kept his composure and did a nice job.”

Not including the shootout tally, MacAdams has tallied three goals and added an assist over the past two games.

Transition game: Down 1-0 after two periods and needing some momentum, the Eagles struck quickly in the third period, evening the score in just 29 seconds.

As it has so often this season, BC High executed a transition play to perfection. Defenseman Trevor Davis used the boards to get the puck from behind his own goal line to Steve DeForge in the neutral zone. DeForge passed it up to Patrick Riley who beat Austin Prep goaltender Elijah Harris to his five-hole.

“It gave us momentum for the whole period,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “We had some chances, but didn’t get the bounces. I’m proud of the fact that we came out and responded the way we did in the third. We gave ourselves a chance to win.”

“Giving that up, it was big for them. The momentum changed a little bit. We were able to withstand it and finish up [regulation] in a tie,” said Finnochiaro.

Goaltenders duel: There was a sequence in the final minute where Carpenter had a swat at a rebound from point blank and BC High sophomore Kayser Raei had a golden opportunity in the slot just a few seconds later.

Neither puck found the net as two of the best goaltenders in the state stood tall and answered each other’s big saves.

“That’s a big time save, he comes up special in the playoffs,” said Finnochiaro when asked about his goaltender’s huge save in the final minute.

Harris, who had a terrific tournament as a sophomore last season, saved his best for the playoffs again this year.

“He’s a great goaltender,” Finocchiaro said. “He played well for us in the first series against Central and played well again tonight. He gave us a solid three periods tonight and he’s tough to beat in the shootout,”

His teammates were quick to talk up their backstop as well.

“He’s amazing,” Layton said of Harris. He’s the best goalie in the state. When he’s behind you playing well everything just seems to flow.”

Payzant was equally superb at the other end, making some terrific stops.

“Brandon has been great all year,” Flaherty said. “He gets overshadowed because of the systems we play, but we relied on him today. We don’t have a chance to tie it in the third if he wasn’t as good as he was in the first two periods.”

Flaherty proud: BC High’s terrific season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion, but there is still much to be proud of for Flaherty and his team, especially the seven seniors.

Co-captains Steve DeForge and Sam Topham were the two goal scorers for the Eagles in the shootout. DeForge, who also had an assist in the game, seemed to always come up with clutch goals throughout his high school career.

“We’ll look back on this and realize we had a good year,” Flaherty said. “Wins and losses, trophies and titles, I don’t need those to tell me how great the kids in that locker room are.”

Super 8: No. 1 BC High 4, No. 8 Xaverian 0

March, 6, 2014
Mar 6
12:54
AM ET


LOWELL, Mass. -- BC High had that killer instinct that all good teams have as it scored three times in a span of just over three minutes late in the first period, en route to a 4-0 win over Xaverian on Wednesday night at the Tsongas Center.

The Eagles swept the Hawks in the best-of-three series and will advance to next Wednesday’s Super 8 semifinals, where they will face the winner of Austin Prep and Central Catholic.

“We’re very excited to be moving on to the semifinals. We’re very happy with the outcome and to be moving on,” said BC High head coach John Flaherty.

It will be third trip to the Super 8 semifinals in four seasons for the Eagles.

“It’s an honor,” said Flaherty when asked about the significance of the accomplishment. “It’s a credit to the guys in that locker room. The leadership that we have and their ability to speak to experience to what it takes at this time of the season is invaluable.”

Eagles jump-start: BC High’s game plan was simple in hopes of avoiding a similar start to Sunday, which saw Xaverian take a 1-0 lead to the locker room after the first period.

“We knew we had to get pucks to the net, and we got some bounces,” Flaherty said. “A few turnovers bounced right onto guys’ sticks and into the back of the net.”

BC High junior Connor Noonan started the onslaught at the 10:20 mark of the first period when he cut in towards Xaverian goaltender Aidan Murphy before chipping the puck high and beating the freshman goaltender to the near post.

“That goal was a real nice one, it got us going,” said Flaherty.

Two of the Eagles senior leaders started a beautiful passing sequence to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead at the 12:58 mark. Defenseman Sam Topham gave a pass to Steve DeForge who quickly slid it across to junior Jake Lemanski for the finish into a wide-open net.

Just 42 seconds later a turnover led to another BC High strike and a 3-0 lead heading to the first intermission. Noonan forced the turnover and quickly got the puck to Aidan Foley who went five-hole for the score.

“We earned our chances, but we got some good bounces and we capitalized on them,” said Flaherty.

“We were playing OK in the first period, but then got off our game and panicked a little,” Xaverian head coach Dave Spinale said. “When [BC High] smells an opportunity, they cash in.”

Shutout man: In his first year as the starter for the Eagles, Brandon Payzant earned his seventh shutout of the season on Wednesday night. The sophomore stopped all 28 shots he faced to shut the door on Xaverian.

“Brandon Payzant was the best player on the ice tonight,” Flaherty said. “He kept his end of the bargain by not giving up any. When we had breakdowns, Brandon stood tall and made the saves he’s capable of making.”

He added, “We relied too much on him for my liking, but he did a great job. That’s what Brandon is capable of doing. We know that and we’re comfortable with that.”

The past two games were Payzant’s introduction to playoff hockey.

“You need your goalie to be tested in order for him to build his confidence. He played in two big stages and he played very well at both,” said Flaherty.

Payzant learned from one of the best last season. As a freshman, he sat behind senior Peter Cronin, who now plays junior hockey with the South Shore Kings in the USPHL.

“He was a great mentor to me last year, he taught me a lot,” said Payzant of the Bowdoin recruit.

“I felt pretty good coming into these quarterfinal games. I had a lot of confidence,” he added.

Topham’s blue line: Topham, a co-captain and senior defenseman, has been an integral part of the leadership core that has sparked BC High’s success this season.

He scored the only goal of the final two periods when he used his hands to find the back of the net when the puck came right to him in the slot.

“Sam Topham sees the ice really well and skates well,” said Flaherty. “When he’s using his feet, he’s putting himself in position to be an impact player on the offensive side of the puck.”

Topham isn’t just an offensive defenseman. He’s also been one of the better shutdown defenders in high school hockey this season.

“His skates are great enough that he can defend,” Flahety said. “He calmed the play down, he settled pucks down and he made good decisions. He made some real good passes coming out of the zone.”

Topham credits assistant coach and defensive guru Bob Roche with his team’s attention to detail and discipline in the defensive zone.

“Roche is a really nit-picky coach,” Topham said. “He keeps us on our toes and makes sure we fix our mistakes. We got a little too cute in the second period, but he just told us to keep it simple and to get it up on the glass and out of the zone.”

Xaverian still proud: Although Spinale was certainly disappointed with his team’s end to the season, the coach took some pride in hanging with the top team in the state for much of the series.

“We talked about it in the locker room after the game,” Spinale said. “For 42 minutes we were pretty tough and competitive. We didn’t quit down 4-0. I thought we had some good chances. I didn’t feel like the ice was tilted.”

Spinale was particularly proud of his senior class that brought the program back to the Super 8 for the first time since 2010.

“Our senior class had a four-win season as sophomores, but they stuck together,” Spinale said. “They put the program back on the map. They got us back into this tournament which was one of their goals.”

He added, “I’m really proud of them and thrilled that they enjoyed it.”

Super 8 tournament primer and picks

March, 2, 2014
Mar 2
2:06
AM ET
There are less than 24 hours remaining before the puck drops on the Super 8 tournament Sunday at TD Garden.

So we’re taking this opportunity to break down the final eight. We’re taking a look at the head-to-head breakdowns for each series first-round, best-of-three series, along with predictions:

Series: No. 1 BC High (14-2-4) vs. No. 8 Xaverian (12-3-6)

Players to watch: BC High – F Steve DeForge, F Patrick Kramer, F Jake Lemanski, D Billy Roche, D Ryan Shea, D Sam Topham, D Trevor Davis, G Brandon Payzant; Xaverian – F Jon Beniers, F Andrew Durkin, F Antonio Marini, F Connor McCarthy, F Tim Sweeney, D Ricky Smith, G Aidan Murphy.

Previous meetings: 2-2 tie, Jan. 4; BC High, 5-1, Jan. 22.

The skinny: The top-seed Eagles take on their Catholic Conference rival Hawks, who endured a double-overtime classic against Archbishop Williams to slide in as the No. 8 seed. Xaverian will have to take a page from the playbook of Duxbury – which handed BC High a loss in its season finale at the Buddy Ferreira Classic – playing a tight-checking game through the neutral zone to stick with the Eagles’ slick transition game. Murphy has shown flashes of brilliance in his freshman campaign and the Hawks will have to rely on him and a big series from All-State hopeful Marini if they want to keep up with BC High.

X-factor: Payzant. The Eagles’ sophomore netminder has performed admirably in his first season taking the reigns from All-Stater Peter Cronin. But until a goaltender sees his first rubber in the playoffs, the book is still out.

Prediction: BC High in two.

Series: No. 2 Malden Catholic (16-4-0) vs. No. 7 Catholic Memorial (10-7-4)

Players to watch: MC – F Matt Filipe, F Ara Nazarian, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Jake Witkowski, D John McLean, D Nick Rolli, G Alex Reissis; CM – F Aaron Clancy, F Anthony Panaggio, F Mike Stathopoulos, D Frank Cosolito, D Tim Weinstein, G Brandon Collett.

Previous meetings: CM, 3-2, Jan. 25; MC, 11-0, Feb. 14.

The skinny: Once again the Lancers went on a February run, going 7-1-0 in February, despite a loss to Cathedral in the teams’ season finale at the Panthers vacation week tournament. Meanwhile, on the flip side, the Knights back their way into the tournament, having been blanked in the final month of the season, as CM didn’t win a game until Monday’s play-in game victory over Braintree in a one-goal game. However, as one-sided the matchup between Catholic Conference rivals might seem, CM does have the blueprint on how to take down MC, evidenced in the Knights’ 3-2 win in the teams’ first meeting at Walter Brown. In that game, CM was able to harass the Lancers breakout with an aggressive forecheck. In order to skate with MC, the Knights will have to repeat that performance or risk having their first-round series resemble more of the teams’ second meeting.

X-factor: Filipe. The Northeastern commit has provided a strong presence throughout the season on the Lancers’ second unit. While teams have a difficult enough time contending with MC’s vaunted top line, with Filipe and the second unit rolling, the Lancers’ attack is that much more difficult to match up with, defensively.

Prediction: MC in two.

Series: No. 3 Springfield Cathedral (15-2-5) vs. No. 6 Duxbury (16-2-3)

Players to watch: Cathedral – F Peter Crinella, F Johnny Leonard, F D.J. Petruzzelli, F Riley Prattson, D Dan Petrick, G John Liquori, G Keith Petruzzelli; Duxbury – F Nick Marrocco, F Matt Murphy, F Shayne O’Brien, F Trevor O’Brien, F Matt Saia, D Shawn Errasti, D Tyler Powers, G Tucker Kelly.

Previous meetings: N/A.

The skinny: In perhaps the most intriguing matchup of the first round, the high-flying Panthers offensive juggernaut squares off against a sound, defensive-minded squad from Duxbury. Cathedral enters the tournament ranked among the statewide leaders in just about every statistical category and host two of the top scorers in the state in Crinella (28-26-54) and D.J. Petruzzelli (21-32-53). Meanwhile, the Dragons played their best hockey down the stretch, beating BC High in the Buddy Ferreira Classic final to punch their Super 8 ticket. John Blake’s group excels with countering the team’s speed through the neutral zone, so the Panthers could be in for some tough sledding.

X-factor: Crinella. A contender for the Mr. Hockey award this season, the Holy Cross commit is capable of taking games over – something to be said on a roster full of Division 1 commits. This could be his coming out party on a statewide scope.

Prediction: Cathedral in three.

Series: No. 4 Austin Prep (13-4-4) vs. No. 5 Central Catholic (16-3-3)

Players to watch: AP – F Bobo Carpenter, F Eric MacAdams, F Jake McKennelley, D Andrew Cross, D J.J. Layton, G Elijah Harris; Central – F Zach Cote, F Richie Greenberg, F Lloyd Hayes, F Alex Lester, F Eric Robbins, F Corey Webber, D Conrad Jepson, D Cam Smith, G Colin Soucy.

Previous meetings: Central, 4-1, Jan. 1; AP, 3-2, Feb. 3.

The skinny: In a rarity with non-league opponents, the teams faced off twice during the regular season and, somewhat predictably, split the series. The teams are near carbon copies of each with a mix of top-flight offensive skill, depth and quality goaltending. AP, a Super 8 finalist last year, is a bit of an unknown commodity this season, as the Cougars lost multitudes of man games to injury through the year. In fact, AP didn’t even practice with its full fold of players until February, so we likely haven’t seen the Cougars’ attack at its fullest potential. Meanwhile, the Raiders can consistently roll three lines, with little drop off from the first to the third. So this one will be about as close as you can find.

X-factor: The goaltending. Both Harris and Soucy made names for themselves at last year’s Super 8. Regarded as two of the top goaltenders in the state, both offenses will be hard-pressed to find room to shoot.

Prediction: AP in three.

Recap: No. 2 BC High 6, Falmouth 0

February, 16, 2014
Feb 16
8:22
PM ET
FALMOUTH, Mass. – Speed kills.

That was apparent on Sunday night as No. 2 BC High showcased an intensity that couldn’t be matched by Falmouth on their way to a 6-0 opening round victory in the Buddy Ferreira Classic.

The Eagles dominated possession of the puck all game long with a fluid offense while their fore check kept the Clippers on the defensive.

Their advantage on time on attack can be seen in their shots, as the Eagles (13-1-4) outshot the host team 46-3 in the game.

“Just possession, you don’t want to give up the puck when you have it but also you want to make the puck dangerous,” BC High coach John Flaherty said. “Sometimes guys can get complacent and try to do too much with the puck but at the end of the day unless you get it to the net you are not going to score.”

After seven minutes of flirting with the game’s first goal, the Eagles finally got on the board. Their offensive unit peppered Jake Beaton with three consecutive shots, which concluded with Kayser Raei’s put back goal. Ryan Shea, who was named player of the game for BC High, was credited with one of his three assists.

Three minutes later, Steve DeForge drew a tripping penalty and scored the power-play goal on a backhander from the slot and 27 seconds after than, Justin Fein was the beneficiary of Tim Larocque’s feed on a 2-on-0 breakaway.

“One of the things we’re blessed with is depth,” said Flaherty. “We have depth and guys that play different roles for us. We are pretty comfortable with the balance that we have.”

The Eagles got a pair of goals in the second period from Patrick Kramer, Falmouth native Connor Noonan and a last-minute, third-period goal from Larocque.

“We want to play teams like that,” Falmouth coach Paul Moore said. “That is part of Buddy Ferreira’s legacy’s too, is Buddy always went after the tough teams. Win loose or draw you left it out there and the kids did. I’m proud of them for that.”

Busy day in net: Arguably the best player on the ice was Falmouth’s (11-6-2) net minder. Beaton faced 46 saves on the afternoon and made countless head turning saves and was named player of the game for Falmouth.

“Jake Beaton stood on his head. He’s been doing that all season,” said Moore. “We wont see a better team no matter how far we go in the state tournament.”

Flaherty is familiar with Beaton as Beaton started his high school career playing with BC High before leaving after one year.

“Those guys battled hard, Jake Beaton played a heck of a game,” Flaherty said.

Setting the stage: The Eagles will kick off the second day of the Buddy Ferreira Classic. BC High starts Monday’s slate of games with Austin Prep, which beat Waltham, 5-1, earlier in the afternoon.

“They are a very good team,” Flaherty said of AP. “A lot of guys up front and a good goalie. At the moment I think we match up well, we have a lot of different guys but so do they.”

Falmouth gets the late game, dropping the puck with Waltham at 7 p.m.

Recap: No. 2 BC High 4, No. 12 St. John's (S) 4

February, 15, 2014
Feb 15
12:52
AM ET
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. – It’s no secret that these are desperate times for the St. John's Pioneers.

With the regular season down to a few precious days, St. John's is pulling out all the stops in an effort of convincing the powers that be within the Super 8 tournament selection committee that they should be one of the 10 teams represented later this month.

On Friday night, the 12th ranked Pioneers made a strong case for themselves after grinding out a 4-4 tie against No. 2 BC High at New England Sports Center.

"I'm very pleased with the effort tonight," said St. John's head coach Mike Mead, whose club has now recorded ties in its last four contests "This was a playoff-like game. It gets you tournament-ready and that is what this last week of the season does for us. I think this result will definitely open some eyes. We are a team that is playing very well at the right time of the season. We can control only what we can control. If we are meant to be in the Super 8 then great. But if we're not then we're not."

The Pioneers travel to Coyle-Cassidy Saturday night before hosting Xavier (Conn.) on Monday before wrapping up the regular season Wednesday at Xaverian.

St. John's (9-4-6), which is still postseason bound (Division 1 North tournament) even if the Super 8 does not come calling, knows it probably should have came away victorious on Friday.

Kevin Quinlivan's rebound score coming at 13:08 of the third period pushed the Pioneers in front, 4-3. With a little more than a minute to go, the Eagles pulled goaltender Brandon Payzant for the extra attacker. It paid off. With only 58 seconds remaining, junior Pat Kramer blasted a shot from just inside the blue line. The puck appeared to tip off the stick of teammate Tim Larocque and sneak through the leg pads of Pioneer goalie Mario Pizzeri for the equalizer.

Officials credited Kramer with the goal but Larocque had positioned perfectly in front of Pizzeri to redirect the shot.

Throughout the course of this contest, BC High (12-1-4) held a distinctive edge offensively, out-shooting St. John's 38-21. But due to Pizzeri's performance, the Eagles were not able to pull away.

"They did a better job taking care of the puck then we did," BC High head coach John Flaherty said. "We had more chances but we didn't capitalize. Mario is a very good goalie and we knew that coming in. We knew that team would come ready to work because they need to. They know what is at stake for them. We knew that and shame on us for not responding. I'm happy that we pulled the tie out but what led up to that needs to be fixed."

Every time BC High took the lead, St. John's always seemed to have an answer. The Eagles went up first at 7:33 of the opening frame after Larocque sent a saucer pass over to Aidan Foley in front of the St. John's crease. The senior flipped a shot over Pizzeri's left shoulder giving his club a 1-0 lead.

At times, the Pioneers appeared to be puck watching instead of attacking the Eagles once they moved inside the offensive zone. However, Pizzeri (34 saves) was there to bail his club out on numerous occasions.

With just over two minutes remaining in the opening period, St. John's finally started getting its offense to click. Garrett Lehan, skating inside the Eagle zone, let go of a shot that caromed off of Payzant's pads. Alertly, junior forward Dan Barlok was positioned perfectly to pick up the rebound and send it into the net, knotting the game at 1-1 heading into the first intermission.

BC High, a 5-2 winner over St. John's back on Jan. 29, continued its offensive prowess for much of the middle period. The objective was simple enough – shoot as many pucks towards Pizzeri as possible and try to create traffic in front. The Eagles did just that but could not get anything past the senior.

"That was one of the most enjoyable games that I've ever played in," Pizzeri said. "I think we are a different team than the first time we played them. Our goal coming into this game was to make a statement and show the rest of the state that we deserve to be in the Super 8 tournament. I think tonight we did just that."

At the 9:39 mark, and with St. John's short a man after a too many men on the ice penalty, BC High regained the lead following a blast by Kramer's from the perimeter. However, the Pioneers late period magic would arise once again.

Off an errant shot that landed behind the Eagles net, Payzant went back to retrieve it, unknowing to him, that a pair of St. John's forwards were closing in on him fast. After losing control of the puck, the sophomore tried in vain to retreat back inside his crease. But he was a little late in doing so as Mike McGillicuddy was able to lift a backhand an open left side of the net at 12:14 to even things at 2-2.

For as much offensive output that BC High was demonstrating throughout, the only thing that mattered was the scoreboard. The Pioneers knew they were being out-played, particularly inside the defensive zone. But heading into the locker room deadlocked after 30 minutes certainly had to be a confidence booster.

That feeling didn't last long though. Just 37 seconds into the third, forward Steve DeForge muscled his way between two St. John's defenders and, with bouncing puck dancing on his stick, he managed to tuck a shot underneath Pizzeri's right arm and give the lead back to the Eagles 3-2. Things remained that way until Quinlivan's rebound tally midway through the period. A few moments later, St. John's let a golden opportunity to pad the lead slip through its fingers after Barlok broke in alone on Payzant (17 saves).

Aiming for the left side the net, the junior's hard wrist shot, instead, rang off the left post. As fate would have it. That missed chance would come back to haunt the Pioneers once BC High came back to tie the game in the waning seconds to no fault of Pizzeri.

"As I've said before, Mario does everything he can for us," said Mead. "He's a great leader. We aren't going to win many games 8-0. We're going to win games 3-2, 4-3, et cetera. It all starts on how Mario plays for us.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 5, No. 3 CM 0

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
2:41
AM ET


DORCHESTER, Mass. – It happened again, and this time it was even more disparate.

With archrivals BC High and Catholic Memorial squaring off in a de facto Catholic Conference championship game at UMass-Boston, Wednesday night, the Knights were looking for a better effort than their 4-1 loss about a week prior. BC High had dominated that tilt at Conte Forum, at one point in the second period outshooting CM by a 22-4 margin.

The second leg of the teams’ league slate wasn’t all that different, as the Eagles again flexed their offensive muscle with a remarkable dominance in time of possession, en route to a 5-0 victory.

Through two periods, BC High had outshot the Knights 24-2 – a dizzying disparity between two of the state’s preeminent programs and bitter rivals.

The Eagles’ attack was balanced as well, as five different players scored, with eight players cracking the score sheet in total and, as a sum, they skated away with the Catholic Conference regular season crown in front of a capacity crowd on Senior Night.

“I think it’s big for whole school, everybody in the locker room,” Eagles senior captain Steve DeForge said. “That’s the first trophy you want to get, but there’s a couple more championships we want to get. There’s that one down in Falmouth [Buddy Ferreira Classic] and then we want to get the big one, the Super 8.”

Although BC High (12-1-3, 6-1-1) held the Knights (9-4-3, 3-2-2) without a shot in the first period, the Eagles were held off the board until its final minute. The Eagles peppered CM goaltender Brandon Collett (28 saves) with 12 shots in the first, but didn’t break through until there was 7.2 seconds remaining in the period, as Chris LaLiberte stuffed home a loose puck from the doorstep for his first on the season.

The Eagles’ momentum swelled in the second, when they scored four times in the span of two minutes and 11 seconds.

Three of those goals came during a stretch of 4-on-4 and an abbreviated power play. First, senior defenseman Sam Topham’s skillful keep at the point resulted in a DeForge goal at 12:07. Then, just 26 seconds later, Patrick Kramer was the beneficiary of a Ryan Shea pass on a 2-on-1 break.

On the power play, Topham rifled off a top shelf slap shot at 13:17, with Shea (2 A) and DeForge (1 G, 2 A) adding assists.

Connor Noonan capped the late-period flurry with the Eagles’ fourth goal of the second at 14:18.

While the Knights had several scoring chances in the final period, they didn’t come close to establishing pressure in BC High’s zone and the Eagles held a33-6 shot-on-goal advantage overall.

“They won every puck, they won every battle,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said.

“Passes went off sticks, but that’s because they were in our faces. It wasn’t for lack of effort, I thought we gave good effort. We’re just not as good as they are, it’s simple as that.”

Oh, what a night: Any hockey matchup between BC High and CM is memorable, but to the Eagles’ seniors it was much more than that.

“They knew this was a special opportunity, playing their last home game in front of an amazing crowd,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “It was a special moment.”

They seized the opportunity, controlling play from the get-go, in the same manner they had just a week ago, when they took control of the league race with a win at BC’s Conte Forum.

For the Eagles, it was a slight revision to an already effective script.

“You know he’s a good goalie, so we want to get traffic and you have to get shots,” Flaherty said. “We were trying to get pucks everywhere and anywhere to get them to the cage.”

On the flip side, while Hanson was less than thrilled with his team’s compete level in their first meeting with BC High, the same could not be said for Wednesday – even considering the margin of defeat.

“They’re just much better than we are,” he said. “They have much better personnel, highly-skilled and the way that they play forces us to look bad. It’s them.”

CM finishes out its Catholic Conference schedule Friday with a visit to No. 1 Malden Catholic.

Mastery on the breakout: A large element to the Eagles’ success this season has been their deep and talented defensive corps. It’s not unusual for BC High to roll seven defensemen in games, with perhaps the state’s best top two pairings.

While sophomores Billy Roche and Shea have generated a good amount of buzz, BC High has leaned on its senior pairing of Topham and Trevor Davis.

Topham, in particular, was excellent on Wednesday. Whether putting on a perfect pinch in the lead up to BC High’s second goal, or stemming the breakout with a tape-to-tape outlet pass, Topham typified the performance the Eagles have gotten from their blue-liners this year.

And that all starts with the work of BC High assistant coach Bob Roche.

“He’s very nit-picky,” Topham said of Roche. “But it’s good for all of us. He keeps us from the making the same mistakes over and over again.”

That is borne out of the incessant pursuit of perfection and attention to detail in practice.

“Half of every practice, at least the practice before a game, we’re working on the neutral zone,” Topham said. “We’re looking to see where the open guy is. We do drills where we break it out, looking for each other. We’re working on it all the time.”

Recap: No. 1 BC High 4, No. 2 CM 1

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
2:45
AM ET


CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – Who can stop the rolling train that is BC High hockey?

The No. 1 Eagles remained unbeaten in the Catholic Conference and overall, with a 4-1 victory over No. 2 Catholic Memorial Monday at Conte Forum. In it, BC High dominated time of possession and the number of scoring chances and shots on goal – at one point of the second period, outshooting CM 22-4.

Although the Knights got their lone goal in the first minute of the first period, the Eagles were in control throughout.

“It was a good effort from everybody, top to bottom,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said.

BC High (11-0-3, 5-0-1 Catholic) netted the game-tying and game-winning goals on the power play.

After Zach Sullivan provided CM (9-3-2, 3-1-1) with a 1-0 lead in the first minute of the game, it wasn’t until the final minute of the period that the Eagles found the equalizer. Patrick Kramer scored on the power play with 16.8 seconds to play to send the teams to the intermission tied.

BC High cashed in on the man-advantage (2-for-5) again at 9:32 of the second period on Steve DeForge’s goal.

“He’s a complete player – add on his leadership capabilities and he’s phenomenal,” Flaherty said of DeForge. “This is his locker room, this is his team. He’s a great leader and in games like this his size and his shot come in handy.”

Tim Larocque scored less than a minute later to extend the Eagles’ lead to two at 10:36. Sam Topham and Chris LaLiberte added assists.

Patrick Riley rounded out scoring with 1:56 remaining in the game.

“They were flat-out better than us,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said. “They showed up, they played hard, they played smart and they were flat-out, man for man, better than us.

“They forced the issue, we didn’t respond.”

Difference-maker: BC High sophomore defenseman Ryan Shea was awarded the Ed Wright Cup as the MVP of the game, after putting up a pair of assists.

For Shea, an ever-emerging Division 1 prospect who’s only played on the blue line for the last two years of his hockey career, the learning curve has been made easier by his teammates.

“Sam Topham and Trevor Davis, our two assistant captains, they really control it back there,” Shea said. “They settle it if me or Billy Roche gets aggravated, they settle us down. It’s a good corps, I like playing with them a lot.”

Shea’s game stands out most on the breakout of the defensive zone.

BC High was able to establish a crisp breakout throughout, negating the Knights’ usual aggressive and effective forecheck. But with a stable of slick-skating, strong passing defenseman, the Eagles found little resistance moving it up ice and into the attacking zone.

“They’re a tough team, they come in hard,” Shea said. “When they force behind the net, with the two wingers down low, it’s an easy breakout every time. They caught onto it at the end of the game, we had to switch it up a little bit.”

DeForge added, “Our biggest strength is our speed and it starts in our own zone. When we’re getting clean breakouts, we’re getting back in our zone, those back-checkers are getting back and taking care of the D side.”

Recap: No. 1 BC High 5, No. 11 St. John's (S) 2

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
1:10
AM ET
DORCHESTER, Mass. – There was a power surge Wednesday night at UMass-Boston’s Clark Athletic Center and it came from the BC High power play. The unit scored three of the team’s five goals as the Eagles cruised to a 5-2 victory over St. John’s of Shrewsbury.

“We moved the puck well. We try to talk about doing a little more with the puck. We got good shots and some good net presence,” said BC High coach John Flaherty.

The first 10 minutes were scoreless, but BC High scored two power play goals 1:53 apart to break the game open.

Pat Kramer and Steve DeForge quickly moved the puck around the perimeter before finding Sam Topham on the weak side who was able to snap a shot into a wide open net with the defense and goaltending unable to get over in time for the first goal of the game at the 10:01 mark.

“Pat Kramer was carrying it up the wall. I yelled for the chip down low and he cycled it down. I kind of just tried to get it on net. There was a screen in front and it went in,” explained Lemanski.

After a mostly ineffective power play Connor Noonan was able to convert when the puck squirted out from in back of the net. He moved away from the goal slightly before roofing a backhand from in tight. Kayser Raei assisted on the score.

The Eagles weren’t done. Jake Lemanski gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead heading to the locker room for the first intermission when he scored a bad angle goal with 46 seconds to play in the opening period. Raei and Kramer got credited with assists on the goal after the duo did a nice job cycling in back of the net.

St. John’s sophomore Chris Stalmok cut the lead to two when he scored on a turnaround shot 3:45 into the second period, but that would be as close as the Pioneers would get.

Eagles defenseman Billy Roche scored on an end-to-end rush less than three minutes later, cutting in from the left side, skating between two defenders before sweeping it into the back of the net.

“He stayed with the puck, Billy has good hand-eye,” Flaherty said. “He made a nice rush up ice. The puck wasn’t bouncing the way he wanted it to, but he didn’t give up on it. He stayed with it and was able to put it in the net.”

Lemanski added another power play goal in the third period to with assists going to Ryan Shea and Kramer.

“Pat had it on the wall. He looked for the point, but it was covered," Lemanski said. "I just tried to get open in front with my stick on the ice. We preach that a lot in practice. He laid it out there and I just tapped it in."

“He’s a huge contributor for us on and off the score sheet. Jake can really shoot the puck. He fires the puck and has a good knack around the net. He’s playing with a couple really good players. He’s a complimentary player to a degree, but when he gets the puck around the net he can score goals,” said Flaherty.

“We try to get movement all over the ice. We don’t want anyone standing still. We don’t want them to suck us in. We try to move the puck quick and get shots through,” explained Lemanski on the success of the Eagles on the man advantage.

The power play unit is aided by two of the best puck moving defensemen in high school hockey, Topham and Shea.

“It’s a great help to have those guys back there. They have experience and skill. It’s good to be able to do those things and have them handle it and settle it down back there,” explained Flaherty. “Those guys are an asset not only moving the puck up ice, but controlling the puck in the zone,” he added.

Kevin Quinlivan added a late goal for the Pioneers, but the outcome was never in doubt thanks to the Eagles’ terrific power play and some stellar penalty killing led by sophomore goaltender Brandon Payzant.

“You look at the score and what will get lost is the fact that Brandon Payzant played an excellent hockey game,”Flaherty said. “He squared up to pucks and he made some very good saves through traffic. We killed all our penalties and it was mainly because of our goaltending. We ran around a little too much and he bailed us out quite a few times.”

Notes: Boston College head coach Jerry York was one of several college coaches in attendance. Merrimack and Northeastern were also represented in the stands by assistant coaches… BC High is off until next Monday when it faces rival Catholic Memorial at Conte Forum on the campus of Boston College… St. John’s (Shrewsbury) looks to get back on track Saturday at the DCU Center against St. Peter-Marian.


WILMINGTON, Mass. – It’s not about the finish, it’s about the start. Right?

No. 1 BC High took control of Saturday’s Catholic Conference clash with No. 9 St. John’s Prep from the get-go, scoring first little more than a minute in and running to a 2-0 advantage by the 5-minute mark.

Behind a pair of goals from senior captain Steve DeForge, BC High held on for a 4-2 win over Prep in the annual Derek Hines Memorial Game.

“It’s an honor to play in this game for Derek Hines and his family,” DeForge said. “We’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of it. When we come up here, we want to play for them as well, especially in my four years of coming up here, we’d never gotten a point.”

With the victory, BC High (8-0-2, 3-0-1 Catholic) has now earned a point in each of its first 10 games on the season.

Junior center Tim Larocque had BC High running out of the gate with a rebound putback of a Connor Noonan shot at 1:28. DeForge then followed with his first at 3:15, a power-play goal with assists from Ryan Shea and Sam Topham.

“It was a good win off the faceoff and the puck went back to Sam [Topham],” DeForge said, “he dished it back to me down low, passed it back to him and he gave a good D-to-D to [Ryan Shea]. He had a good line to me and I just put it home.”

However, St. John’s Prep (4-5-1, 0-4-1) got on the board just about a half-minute later with Jimmy Currier being the beneficiary of some slick transition play from Evan Leclerc and Nick Latham.

It remained a 1-goal game at the intermission, but BC High started the second period with fury as well. DeForge tallied his second, from Chris LaLiberte, just 40 seconds into the second.

“We just put ourselves in a hole all day by giving up, I think in the second period, another goal within the first minute,” Prep head coach Kristian Hanson said. “In the third period, [there was] a goal in the first minute. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t put a full game together – a lot of that credit goes to BC High.”

Yet, Prep was able to counter quickly again. Less than two minutes elapsed following DeForge’s second tally before Prep again cut the difference to a single goal. Latham earned his second point of the game with a power-play goal at 2:04, with Mark Etherington providing the assist.

But, according to script, BC High held serve, scoring for the third straight period in the first minute with Jake Lemanski potting his sixth goal of the season 59 seconds in.

Prep had a golden opportunity to claw closer once again, with 1:27 of 5-on-3 power-play around the 5-minute mark of the third. BC High’s defense tightened around goaltender Brandon Payzant (16 saves), allowing one shot-on-goal in the duration of the 2-man advantage.

“Now, you get out of there and you still have a two-goal lead,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said, “there was still a lot of time left on the clock, but you could have been tied or down at the end of a 5-on-3 like that.”

Honoring a hero: The true driving force behind Saturday’s matchup was the Lt. Derek Hines Soldiers Assistance Fund. The game marked the sixth year Prep has honored its fallen graduate, who was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005, while deployed with the Army’s 173rd Airborne Division.

Hines, who was a standout in his time with Prep hockey, graduated to the U.S. Military Academy, where he served as a graduate assistant with the hockey team while completing Ranger and Airborne school.

In his memory, the Assistance Fund was presented with a $6,500 donation, a $2,500 increase over last year’s gift.

Saturday marked the first time in BC High’s seniors’ time playing in the game that they emerged victorious, having lost in the three previous years.

St. John's Prep is 4-2-0 in the six years of the Hines game.

Midway point: With its 10th game in the books, BC High reached the halfway marker of its season.

The Eagles hold the No. 1 ranking in our statewide Top 25 poll and they’ve only dropped points to conference rival Xaverian and Rhode Island power Bishop Hendricken in a pair of ties.

Even with its resume to date, BC High is an essential shoo-in for the Super 8 tournament, but Flaherty isn’t about to look any further down the line.

“With our schedule, we can’t look at what we’ve accomplished, we have to look at what’s ahead of us.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 5, No. 14 Reading 0

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
1:03
AM ET
READING, Mass. – No matter what the sport, there will come a time in each team’s season when its depth will be challenged.

On paper, entering this season, however, No. 2 BC High appeared among the state’s deepest squads. That was evident Monday night against No. 14 Reading at Burbank Arena. While shutting out the Rockets, 5-0, the Eagles had nine different players crack the scoresheet, spurred on by two-point games from winger Jake Lemanski (2 A) and defenseman Ryan Shea (G, A).

“I like the balance that we had,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “On the scoresheet, it was pretty balanced. We had a lot of guys contributing, so I’m happy with that. Reading’s a good hockey team and anytime you come up here to play them in this atmosphere, it’s a tough place to play.”

The Eagles (7-0-2) controlled the game from the onset, outshooting Reading 13-2 in the first period, while holding a 43-10 advantage for the game. But BC High was unable to get on the scoreboard until the final minutes of the first, when they found the back of the net twice to take a 2-0 lead to the intermission.

Aidan Foley turned an offensive zone faceoff win into an unassisted goal at 12:56. Then, with a minute remaining, Shea’s half-slap through a screen found its way to the net from the point on an assist from Kayser Raei.

BC High didn’t relent in the second with its specialty teams taking center stage.

Steve DeForge tallied the Eagles’ third at 10:43 on the power play before Patrick Kramer’s short-handed tally with just 7.1 seconds to play in the period.

Lemanski added assists on both goals, including the creation of Kramer’s short-hander. After a failed breakout pass from the Rockets’ defensive zone, Lemanski kept the puck in on the Reading (6-3-1) blue line. After gaining possession, the Eagles gained a 2-on-1. Lemanski sidestepped the defender and found Kramer on the doorstep, who finished on the backhand.

The Eagles rounded out scoring with 3:25 to play on Justin Fein’s second goal of the season with helpers coming from Connor Noonan and Alec Flynn.

Despite the deluge of shots in the Rockets' zone, Reading senior goaltender Ian Lapham stood tall, making 38 saves.

“We rolled 12 forwards and eight defensemen today, so we kept legs fresh,” Flaherty said. “We were able to use everybody. So as the periods went on, I think we were able to have a little bit more life.

“Any time you’re able to score a couple of goals, you can take some life away from the other team.”


DORCHESTER, Mass. – When one of yours is down, you rally around the ranks.

No. 2 BC High did just that Tuesday night at UMass-Boston while facing Catholic Conference rival and statewide No. 1, Malden Catholic.

In the 24 hours leading up the Eagles’ bout, head coach John Flaherty had his mind elsewhere – in particular, with his mother who was hospitalized due to illness. That’s exactly when his BC High squad, in the words of senior captain Steve DeForge, told their coach they “had his back.”

And the Eagles backed it up, storming out of the gate and finishing strong while snatching a 5-3 victory over the Lancers.

“He’s back and forth, taking care of her and taking care of us,” said DeForge, who scored two goals. “We talked about it yesterday in practice, we need to pick him up, how he picks up every day. I think we did it today.

“She’s always there for us as well. She’s always looking out for us and I think we made her really happy and we made him really happy to get this win tonight.”

The matchup marked the second time in less than two weeks’ time in which the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in ESPN Boston’s statewide Top 25 have gone head to head. Following MC’s 4-1 win over former No. 1 Austin Prep a little more than a week ago, the Eagles (6-0-1, 2-0-1 Catholic Conference) became the second straight second-ranked team to topple No. 1.

That motivation, coupled with the inspiration of playing for Flaherty’s mother, who constantly keeps up with the team, proved enough.

“We wanted this win, they’re the top team in the state,” said sophomore forward Patrick Kramer, who led all scorers with four points. “We worked on trying to be better offensively because obviously we weren’t very good against Xaverian [Saturday].”

After a sluggish start against Xaverian in their last league game, the Eagles entered Monday’s action with a purpose. BC High outshot the Lancers 9-2 in the first period and took a 2-0 lead to the room at intermission on two goals set up on assists from Kramer.

Senior defenseman Chris Pekrul got the Eagles started in the right direction, scoring on a point shot off of Kramer’s dish at 4:49 of the first. The goal came with a sixth BC High attacker on ice, following a delayed penalty call against MC.

BC High struck again before the period was out with sophomore winger Kayser Raei scoring his first of the season at 10:43. Kramer picked up his second of four assists on the 3-on-2 break.

“First line through fourth line, we were rolling lines, everybody was working hard,” DeForge said. “We were getting clean break-outs, a lot of offense as well. Luckily, we put a few away and that’s just from getting traffic in front, digging down and working hard out in front of the net.”

But, as they have been known to do in recent years, the Lancers (5-1-0, 1-1-0) turned it up for the second period, upping their intensity and rattling off three straight goals.

MC sophomore center Matt Filipe continued his tremendous start in the new year with back-to-back goals within four minutes to tie the game, 2-2. The Lancers took their first lead of the game with 1:07 remaining in the period, as Ara Nazarian forced a BC High defensive zone turnover before finishing with a top-shelf wrister.

However, the Eagles pulled even before the stanza was out, thanks to their first of three goals on the power play (3-for-6). Kramer worked down low to find DeForge cutting toward the goalmouth. After a tape-to-tape pass, the Eagles had knotted it up again with six second remaining in the second.

“With six seconds left, it got the crowd going and gave us a little momentum to bring into the locker room,” DeForge said.

With all even, the Eagles turned their attention to their next task.

“Our goal in the third period is that we wanted to win 15 minutes in that last period and that’s what we did,” Flaherty said.

BC High capitalized on an early power-play opportunity with Connor Noonan ripping a wrist shot from the slot for what would prove to be the game-winner at 3:26, with an assist from Ryan Shea.

The Eagles capped scoring with 1:22 to play with DeForge tallying his second goal in the midst of a five-minute major power play.

“We got beat by a better team tonight,” Lancers head coach John McLean said. “They worked harder than us. They had a better power play than we did. They killed penalties better than we did. They had a better forecheck than we did.”

Much improved: After a lackadaisical start to Saturday’s tilt at Xaverian, Flaherty preached starting fast to his team.

“They’re a great team and we knew that if we were going to beat them, we had to start fast and capitalize on opportunities,” he said. “I thought we did that in the first. In the second period, we started standing around a little bit and, again, if you give some of their players the time and space, they’re going to burn you.”

While the Eagles’ key to success was the power play – while shutting out the Lancers on their three man-up bids – BC High helped its chances with a fast start, playing from ahead and setting the pace of play through the first period.

But what was most important is how the Eagles rebounded from a string of three MC goals in the second.

“If you’re given an advantage, you have to capitalize because they’re going to on theirs,” Flaherty said. “We knew the special teams were going to be huge coming into today, we talked a lot about it coming into today in practice – both the kill and the PP.”

With some undisciplined play, the Eagles were not only able to draw even but skate away with the victory.

“The kids compete, they play hard,” McLean said. “I told you before, I think some of [the penalty calls] were questionable. But we’ll take them. It is what it is. They’re on the scoresheet so we’ll take them. We got beat.”

Recap: No. 3 BC High 5, No. 9 St. John's Prep 2

December, 27, 2013
12/27/13
1:50
AM ET
BOSTON -- Senior Steve DeForge and junior Jake Lemanski each scored twice for the host BC High Eagles as John Flaherty’s team dispatched St. John’s Prep, 5-2, Thursday, in the Catholic Conference opener for both teams.

“It’s the first Catholic Conference game, so it’s big to get out of the gate with a win, especially against a very good team like St. John’s Prep.” said Flaherty. “They’ve got some big guys who can move, skate and move the puck so we’re happy with the two points,” added the coach.

With a team that has so many young players contributing big minutes it is important for the upperclassmen to play well. That’s what happened on Thursday afternoon, according to Flaherty.

“Leadership. [Steve DeForge and Jake Lemanski] are leaders of this team,” he said."Both of them step up when the game is on the line. Both of them are good puck shooters and that is what I expect of those two kids."

Flaherty continued, "DeForge is a captain and a senior. Jake is just a natural leader. He’s just one of those kids. He’s a junior, but he’s on point with his talking in the locker room."

It was a sloppy first period that saw the foes trade two goals each. DeForge scored his first goal of the night on the power play just 3:23 into the game on a laser of a wrist shot.

“I got the puck at the top of the point, just ripped it on net and hoped for the best. We had some traffic in front so luckily it went in. I didn’t know it went in at first,” said DeForge.

St. John’s answered back with two goals to take a 2-1 lead. Junior Teddy McNamara scored on a nice snap shot where he used the defenseman as a screen. The shot deflected off the defender’s stick and went high over BC High sophomore goaltender Brandon Payzant.

Mark Etherington took advantage of a scramble in front of the BC High goal that allowed him to pick up the puck between the circles and backhand one past Payzant for St. John’s only lead of the night.

Lemanski scored both of his two goals in the second frame when BC High was really able to take over control of the game. Junior center Patrick Kramer won the draw back to Lemanski who quickly roofed one past St. John’s netminder Anthony Selvitella.

“We’ve been practicing that play a lot. Pat was able to win it and get the puck back to me. I just wanted to get it off quick and get it through. Fortunately it did,” said Lemanski.

His second goal, with just seven seconds to play in the middle period, was created by some passing at the point and then patience by the Scituate native. Billy Roche fed the puck to fellow blue liner Trevor Davis who slid the puck down low to a waiting Lemanski who let the goaltender go down before lifting one short side.

“Roche walked the point and gave it to Trevor Davis, and I tried to get open to the side of the net. Trevor gave it to me, and I got it up as quick as possible. It was able to sneak by [Selvitella],” said Lemanski.

DeForge added an insurance tally in the third period as he flew down the left side before unleashing a wicked wrister that pegged the corner of the net before falling in.

Payzant, a sophomore, stopped 19 of 21 shots in his fourth career start. The two goals he gave up, the first of his high school career, were certainly not his fault.

“Neither of the goals were his fault. I wouldn’t expect him to have either of those, and he settled in and made the saves he’s supposed to make. That’s what he’s done all year for us,” said Flaherty of his first-year starting goaltender.

Payzant, a Somerville native, made several key stops in the second period with the score still close.

“That was huge. Those were big saves that allowed us to keep them from knocking on the door. We had some breakdowns, and Brandon was there to make those saves,” said Flaherty.

Notes: Merrimack head coach Mark Dennehy and Boston University assistant coach Steve Greely were among the half dozen or so college coaches and scouts in attendance for the matinee game on the campus of UMass-Boston. … BC High looks to keep its undefeated record in tact Saturday night at Weymouth while St. John’s pays a visit to Woburn the same night. … BC High and St. John’s Prep will play their second game against each other on Jan. 18 in the Derek Hines Memorial Game at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. Hines is a former captain at St. John’s who went on to play hockey at Army before tragically losing his life in the War on Terror in Afghanistan.

Recap: No. 5 BC High 2, Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) 0

December, 14, 2013
12/14/13
10:01
PM ET


DORCHESTER, Mass. – Entering this MIAA hockey season, the largest question surrounding No. 5 BC High was what was to be done about the Eagles’ goaltending situation. After graduating two-time ESPN Boston All-State netminder Peter Cronin, BC High lost its backbone.

The Eagles return a good majority of their forwards from last year, in addition to a deep stable of defenseman, but any hockey team can quickly falter without a dependable netminder.

Enter sophomore Brendan Payzant.

Despite not having played a varsity game entering Saturday’s season opener against New Jersey state power Don Bosco Prep at UMass-Boston, Payzant (Cronin’s back-up last season) showed he’s capable of shouldering the No. 1 load, turning aside 18 shots for a 2-0 shutout victory.

“A couple of times he made really big saves when we were having breakdowns,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “That’s a great sign. The boys have to be better in front of him, I think, but as a young guy, he stepped right in, didn’t have any nerves, didn’t have any jitters. We knew that’s what he was capable of.”

Despite a somewhat flat-footed start, BC High (1-0-0) ratcheted up its compete level in the second period, owning territorial play and outshooting the Ironmen (2-1-0, ranked No. 2 in N.J.) by an 8-3 margin.

The Eagles also scored both of their goals in the second stanza, with senior captain and center Steve DeForge breaking the stalemate at 7:58, with an assist from Chris LaLiberte. DeForge’s wrist shot from the slot beat Alexei Masanko 5-hole after BC High had forced a turnover below the faceoff dots.

With less than a minute to play in the second, the Eagles extended their lead to a pair of goals, with senior defenseman Trevor Davis pinching in deep. After dipping below the left-wing circle, Davis picked up a loose puck and played what was intended to be a centering pass to the top of crease. However, after hitting traffic out in front of Masanko, the puck squirted through his shin pads and across the goal line. Davis, himself, was below the goal line while playing the puck.

The third period saw more wide-open action, but BC High remained strong on the penalty kill (5-for-5). The Eagles were nearly perfect on the man-down throughout, allowing just one shot to make its way through to Payzant during one of four Ironmen power plays during the final period.

“It’s a good way to start the season off, it’s a big win,” DeForge said. “I thought everyone played well all-around and the PK was great. We work on that a ton, and having so many guys back that are used to each other, our game plan from last year is the same. Nothing’s changed. That helps when you have a bunch of experienced guys back there.”

PK dominance: Any coach that’s been around the game for a time will tell you that attention to detail is the key to a quality penalty kill effort. And, in the last several years, perhaps no unit in the state has been as good at one of those particulars as BC High is in the art of shot-blocking.

The Eagles were able to smother four shots while on the penalty kill, while allowing just one shot to make its way to the cage in the course of five Don Bosco power-play chances.

Senior alternate captain and winger Chris LaLiberte led BC High with two blocked shots on the PK unit. It’s something Flaherty has come to expect from a cagy, veteran player.

“He plays with his heart on his sleeve,” Flaherty said of LaLiberte. “He takes a lot of pride in his game and trying to contribute to this team. He does it through leadership like that, he takes his role seriously, he works hard and he doesn’t get outworked on pucks.”

Yet, for BC High’s PK prowess, the flip side of the specialty team coin wasn’t so shiny. The Eagles were also shut out in five power-play chances of their own.

“We’ve got to clean it up, we need to be a little more disciplined,” Flaherty said. “We can’t get caught up in the nonsense we got caught up in. And then, on the power play, we had chances as well, up 2-0, to put a team away.”

Hockey teams kick off season at Regan Summitt

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
1:42
AM ET
MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- It is never easy replacing a legend, but that is the task which has been handed down to first-year St. John's (Shrewsbury) coach Mike Mead.

Mead's Pioneers, along with many of the state's other top-echelon programs, took part in Sunday's Fifth Annual Garrett Regan Hockey Summit at New England Sports Center. The event is named after the former 26-year Hingham High coach and Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame inductee who passed away in June 2008.

Mead, who was appointed to the position last September, takes over for Brian Murphy, who stood behind the St. John's bench for 29 seasons, posting an overall record of 392-217-63, including a pair of Division 1 state titles (1999, 2004) and a handful of Super 8 appearances.

Mead is no stranger to St. John's. He served as an assistant under Murphy for 16 years, leaving in 2007 to spend more time with his family. He is also head of the Math Department at the school.

"Brian is a great friend and was a great mentor," said Mead. "He kind of broke me in. When this opportunity happened I jumped at it. My kids are little older now so everything sort fell into the right place at the right time for me."

Mead exudes the fact that the Pioneers have a plethora of depth, including a freshman team with 25 members. "We have a lot of kids who came back and tried out," he said. "We have good numbers and good depth. I don't really know the kids yet so with our tryouts I did things by grade. I didn't do it with returning players. We did juniors and seniors one day and freshman and sophomores the next. What I have seen so far I have been pleasantly surprised."

St. John's will, again, be paced by senior defensemen Bryan Nelson (23 points last season), Connor McCann, senior forward Kevin Butler and senior goaltender Mario Pizzeri.

Mead is also counting on senior forward Chris Adams and junior forward Dan Barlock to make their presence felt.

"We'll try to be aggressive on the forecheck and having two men on the puck," Mead said. "The biggest thing for us will be on offense. I feel we are a strong defensive team. I'm going to need some of our seniors to put the puck into the net."

Lancers quest for four: Malden Catholic began its quest for a fourth consecutive Super 8 crown, taking on Springfield Cathedral, another Super 8 qualifier from a year ago.

The Lancers controlled the opening frame, building a 4-1 lead before the Panthers rallied for three unanswered tallies to earn a 4-4 tie in the 2-period scrimmage.

By most people's observations, MC is the prohibitive favorite to claim another Super 8 crown again this season.

Despite the losses of two of their most prolific players (Casey Fitzgerald and Mike Iovanna, who combined for 56 points a year ago), there is still plenty of talent to carry the Lancers again this season. Junior forward Ara Nazarian (26 goals, 24 assists) leads the way. Senior forward Tyler Sifferlen, junior forward Austin Goldstein, sophomore forwards Matt Filipe and Jake Witkowski along with defensemen John McLean, Nick Rolli are solid. As of now, Alex Reissis appears to be the front-runner between the pipes replacing departed Connor Maloney.

"We lost some major contributors but we have a good bunch of younger kids who have come in that should fill those spots fine," MC head coach John McLean said. "The issue is you cannot replace a Casey Fitzgerald (who joined the United States National Team Development Program). He was a special player but the guys that are going to play need to step up.

“As far as our expectations I just worry about the next game. We don't think about the Super 8. Right now we're rolling everyone and everyone is getting to play. When we work we're good and when we don't want to work then we're just average. All that matters is winning the last game of the year. Last year was a long learning curve for us. Hopefully our leaders this year will step it up and take us to the Garden again. We have a lot of good, young strong players. It's just a matter of them gaining the confidence to play at this level."

Against Springfield Cathedral, Sifferlen netted a pair of goals, with Goldstein and Rolli accounting for one apiece.

"I think we have a good group of young core guys on this team," said Nazarian, a UNH commit. "We have good leadership from our older guys. It's a good mix of young and older guys. I think things are looking good so far. There is one goal here and that's to win the whole thing. That is our mindset. We won last year so we know every team we play is going to give us their best so we need to give it our best every game. This is a whole new season so we're just focusing on winning it again and not look back on last year."

Raiders on the rebound: Having reached the third round of last year's Super 8 before falling to St. John's Prep, Central Catholic remains hopeful for another stab at the big dance. Raiders head coach Mike Jankowski is a main reason as to why this program has emerged as a driving force statewide.

With Central everything begins from the net outward. Senior goaltender Colin Soucy, arguably the best high school netminder in the state, will be relied on heavily to get the Raiders back into Super 8 contention.

"We've had a lot of success of late," Jankowski said. "The culture has changed here and we are getting kids coming back from juniors and prep schools and believing in this program and high school. We want kids to enjoy their high school experience here. The schedule we play keeps is very competitive and it keeps our kids engaged and maintains them playing at a high-level. There's nothing like high school hockey in terms of the relationships and friendships the kids build. It's an awesome brotherhood that all teams should experience."

For years, Central often flew under the radar, constantly being overshadowed by other programs. But due to their recent success, that is no longer the case. Jankowski wishes it was not like that but when you win consistently, you now have a target on your back.

"Now, instead of coming in as a dark horse which we like to ride, there is a new expectation level which has been set here but I think we're ready for it," he said. "Colin is back and what he did for us, especially at the end of last year, was remarkable. For the kids to have that confidence in him at his position just gives us that added advantage. The goalie position where it makes a difference in a team's won-loss record. Colin is just a great example of being a great character kid."

Panthers on the prowl: With the loss of two key contributors last year, Springfield Cathedral will be looking to its youthfulness to help them make a return visit to the Super 8. Gone are defenseman Matt Foley and forwards Artie Potter and Dominic Blad. But who returns should play a key role in the Panthers postseason hopes. It all starts with goalie John Liquori. The team's lone senior, Liquori played himself into a top-level talent a year ago. Forwards Peter Crinella (a Holy Cross commit), Johnny Leonard, D.J. Petruzzelli, Cole Foster, Zac Prattson and Riley Prattson will give Cathedral the ammo it needs on offense.

Defense will be a work in progress, but Bryce Peritz, Jordan Tetreault and Cam Griffin return.

Also make note on freshman goaltender Keith Petruzzelli over the next couple of years.

"We've got babies but they're all good," Panthers coach Brian Foley said. "Our first two lines are going to score goals. We had a great first week of practice and you noticed how much they improved in just one week. It'll be fun over time to see how these guys mature this year. I think this will be our most-offensive team that we've had ever. All of those kids did a lot of work on their strength and speed during the off-season. I also think our defense and goaltending will be outstanding as well."

BC High movin’ on: With the loss of all-everything goaltender Peter Cronin, all is not lost at BC High. Brandon Payzant, a sophomore, was Cronin's understudy a year ago and by the looks of things, he appears to be a quick learner after playing solid between the pipes today against St. Mary's of Lynn.

"Brandon was with us last year as a freshman," Eagles coach John Flaherty said. "Obviously he had a great kid to watch and learn from. Peter was great working with Brandon so he now has a year of experience under his belt in practice and being around these guys. Now he is able to get some game experience. He's a good athlete and someone who will be able to step in and carry the load for us. We are also carrying eight defense (spearheaded by Sam Topham) where we hope to find the right combinations in order to keep the puck out of our zone."

On offense, BC High will count on Patrick Kramer (25 points), Steve DeForge, Chris LaLiberte, Tim Larocque, Jake Lemanski and Connor Noonan to work the puck into opposing team's defensive zones.

"We have a lot of experience back," Flaherty added. "It is just now we need guys to play bigger roles for us. Overall we are returning seven defensemen, 11 forwards and one goaltender and most of them have been around for a few years and it is our hope this is the year they blossom."

Hawks a sleeper?: Don't rule out Xaverian as a potential candidate to do some big things this season. Reaching the Division 1 South quarterfinals last season, the Hawks should be a better unit this year in spite of the departures of Eddie Pratt (17 goals last year) and defenseman Mike Brennan. They are led by forwards Antonio Marini (35 points last year), Tim Sweeney (24 points) and Jake Farrell (14). Defensively, Rick Smith and Ryan Walsh will be keys in shutting down opposing offenses.

Shot in the arm for SMH: After spending last season at Brewster Academy, St. Mary's of Lynn head coach Mark Lee was overjoyed learning that goalie Bailey MacBurnie was returning for his senior year.

Two years ago, as a sophomore, MacBurnie secured a 1.38 goals-against-average in helping the Spartans earn a No. 2 seeding in the Super 8 Tournament. With him back in the crease, expect St. Mary's to make another solid postseason run.

"Bailey can certainly be a difference maker for us," Lee said. "I think with this team we are putting a lot of kids in a position to allow them to gain great experience because overall we are a young team. I think we'll get better as the season goes."

With another year under their respective belts, you can look for forwards Jordan Manthorne and Jon Powers, the only two players to reach double digits in scoring last season, to lead to carry this club offensively.

Burlington moves on from repeat: Defending back-to-back Division 1 state champion Burlington will count on its defense to help the Red Devils in their quest for a third state title.

"So far I'm happy with our progress even though it has only been a couple of days," said Burlington head coach and recently-inducted Mass. State Coaches Association Hall of Famer Bob Conceison. "We have a strong defense and some forward that are young so it will be a work in progress to get our offense going. This is kind of a similar team to last year in that our offense started to come together at the end of the year. It's going to take a while for our offense to gel. We lost some firepower on offense last year (losing C.J. Grinnell and Joe Bernardi) but our defense is back."

The Red Devils also lost goalie Derek DeCastro to graduation and hope to fill the void with senior Mike Guleserian.

The Hall calls: Longtime Hudson head coach Mike Nanartowich will be inducted into the Mass. State Coaches Hall of Fame in May, along with Murphy, Waltham head coach John Maguire and Stoughton front man Dan Mark. Two years removed from his Division 3 state championship triumph over Medway, Nanartowich, now in his 24th season, regards Shrewsbury as the favorite in Central Mass. this year.

The Colonials return a front line of Dan and Jack Quinlivan along with David Belbin. Last season the trio combined to score 125 points. However, never never rule out the possibility for the Hawks at making a serious charge by season's end.

"You still have to go out and show up for every single game," Nanartowich said. "Right now you have to give the edge to Shrewsbury because of the people that they are returning as well as Wachusett and its depth. But at this point, I just think Belbin and the Quinlivan brothers can be the most-dominant line in all of Central Mass. this year. How you take care of their speed and skill requires a lot of game planning. As for us, we will still go out and play everyone straight up like we always do."

In regards to going into the Hall of Fame, Nanartowich remains humble over the selection. He passes the credit over to the players and coaches he has worked with over the years as the reason for the honor.

"I'm going in with a bunch of great guys and guys who have won at a good level," he said. "For me, all that hard work of watching tape, going to various rinks to scout and those commitments you make in the off-season with your team has paid off in winning a state championship and now it has paid off in terms of being recognized by your peers."

Hawks longtime assistant coach Mike Correa added that the honor bestowed on Nanartowich is certainly well-deserved.

"There is probably no one who does more for his players or works harder at preparing kids, not only for the game but life lessons as well, than him," Correa said. "Winning the 2012 state championship is not the reason why he should be in the hall. It is all the dedication he has brought to all the kids who have played in this program over the years which stands out to me."

Preseason Super 8 hockey projection

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
11:31
PM ET
With Monday marking the beginning of MIAA hockey practices across the state, it's as good a time as any to take an initial stab at projecting this year's Super 8 tournament field. So here goes nothing, kicking off the #RoadToTheGarden:

(By the way, look for our full preseason boys' and girls' Top 25 polls, along with All-State teams, starting next Monday.)

1. Austin Prep

Last year’s record: 16-2-6

Last year’s final ranking: 3

Key returners: F Bobo Carpenter, D Andrew Cross, G Elijah Harris, D J.J. Layton, F Eric MacAdams.

Why they’re here: Feeling was that the Cougars were about a year away from contending heading into last season and, low and behold, AP was just a goal or two away from capturing last year’s Super 8 title at the Garden. A young and talented nucleus returns largely intact this season, so the expectation is even higher. The goal will be to interrupt Malden Catholic’s designs on a four-peat.

2. Malden Catholic

Last year’s record: 16-6-3

Last year’s final ranking: 1

Key returners: F Matt Filipe, F Austin Goldstein, D John McLean, F Ara Nazarian, D Nick Rolli, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Jake Witkowski.

Why they’re here: As a three-time defending champion, it’s again the Lancers’ derby to lose. There are questions entering this season, as they’ll again be breaking in a new goaltender and Casey Fitzgerald moved on to the United State National Team Development Program. However, with returning ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey award winner Ara Nazarian (a UNH commit) returning, anything’s possible with this group.

3. Springfield Cathedral

Last year’s record: 16-3-4

Last year’s final ranking: 7

Key returners: F Peter Crinella, G John Liquori, F Johnny Leonard, F D.J. Petruzzelli.

Why they’re here: The Panthers might have the best forward depth of any returning squad, but there are some serious voids to be filled on the blue line, with All-Staters Matt Foley and Jack Williams lost to graduation. However, for whatever Cathedral might lack in experience on defense, three-year starting netminder John Liquori should mask.

4. Central Catholic

Last year’s record: 15-7-3

Last year’s final ranking: 6

Key returners: F Zack Cote, F Lloyd Hayes, D Alex Lester, G Colin Soucy.

Why they’re here: Arguably, there was no bigger breakout star in last year’s Super 8 tournament than Colin Soucy. The then-junior goaltender backboned the Raiders in a hard-fought, three-game series against St. John’s Prep, nearly earning the upset against the top-seeded Eagles. Head coach Mike Jankowski’s teams are always defensively responsible and well-organized through the neutral zone, thus they are perennial staple to the tournament.

5. BC High

Last year’s record: 15-5-3

Last year’s final ranking: 5

Key returners: F Steve DeForge, F Pat Kramer, F Tim Larocque, F Jake Lemanski, D Ryan Shea, D Sam Topham.

Why they’re here: Of course, there’s the question of how will take Peter Cronin’s place in between the pipes, but the Eagles are deep on returning talent. Sophomore defenseman Ryan Shea has generated a good amount of Division 1 college interest in just one year at Morrissey Blvd. Meanwhile, junior Pat Kramer was among the Eagles’ top scorers last year. If the transition in net is smooth, they’re likely the second Catholic Conference team in.

6. Winchester

Last year’s record: 16-6-3

Last year’s final ranking: 11

Key returners: F Brendan Greene, G James Offner, F Nolan Redler.

Why they’re here: The Sachems were a couple bounces and a shootout away from a Division 1 state title appearance last season, going down in a narrow defeat to eventual champion and Middlesex League rival Burlington. This year, Winchester could assume the poll position in the state’s premiere public school division. The aforementioned Red Devils and last year’s Super 8 entrant, Reading, both graduated significant portions of last year’s roster, so the time is now for the Sachems to make their run.

7. Archbishop Williams

Last year’s record: 13-6-4

Last year’s final ranking: 15

Key returners: D Matt Clifford, F Ryan Dunn, F Mike Jessman, F Nick Menzel, F Mike Sorrenti

Why they’re here: After an albeit brief appearance at last year’s Super 8 tournament – getting trounced by MC in a play-in game – the Bishops should remain a top team in the Catholic Central, which is often a two-bid league at the Super 8 table, with 13 seniors on the roster. They could be the team to push AP in league play, and if everything holds true, they’ll be in the picture come tournament time.

8. St. John’s (Shrewsbury)

Last year’s record: 7-11-4

Last year’s final ranking: N/A

Key returners: D Bryan Nelson, G Mario Pizzeri.

Why they’re here: Hey, what would a preseason picks segment be without a dark horse? Last year was a bumpy season at best for the Pioneers, but after a one-year absence from the Super 8 (and tournament play for that matter), St. John’s could be dangerous behind first-year head coach Mike Mead. The Pioneers are built from the net out, with Mario Pizzeri in goal – a holdover and standout in St. John’s Super 8 appearance two years ago.

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