Boston High School: Tim Birarelli

D2 state final: Beverly 2, Medfield 1

March, 17, 2014
Mar 17

BOSTON – After years of coming up short, Beverly won its first state hockey title with an intense, physical 2-1 win over Medfield in the Division 2 boys final last night at TD Garden.

The game-winner came just more than two minutes into the third period as legs and sticks hacked at the puck before Connor Irving eventually put the puck in the back of the net.

“I have no idea what happened on my goal,” Irving said. “It wasn't intended to be a shot. I think it went off a kid's skate and went in.”

No title comes easy and Medfield played as close to flawless as it could. Beverly, which had averaged 30 shots in it's previous three playoff games, was held to just 16 by a Warrior defense that showed no fear and took the body when it could.

The unit, led by Matt Crowell and Will Murphy, collapsed in between the circles on the defensive end and forced Beverly to the outside.

“They stepped up at the blue line because they're defensemen didn't back up on us,” Irving said. “A couple of times I wanted to get going and I looked up and both their defensemen were stepped up. I couldn't go wide on them, and they back-checked really well.”

Beverly's speed, which torched Tewksbury for nine goals in the North final, was neutralized by a full-on defensive lockdown by the Warriors who made the Panthers work for every inch.

“It was a matter of our forwards doing a good job of back-checking,” Medfield coach Toby Carlow said. “A good team like them if you let them skate they're going to make you pay so we stayed up high in the neutral zone and slow them down before they can get moving.”

Eventually the Panthers broke through when Matt Hamor deflected home a shot to put Beverly ahead early in the second. While the largely pro-Beverly crowd celebrated the Warriors responded on the next shift when Justin Hirschfeld shoved home the equalizer less than 30 seconds later.

Hirschfeld buzzed around the sheet for the Warriors for all 45 minutes and made life difficult for the Beverly defense. For Beverly though, its ultimate defense was Tim Birarelli.

The junior goaltender turned aside 16 shots in the win and captained a defense that was able to contain and curtail the Warriors just enough.

“I have a really good communication with my defense where they can force them wide and force them to shoot too,” Birarelli said. “When they forced them to shoot from the outside it was easy for me.”

The loss marks the end of Hirschfeld's Medfield career that saw him help pilot the team in its first season in Division 2 to the brink of a state title.

“I just want to thank every one on my team for making my best year,” Hirschfeld said. “I'll never forget this season.”

In the moment, Carlow was disappointed, but he said that he could not have asked for a better year for the Warriors.

“Our goal is always to be here but you've got to work to get here,” Carlow said. “These guys did that and that is why it is a successful season. Sure, we came up short today, but it's a successful season because we got here and they did the work and they committed themselves to getting here.”

PLAYING FOR PETE: Under their cream and cocoa colored jerseys, and underneath their pads, the Beverly players wore red undershirts with the name “Frates” on the back. The shirts were a gift from, and to honor, Peter Frates.

Frates, a Beverly native and former captain of the Boston College baseball team, was diagnosed with ALS two years ago and helped to motivate the Panthers this season.

“Last year Pete came to talk to us and he's such an inspiration,” Irving said. “Pete's such a good guy and he's going through such a tough thing. I have the utmost respect for Pete. It was so cool to see him here.

“I wear the same Under Armour [undershirt] and it's really hot in this building so I threw [Pete's shirt] on in the third. So I'm going to give Pete all the credit on the third-period goal.”

The Panthers have felt and dealt with their share of adversity off the ice in recent years. Beverly head coach Bob Gilligan recently battled non-Hodgkin lymphoma and Birarelli's father is engaged in a battle with liver cancer.

For Birarelli to wear the ribbon-clad shirt given to the team by Frates had an extra personal meaning.

“It's definitely special with everything going in the community -- my dad, Mr. Frates, Coach Gilligan himself,” Birarelli said. “It's good to win it for them. All this hard work paid off.

“I think it's so special that we can play for these guys and we got the desired result that they wanted. Obviously, wearing Pete's shirt under my stuff tonight was special. When I knew putting it on that it would be a special night.”

Gilligan, who lives a few houses down from Frates said he and the team admired him for how he has battled the disease..

“Peter is fighting it really hard,” Gilligan said. “They really admire his courage and the strength to go forward.”

D2 North: Beverly 5, Lincoln-Sudbury 1

March, 4, 2014
Mar 4
BILLERICA, Mass. – Beverly means business.

After giving up a goal less than a minute in the Panthers rolled for the final 44 and beat Lincoln-Sudbury, 5-1, at the Chelmsford Forum in the second Division 2 North semifinal.

The win moves the Panthers into Monday's sectional final against Tewksbury at Tsongas Center.

“We talked about kids keeping their composure,” Beverly coach Bob Gilligan said. “You got plenty of hockey, you can the way these kids can skate, and once you hem them in forechecking-wise they were getting tired. You keep that kind of pressure on you start to wear these kids down.”

Myles Cohen roofed one over Beverly's Tim Birarelli to give the Warriors the first lead but that was as positive as the night would be for the MVC/DCL 2 champions.

Brendan Boyle answered four minutes later to tie the game for Beverly. Fifteen seconds later Kevin Lally knuckled a shot between the legs of Lincoln goalie Derek Ashe to put the Panthers ahead.

“We didn't panic at all,” Lally said. “We just kept playing our game and it worked out good for us.”

Despite not scoring a goal, junior defenseman Nick Albano stole the show offensively for the Panthers. Albano assisted on all five Beverly goals, including three primary assists, and played a key role in his own zone as well.

“I didn't think I had five,” Albano said. “Just trying to get the puck to the net and win this game [and] go play Tewksbury.”

Connor Irving netted Beverly's third and fourth goals as the Panthers' depth showed itself and worked the Warrior defense hard. Irving epitomized Beverly's speed as he pressed forward on the forecheck and backcheked with speed as well.

“He works, he angles well, he's got that stick on the ice,” Gilligan said. “He's tough to play against because that kid, transition wise, burns you. He takes away areas of the ice just with his skating ability and [keeping his] stick down. He knows how to angle and cut the center of the ice out.”

For L-S, the result was the end of a quality season that included a game at Fenway Park and winning its first outright league title in 22 years.

The future though is bright for coach Tom Pare and Co. The Warriors return Ashe as well as the entire top two lines.

“I couldn't be happier for the seniors,” Pare said. “I think they had a great career; they had a lot of success here. I wish we could have gone out in a more competitive game as far as the scoreboard is concerned. I couldn't thank the guys enough in my first year here.”

IN A PINCH, CALL LEATHERSICH: Midway through the first period Beverly's Jesse MacLaughlin lost a skate blade. The resulting fiasco in fixing the skate meant someone had to fill on the top line with Ryan Santo and Connor Irving.

Insert Ted Leathersich.

The junior stepped up the moment with a two-point game. Leathersich assisted on Irving's first goal and iced the game with a foal in the third period.

“We play a lot together in practice, we mix up lines a lot,” Leathersich said. “It's pretty easy to play with Connor and [Ryan] Santo because they tend to get the puck to you and get open. I guess it was little luck too and they were in the right spot.”

Gilligan said he was proud of Leathersich for stepping into the opportunity.

“Teddy filled a big void,” Gilligan said. “It's huge coming off the bench like that. He played a good game.”

FORECHECK & DEFENSE: The Panthers outshot L-S, 35-19, and gummed up the Warriors with a suffocating forecheck. Beverly's speed across all lines allowed the Panthers to drive the net hard, and with regularity.

“It's a large zone so we had Timmy direct the puck into the corner, and then we had our breakouts setup,” Albano said. “They were only doing a one-man [forecheck] so we're pretty good with that. Go d-to-d and go right up. It worked well for us.”

On the other end, Beverly made it a chore for the Warriors to push the puck up and establish a cycle on offense. When L-S was able to gain the blue line they were kept outside the dots and above the circles for the bulk of the game.

“I think our forecheck is definitely one of our biggest assets,” Leathersich said. “Teams can't keep up with it because defenses have no time to react.”

Pare said he's team poor performance on the offensive end was a combination of a lack of confidence and Beverly's never ending pressure.

“Against Winthrop, we had two goals that were just basically in the blue paint, being hungry,” Pare said. “Tonight it was a combination of them not letting us get to that area and us not crashing the net when we needed to.”

EXORCISING THE DEMON: After being bounced from the tournament in the first round the last two years this year's Beverly has put together two victorious, but very different performances to put themselves a game away from Causeway Street.

For several players, Friday's hair-raising shootout win over Danvers — the squad that eliminated them last year — was like getting the proverbial monkey off their back.

“After two years straight after losing in the first round I think we can now just play our game and put that stuff behind us, and just keep our fans on our side and keep playing the way we're playing,” Albano said. “I don't think any team can skate with us or shut us down offensively, and I know we have the goaltending and defense to shut any team down as well.”

The last time Beverly won a playoff game was in 2011, when the Panthers advanced to the North semifinals.

Who eliminated them? Tewksbury.

D2 North: Beverly 2, Danvers 1 (SO)

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1

STONEHAM, Mass. -- It seemed half of the North Shore was at Stoneham Arena for last night's Division 2 North quarterfinal between Beverly and Danvers.

They got their money's worth as both goalies stole the show and Beverly squeaked out a 2-1 victory in a shootout to advance to the semifinals Monday against Lincoln-Sudbury.

The Panthers got goals from Nick Albano and Connor Irving in the shootout. Irving also had Beverly's goal in regulation. Danvers' Kyle Cahill scored the Falcons' lone goal in regulation and its only goal in the shootout.

“I never thought it'd end like this,” Beverly coach Bob Gilligan said. “We got some talented kids that can make some plays. We do the shootout at the end of practice the last few weeks, [and] there's a slew of them that can make some pretty good moves.”

The shootout ended the game, but it was the goalies who stepped into the spotlight and thrived. Danvers' Alex Taylor turned aside 41 shots, including 18 in the third period alone. Beverly's Tim Birarelli stopped 20 Danvers shots.

Taylor's third period was spectacular as Beverly's offense clicked on every cylinder but was unable to solve the junior.

“Obviously in the third period he was immense,” Danvers coach Kevin Brown said of Taylor. “In the second period he didn't see as many shots but third period he was there. I said last year the kid's a gamer. When there's a big game on the line the kid responds.”

Taylor was aided by a Danvers defense that played smart for the entire game. The Falcons kept their sticks low and forced Beverly into numerous low-percentage shots that Taylor was able to gobble up. When Taylor did have to stop one for the highlight reel he was able to.

Taylor stopped the last 39 shots he faced, excluding the shootout.

“No one gave us a shot coming into this, but we all knew we had a shot,” Taylor said. “I just didn't want to lose the game. There's such a huge rivalry, and I knew my team deserved more than that. It was just heartbreaking to go down like that.”

Gilligan said that the Falcons played his team smart on the defensive end.

“They're goaltending came up big,” Gilligan said. “They had a lot of blocks, we weren't getting the pucks through, but give them credit; they played well. I thought Taylor stood on his head at times. He had a lot of saves.”

Birarelli backstopped the Panthers and gave the offense the security it needed to press deeper into Danvers' zone throughout the game. Danvers used their offensive opportunities effectively but Birarelli was ready at every turn.

Birarelli was at his best during the shootout when he seemed to blanket the entire net. He turned aside four Danvers shooters who all threw something different at him but never made him commit first. His pad save on Kevin Hodgkins ended the game.

“Even in practice you can tell he locks down,” Irving said. “It's so hard to beat him side to side. He's such a good goalie; he's a big kid, he covers most of the net. He did an amazing job especially with all that pressure. He held the fort. He's the reason we won today. I love the kid.”

DEFENSE STALLS OFFENSE: Having already played each other twice this season very little was unknown between the two teams. The biggest battle going in was how the Falcon defense would gum up Beverly's high-octane attack that averaged 4.55 goals a game.

Danvers did it with an aggressive forecheck and funneling the Panthers to the boards through the neutral zone. It took Beverly a while to adjust and the Panthers never seemed to fully adjust.

“In the beginning they were sending a two-man, and then a one-man, forecheck to try to cut down the center of the ice,” Gilligan said. “Give Kevin credit; they played us pretty well. Our speed got sort of shut down.”

Last night was only the fifth time this season that Beverly failed to score three or more goals.

“We put ourselves in good spots on the ice,” Brown said. “Neutral zone, in the d zone shut down their speed early. We've seen them enough where we know what they do well; it comes down to effort. Our guys generally had the effort out there defensively.”

Recap: No. 18 Beverly 4, Marblehead 3

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
SALEM, Mass. -- Twice this season Marblehead had scored three or more times against Beverly, the only team to do so, and lost.

On Wednesday, with the game tied at three and less than four minutes to go, it looked as if the Magicians would finally steal a point from the Panthers.


Beverly senior Ryan Santo wristed a shot over the glove of Myles Barry with 3:18 to go to cap the Panthers' comeback and seal a 4-3 win at Rockett Arena to keep the Panthers undefeated. Beverly rallied from a two-goal first period deficit.

“The kid's got ice in his veins,” Beverly senior Graham Doherty said of Santo. “He got stoned like seven times earlier in the game; he was snake-bit for a while. He just kept his nose to the grindstone and he popped it in over his shoulder. That was amazing.”

Down by a pair early Doherty took the game by the scruff and asserted himself. Doherty solved Barry on Beverly's 16th shot to put the Panthers on the board with 30 seconds left in the first. He added another goal early in the second when he wristed home a shot from the right circle to tie the game.

“Graham's a sniper, he can shoot,” Beverly coach Bob Gilligan said. “ He's got that pro-type shot.”

Marblehead, held to only 12 shots during the game, made the most of their opportunities early. The Headers scored on two of their first three shots to open a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. Tom Koopman buried a shot to the short side of Beverly goalie Tim Birarelli to open the scoring. Erik Powers bowled past a defenseman and slid the puck between Briarelli's legs to double the lead.

After that Beverly's defense closed down and made it extremely difficult for the Magicians to get many more solid opportunities.

“That's probably the fewest shots we've had on anyone in a long time,” Marblehead coach Bob Jackson said. “I don't know if it was us not generating offense or they just did a good job of picking us up. Except for Beverly we outshoot guys. We make goalies look good.”

As the game progressed Beverly's conditioning and speed became apparent and gradually took over. The Panthers pressed hard on the forecheck throughout and it paid dividends in the end. Marblehead was unable to pull Barry for the extra attacker late in the game until there was less than 40 seconds left because the Headers could not move the puck through the neutral zone.

“We credit that to our coaches; they skate us hard every day in practice, and it pays off in the third period,” Doherty said. “We play our best hockey in the third period. We work all the time 3-on-3 forward line against forward line from the tops of the circles in in the defensive zone cycling the puck and just trying to keep it moving.”

Braden Haley gave Marblehead it's second lead with a late goal in the second period. Jesse MacLaughlin floated home a shot from the side boards to tie the game at three and set up the chaotic finish.

“It's a really good test of our character to come from behind,” Doherty said. “We were able to battle back little by little. We just stayed positive on the bench and chipped away at the lead. We never lost our confidence. We just had to keep working our game.”

SHOTS & SAVES: Beverly was able to throw 43 shots at Barry during the game and attempted dozens more. Marblehead's defense made some of those shots easier than others, but Barry was asked to do a lot between the pipes and, even in defeat, he stepped up to the moment.

“If it wasn't for Myles it could have been 10-3,” Jackson said. “It wouldn't have even been close.”

Barry dealt with wave after wave of Panther attacks early. He turned aside 15 shots in the first and 12 in the second period. Both Gilligan and Doherty were also complimentary of Barry and his talents.

“He was great,” Gilligan said. “There were a lot of shots that he came up big.”

“That was the best goalie performance we've played against all year,” Doherty said.

Our MIAA boys' hockey All-State Team

March, 28, 2013
All-StateF - Liam Coughlin, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Finished third among all Division 1 players in scoring, while leading the Knights back to the Super 8 for the first time since 2009-10. The South Boston native put up 28-20-48 totals, tied for first among Catholic Conference scorers this season.

All-StateF - Ara Nazarian, Soph., Malden Catholic
ESPN Boston’s Mr. Hockey award winner this season, Nazarian had 26-22-48 totals for the regular season, along with nine goals and five assists during the Super 8 tournament for the three-time defending champions. The Boxford resident and center is the first underclassman to win the Mr. Hockey award.

All-StateF – Brian Pinho, Sr., St. John’s Prep
The Providence College commit led the Eagles to a No. 1 seed in this year’s Super 8 tournament. The North Andover resident compiled 12-24-36 totals this season and, in January, was ranked No. 117 among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings.

All-StateD – Casey Fitzgerald, Soph., Malden Catholic
The North Reading resident earned his second Super 8 title with the Lancers, playing on all defensive units and is one of two players making a second-straight appearance on our All-State team. The Boston College commit had 5-17-22 totals on the season and recently was accepted in the United States National Team Development Program’s U-17 team.

All-StateD – Matt Foley, Sr., Springfield Cathedral
The two-way blue-liner finished third on the Panthers in scoring with 10-16-26 totals this year while leading them to another Super 8 apperance. A Longmeadow resident, the captain is deciding among prep schools for next year, as well as offers to play in college.

All-StateG – Peter Cronin, Sr., BC High
The only repeating First-Team All-Stater this year, Cronin finished in the top five among Division 1 netminders in both goals against average (1.40) and save percentage (94.6) while starting all 23 of the Eagles’ games. He is currently considering colleges among playing opportunities at the prep school and junior levels.

All-StateF – Tom Besinger, Jr., BC High
The Eagles’ top center and captain was force to reckon with in the circle, in addition to leading the Eagles with 35 points (10 goals and a team-best 25 assists).
All-StateF – Cam Owens, Sr., Wilmington
Finished his high school career with back-to-back Division 2 state championships. Owens racked up 30 points, playing alongside All-State honorable mention Brendan McDonough. Owens is currently weighing prep and junior options for next year.
All-StateF – Nolan Vesey, Sr., Austin Prep
The senior captain led the Cougars back to the Super 8 for the first time since the 2009-10 season and all the way to a finals appearance at the Garden. Vesey led AP in goals (18) and points (31) while kicking in 13 assists.
All-StateD – Nick Gorski, Sr., Central Catholic
A player who head coach Mike Jankowski repeatedly called his “most improved player” since freshman year, the Raiders captain played on all units, leading Central to another Super 8 appearance.
All-StateD – Jack Williams, Sr. Springfield Cathedral
A major component to perhaps the state’s best blue-line core, Williams did a little bit of everything for the Panthers, including playing forward on power-play units. The Suffield, Conn. resident tallied four goals and 19 assists for 23 points. He is currently weighing his playing options for next season.

All-StateG – Colin Soucy, Jr., Central Catholic
The break-out star of this year’s Super 8 tournament, Soucy nearly delivered the Raiders to a quarterfinal-round upset of No. 1 seed St. John’s Prep in his first year as Central’s starting netminder.

Best of the Rest – Honorable Mention
Tyler Bird, Jr., St. John’s Prep
Tommy Bishop, Sr., Chelmsford
Matt Brazel, Jr., Hingham
Brian Brooks, Jr., Canton
Mike Carbone, Sr., Marshfield
Bobo Carpenter, Soph., Austin Prep
A.J. Couto, Sr., Danvers
Ben Cox, Sr., Medfield
Peter Crinella, Soph., Springfield Cathedral
Cam Curley, Sr., Franklin
Sam D’Antuono, Jr., Hingham
Jordan Dow, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
Josh Edwards, Sr., Blue Hills
Brendan Greene, Jr., Winchester
C.J. Grinnell, Sr., Burlington
Marc Happy, Jr., Wachusett
Lloyd Hayes, Jr., Central Catholic
Kevin Hock, Frosh., Catholic Memorial
Mike Iovanna, Sr., Malden Catholic
Andrew Irving, Sr., Beverly
Connor Irving, Jr., Beverly
Ryan Jones, Sr., Coyle-Cassidy
Jack Kilty, Sr., Medway
Pat Kramer, Soph., BC High
Tom Koopman, Jr., Marblehead
Matt Kustra, Sr., Natick
Brendan McDounough, Jr., Wilmington
Anthony Lespasio, Sr., Bedford
Jack O’Hear, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Derek Petti, Sr., Tewksbury
Eddie Pratt, Sr., Xaverian
Nolan Redler, Jr., Winchester
Tyler Sifferlen, Jr., Malden Catholic
Mike Sorenti, Jr., Archbishop Williams
Sean Spohr, Sr., Westfield
Max Turcotte, Sr., Holliston
Max Willman, Sr., Barnstable

Matt Burchill, Sr., Marshfield
Derek Butler, Jr., Natick
John Carlson, Jr., Hingham
Adam Crowley, Jr., Burlington
Nick Edwards, Jr., Blue Hills
Sean Heelan, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Kurt Leavitt, Sr., Canton
Bryan Nelson, Soph., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
Nick Rolli, Jr., Malden Catholic
Ryan Shea, Frosh, BC High
Sam Topham, Sr., BC High

Tim Birarelli, Soph., Beverly
Alex Buckley, Sr., Newburyport
Brandon Collett, Frosh., Catholic Memorial
Jordan Davis, Sr., Norwood
Derek DeCastro, Sr., Burlington
Drew Foley, Jr., Wilmington
Nolan Greene, Jr., North Quincy
Elijah Harris, Soph., Austin Prep
John Liquori, Jr., Springfield Cathedral
Al Lynch, Jr., Framingham
Evan Morelli, Sr., Reading
James Offner, Soph., Winchester
Nick Russo, Sr., Waltham
Jimmy Tierney, Soph., Oliver Ames

D2 North: Danvers 4, Beverly 3

March, 2, 2013

WOBURN, Mass. -- No style points are awarded for game-winning goals, there's only the result.

By A.J. Couto's standards Friday night, his third goal was by far the dirtiest. But it also will likely prove to be the most memorable goal of his life.

The Danvers senior forward scored during the first minute in each the first and second periods, giving the Falcons a puncher's chance against favored No. 1 seed Beverly in the teams' Division 2 North quarterfinal game. Couto, along with his fellow seniors, had never before experienced victory over their Northeastern Conference rival.

And so Couto found himself parked at the side of the Panthers' net. He watched the carom from a point shot come off the end wall and onto his blade. He threw it back toward the goalmouth, parallel to the goal line. The puck bounced off the blade of the goaltender's right skate and across the goal line.

Couto had his hat trick and only 11 seconds separated the Falcons from a fitting celebration.

When time elapsed and Couto's third was the difference in a 4-3 win over Beverly, his thoughts were still in the past.

"We saw how they went off the ice after they won the NEC championship," Couto said about Beverly’s 4-2 win on Feb. 13. "That stuck with us. We were playing with that all game long."

The No. 8 seed Falcons (12-6-4) advance to play No. 12 Concord-Carlisle Monday in the sectional semifinal at the Chelmsford Forum.

To get there, Danvers needed some career games, including that of senior defenseman Kevin Anderson, who matched his season-long points total with a four-point game. Anderson scored a goal and had three assists to figure in each of the Falcons’ markers.

Although Couto led Danvers in goals during the regular season with 17, Falcons head coach Kevin Brown noted that he’s on an unprecedented clip of late.

"A.J. [Couto] is playing the best hockey of his career right now,” Brown said. “He's put together a string of games. He's just got a nose for the net."

Beverly (18-2-1), while being outplayed early, kept pace with the Falcons. Connor Irving score a little more than two minutes after Couto’s first of the game.

Anderson regained the lead for Danvers before hitting the room, sending a half-slap through a mass of traffic in front of Panthers goaltender Tim Birarelli at 12:02.

Couto extended the lead 42 seconds into the second with Anderson laying down the pass for the assist.

Again, the Panthers responded, following less than two minutes later with Nate McLaughlin’s first of the game. The senior forward followed with his second to tie it at 12:39 of the second, burying a beautiful saucer pass feed from Ted Leathersich (2 A) on a 3-on-2 break.

After an up-and-down period in the second, which saw plenty of quality scoring chances for either side, the play bottled up in the third.

"I think it was a natural progression of the game,” Brown said of the deciding period. “The kids left it out there in the first two periods. Credit to [Beverly] that they tied us when we had the momentum. It just kind of became a hockey game again."

The tension mounted as the Panthers turned some loose pucks into a couple of scoring chances on Alex Taylor.

While both teams encountered trouble breaking out of their own zone, the Panthers had the better of the shots in period, holding the Falcons to just one shot on goal – on the game-winner.

"I didn't really have that much of an angle, but I thought why not throw it on net,” Couto said. “I saw it slide across the goal line, hit the back of his skate and then into the net."

MIAA hockey midseason All-State teams

February, 4, 2013
1st Team

F – Liam Coughlin, Sr., Catholic Memorial
F – Brian Pinho, Sr., St. John’s Prep
F – Ara Nazarian, Soph., Malden Catholic
D – Casey Fitzgerald, Soph., Malden Catholic
D – Matt Foley, Sr., Springfield Cathedral
G – Peter Cronin, Sr., BC High

2nd Team
F – Sam D’Antuono, Soph., Hingham
F – Mike Kelleher, Sr., Central Catholic
F – Cam Owens, Sr., Wilmington
D – Bryan Nelson, Jr., St. John's (Shrewsbury)
D – Jack Williams, Sr., Springfield Cathedral
G – Drew Foley, Jr., Wilmington

1st Team

F – Alison Butler, Sr., St. Mary’s (Lynn)
F – Jane Freda, Sr., Hingham
F – Kayla Smith, Sr., Woburn
D – Cassandra Connolly, Sr., Woburn
D – Annie Messuri, Jr., Acton-Boxborough
G – Courtney Davis, Jr., Woburn

2nd Team
F – Kaleigh Finigan, Sr., St. Mary's (Lynn)
F – Hannah Murphy, Sr., Duxbury
F - Adrieanna Rossini, Soph., Arlington Catholic
D – Tatiana Doucette, Jr., St. Mary’s (Lynn)
D – Alexx Good, Sr., Falmouth
G – Maddie Scavotto, Soph., Falmouth

Aside from those named to our first two teams, there are a plenty of deserving candidates across the state that made for some very hard decisions.

Here's a peak at few players who were on the cusp and who are worth keeping tabs on as we near tournament time:

Tom Besinger, Sr. F, BC High: His two-goal performance in Saturday night's comeback win over Catholic Memorial tells you everything you need to know about the shifty center.

Eddie Pratt, Sr. F, Xaverian: It wouldn't be too outlandish to say that you could make a strong case for the power forward (15-11-26) as the Catholic Conference MVP.

Jack Kilty, Sr. F, Medway: Don't let the fact that the Mustangs play in D3 detract from his resume (17-17-34); he could skate on any line in the state.

Nick Rolli, Sr. D, Malden Catholic: It's been an up-and-down year for the Lancers, but the blue-liner is a steadying force, playing on all units.

Alex Buckley, Sr. G, Newburyport: In terms of shots seen, it's hard to beat his 94.8 save percentage.

Tim Birarelli, Soph. G, Beverly: The Panthers' offense gets a lot of the pub, but the second-year backstop has been a revelation this year as they've surrendered just 10 goals on the season.

Brittani Lanzilli, Jr. F, Medford: After transferring back from St. Mary's, she'll lead the Mustangs as far as they can go.

Maggie Layo, Jr. F, Sandwich: Among the leading scorers in the state (11-33-44), she's a huge part why no one will want to cross paths with the Blue Knights in D2.

Hannah Wright, Sr. D, Arlington: As close to a shut-down blue-liner as you'll find in MIAA hockey this year.

Shannon O'Neil, Sr. G, Austin Prep: Perhaps the toughest decision to make among all of them in a particularly good year of goaltending in the girls' game. A 97.2 percentage and six shutouts is about as good as it gets.

Recap: No. 10 Beverly 0, No. 19 Newburyport 0

January, 16, 2013
NEWBURYPORT, Mass. -- It’s not often that both teams can be satisfied by not winning a game, but last night’s tilt between Newburyport and Beverly wasn’t a typical game.

The two Division 2 heavyweights played a spirited, physical game that ended in a scoreless tie in front of a large crowd at Graf Rink.

“I enjoy this type of hockey,” Beverly head coach Bob Gilligan said. “It should be played like this. Give them credit, they are a very good team. You hate to tie, but that team played hard.”

The Panthers (9-0-1) controlled much of the early going and the host Clippers (5-1-4) collapsed in on defense and clogged up lanes to keep Beverly unbalanced. As the period wore on play opened up and allowed each team a couple of quality scoring chances.

The game quickly turned into a goaltender’s duel between Beverly’s Tim Birarelli and Newburyport’s Andrew Buckley.

Buckley stopped more shots than Birarelli (21-14), but each came up huge for their squad. Birarelli stoned Tyler Cusack from point-blank range in the opening minute of the second period to keep it scoreless. Buckley turned aside four quality shots during the first few shifts of the third to keep the game scoreless and pump up the home crowd.

“They were shooting a lot between legs and between people,” Buckley said. “We practice that stuff almost every other day with tip [drills]. It was different to see a team use that type of style, but it wasn’t anything that was really that new.”

At times, the Clippers were their own worst enemy. Costly turnovers in the offensive zone stalled the attack throughout the game.

“We turned the puck over out there a few too many times trying to toe drag it or drop pass it where we should get hungry and get the puck to the net,” Newburyport head coach Paul Yameen said. “I think we’re a better team when we do that. We’re working on it.”

Midway through the third period, Beverly’s Graham Doherty brought the puck over the blue line and slashed to the net. Before he could get there he was met by Newburyport’s Nick Mombello who hit Doherty so hard that he was separated from his stick.

Doherty popped back up and skated off, but it was emblematic of how physical last night’s game was.

“There’s going to be physical contact; that’s what the game’s all about, Gilligan said. “These kids played with a little bit of heart.”

Despite all the hitting, the teams were able to control their aggression, and neither team earned a power play.

“Those guys are big guys,” Beverly’s Connor Irving said. “We’ve just got to take those hits and keep fighting through them.”

As the two of highest-ranked teams in Division 2, last night’s game was a good way for both squads to see how well they measure up against solid competition. Despite not getting the win, Irving said it was a plus to earn the tie so that he, and the Panthers, would stay hungry.

“It’s good to have games like this,” Irving said. “You kind of want to go [undefeated] into the tournament, but you want to know what it feels like to lose. It’s good to be in a game like this; it’s only going to help us in the tournament.”

Yameen said that, despite the tie, the result showed that his team could compete with the top teams in the state.

“I think if we play our game we can play with anybody,” Yameen said. “We’ve played some quality teams this year, D1 and D2, and that’s as good a team as we’ve played this year.”