Boston High School: Super 8

Super 8 hockey schedule announced

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
Here's a look at the schedule for this weekend's kickoff to the Super 8 tournament at UMass-Lowell's Tsongas Center:

No. 3 Austin Prep vs. No. 6 Central Catholic, 12 p.m.

No. 1 Springfield Cathedral vs. No. 8 Woburn, 2 p.m.

No. 4 BC High vs. No. 5 St. John's Prep, 4 p.m.

No. 2 Malden Catholic vs. No. 7 Franklin, 6 p.m.

Game 2s in the best-of-three first-round series will be played Wednesday, March 4 and Thursday, March 5, with times and location to be determined.

Video: Super 8 play-in game highlights

February, 25, 2015
Feb 25
BILLERICA, Mass. -- The final two spots in the Super 8 hockey tournament were on the line Tuesday night at Chelmsford Forum as Franklin and Xaverian and Burlington and Woburn faced off.

ESPN Boston High Schools editor Scott Barboza has the highlights and a few things to watch for the upcoming tournament in this segment produced by Greg Story:

Super 8 recap: Woburn 3, Burlington 0

February, 24, 2015
Feb 24

CHELMSFORD, Mass. — It was dubbed as the Battle of Winn Street, Part Three, and it was Woburn that imposed its will on Burlington, earning bragging rights on the street that connects the towns as well as entry into the Super 8 tournament where they will play Springfield Cathedral in a best-of-three series starting Sunday at the Tsongas Center.

The Tanners (16-1-4) got goals from Kyle Flaherty, Andrew Palmer, and Justin Alves (empty-netter) and a 24-save performance from sophomore goalie Sammy Best in a 3-0 victory in front of a spirited crowd at the Chelmsford Forum Tuesday night.

For Woburn, the win avenged a 4-2 defeat to the Red Devils on Feb. 12 and sets up the daunting task of overtaking No. 1 seed Springfield Cathedral, which finished the regular season without a loss.

“I told them to enjoy this one because we are not sure what is going to happen these next two games,” quipped Woburn head coach Jim Duran. “We wanted to really win this game and whatever happens, happens. It is David and Goliath and everybody knows that. If we can hang in there and have a great effort that is all we want.”

Woburn’s effort was not In question from the beginning against Burlington and the Tanners almost got on the board on a Flaherty bid early in the first period that was denied by Burlington goalie Nick Howard, who was brilliant at times in the Burlington cage.

Midway through the second period, the Tanners struck on a scrum near the Burlington net when Flaherty picked up a loose puck at the left post and fired one behind a prone Howard, giving Woburn a 1-0 lead.

It was not until late in the third period that the Tanners found some breathing room. With two minutes left, Timmy Doherty looked to double the lead but he was denied by the glove of Howard.

Less than a minute later, Palmer was sprung free on a pass through the neutral zone from Tyler Shaw and Palmer made a quick move and slid one in between Howard’s pads for a 2-0 lead with just 1:02 left.

Alves would add the empty netter with just five seconds remaining to send Tanner nation into a frenzy.

“I think it was a great game,” added Duran. “We played really well. It was back and forth in the first and then in the second I thought we got going a little better. Once we got that first goal it was a huge goal for us.”

SAMMY’S BEST: Woburn sophomore goalie Sammy Best has been on a bit of a roll lately.

Best’s last three starts have resulted in three straight shutouts for the Tanners – with two in Woburn’s own Irish American tourney victory and Tuesday’s over Burlington, a team that put four past Best in his last loss.

“He has been awesome all year and I think this is his eighth or ninth shutout,” said Duran. “He just works hard and he knows the game. Everyone is else is going to the park and he is going to do goaltending drills. He has been great for us and he works hard.”

Best will have to be at his monumental best to shut down the high scoring offense of Springfield Cathedral.

DEVILS MUST REGROUP: For Burlington (16-2-4), they must now do something they have not had to do since late December: bounce back from a loss.

But for Burlington coach Bob Conceison, it may be something a little tougher to figure out after some lapses by the Red Devils on Tuesday night.

“I don’t know what it was tonight,” said Conceison. “We worked hard at times but we gave up that goal and we were really struggling. We got shots on net but we didn’t get any real aggressive plays to their net. Maybe the pressure of it all got to us. I can’t figure it out.

“I give Woburn a lot of credit. They took advantage of their opportunities and they worked hard.”

Burlington will drop into an always tough Division I North field, but history is on their side. In 2011-12, the Devils lost a Super 8 play-in game to Central Catholic before rallying to win Division I North and then beating Milton for their first in a string of back-to-back state titles.

There was point in this season, like any other year, when things could have gone one of two ways for Franklin hockey.

A senior-laden team, the Panthers were faced with their worst loss of the year during the third week of the season – a 5-2 loss to Rhode Island power Bishop Hendricken the day after Christmas at Mount St. Charles’ Holiday Faceoff. It was what Franklin rallied to do in the thereafter that allowed the Panthers to become the first Hockmock League team to gain entry into the Super 8 tournament.

“We had a really rough game the first game against Bishop Hendricken,” Panthers head coach Chris Spillane said following Sunday’s Super 8 tournament selection meeting at MIAA headquarters. “We regrouped very well though the next game against La Salle (R.I.) and then had a great third game against La Salle from Pennsylvania. And that just really spring boarded us into our league [schedule].”

Franklin then tore through its Hockomock schedule with a 10-0-0 record.

That hasn’t changed much for the Panthers, who had been regulars in the Division 2 state championship game in the earlier part of the decade. Franklin has long presided over the league championship, but the narrative of recent history tells of something greater. After Franklin made its last Division 2 championship appearance at the Garden in 2013, the Panthers moved up to play at the Division 1 ranks.

They were outed in the quarterfinals of last year’s D1 South tournament, but with 20 seniors set to return for 2014-15, Franklin set its sights a bit higher.

“It’s a huge step for our program and just a great progression, going from Division 2 to Division 1 and now to the Super 8 in our second year in Division 1,” Spillane said. “It’s taking another step forward.”

The Panthers share the identity of their 15-year head coach. A sergeant in the Fraklin Police Department, Spillane is methodical in his approach. From the time he took over the program, Spillane sought to enhance the program’s stance within the state’s hockey circles, as he’d once won a state title as player with the Panthers in 1983.

In recent years, Spillane has put the program’s proverbial money where its mouth is, doubling-down on the Panthers’ out-of-conference schedule, which – although limited by the constraints of playing a full Hockomock League schedule – has included the likes of the top two seeds of this year’s Super 8 tournament, Springfield Cathedral and Malden Catholic. That, in and of itself, has helped lift both the program’s notoriety and also its chances of making the state’s premiere tournament.

Even as the Panthers stood on the precipice of the program’s first Super 8 berth at the beginning of the final week to the regular season, the mood in the room reflected the gradual approach Spillane has employed.

“Looking at the big picture, we just knew we had to win hockey games,” Spillane said. “The No. 1 goal we had was to win hockey games, so we could have a high seed for the tournament. And then, being on the [Super 8] Watch List, we knew we had the potential to get a look.”

Of course, Spillane deflected most credit for his team’s momentous achievement.

“We’re very fortunate that we have such a large senior class that chose to stay in Franklin to play hockey. They’re all best of friends, which makes it easier to coach them, and we’ve seen these kids for most of their lives, from Pee-Wee hockey up till now. And to see them develop on the ice and off the ice, as a group, that’s a proud moment for a coach to see that happen.”

He added, “Being asked into this tournament is the icing on the cake for this group.”

Now, that doesn’t mean the Panthers will simply be going through the paces when they meet Xaverian in their Super 8 play-in game Tuesday night (5 p.m.) at Chelmsford Forum. Even if Franklin advances, they’ll then have the (mis)fortune of being engaged in a best-of-three first-round series against four-time reigning tournament champion Malden Catholic, who beat the Panthers 6-2 during the teams’ regular-season matchup.

The odds might seem stacked against them, but the Panthers will always be moving forward – taking one step at a time.

“We preach that, playing our best hockey in February,” Spillane said, “and I feel like we’re doing that.”

MSHCA releases Super 8 'Watch List'

February, 8, 2015
Feb 8
On Sunday, the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association released its initial Super 8 tournament Watch List ahead of the Saturday, Feb. 21 selection meeting.

It's a pretty lengthy initial list, totaling 24 teams from across the state which also includes a pair of Division 2 teams in Medfield and Tewksbury.

Here's a look at the complete list. Also, be on the lookout for our annual Super 8 projections installments during the course of the next two weeks:

Arlington (10-2-2)
Arlington Catholic (9-5-2)
Austin Prep (13-1-0)
Barnstable (13-1-0)
BC High (11-3-1)
Braintree (8-3-6)
Burlington (10-1-3)
Catholic Memorial (6-6-3)
Central Catholic (12-5-1)
Duxbury (10-3-4)
Franklin (11-1-3)
Hingham (7-8-1)
Malden Catholic (11-0-2)
Medfield (14-2-0)
Milton (12-3-2)
St. Mary's of Lynn (9-6-3)
St. John's Prep (9-5-1)
Springfield Cathedral (16-0-2)
Tewksbury (12-3-0)
Wellesley (13-1-2)
Weymouth (8-2-5)
Woburn (12-1-2)
Xaverian (12-5-0)

Ice Hockey

North's Sbordone is ESPN Boston's Super 8 MVP

June, 9, 2014
PM ET and its high school sports staff are pleased to announce that Dylan Sbordone, senior righthanded pitcher for the Newton North High School Tigers, has been named its Most Valuable Player of the inaugural MIAA Division 1A "Super Eight" tournament.

[+] EnlargeDylan Sbordone
Brendan Hall/ESPNESPN Boston has named Dylan Sbordone MVP of the Super 8 baseball tournament after he recorded two wins and two saves.
The Super 8 MVP award was chosen by a panel of staff and correspondents who responsible for coverage of the tournament throughout its entirety. Sbordone will be presented the award at a later date.

"We are pleased to present Dylan Sbordone with the first-ever Super 8 MVP award," said editor Brendan C. Hall, who coordinates all of the site's high school baseball coverage. "Dylan's pitching line reflects what the Super 8 should be all about -- persevering on short rest, and laying it all on the line. He slammed the door shut on three of North's four victories in the tournament."

Sbordone appeared in all four games for the No. 1 seed Tigers as they went a perfect 4-0 to capture the first state title for long-time head coach Joe Siciliano. He picked up two wins and two saves, including the state title-clinching save in Monday night's Super 8 Final victory over Bay State Conference rival Braintree. For the tournament, he threw 11 complete innings, striking out 12, walking one, allowing one unearned run and just two hits.

In the fall, Sbordone will continue his baseball career at Southern New Hampshire University.

Super 8: St. John's Prep 4, Lowell 0

May, 29, 2014
DANVERS, Mass. –- For just about everyone on the St. John’s Prep bench, seeing Evan Roberts’ celebratory shout and fist pump was the most emotion they’d seen from their stoic ace all year.

Roberts has dominated the very best that the state has had to offer this season, but when he caught a steaming line drive back up the middle and threw out a helpless Lowell High base runner to end the top of the seventh inning, he knew he had overcome his toughest challenge of the game.

[+] EnlargeKeith Leavitt
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comPenn State commit Keith Leavitt homered twice and totaled 3 RBI for St. John's Prep.
The line drive came off the bat of Lowell cleanup hitter Conor Callery with runners on first and second in the seventh inning. It was the second and final time that a Lowell runner had reached second base on the day.

“That was their four hitter, he’s a big guy and I knew I needed to get that kid out,” Roberts said, “The double play, that was exactly what I wanted. It was very exciting.”

Added Prep coach Dan Letarte, “The key play was the game was the liner hit right back to him. That was hit harder than the home runs, the umpire said. That takes [Lowell] out of their threa."

The Davidson-bound Roberts threw a complete game shutout for the Eagles, putting in perhaps his best pitching performance of the season in the first game in the history of the Super 8. Penn State commit Keath Leavitt single-handedly took over the game offensively for the Eagles, hitting two home runs and driving in three of the Prep’s four runs on their way to a 4-0 victory.

“Four hits given up, and most of those early. We had a couple balls that I hoped would sneak through, but everything is pretty true on the turf with hops,” Lowell coach Dan Graham said of Roberts. “We needed to catch some breaks early on in the game to chip away after they put that three run inning on us. He pitched a very good game. We knew he wasn’t going to be overpowering, but his change of speeds...and obviously the numbers speak for themselves in the Catholic Conference."

The fact that zero Lowell runners reached third base displays just how dominant Roberts was, placing his fastball seemingly wherever he wanted to in order to set Lowell’s hitters up for his hooking curve ball. He walked just one batter in the game, throwing nearly three out of every four pitches for a strike.

“Taking a lead with Evan is crucial cause when he gets a lead it’s a good feeling. You feel like you’re not going to lose with a lead and the ball in his hand. It’s just a matter of the time of day we’re all leaving,” Letarte said with a laugh. “In two extra innings, he was so strong his pitch count was fine.”

Leavitt was one of the few Prep hitters who was able to get to Lowell pitcher Brock Riley, who had no walks and pitched a complete game. Leavitt, who had three hits, smacked a home run to left-center field in the second inning. Ted McNamara added a solo shot two batters later.

“We were watching [Riley] before the game and you could tell he had a little bit of a herky-jerky wind-up," Leavitt said. "Coach [Ryan] Leahy pointed out that a lot of his pitches were going to drop off because of the way he was delivering the ball. The first one was a fastball on the outer part of the plate, so I was able to wait on it, sit back, and drive it the other way."

Just for good measure, Leavitt added one more run to the scoreboard in the fifth inning, this time taking a Riley curve ball deep to right field.

“The second one he started off with a first-pitch offspeed, so I knew ‘okay, he’s going to work offspeed, he’s going to work in'," Leavitt said. "Then he threw a curve ball the next pitch and I was able to sit back and drive it. Good pitches for me to hit, I’m glad I took advantage of it,” Leavitt said of the second home run, his sixth round-tripper of the year.

Said Letarted, “Keith’s the type of hitter who can get hot, like any power hitter. He’s been focused and those were two really quality at-bats."

The Eagles will take on the winner of tomorrow’s game between third-seeded Bridgewater-Raynham and sixth-seeded Lincoln-Sudbury. Letarte said the Eagles will have a rare late practice Thursday so that the team can go and scout out their next-round opponent.

Regardless of opponent, Leavitt reiterated that it’s all about plate confidence for the power-hitting Eagles, who were able to get to Riley by working their way into good counts and taking advantage of pitches to hit around the strike zone:

“It’s difficult to pick up at first, but after the first time around you kind of get used to the wind up. At that point, it’s just seeing the baseball, reacting, and hitting it. I think we all got used to him after the first time through and it was a good day for us.”
DANVERS, Mass. -– The first round of the inaugural MIAA Division 1A “Super 8” Tournament kicked off Wednesday afternoon with No. 2 seed St. John’s Prep hosting one of the state’s hottest teams, the No. 7 seed Lowell Red Raiders, in a battle between two of the most efficient staff aces in the state.

Catholic Conference MVP Evan Roberts, a left-handed Davidson commit, opposed Franklin Pierce-bound Lowell righty Brock Riley, in what figures to be one of the best duels of the first round. Prep took Riley deep for three home runs for all of its scoring, in what was an otherwise efficient day on the hill. Still, Prep came away with a 4-0 victory to hand the Raiders just their second loss in their last 15 games.

Taking a closer look at each pitcher’s day:

Low Profile: If there’s one thing you learn quickly at Prep’s cracker box of a park, one of the smallest among the state’s traditional baseball powers, is that you keep your pitches low in the zone -– or you pay the price. As a crafty lefty who pinpoints balls to all quadrants of the strike zone, Roberts has learned to tow that line of pitching to contact without getting blown up.

His pitching line, with just a pair of K’s and walks, is reflective of that. He also induced twice as many groundouts (14) as he did flyouts (7).

One of his most impressive innings was the fifth, when three straight times he led off with a first-pitch four-seamer low in the zone for a ball. Each time, he came right back on the second pitch with a four-seamer that the batter got too far underneath, for an easy pop-up to Nick Latham in right field.

Roberts said those first-pitch balls weren’t deliberate –- “I’m always trying to throw strikes. I’m not going to throw a ball unless I need to,” he said.

Working the Zone: With a fastball in the low 80’s, Roberts is known for his velocity separation and the manner in which he uses it to keep hitters off-balance. Today, though, he primarily stuck with four-seam and two-seam fastball action, with the occasional curveball and changeup thrown in.

“What I’m accustomed to in our league is most guys want to live on the outside part of the plate. He was moving his fastball in and out, and spotting it on both sides,” Lowell head coach Danny Graham said. “That alone was giving us a bit of trouble, in terms of generating some offense, getting some base hits.”

The key to establishing that is getting ahead in the strike zone, and Roberts likes to do with pitches either up and away or down and in. But even when he wasn’t placing a first-pitch strike to either edge, his balls were typically low in the zone. If he had to miss, you figure, he wasn’t going to give them a piece of meat.

“That’s how I’ve pitched my entire life,” Roberts said. “I knew if I came out and threw first pitch strikes and keep it low, because a lot of hitters don’t have power when you go low in the strike zone, I’d have some success today.”


Kick and Drive: Riley tends to make his compact frame big on the mound, starting off with a high, Dontrelle Willis-like kick and following through with a bit of a herky-jerky motion. Getting used to his delivery –- something he says he’s been doing “my whole life” –- takes patience.

“I’ve always thrown very weird, everybody always makes fun of me about it my whole life. But it works,” Riley laughed.

One of the state’s best righthanders this spring, St. John’s of Shrewsbury junior Shane Combs, has a similar high-kick motion. In a start against Prep on May 13, the Notre Dame-bound Combs fanned 11 batters and allowed just three hits in a 2-0 loss.

Prep outfielder Keith Leavitt, a Penn State commit, was one of the first to get comfortable with Riley’s delivery. And boy did he come around, taking him deep twice -– one to each side of the field –- to account for three-fourths of the day’s scoring.

“It’s a little difficult,” Leavitt said of the high-kick delivery. “Shane Combs, he’s as good as you’re going to see at this level. It’s a little difficult to pick up at first, but after the first time around you kinda get the idea. You get used to the windup. At that point, it’s just seeing the baseball and reacting and hitting it.”

Bit of Chicanery: Riley’s mistakes essentially came down to less than a half-dozen pitches. His first mistake was a 1-0 fastball away from the lefty-hitting Leavitt, a ball that he took opposite field for a two-run shot to open up the scoring in the bottom of the second inning for Prep. Riley gave up another homer in the same stanza, this one a solo shot to Ted McNamara, then paid once more in the sixth when Leavitt pulled a 1-1 changeup off the end of his bat into right for the 4-0 advantage.

Other than that, this was a pretty efficient day for Riley, who threw 73 percent of his pitches for strikes and fanned six batters. Moreso than his counterpart Roberts, Riley went to his off-speed stuff, his slider perhaps working best for him on the day, in an attempt to keep the Prep hitters away from contact.

“I was trying to get that slider to go down and out all game, so people would chase at it,” Riley said. “When I got it to go in the correct location, it was working perfectly fine, people were swinging and missing, I was getting strikeouts. But whenever there was too much white, and I left it over the plate, they took advantage.”
FRANKLIN, Mass. -- ESPN Boston High Schools editor Brendan C. Hall and correspondent Chris Bradley share their thoughts from tonight's MIAA Division 1A "Super Eight" Tournament selection meeting, at MIAA Headquarters:

MC's Sifferlen is ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey

March, 25, 2014
PM ET and its High School section today announced that Tyler Sifferlen, senior forward for the Malden Catholic Lancers, is the recipient of its fourth annual "Mr. Hockey" award, presented to the top male high school hockey player in Massachusetts.

The Mr. Hockey Award winner was chosen by a panel of experts made up of staff, correspondents and high school hockey coaches. Sifferlen will be presented with the award at a later date.

[+] EnlargeTyler Sifferlen
Brendan Hall/ESPNUMass-Lowell commit Tyler Sifferlen led all scorers with seven goals in this year's Super 8 tournament while leading Malden Catholic to its fourth straight title.
“Tyler has been a contributor to each of MC’s four Super 8 championship teams, joining an elite and rare segment of the athletic community to accomplish such a feat,” said Scott Barboza, co-editor of ESPN Boston High Schools and coordinator of the site’s hockey coverage. “Although he is already a Division 1 college commit, he’s raised his game in each of his high school seasons, continually pushing himself and his teammates to maintain the exceptional level of play the Lancers have achieved during a historic era of Massachusetts high school hockey.”

Sifferlen is the fourth straight Lancers player to win the award, following Mike Vecchione (Union), Brendan Collier (Boston University) and Ara Nazarian (UNH commit), having played with each of those players on Super 8 championship teams. The captain was one of four MC seniors to win the Division 1A title in each of their high school hockey seasons.

The North Andover native also shares the distinction of having scored a goal in each of the Lancers’ four Super 8 championship games.

Sifferlen scored 25 goals with 26 assists in 24 games for the Lancers last season. He also led all scorers with seven goals (10 points) during this year's Super 8 tournament. The winger’s 51 points ranked seventh in the state among Division 1 skaters.

“Tyler has been a pleasure to coach for the last four years,” Lancers head coach John McLean said. “He has from day one established himself as a top player, a top student and a fine young man.

“No matter what the situation or the need, Tyler has gotten it done since he was a freshmen. Whether he played defense killing penalties, or scoring big goals on the power play, he just got it done. He may not be flashy, but at the end of the game everyone knew what he had done for the team to win.”

Sifferlen will continue his hockey career at UMass-Lowell.

“What I respect the most about Tyler is that he finished what he started,” McLean said, “he started and finished his high school hockey career a champion. He could have taken his talents elsewhere but deep down I believe he wanted to end his MC career a champion.

“As he moves to his next challenge at UMass-Lowell, his leadership and work ethic will lead the way to a successful college career. We are going to miss Tyler.”

MC caps season at No. 1 in Top 25

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

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

For the complete poll, click HERE.

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the Colonials flexed their muscle at the Garden, beating Eastern Mass. champion Hanover, 7-1, and finished the season at No. 24. Shrewsbury was the only D3 entrant in our preseason poll, as well.

Video: Beverly, Duxbury, MC wrap up titles

March, 17, 2014
BOSTON -- Mike Riley has the highlights from the first three games of Sunday's MIAA hockey championships at TD Garden.

Two teams claimed their fourth straight titles, as Malden Catholic won its second straight Super 8 final over Austin Prep and Duxbury girls claimed their first Div. 1 state title after three straight at the Div. 2 level. Meanwhile, in a riveting and emotional nightcap, Beverly won its first Div. 2 state title over Medfield.

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

(Video produced by Mike Riley)

Four-peat for Malden Catholic seniors

March, 16, 2014
BOSTON -- Imagine going all four years of high school without knowing what it’s like to lose the last game of the season. From the start of your career straight through to the end, the only experience is one of ultimate success.

For four Malden Catholic seniors -- Brian Cameron, Nick Rolli, Tyler Sifferlen and Pat Wrenn -- Sunday’s 5-3 win over Austin Prep at the TD Garden was the culmination of one of the most impressive stretches in the prestigious tournament’s history.

“It feels great to win another Super 8 championship,” said forward Tyler Sifferlen. “Being a leader of this team, my last year here, it’s good to go out with a win.”

Sifferlen’s Malden Catholic career has come full circle. He scored the opening goal in the overtime classic that the Lancers played against St. John’s Prep in his freshman year and he added the opener in this year’s final as well -- the third time that the UMass-Lowell commit has scored in four years.

He reflected, “It feels good scoring in the Garden especially, you know, NHL rink and it’s just unbelievable.”

Sifferlen added, “I’m just working hard and wouldn’t have done it without everyone on this team.”

The overtime win over Prep began the run for the Lancers and was followed by a victory over BC High and then wins over Austin Prep in each of the past two seasons.

Lancers head coach John McLean would not allow it to be called a dynasty.

He explained, “No … it’s a win and I don’t know what the records are we just try to win every game and get two points. It’s awesome, don’t get me wrong, but we just need to get ready for next season. We’ll enjoy it tonight and take some time off and see what we have for next year.”

It is only the second time that a team has won four Super 8 titles in a row (the other being Catholic Memorial from 1998-2001). Senior defenseman Nick Rolli credits the coaching staff for making the title a priority, and an expectation, every season and not allowing the team to feel satisfied with winning the title.

“Every year, the first practice of the year, the coaches stress how important we have to work to be able to get to this point and not just to get to this point but to win,” Rolli explained. “That’s our goal every year from the first day of training camp. To have it happen four years in a row is pretty special.”

Like his classmate, Rolli also got on the score sheet on Sunday afternoon. He assisted on the opening goal by Sifferlen and then got one of his own with a blast from the point in the second period.

“It meant the world to me…My last high school game and getting the chance to score and help my teammates win the game,” he said. “That’s what meant the most -- to help my team win.”

Taking the ice at the TD Garden and sharing the same sheet as the Bruins is a daunting experience for a high school player. As Rolli noted, “It’s a dream come true.” But, for the Lancers, playing at the Garden has become an expected occurrence and that experience allows them to overcome the nerves that come with playing in a final.

Rolli remarked, “I think being here a couple of times really helps and everybody just seemed to click together. We played here the first game of the Super 8 and that helped get the jitters out; it’s just another ice surface with more people.”

McLean admits the team will miss its two senior captains next year, but he noted that this is an opportunity for one of the younger players to step in and fill the void -- as Sifferlen and Rolli both had to during their careers.

“I’ve known these guys for a long time and it’s going to be tough to see them go,” McLean said. “They’re the leaders off ice, in the locker room, and on the ice and it’s going to be tough to replace those type of players. And the next guy is going to have to step up if we want to keep doing this.”

Reflecting on four title-filled years, Sifferlen had no problem picking out his favorite moment. He immediately highlighted the championship that the Lancers won for longtime head coach Chris Serino, who stepped away from the program in 2011-12 before passing away last fall from throat cancer.

“That was a big one and all these years have definitely been for him,” said Sifferlen.

Looking back on his four years at Malden Catholic, Rolli was having a hard time putting into perspective just how he felt about the accomplishments that have come his way.

He said, “My father took me here ever y year to the Super 8…and I’ve always dreamed of playing here and playing for Malden Catholic.”

“[The] best moment…[is] right now. Being a champion…I’m letting that sink in right now…great moment.”

Video: Super 8 highlights and analysis

March, 14, 2014
LOWELL, Mass. -- It's a rematch!

We've got a rematch in the Sunday's Super 8 final as three-time defending champion Malden Catholic and repeat finalist Austin Prep won their semi-final round games Thursday night at the Tsongas Center.

MC moved past a young and talented Springfield Cathedral squad, 3-1, while the Cougars sweated out an eight-round shootout to dispatch tournament No. 1 seed BC High, 2-1.

Kelly Emerson has the highlights and is joined by ESPN Boston High Schools editor Scott Barboza in breaking down the action and taking a look ahead to Sunday's final:

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

March, 14, 2014

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.”