Boston High School: Tim Aylward

Super 8 recap: St. Mary's 3, Cathedral 2 (SO)

March, 8, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Brendan Mageary has a long history with St. Mary's of Lynn hockey, but on Wednesday the senior certainly boosted his legacy.

The forward, who grew up a waterboy for the No. 2 Spartans, became a hero for St. Mary's (1923) in its second Super 8 match at Merrimack's Lawler Arena on Wednesday. Netting his program a shootout winner to give them a must-needed 3-2 triumph over sixth-seeded Springfield Cathedral (1086), the senior upped his team's chances of advancing from the group stages.

“One my coaches is my cousin Doug [Surrette],” said Mageary. “Back when he played in the early 2000s is when I started as a waterboy. It is an unreal feeling.”

The senior used a double deke to open space on his effort, chipping the puck past Cathedral netminder John Liquori for the win. Mageary's shot came immediately after a wrist shot by Cathedral senior Frank Crinella, forcing a 2-2 shootout tie.

“He had his stick down covering [the 5-hole] well,” Mageary said of Liquori. “I figured I would go up top a little higher.”

Junior Bobby Mullins netted the first score for St. Mary's in the shootout, followed by a tally from Panthers junior Matt Foley that left sophomore keeper Bailey MacBurnie diving the opposite direction.

In what was a close battle of scoring chances, MacBurnie made 24 saves, while Liquori had 21 stops.

Lee noted his team's inability to 'get that many bounces' in their first game. The Spartans eliminated chance in the first period by scoring in open space and outshooting Cathedral, 10-6.

Junior Cam O'Neill caught the defense off guard early, motioning an open one-on-one with the keeper from the backline for a notch at 2:09. Skating aside the crease, Mullins chipped the rubber opposite corner off a assist from senior Tim Aylward to give the Spartans their second goal within four minutes.

“In all aspects of the game it was probably a 'C' game,” Lee said. “We did not seem to have the timing and we seemed fatigued at times. We just played good enough defense to keep us in it until the end.”

The Panthers fell behind with an early two-goal deficit. But Cathedral head coach Brian Foley encouraged his group to keep skating hard.

“It wasn't a big preach,” Foley said of his second period speech. “Once the kids feel their way through a period they get confidence. We know we can come back, (because) we have done it a lot of the year.”

As was the case with its 4-3 loss to St. John's Prep in its first match, Cathedral responded with a pair of goals of their own. Freshman Peter Crinella buried the puck from a draw at 9:14 in the first to bring the Panthers within one. Cullen Geary knocked a rip by teammate Matt Foley -- both juniors -- out off the air and into the top post to even the margin at 2-2 with 8:52 left in the second period.

Super 8 recap: Central 6, St. Mary's 5 (SO)

March, 5, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Steven Merrick has been the picture of hard work and dedication for Central Catholic, putting in extra time throughout the offseason to grow from a bit player a year ago to a regular shift on the Raiders third line as a senior.

When Sunday's Super 8 day one battle with St. Mary's passed through three full periods and a 12-minute overtime without a winner being decided, Merrick was shooter number four on Central coach Mike Jankowski's list for the shootout session. Six players went before Merrick hopped over the boards for his turn with none being able to penetrate two of the state's top goalies, as Central's Kyle Williams and the Spartans' Bailey MacBurnie turned aside shot after shot.

Merrick skated to center ice, surveyed the scene, then began to skate. Rather than try something fancy, the hard-working senior kept it simple, walking straight in on MacBurnie and blazing a wrist shot past his stick hand.

Three more shooters came and went, all were denied, and that left Merrick as the final hero in a game filled with them as the seventh-seeded Raiders ended up with a 6-5 victory over No. 2 St. Mary's on day one of the Super 8 round robin.

"Merrick is a senior, he's got great hands and he's a great kid," praised Jankowski. "Last year he really made a transformation and committed himself to hockey. Last year he was here but didn't play a whole lot and he's earned his spot but he's done that all through hard work and dedication in the offseason. For him to get that kind of goal at the end its just awesome."

Central Catholic (13-3-5) scored three straight goals from the eight minute mark of the second period through 5:27 of the third to take what seemed at the time like a commanding 5-3 lead. St. Mary's (18-1-3) showed it had tremendous resolve despite making its first appearance in the Super 8 field as a seeded team.

Brendan Magaery converted a terrific feed from behind the net by Jarrod Fitzpatrick for a one-timer at 8:09, and a huge save by MacBurnie jumpstarted a two-on-one break with Connor Parent and Thomas Braswell. Parent carried the puck in and held for a shot, which Central goalie Kyle Williams stopped, but the rebound came quickly to Braswell, who snapped it home before Williams had a chance to react, knotting the game at 5-5 with 2:43 left in regulation.

"A lot of the leaders were speaking up on the bench and we talked about it before the game," Spartans head coach Mark Lee said. "There's been other teams in these tournaments that came back from more than two goals and we wanted to be one of those teams to make a comeback. Even during that third period we hit the post a couple of times. We just didn't seem to get that many bounces tonight. That's not any excuse. We played a very good team and hats off to them too."

Central opened the scoring at 1:26 of the first, catching the Spartans in a line change that enabled a two-on-none opportunity, which Michael Hovanian buried on the Raiders second shot of the game

Tim Aylward evened things up for St. Mary's late in the frame, utilizing a flashy spin move to get around a CC defenseman and tick a high shot behind Williams.

Mike Kelleher put Central back in front just 34 seconds into the middle frame with an assist from Zachary Cote but St. Mary's rallied with back-to-back goals by Magaery and Bobby Mullins, the latter coming off a rebound of a shot by Cam Grenham at 4:57.

Just over three minutes later, Ryan Daigle took a beautiful pass from Cote (three assists) and banged home a one timer to tie things at 3-3.

"You have to give them a lot of credit," Jankowski said of St. Mary's. "They were good, they gave us a lot of pressure in our own zone and Kyle held us in there. We had a bend but don't break sort of attitude and then we were able to pop back in transition because they were being so aggressive and get a couple the other way so it worked out well for us."

In the overtime, Kyle Williams turned in easily his best period of the day. The Spartans outshot the Raiders, 42-23 in the game and 10-2 in the 12-minute overtime period.

ESPN Boston Super 8 primer

March, 2, 2012
There are less than 48 hours remaining before the puck drops on the real Super 8 on Sunday at Merrimack College.

So we’re taking this opportunity to break down the final eight:

1. Malden Catholic (15-1-4)
Marquee wins: Pretty much all of them, minus the Lancers’ one loss to New Jersey powerhouse Delbarton.

Players to watch: F Brendan Collier (22-34-56); F Ryan Fitzgerald (26-14-40); F Mike Iovanna (14-23-37); F Tyler Sifferlen (9-14-23); F Ara Nazarian (10-16-26); D Casey Fitzgerald (1-15-16); D Colin MacGillivray (2-8-10); Brendan White (2-16-18).

The skinny: As in the last couple of years, this year’s Super 8 is viewed as the Lancers’ tournament to lose. Again, they have the best line in the state with Collier, Ryan Fitzgerald and Iovanna saddling into Mike Vecchione’s former spot. But MC’s true strength is depth. Sifferlen and Nazarian would occupy a spot on mostly any team’s top line. Super frosh and BC commit Casey Fitzgerald has filled Conor Evangelista’s role dutifully as a puck-moving defenseman.

X-factor: Goaltending. Connor Maloney watched last year’s Super 8 from the BC High bench behind Peter Cronin. Now, it’s his time to shine.

2. St. Mary’s of Lynn (18-1-3)
Marquee wins: Malden Catholic (Kasabuski Tournament tie); Hingham (5-1); Cathedral (3-2).

Players to watch: F Bobby Mullins (9-20-29); F Jarrod Fitzpatrick (14-7-21); F Cam O’Neill (14-15-29); F Brendan Mageary (13-11-24); F Tim Aylward (10-10-20); D Nikko Markham (6-12-18); D Bryan Wilkins (1-7-8); G Bailey MacBurnie (1.30 GAA, 94.1 save %).

The skinny: So what were the Spartans to do without perennial league all-star Donald Hesse as their backbone? Well, Mark Lee found a more-than-legitimate starter in MacBurnie, a sophomore, who’s played well along with a defensive corps led by Markham. Fitzpatrick has been another revelation in his first season with the Spartans. St. Mary’s has greater scoring depth than in year’s past. And they’re young, as freshman Eric MacAdams (4-14-18) has impressed seeing top-line action.

X-factor: How do the Spartans react in a tight game. In last year’s Super 8 play-in stab, and the Div. 1 tournaments of year’s past, one-goal games have come back to haunt them. If they can sweat out a couple of close decisions in this tournament, they might find themselves at the Garden.

3. St. John’s Prep (13-5-2)
Marquee wins: BC High (3-1); Hingham (2-1); Central Catholic (4-0).

Players to watch: F Sam Kurker (26-26-52); F Brian Pinho (14-20-34); F Tyler Bird (9-5-14), F Andrew Brandano (8-6-14); D Nick Pandalena (6-10-16); D Brent Murray (0-4-4); G David Letarte (2.02 GAA, 91.5 save %).

The skinny: We still haven’t gotten over last year’s championship game; it was simply amazing hockey. There’s no Colin Blackwell, but Kurker (BU commit) has really blossomed this season and has taken this team on his back the way his former linemate did last year. Pinho and Bird, along with Kurker, are a formidable first line to skate against, and are strong in all three zones. Pandalena is a mountain of a defenseman, but beyond him, the Eagles blue line was green entering the season. Murray has elevated his play to comprise a formidable top pairing.

X-factor: Letarte. I believe we said this last year as well. When the senior is on his game, he can be airtight.

4. Hingham (16-4-2)
Marquee wins: Marshfield (6-2); Catholic Memorial (3-2); St. John’s of Shrewsbury (4-0).

Players to watch: F James Gordon (21-17-38); F Matt Brazel (11-20-31); F Matt Hughes (13-11-24); F Ryan Linehan (8-12-20); F Patrick Mannion (6-12-18); F Sam D’Antuono (6-19-25); D Nolan Driscoll (2-7-9); G John Grenier (1.88 GAA, 90.1 save %).

The skinny: If this team had a motto, it would be “lacking experience, but not young.” During the Harbormen’s most recent Super 8 runs, a good portion of this year’s roster watched from way down the bench, or up in the gallery. But this team has collectively raised its game and is benefitted by great coaching. Gordon’s 20-goal season has been a pleasant surprise and Brazel is one worth watching for the next two years. The real revelation has been Grenier between the pipes. The Xaverian transfer is among the statewide leaders in goals against average.

X-factor: Grenier. He doesn’t fit the current mold of a big, butterfly goaltender. Instead, he relies on aggressively challenging the shooter and cutting down angles. We’ll see how it matches up with the precision passing games of MC and St. John’s (S) in pool play games.

5. BC High (10-5-5)
Marquee wins: St. John’s (twice); Prep (5-3); Cathedral (3-0).

Players to watch: F Matt Sullivan (9-15-24); F Tom Besinger (10-15-25); F Bartley Regan (7-6-13); F Steve DeForge (6-13-19); D Brian Furey (3-6-9); D Sam Topham (1-9-10); G Peter Cronin (2.00 GAA; 91.5 save %).

The skinny: Cronin lead this team to the crossover round last year, falling just short of an upset of MC. He was the revelation of last year’s tournament and, as usual, the Eagles will look to their goaltender to continue his strong play. Besinger might be the shiftiest forward in the tournament not named Kevin Emmerling. He’s not big, but he sure can skate. Furey has done a nice job leading a young Eagles blue-line corps this season. ‘Moe’ Regan has produced some dirty goals and has thrived in his role as a power forward, coming off his EMass D1 Super Bowl win.

X-factor: Sullivan. The Eagles’ soft-spoken leader is a lead-by-example type, but thrives in big-game atmospheres. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if he’s a player we’re talking about months after the tournament.

6. Springfield Cathedral (10-6-6)
Marquee wins: BC High (4-3); Needham (1-0); CM (3-1).

Players to watch: F Frank Crinella (13-15-28); F Thomas Quinlan (11-5-16); F Peter Crinella (5-8-13); F Brendan Ashe (7-7-14); D Matt Foley (0-12-12); G John Liquori (2.40 GAA, 88.9 save %).

The skinny: The Panthers cracked the top six this year after getting bounced in a play-in game last year. This is a team that isn’t very flashy, but is consistently tough to play against, playing a brand of hockey that can be frustrating to opponents. Sophomore John Liquori has been steady, taking over for old stalwart Zac Rondeau. Liquori is the benefactor of a sound defensive squad that likes to play the body and takes care of its defensive assignments with diligence.

X-factor: Frank Crinella is perhaps the most talented player in the state who receives the least amount of deserved credit. This tournament could be a statement for him.

7. Central Catholic (13-3-5)
Marquee wins: Burlington (6-4, play-in game).

Players to watch: F Ryan Daigle (8-15-23); F Mike Kelleher (10-7-17); F Lloyd Hayes (15-8-23); F Alex Lester (7-9-16); F Zack Cote (10-4-14); D Jake Donahue (3-4-7); G Kyle Williams (2.13 GAA, 91.1 save %).

The skinny: Stop me if you’re heard this one before, but the Raiders again used a spirited second-half push after a slow start to get back into the top tournament. If they continue the fast and physical brand of hockey they played against Burlington, the Raiders will provide a tough test. Kelleher’s natural hat trick is a big boost to Central’s chances going forward; if he gets going, he’s one of the most potent pure scorers in the state.

X-factor: Williams. Shocking, right? As the goaltender goes, so goes the Raiders. And it’s no coincidence that Central played its best while last year’s ESPN Boston All-State netminder was at his finest.

8. St. John’s of Shrewsbury (15-4-3)
Marquee wins: Needham (5-4, play-in game).

Players to watch: F Kevin Emmerling (25-28-53); F Vin D’Amato (23-14-37); F Jay Duquette (11-22-33); F Hunter Burdick (6-9-15); D Nick Rutigliano (1-10-11).

The skinny: Akin to Central Catholic, the Pioneers took perhaps their biggest win of the season on Monday. In that shootout with Needham, they showed why they can go toe-to-toe with any team across the state with the top line of Emmerling, D’Amato and Duquette running and gunning …

X-factor: … but then there’s the defense. The Pioneers are going to need to tighten up in their own end. If they allow their three future opponents to enter the zone as they allowed the Rockets to run in the third period, there could be some lop-sided scores.

Recap: No. 4 St. Mary's 4, No. 20 Austin Prep 1

February, 2, 2012
LYNN, Mass. -- After its one-goal lead was erased early in the second period, No. 4 St. Mary’s of Lynn regrouped and registered three goals during the final 25 minutes to secure a season sweep against No. 20 Austin Prep, as well as a 4-1 win on Wednesday at the Connery Memorial Rink.

The Spartans have now won two of their last three contests, and haven't lost a regular season match since losing to Malden Catholic in December in the first game of the season.

"We needed to win tonight to keep breathing room for the league, and Austin Prep is a very talented, tough team to play," St. Mary's head coach Mark Lee said.

The Spartans (13-1-2, 6-0-1 Catholic Central) earned their first lead of the contest with 52-seconds remaining in the opening period, as juniors Cameron Grenham and Bobby Mullins, (1 G, 1 A) connected with sophomore Jordan Manthorne, which gave St. Mary’s an one-goal advantage prior to the first intermission.

Austin Prep (6-5-3, 5-3-1) answered roughly two minutes into the middle frame when freshman Cam Russo notched the Cougars' only strike of the evening, after he wrapped around sophomore Bailey MacBurnie’s (15 saves) cage for the score.

However, the Cougars goal didn’t exactly provide the necessary spark for their offense, as St. Mary’s responded two minutes later with a goal from Mullins, who rushed the net and slapped the puck past freshman goaltender Elijah Harris (31 saves).

“Once you tie a game up, you want to sustain at least five-six minutes with no goals scored, so you can try to build up some momentum instead of giving them one right back again,” Austin Prep head coach Louis Finocchiaro said.

“I just took a shot on net, and it went in,” said Mullins, who now has seven goals on the season. “I was telling the guys, ‘just get shots on him, they’ll start to go in’.”

The Spartans followed Mullins instructions during the final period and constantly fired shots at Harris’s net before seniors Tim Aylward and Bryan Wilkins found the back of the cage for the teams third and fourth goals.

“I give my guys credit for weathering the storm, and finishing so strong,” said Lee. “We’ve been finding ourselves the last couple of games down, and there’s no panic on the bench, it’s all positive between the teammates. They’re patting each other on the back, keeping it going, and strong.”

Austin Prep finished the final frame with just three shots on net, and no goals.

“We hung in there, we competed, [and] played hard,” Finocchiaro said. “I thought our effort was good tonight.”

Against the Cougars, Bobby Mullins registered a goal and an assist to give him 23 points on the season, but that particular statistic didn’t get in the way of the Spartans celebrating their 13th victory as a team.

“I’m not really looking at the 23 points,” said a humbled Mullins. “The team’s working well together, we’re having a good time, we’re like a family, [and] we’re all like a ‘band of brothers,’ like we say [because] we’re just having fun out there.”

Mullins has now tallied seven goals, and 16 assists through 16 games, but again, he’s not focused on his individual stat line, yet instead, his team.

“Coach is teaching us to play as a team. He said it a lot this season [that] it’s not all about the points,” he said. “We just want to win. We’ve got a lot of heart in the locker room. The seniors are all stepping up their game. We’ve got new guys all pitching in, everybody’s for the team, everybody’s just out there scoring, having fun, and we all just want to win.”

Besides Mullins, junior Cam O’Neill earned his 15th point of the season when he tallied an assist on Wilkins goal. Although, similar to Mullins, O’Neill didn’t steal the spotlight from his team’s gritty effort.

“We’re pretty happy about the attitude, and like I said, it hasn’t been perfect lately, [but] they’ve stayed with it and stayed with the game plan,” Lee said.

Recap: St. Mary's 4, Arlington Catholic 0

January, 11, 2012
ARLINGTON, Mass. -- Although it took roughly 18 minutes, once St. Mary’s cracked a scoreless tie, the Spartans kept on running from there.

Adding a couple more goals to their tally sheet and with sophomore goaltender Bailey MacBurnie's first career shutout, the No. 2 Spartans claimed a key Catholic Central Large victory over Arlington Catholic, 4-0, at Ed Burns Arena Wednesday night.

“I have to give St. Mary’s credit, they came out in the second period, and they took it to us," AC head coach Dan Shine said. "And I thought they picked up the tempo, they got to loose pucks, they capitalized on opportunities, [and] they did a real good job of getting the puck to the front of the net."

After a back-and-forth first period where neither team was able to gain any momentum, St. Mary’s (8-1-1, 4-0-0) registered their first strike when freshman forward Eric MacAdams wrapped the puck around the cage to beat AC senior goaltender Alexander Caouette (24 saves) for the goal.

The Spartans tallied two more scores in the middle frame, as senior forward Brendan Magaery recorded a goal before assisting junior forward Bobby Mullins, who floated the puck behind Caouette with 35 seconds remaining in the period.

“[Brendan’s] not known for [scoring goals], he’s one of our defensive specialty guys,” St. Mary’s head coach Mark Lee said. “When he scores a goal, and gets involved in the offense that’s when you know we’re working pretty good, and to have him do that, that’s almost like a bonus for us."

“I’m more like a get in the zone, dump it in quick in quick, first man in, take the body, so whenever I get a goal or assist, it’s always a good accomplishment, but my game is more the dirty work,” said Magaery. “I give it to [my offense], and they get the points.”

St. Mary’s notched their final goal midway through the third period, as senior forward Tim Aylward and junior forward Cam O’Neill set up senior forward Frank Moreschi, who lifted the puck past the right shoulder of Caouette to secure the Spartans' eighth win of the season, as well as fourth road victory, too.

“Our guys stuck with the game plan, and by the second and third periods, we started to get some momentum going, and they were moving their feet and working hard, and good things happen when you do that,” said Lee.

“St. Mary’s is a very good hockey team, and I think they brought their A-game tonight,” Shine said.

Sophomore goaltender Bailey MacBurnie, who recorded 18 saves between the pipes, was quite content once the final horn sounded, especially since he earned his first career shutout.

“It was a great win. We really worked hard,” said MacBurnie. “ My team [deserves all the credit] for the shutout, but I thought it was a good win.”

Lee commended his young goaltender by saying, “He’s doing a great job for us.”

The Spartans return to the ice on Saturday when they travel to Billerica, and according to MacBurnie, this particular win should certainly help his team continue their quest toward more wins, and a Super 8 tournament berth, too.

“We need these wins to get to the Super 8, [which is] where we want to be,” he said.

10's a crowd: A Super 8 primer

February, 28, 2011
We’re hours away from dropping the puck in the postseason with tonight’s Super Eight play-in games.

But we took a little time to sort out the Super Eight field, providing a primer on the teams.

Take a peek:

1. Malden Catholic (16-2-2)
Marquee wins: Lancers had wins over five of the 10 Super Eight teams and that doesn’t even include what might have been their most impressive win, an early season triumph over New Jersey powerhouse Delbarton.

Players to watch: F Mike Vecchione, F Ryan Fitzgerald, F Brendan Collier, D Connor Evangelista, F Nick Roberto.

The skinny: Wire to wire, unquestionably the top-ranked team in the state. As in the last couple of seasons, the Lancers enter the Super Eight with lofty expectations and seemingly nothing short of a title will satisfy. MC’s depth reaches far beyond its top line of three Division 1 college recruits (Collier, Fitzgerald and Vecchione) and its team speed and passing ability are without parallel. Not only can they score, they can defend as well, led by top defensive pairing of Evangelista and Colin MacGillivray.

X-factor: It’s funny how the postseason seems to shave away certain goals into missed chances and oftentimes it due to a hot netminder. So if those once plentiful goals start to ebb away, it will be left to senior goaltender Pat Young to shine. Young is capable between the pipes and he might just show that he’s been the most overlooked element to MC’s success.

2. St. John’s Prep (14-5-1)
Marquee wins: As the runners up in the Catholic Conference, the Eagles nabbed a pair of league wins against both BC High and Catholic Memorial, but it might have been Prep’s win against the Knights on Friday that showed they can truly be a threat in the Super Eight. Playing against a CM team with nothing to lose and everything to gain, the Eagles ratcheted up the D in a playoff-like atmosphere.

Players to watch: F Colin Blackwell, F Shane Eiserman, F Sam Kurker, G David Letarte, D Joe Currie.

The skinny: Outside of MC, the Eagles have the deepest collection of eye-popping offensive talent. Blackwell, a Harvard commit, is equally adept as a playmaker as he is a sniper. Eiserman is wise and mature beyond his years as a freshman while Kurker provides grit and a nice scoring complement. The blue line was the perceived weakness of the squad, but they’ve come a long way with Currie providing veteran leadership, in addition to Scott Derrickson who played a strong second half.

X-factor: Kurker. When the junior winger gets hot, he’s hard to stop and creates a dynamism to Prep’s offense.

3. BC High (13-4-3)
Marquee wins: The Eagles finished strong, winning their final six games in addition to the Cape Cod Classic tournament to end the season. Their 5-4 shootout with Catholic Memorial was also a classic, as usual. Does a tie against Malden Catholic count as well? Sure.

Players to watch: F Mike Cashman, F Terence Durkin, F Andrew White, D Jack Buckley, D Brendan O’Malley.

The skinny: The Eagles play with plenty of speed, a point of emphasis for first-year head coach John Flaherty when assembling this year’s varsity roster, and the young roster has gelled together quickly. More than anything, BC High has taken play to their opponents. They’re aggressive on the forecheck and know how to use their speed to their advantage.

X-factor: Experience. The Eagles haven’t been to the postseason since 2008, so a good portion of their roster hasn’t experienced playoff hockey. How long will it take them to acclimate? A period? A shift? “Hopefully, not even that,” Flaherty said. “At the end of the day, it’s just another hockey game. It’s not different from any others.”

4. Weymouth (17-3-2)
Marquee wins: The Wildcats’ 5-2 win over fellow Super Eight entrant and longtime rival Hingham at Pilgrim was about as good as it gets for the Weymouth seniors who’d never beaten the Harbormen before. “It’s a monkey they’ve wanted to get off their backs,” head coach Matt Cataldo told ESPN Boston after the game.

Players to watch: F Tyler Piacentini, F Riley Flanagan, G Brian Brady, F/D Trevor King, D Andy Sheridan.

The skinny: When are people finally going to stop saying that Piancentini is too small to play on the big stage? He can flat out score. Hey, it worked for Nathan Gerbe, right? Not only does Weymouth have scoring punch, they’re well suited for a long postseason run with Brady, a senior, in nets. Outside of MC, the Wildcats were perhaps the state’s most consistent team from start to finish and that means something coming in a year of great parity.

X-factor: King has played on the blue line and stepped up front to play center as well this season. Whether it’s moving the puck out of his own end, or stepping in to win a faceoff, versatility always comes in handy this time of year.

5. Hingham (13-5-4)
Marquee wins: It might not look as impressive as their upset over Malden Catholic on paper, but the Harbormen’s 5-3 win over St. Mary’s of Lynn on Feb. 5 got them going. After upsetting the Lancers, Hingham went through a tough 0-3-1 stretch before turning things around with a comeback win that had the intensity of Super Eight matchup.

Players to watch: F Tim Driscoll, D Alex Pompeo, F Matt Hughes, F Austin O’Connor, D Steven Bellew.

The skinny: Let’s call spades a spade: the Harbormen are the defending champions, so that has to count for something. Simply put, they’ve been there and done that, so nerves won’t be an issue. Although there was a good amount of turnover from last year’s roster, a few of their stalwarts remain in Holy Cross commit Driscoll and Pompeo, who is among the best defensemen in the state. They are terrific building blocks to a Super Eight champion-caliber squad.

X-factor: Derek McInnis was superb during last year’s run to the title, but head coach Tony Messina likes to roll his goaltenders and senior Kevin Granatino has been solid in the second half of the season. That gives the Harbormen perhaps the greatest depth in goal in the tournament.

6. Needham (12-6-4)
Marquee wins: Where would the Rockets have been without their 3-2 win over Weymouth on Feb. 9? It was a season-turner. Their 4-3 win over Springfield Cathedral was their raison d’Ítre to the tournament.

Players to watch: D Chris Joyce, F Tom Coleman, F Jeff Rosata, D Scott Atkinson.

The skinny: Who’d have thought the Rockets would end up with the sixth seed after (literally) being left off the table in the first round of Super Eight voting. Of course, head coach Bill Guisti has built Needham into one of the state’s premier public school programs and is evidenced by their tough out-of-conference schedule which includes several Catholic Conference teams. So the Rockets are used to playing the best. Joyce is in the conversation when it comes to the state’s best defensemen and we’ve always loved the jam Needham’s forward play with. They’re truly a tough team to play.

X-factor: Akin to the Harbormen, it will be interesting to see how Needham’s goaltending tandem of Evan MacDonald and Connor Murray shapes up. They’re both talented and capable of carrying the load.

7. Woburn (17-3-1)
Marquee wins: Life in the Middlesex League night in and night out is no easy thing, so we take the fact that the Tanners were 14-2-0 against league competition as a marquee accomplishment.

Players to watch: F Casey Shea, F Alex Holland, F Daniel Holland, F Eddie Aprile, D Brian Dulong.

The skinny: We had the Tanners pegged for the top six, which means they would have avoided playing Cathedral in tonight’s play-in game. But so is life and Woburn enters the tournament as one of the most consistent teams throughout the season …

X-factor: … However, the Tanners haven’t played much in the way of their out-of-conference schedule (a Their 6-0 thumping at the hands of St. John’s Prep was a good harbinger.

8. Central Catholic (16-5-1)
Marquee wins: It was early, but the Raiders’ 4-3 win over St. John’s Prep is about as good as it gets.

Players to watch: F Tommy Evangelista, G Kyle Williams, F Nick Pelrine, F/D Nick Leonard, D Ricky Sheehan.

The skinny: The Raiders looked like they might have been on the bubble with fellow DCL/MVC co-champion Billerica coming down the last couple weeks of the season, but Central showed what they are capable of with a huge 6-3 win over No. 4 seed Weymouth on the next to last day of the season. If that team shows up, the Raiders will be extremely dangerous. Evangelista is simply fun to watch.

X-factor: Williams is that type of goaltender who is capable of stealing games for his team.

9. St. Mary’s of Lynn (14-5-3)
Marquee wins: The Spartans had some tough luck in their out-of-conference schedule and had just a 7-5-3 record against fellow playoff teams. However, they were simply dominant in the Catholic Central (7-0-3), allowing just 12 goals in 10 games.

Players to watch: G Donald Hesse, D Cam Kennedy, F Bobby Mullins, F Christopher Surrette, F Tim Aylward.

The skinny: There’s no bones about why the Spartans are in the fold and that is their defense, which all starts in net with Hesse. Among the elite netminders in the state, Hesse is a game-changer and showed in last year’s Division 1 North tournament that he’s capable of putting a team on his back. Kennedy is an underrated blue-liner who is equally adept leading the breakout from his own end as he is clearing out the crease.

X-factor: It comes down to the ability for the Spartans to get those mucking-type goals in key situations and then shutting teams down.

10. Springfield Cathedral (12-9-1)
Marquee wins: All but one of the Panthers’ games was against a playoff opponent, so they’re battled tested and held their own against teams that were considered for the Super Eight, going 4-4-0.

Players to watch: G Zac Rondeau, D Sean Kavanagh, F Frank Crinella, F Dante Christofori.

The skinny: The Panthers always seem to find a way into the Super Eight field and play one of the toughest schedules in the state. They might not be as talented as their previous Super Eight predecessors, but they play good defense in front of Rondeau, who is capable of stealing games on his own.

X-factor: Kavanagh is one of the great hidden jewels in the state.

No. 7 Weymouth battles back to beat St. Mary's

February, 20, 2011

LYNN, Mass. -- If Saturday’s contest between St. Mary’s of Lynn and Weymouth is any indication of the quality of hockey to be played in the upcoming Super Eight tournament, puck fans should be happy.

The sixth-ranked Spartans went back and forth with the Wildcats at Connery Rink before Weymouth’s Trevor King closed it out with the final two goals in a 4-3 win in a matchup of two teams that figure to be a part of the eight-team field.

The Wildcats battled back from a 2-0 first-period deficit and trailed 3-2 more than halfway through the third period.

“This was a good test for us,” Weymouth head coach Matt Cataldo said. “To come in, go down 2-0 and then come right back in the second period and tie up. We found ourselves down again, but then we get two quick ones in the third. There were a lot of good things that came out of this game tonight. It was a good test to get us ready for what’s coming down the road.”

St. Mary’s (12-5-3) got the Wildcats back on their heels in the first period while trying to avoid its third straight loss.

Derek Stella got things started, poking one past Weymouth goaltender Brian Brady (20 saves) with assists from Tim Aylward and Jake Witkowski. The Spartans took a 2-0 less than a minute later at the 9:59 mark Cam Kennedy’s goal set up by Bobby Mullins.

Brady prevented St. Mary’s from taking a three-goal lead, stopping Jordan Manthorne on a short-handed breakaway with 25 seconds remaining in the period.

It helped to refocus the Wildcats.

“We told them to keep working and do the things that we do,” Cataldo said of his message to the team at the first intermission. “It’s more or less mental with us when teams start to take over. It’s more a matter of us managing how we react.”

Weymouth (16-2-2) started chipping away at the Spartan lead 33 seconds into the second with Tyler Piacentini’s power play goal from Riley Flanagan and King.

Pat O’Keefe drew the Wildcats even with 11:15 to play in the second, beating St. Mary’s goaltender Donald Hesse five hole on a rebound.

The Spartans took the lead one more time in the third with 6:33 remaining. Tommy Braswell scored from behind the goal line, flipping the puck off Brady’s back and into the net on a power play.

Weymouth made its final charge, led by King and this three-point night. His first goal — the game-tier — came with 4:04 remaining on a faceoff in St. Mary’s zone. Flanagan won the draw and sealed off the Spartans’ center. King beat the race to the loose puck and fired off a wrist shot.

“Riley [Flanagan] held us his guy and the puck bounced right back,” King said. “I had a lot of space and just threw it on net.

King netted the game-winner with 2:27 to go on a 3-on-2 break. Piacentini and Flanagan added assists to finish with two-point games.

Aside from another two points in the standings, King and the Wildcats have yet another boost of momentum going for them heading into the big dance.

“It’s a good to win to come up here and beat these guys,” King said.