Boston High School: Tim Larocque

Recap: No. 2 BC High 6, No. 4 AP 2

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18

FALMOUTH, Mass. – If there was a need for any further proof that this year’s Buddy Ferreria Classic at Falmouth Ice Arena could be a preview of Super 8 action to come, Monday’s matinee tilt between No. 2 BC High and No. 4 Austin Prep would satisfy.

The Eagles and Cougars came out of the starting blocks fast, pacing each other up and down the ice sheet.

But it was in the second period when BC High emerged, scoring three goals in a span of less than five minutes, while taking a 6-2 victory and advancing to Thursday’s championship game against Duxbury.

"The first period was a little bit more of a track meet,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “The second period was a little bit more indicative of what we're capable of doing as a hockey team, with speed, passing, finding the guy that's open. When we did that, we were able to put three by them."

BC High (14-1-4) opened scoring at 6:26 of the first, as Tim Larocque snuck a wrister under the crossbar.

The Cougars (12-4-4) drew even on a power play from defenseman Andrew Cross, who was pinching up in the offensive zone and threw one in from the wing off the skate of an Eagles defenseman at 10:29.

"It was a heavyweight bout, there was a little bit of feeling out and it was a 1-1 hockey game,” AP head coach Louis Finocchiaro said. “Then, the second period, for whatever reason all season, the second period's been when we've fallen apart."

The Eagles’ onslaught began at 7:37, when Sam Topham skated up the point to the right wing circle and got Cougars netminder Elijah Harris sliding one way. The puck didn’t come off Topham’s stick cleanly after the dish from Chris LaLiberte (1 G, 1A) and the misdirection fooled Harris, who was playing the percentages.

Then, at 9:39, the Eagles put on a passing clinic. Defenseman Alec Flynn made a nice touch pass at the red line to set up BC High’s transition through the neutral zone. Jake Lemanski then skated the wing and skittered a pass over to Patrick Kramer (1 G, 1 A), who buried it on the back-hand after a single deke.

Just a minute and 41 seconds later, Kramer was in on the act again, this time providing a highlight reel assist. From below AP’s goal line, the Merrimack commit sent a saucer pass back into the slot, skipping over the outstretched stick of a Cougars defenseman and onto the tape of Kayser Raei for the goal.

"Not many kids can make that play, and having the ability to see that and make that pass,” Flaherty said.

It was an example of the Eagles’ concerted effort to set up shop deep in AP’s zone.

"We tried to use our speed and get past their defensemen,” Kramer said. “We had to get Elijah [Harris] moving side to side because he's a good goalie and that's the only way we were going to beat him."

The Cougars attempted to lodge yet another third-period comeback, behind an early Mike Egan goal, but the Eagles distanced themselves.

Larocque added his second point of the game with an assist on a goal from LaLiberte, before Trevor Davis closed out the victory with an empty-netter.

"When we're on and are playing good hockey, we're tough to beat,” Finocchiaro said. “We've talked about it, our coaching staff, we've talked about it, we've tried to drill it into their heads, but we just haven't been able to play 45 minutes of hockey."

Recap: No. 2 BC High 6, Falmouth 0

February, 16, 2014
Feb 16
FALMOUTH, Mass. – Speed kills.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recap: No. 3 Malden Catholic 3, No. 1 BC High 1

February, 9, 2014
Feb 9
MALDEN, Mass. —The impressive season long unbeaten streak is over for the BC High Eagles and Malden Catholic’s Ara Nazarian had a lot do with it.

Nazarian scored the go ahead goal in the second period and the insurance goal in the third period as the No. 3 Lancers put an end to the No. 1 Eagles’ 14-game unbeaten streak by a score of 3-1 at the Valley Forum.

The UNH commit finished off a sweet move to his forehand early in the second period to give the Lancers a lead they would not relinquish.

“He is a high end talent kid and you expect that,” said Malden Catholic coach John McLean. “I thought he worked really hard tonight and he was focused. We gear up for these guys so we look forward to playing them. I wish we could play them more during the year.”

The Lancers opened the scoring in the first period when senior Patrick Wrenn finished off a nice cross-ice pass from Nick Botticelli for a 1-0 lead.

Momentum shifted as the Eagles came out flying in the second period and tied the game when Tim Larocque tipped home a point shot from Ryan Shea to tie the game.

Despite the go-ahead goal by Nazarian just under a minute later, the Eagles kept the pressure on, aided by three power play chances including an abbreviated two man advantage but they could not solve junior goalie Alex Reissis (26 saves).

Nazarian put the finishing touches on the win with just under three minutes left.

Jake Witkowski had the initial bid that Eagles goalie Brandon Payzant turned aside but the rebound fell to the stick of Nazarian, who had an easy finish into the open side that put the game away.

MC's win avenged the Lancers' 5-3 loss at UMass-Boston back on Jan. 7.

“We just needed to focus on the small plays at the blue lines,” said Nazarian. “In the past games we haven’t been putting in our effort at the blue lines and that is where we have been losing games. I don’t think they have had a game where they have been down 1-0 in a while so getting that first goal was key.”

Only small in stature: When MC goalie Alex Reissis emerged from the locker room, the team’s fireman hat — given to the game’s MVP — rested on his head.

Despite his small frame, Reissis played large for the Lancers, specifically during a 16-shot barrage from the surging Eagles in the second period.

“The defense played really well for me today and kept everything to the outside,” said Reissis. “We took a lot of penalties but the penalty kill played well again.”

There was no bigger save then with just over six minutes left in the game when a defensive turnover led to Eagles top scorer Steve DeForge bearing down on Reissis but the junior goalie calmly turned the bid aside.

“I think this is a big step for him in a real big game,” added McLean. “That was huge for his confidence but he played huge tonight.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hockey teams kick off season at Regan Summitt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Preseason Super 8 hockey projection

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

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

1. Austin Prep

Last year’s record: 16-2-6

Last year’s final ranking: 3

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

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

2. Malden Catholic

Last year’s record: 16-6-3

Last year’s final ranking: 1

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

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

3. Springfield Cathedral

Last year’s record: 16-3-4

Last year’s final ranking: 7

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

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

4. Central Catholic

Last year’s record: 15-7-3

Last year’s final ranking: 6

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

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

5. BC High

Last year’s record: 15-5-3

Last year’s final ranking: 5

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

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

6. Winchester

Last year’s record: 16-6-3

Last year’s final ranking: 11

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

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

7. Archbishop Williams

Last year’s record: 13-6-4

Last year’s final ranking: 15

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

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

8. St. John’s (Shrewsbury)

Last year’s record: 7-11-4

Last year’s final ranking: N/A

Key returners: D Bryan Nelson, G Mario Pizzeri.

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

Recap: No. 3 BC High 3, No. 16 Duxbury 0

February, 17, 2013

FALMOUTH, Mass. -- In a day that could be labeled "Separation Saturday" in MIAA hockey, Duxbury needed to showcase their skills in the Cape Cod Classic despite rattling off an impressive 12-0-2 record since the start of 2013.

Too bad 2012 Super 8 finalist BC High happened to be their first-round opponent.

The No.3 Eagles shut out the Green Dragons for the first time this season in a 3-0 win behind 18 saves from Peter Cronin, along with two power-play goals at the Falmouth Ice Arena in the state’s premier regular season-ending tournament.

The Green Dragons (14-2-4) last lost on Dec. 27 to Norwood, but with playing in the Patriot League on the South Shore, the Super Eight competition committee needs to see some bigger wins in Duxbury’s nonconference play to impress the voters.

In the first of four quarterfinals, BC High scored the first of their two power play goals on the second Duxbury penalty of the game. Right off the opening man-advantage face-off, Ryan Shea shuffled the showdown behind him into the right slot where Tim Larocque cued up the lamp with a one-timer as Shea also provided the perfect screen in front.

“We got some good chances and we made some good saves, but Duxbury worked hard, they are well coached, so we knew we were in for a battle and got everything we thought we would get,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said.

The Eagles held a slight 21-18 shot advantage in the end, but had a difficult time generating offense in front of the net with Duxbury dominating the physical play and controlling the puck with their forecheck, especially in the second period.

The Eagles failed to record a shot on goal for the first 7:57 of the second stanza but were also able to fend off the deep Duxbury bench. Duxbury head coach John Blake features three tough and scrappy lines, but his team also had trouble in front of the net due to the rangy defense of the Eagles.

“[In the] first period, [Duxbury] only had four shots on net and we had eight so we outshot them in the first but they work hard, skate well, throw three lines over and very good lines,” Flaherty said. “So I’m not sure Duxbury limited us as much as they just worked hard and made us work hard.”

The score remained 1-0 to start the third period and it looked as if Duxbury finally caught a break. BC High’s Sam Topham was called for a cross-checking penalty on a failed Nick Marrocco breakaway to give Duxbury a golden power play chance only 30 seconds into the final period.

But the Dragons' again struggled to set up a solid power play, going 0-4 in the game, and the defense turned the puck over in their own end just as the power play was about to expire. Senior forward Michael Brooks' came in trailing the dumped pass from the neutral zone and stole the puck right off the right post and punched home the Eagles’ second goal between the pads of senior goalie Chris Johnson. The short-hander came with three seconds remaining in the penalty at 1:56 of the third period and was the backbreaker.

"You know going in that you're not going to beat BC High in a slugfest," Blake said. "You've got to bear down defensively and try to get out of it, one-nothing or two-to-one."

Brooks’ hustle goal put the Green Dragons on their heels as Tom Besinger put things away with BC High's second power play goal of the game off an easy pass into the slot from Shea, who also assisted on Larcque’s first-period tally.

“The pressure by Michael Brooks and Ryan McDonough was the difference," Flaherty said. "They are captains, leaders, and do little things well. They are short-handed specialists if you will and the turnover happened and Michael Brooks walked in and put it away.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 5, No. 4 CM 1

January, 17, 2013

BOSTON – Expect the unexpected.

When a rivalry game of the gravitas of a BC High versus Catholic Memorial hockey occurs, all bets are off.

“With BC High and CM, conventional wisdom goes out the window,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said after Wednesday night’s Catholic Conference duel at UMass-Boston. “You can prepare all you want and something goes differently.”

So why should anyone have been surprised when the Clark Center’s Zamboni ran out of water mid-scrape, causing about a 15-minute delay between the first and second periods.

When the teams finally returned, No. 2 BC High nearly melted the ice, using a four-goal outburst in the second in a string of five straight goals in a 5-1 win over the No. 4 Knights.

CM (8-3-0, 2-2-0 Catholic Conference) jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 11 seconds in on an Aaron Clancy’s seventh goal of the season.

The lead would be short-lived as the Eagles (7-1-2, 2-0-2) tied the game less than a minute later on Tim Larocque’s first of two goals on the evening.

The teams retired to their rooms tied after the first, but the second would be much different.

“[Flaherty] said we needed to just keep on being physical and get everything to the net,” Larocque said. “We came out flying and we were able to get some lucky bounces.”

The Eagles outshot CM 14-7 in the second period, in addition to outhustling and outhchecking the Knights while wining just about every one-on-one battle there was to be in the stanza.

Michael Brooks broke the stalemate at 4:21 of the second. It was the first of two BC High goals within a minute, 13-second span, including Jake Lemanski’s boomer of a Tom Besinger offensive zone face-off win. The Eagles notched their fourth short-handed as Steve DeForge broke in after a neutral zone turnover.

Larocque capped scoring with his second of the game with an assist from Connor Noonan at 12:41 of the second.

“Noonan was skating in and he lost it,” Larocque said. “I happened to be right behind him and I took a took a quick shot and saw it go in.”

The pressure applied by the Eagles in the second was simply unrelenting.

“Every one of their goals, they forced the issue,” Knights head coach Bill Hanson said. “It was a mistake forced by them with aggressive play. Nonetheless, you can’t make mistakes when they’re going after you.”

It’s not often that perhaps the most dominant player on the ice doesn’t figure prominently on the scoresheet.

Besinger, the Eagles’ junior captain and center, was downright dominant taking the draws against CM’s top pivots. He also showcased his speed and shiftiness in a flurry of scoring chances at the tail end of the second period. In both instances, with less than two minutes to play, Besinger turned transition into quality scoring chances.

Even though both of those opportunities went by the boards, his efforts were not lost on his coach.

“Tommy Besinger wasn’t on the scoring sheet other than that assist tonight, but he owned the faceoff circle tonight,” Flaherty said. “He was beating, in my mind, two very, very good centers in Liam Coughlin and Jacky O’Hear.”

He continued, “The little things he does translates into victory today.”

While there wasn’t much to like about the Knights’ efforts in the second period, Hanson put a positive spin on things after his team endured perhaps its toughest stretch of the season.

During the last two-plus weeks, the Knights have played a string of five straight ESPN Boston Top 25 ranked teams, including four tilts against each of their Catholic Conference opponents and a Super 8-caliber challenge against Hingham.

“I look at it like this,” Hanson said. “It’s been a tough five-game stretch, we’re two and two in the league and we got six out of 10 points against five real good teams. So that’s what we take out of it.”

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

December, 30, 2012
BOSTON -- Two goals in the opening period turned out to be enough for BC High in its Top 5 showdown against Reading on Saturday afternoon at UMass-Boston. The No. 2 Eagles held on for a 2-0 victory (their third shutout of the season), but rode their luck against a spirited No. 5 Rockets squad that had two apparent goals disallowed.

Reading (4-1-1) had plenty of chances to get the goals it needed, but the Rockets went 0-7 on the power play including two, 2-man advantages that each lasted longer than a minute.

BC High head coach John Flaherty credited his team’s penalty kill and senior goalie Peter Cronin for pulling out the win.

“The defense battled, but as they always say, your best penalty kill is your goalie,” Flaherty said. “We killed some 5-on-3’s down the end and we were running around and he made some very big saves there to keep it where it was.”

Flaherty added about his star netminder, “He’s focused, you know, he’s seeing the puck very well right now. He’s in the zone. It is little movements but they’re important ones.”

Reading head coach Mark Doherty also pointed to his team’s struggles on the power play as a deciding factor in the team not getting the result against the Eagles.

“Truthfully, I don’t think we’ve dedicated, obviously, enough time to it in practice, which is on me,” he explained.

BC High (5-0) took the lead at 2:54 of the first period with a power play goal by Pat Kramer. The sophomore forward redirected a shot from the point by captain Tom Besinger. Sam Topham was also credited with an assist.

With just under eight minutes remaining in the period, the Eagles struck again.

Steve DeForge sent the puck around the boards behind the net to Tim Larocque, who fired a great pass through the crease to the back post where Connor Noonan was on-hand to tap into the open net.

Reading had a great chance to get on the board within five minutes of the start of the second period, but a brilliant 3-on-2 move ended with a shot off the post. Mark Dente and Mike Thomson combined to create an open net opportunity, but Robert Devaney could not apply the finish.

Reading showed the ability to skate with the Eagles and created a number of scoring chances through the team’s speed but Cronin was always there to stymie the Rockets.

After the game, Cronin spoke about his team’s focus on getting off to a good start in a tough game.

“The past couple of games, we’ve had pretty bad first periods, so we wanted to come out here and set the tone early on,” Cronin said. “We were treading water for a little bit there, but we pulled it out and that’s what good teams do.”

Despite the score line, Doherty was impressed by his team’s effort in its third game in four nights and the way that the Rockets competed against one of the top teams in the state.

“I’m proud of my kids’ effort for the second and third period,” he said. “I thought we fought hard for two periods against a very good hockey team.”

The third period was stop-start because a number of penalties on both sides. The best chance down the stretch fell to the Eagles Michael Brooks on a breakaway after Reading defenseman Mike Seibold broke his stick. Brooks flew into the zone but his shot sailed wide of goalie Evan Morelli (18 saves).

Flaherty admitted after the game that his team had to bear down and grind out a result to stay unbeaten ahead of Wednesday’s showdown with No. 1 Malden Catholic.

He said, “Reading’s historically a very good team and I would say that this as good a team as they’ve had. They compete and they’re fighting for one last shot to make it to the Garden.”

Recap: No. 2 BC High 5, No. 19 St. John's (S) 2

December, 18, 2012

BOSTON, Mass. -- A highly anticipated matchup of two of the state's top netminders ended up taking a backseat to a couple of periods of tremendous BC High pressure and balance across the scoresheet.

Five Eagles scored goals and Chris LaLiberte dished out a pair of assists as No. 2 BC High broke the game open with four scores in the second period and held on for a 5-2 victory over the 19th-ranked Pioneers at UMass-Boston's Clark Athletic Center Monday night.

Both Peter Cronin (BC High) and Mario Pizzeri (St. John's) were tabbed as ESPN Boston preseason All-State goalies and are expected to be key contributors as each club vies to return to the Super Eight in March. Pizzeri got off to a strong start, stopping 12 shots in the first period as the Eagles applied relentless pressure and outshot the Pioneers by a 13-2 margin.

The one that got through belonged to sophomore forward Connor Noonan, who stole the puck off the stick of a Pioneers defenseman, continued his momentum around the net and fired home a wrist shot to give BC High a 1-0 lead at 7:05 of the first.

Knowing that solving Pizzeri was no easy task, the Eagles looked to create chances by sending waves of bodies toward the Pioneers crease, hoping to create enough havoc to slip a couple through. They did exactly that in the second as freshman Billy Roche, junior All-Stater Tom Besinger and sophomores Tim Larocque and Jake Lemanski all knocked home pucks to help BC High extend its lead to 5-0 after two.

"He’s a very good goalie, he’s a big goalie, and he does a very good job of controlling the puck so we’ve been doing our best to try and get as many as we could to the net and get as many bodies to the net as we could," said Flaherty, explaining his team's gameplan against Pizzeri. "With a big kid like that, if you let him see the puck, he’s going to make the saves. Our hope was that we were going to get a lot of shots on him and we would get to the net with our sticks down and try to bang something home."

Roche's goal came courtesy of a beautiful pass from LaLiberte, who sent a perfect cross-ice pass to the freshman who was hustling from behind the play for the easy one-timer. Just under four minutes later, LaLiberte sent Besinger on a long rush, and the junior flashed across from the left wing to the middle to beat his man and catch Pizzeri down on the ice.

In the waning minutes of the second, the Eagles got another odd-man rush with Sam Topham flicking a pass across to Noonan in the middle for a tap over to Larocque for another open one-timer. 32 seconds later, Lemanski got into the act with assists from John Stillman and Aidan Foley.

"If you saw the goals, they were pretty much all right around the net," Flaherty continued. "That's what we knew we had to do because he’s a good goalie. We knew if we were going to have a chance to beat him it was going to be that way."

The Pioneers got one back early in the third as Chris Coveney and Danny Barlock executed a pretty, give-and-go with Coveney providing the finishing touch at 2:58. St. John's would another late as Connor Maloney tipped in a Bryan Nelson blast for the final margin.

The Eagles shorthanded unit had a particularly strong night, killing off all five power play chances for St. John's. With the extra man, BC High was 1-for-4 but created numerous scoring chances with only the strong play of Pizzeri keeping them from burying any more.

"We were moving the puck pretty well on the power play and guys were moving around, I think we got five or six shots on one power play alone," Flaherty said. "We felt comfortable and confident moving the puck around and getting pucks through. Man down, we have some guys who have been doing it for a couple of years with Ryan McDonough and Michael Brooks, Chris LaLiberte, Tom Besinger and Stevie DeForge. Those guys are up front, they work hard and they can fly so our hope that we were going to pressure them and make sure they didn't have clean shots and didn't have clean opportunities and I think we did that man down."

The Pioneers never let down for a second despite the 5-0 deficit and managed to control the tempo in the final frame while scoring a pair of goals. It was the kind of effort that coach Brian Murphy could smile about and gives his charges something on the plus side to take with them.

"It was a good test for us and I thought that we responded well, especially in the third period," Murphy said. "We've got some work to do and we're willing to put the time in and see if we can't improve as the year goes on. We've got these guys again at home at the last game of the season so if we can continue to progress and work hard and get a little bit better every day, we'll see where we are the end of the season.

Saturday afternoon at Clark Athletic Center, BC High hosts Rhode Island power Mount St. Charles in special contest designated as the Eagles 150th anniversary celebration game. The school has been in existence for 150 years and each team picks one game to serve as its special tribute.

Alumni, family and friends of the program are invited to come to a pregame skate from 3-4 p.m., followed by a special reception before the puck drops against the Mounties at 4:30 p.m.

Recap: No. 2 BC High 1, Don Bosco (N.J.) 0

December, 16, 2012

ALLSTON, Mass. – One of Woody Allen’s finer films was 2005’s thriller “Match Point”. In it, the film’s protagonist Chris Wilton claims that, in life, “It’s better to be lucky than good.”

After pitching an opening night shutout against New Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco Prep, BC High senior goaltender Peter Cronin riffed on that sentiment remarking, “You gotta’ be lucky to be good sometimes.”

The thing Cronin omitted from his evaluation of his play Saturday at Harvard’s Bright Rink was that he was plain, ole fashioned good. As has become custom during his time in the Eagles’ net, Cronin was the backbone to his team’s success. Kicking out, smothering and snatching up 27 Ironmen shots in a 1-0 victory.

“That’s what we’ve come to expect from Peter Cronin, and he’s delivered for us,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said.

[+] EnlargeBC High hockey vs. Don Bosco
Scott Barboza for BC High sophomore forward Steve DeForge netted the game winner in the Eagles' 1-0 blanking of Don Bosco Prep Saturday at Harvard's Bright Rink.
BC High (1-0-0) received all the offense it would need at 4:09 of the second period. Steve DeForge’s drive to the net set Tim Larocque’s game-winning goal in motion. It’s an encouraging sign for the Eagles, who will look to the combined line of DeForge, Larocque and Connor Noonan (also credited with an assist on the goal) to shoulder a great part of the offensive load this season.

“Stevie DeForge was flying around all day, he had a lot of jump in his skates,” Flaherty said. “Stevie just simply beat a guy wide and he followed everything that we’re preaching, which is to get everything to the net.”

MVP Honors
Cronin was awarded the Detective Edward T. Ryan Player of the Game Award for his efforts. It was the first time the award was presented in what Flaherty hopes is a newfound tradition.

The award is named after Flaherty’s brother-in-law, a Quincy Police Department detective who died in June. Ryan was a former goaltender at the shuttered Don Bosco Technical High School.

Don Bosco, which is already six-games deep into its Garden State schedule, is playing this season with a commemorative Army patch on its jerseys. The patch honors the memory of U.S. Army Major Thomas E. Kennedy, a former Ironmen hockey standout who was killed by a suicide bomber last August in Afghanistan.

Kennedy is the second former member of the Army hockey team to be killed in action in Afghanistan. Former St. John’s Prep standout 1st Lt. Derek Hines was killed in action in 2005.

Super 8 final: Malden Catholic 3, BC High 1

March, 18, 2012

BOSTON – Every championship means something. But the Division 1A Super 8 crown won by Malden Catholic meant everything.

To players such as junior Mike Iovanna, whose game-winner helped push the Lancers past BC High, 3-1 at TD Garden.

And to Chris Serino, MC's cancer stricken head coach, who although too ill to perform his whistle-tooting duties, played a huge emotional role in Malden's second consecutive crown.

“You know what,” said Iovanna, whose backhander with 8:06 gone in the third snapped a 1-1 tie, “we did it for him. It's tough to see him like that. Our season was based on him.”

[+] EnlargeMalden Catholic Hockey
Jon Mahoney/ESPNBoston.comMike Iovanna tallied what would prove the game-winning goal during the third period of Malden Catholic's Super 8 title game victory over BC High Sunday at TD Garden.
Senior defenseman Colin MacGillivray was in hearty agreement.

“Everything on that ice was dedicated to him,” said MacGillivray. “We just did it for him. We wanted it, and we did it.”

They did, but not without a struggle, after having spotted BC High an early goal.

The Eagles grabbed that lead on Sam Topham's tally, 1:59 into the contest.

Showing no reluctance to jump into the offense, Topham, a sophomore defenseman, took a feed from freshman Tim Larocque, barged to the bottom of the left circle, then threaded in his tight-angle shot which caught Lancers' junior goalie Connor Maloney by surprise.

“Those were all things we worked on this week in practice,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said. “Driving wide. We knew where they were vulnerable.”

Matters opened up in the second period, which put both goaltenders on the hot seat.

BC High netminder Peter Cronin faced 17 shots in the second stanza, including Iovanna's sharp wrister which he gloved.

The Eagles missed out on a golden scoring chance a minute later, when Michael Brooks was set up by linemate Tom Besinger, but missed the open net.

“That wasn't the only one,” said Flaherty. “Three or four pucks that laid there for us to bury. When you're playing with the fire power of Malden Catholic, you need to be mistake free and capitalize on everything they give you.”

Instead, was the Lancers who exploited a BC High breakdown and used it to tie the contest, 1-1, at 11:28.

Brendan Collier, working a 2-on-1 with Ryan Fitzgerald, took Sifferlen's cross-ice pass, put a head fake on Cronin and tucked the puck inside the right post.

The stalemate continued until midway through the third, when an uncleared puck in the Eagles zone ended up on Nick Rolli's stick near the blue line.

Rolli saw Iovanna cutting to the net and deftly fed him the puck.

“We were really pressuring them down low,” said Iovanna. “They couldn't get it out. We kept banging on them.”

Iovanna finished the play by lifting a back hander over Cronin's shoulder from six feet away.

Lancers freshman Casey Fitzgerald put the game out of reach with 4.6 seconds remaining, when he sent a shot 150 feet into an open net.

By that time, the Malden faithful, including Serino who was in attandence, were able to celebrate this sweetest title.

“I've been there since my freshman year,” MacGillivray said. “We've basically been a family together. It sounds weird, but [Coach Serino] is like the father of the family. We did it for him.”

Said MCinterim coach John McLean, “It's mission accomplish. It's been a very long, tough season, mentally and physically. The kids dug down in the third period and did what they had to do.”

With hockey being such a close-knit fraternity, Serino, who is still Lancers athletic director, had a real presence in the Eagles' dressing room, too, one that was still grieving the in-season passings of the fathers of two BC High sophomores.

“We were playing for our own cause,” Flaherty said. “Two of our kids lost their dads. (But) I have the utmost respect for Chris Serino. He just came into my locker room and congratulated our guys. That's what true Chris Serino is. Here's a guy fighting for his life and he takes the time out of celebrating with his team to come into my locker room.

"That's what hockey is. It's a family.”

Super 8 recap: BC High 3, St. John's Prep 2

March, 15, 2012

NORTH ANDOVER – St. John's Prep owned all of the momentum when Evan LeClerc scored with 5:56 left in the third period of Wednesday's Super 8 semifinal, but BC High didn't didn't let its opponent keep that momentum for long.

Chris Laliberte answered 29 seconds later and his goal capped the scoring in BC High's 3-2 triumph.

“You have to strike right back,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “And when we did that I felt good about how the game was going. This is a great win.”

BC High will meet Malden Catholic in the Super 8 title game, which will be played Sunday (6 p.m.) at TD Banknorth Garden.

St. John's Prep trailed 2-1 entering the third, but pulled even when LeClerc put the puck past junior goaltender Peter Cronin.

“We had complete confidence going into the third period that we were going to come back and tie the game,” St. John's Prep head coach Kristian Hanson said. “We've been doing it all year. We were confident that we were going to win the game.

“After we scored that second goal I don't want to say we let up. I think BC High picked it up. They had their top group out there. My top group had just come off. They were tired. It was a good matchup for them and they scored the goal.”

Tom Besinger and Tim Larocque also scored for BC High. Besinger opened the scoring with an unassisted goal at 7:26 of the opening period, and Larocque broke a 1-1 tie with 1:56 left in the second.

St. John's Prep made it a 1-1 contest when Nick Pandelena scored a power-play goal at 11:58 of the first. After Larocque regained the lead for BC High, LeClerc tied the game on a shot through traffic from the right faceoff circle.

Laliberte made it 3-2 before the public address announcer had announced LeClerc's goal.

It was the third meeting between the teams this season. Each team won once during the regular season.

“I told the guys in pregame that it would probably come down to one goal – and it did,” Hanson said. “I think both teams worked really hard out there. Congratulations to BC High. I have a lot of respect for their program and wish them luck on Sunday.”

BC High's goals came from two sophomores (Besinger and Laliberte) and a freshman (Larocque).

“The guys who scored the goals – they don't score a lot, but they scored the key ones tonight,” Flaherty said. “Our first two goals were just hard-working goals. Going to the net and putting pucks away. We worked hard as a team tonight.”

Flaherty on playing for the Super 8 title:

“It's very exciting. These kids are spoiled. They played at Fenway this year [a 4-0 victory over Catholic Memorial], now they're getting the chance to play in the TD Garden. It's a great opportunity for these guys – and they earned it. We knew what the prize was. Our guys worked hard and they reaped the rewards.”

“It's a great team that we beat, but the season's not over. It's not the final game – and you gotta remember that. We'll practice tomorrow, we'll practice Friday and we'll practice Saturday. Then we'll get on a bus on Sunday and go play in a great venue.”

Recap: No. 3 BC High 5, No. 7 SJP 3

January, 5, 2012
BOSTON -- If the Catholic Conference opener between St. John’s Prep and BC High is any indication of how the rest of the season is going to be between some of the upper class hockey teams in the state, then everyone interested is in for a treat.

Bartley Regan swatted a puck out of the air and into the net in the final two minutes of regulation to give the Eagles (5-0) a 5-3 victory over the Prep (3-2) on Wednesday night at the Clark Athletic Center on the campus of UMass-Boston.

The night had a little bit of everything. It featured physical play, great goaltending, and, yes, even a little bit of controversy.

“It was definitely an emotional game,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “It was a hard fought game. I think the momentum swings were back-and-forth, and they are a very good team. … This is the competition in the league. You’ve got to battle every game, you got to come ready to play every game.”

It’s no surprise what Flaherty wants out of Regan when the big forward enters the game.

Regan, who just happens to moonlight as the Eagles’ Super Bowl winning quarterback, used his big frame to get in front of the net on two occasions and that’s where Flaherty wants him to live — case in point when a puck careened off his leg and into the net to tie things up 3-3 in the second period.

Regan also flashed a nice set of hands to go with this apparent legwork.

With 1:50 left on the clock, and right after the Eagles killed off a late Prep penalty, Regan moved toward the right post and batted a Brian Furey shot out of the air to notch the game-winning goal.

Regan played the puck with a high stick for most players, but according to the referees his goal was legal and it stood for the eventual winner.

“I just went right to the net,” Regan said. “[Furey] took it high and I was like ‘Oh, what do I do.’ I thought it was a little high, but I thought it was a good goal.”

The Prep (3-2-0, 1-0-0) played well enough to get at least a point out of the night, but Kristian Hanson knows that the puck bounces in mysterious ways for both sides.

“It’s difficult to make that call in a split-second call like that,” said Hanson. “But good play by [Regan]. Good hand-eye to coordination to bat that out of the air and credit him for being able to do it.”

Regan has morphed from a role player on the Eagles last season to a player that Flaherty has counted on in the crunch.

“He has to use his God-given size and strength, and he has to get to the net,” said Flaherty. “He is effective when he does. … He’s a go-to guy and he’s filling a role. He’s a leader, a natural born leader, and you saw it on the field as a quarterback. He takes control of the locker room and kids look to him to step up and deliver.”

The Eagles (5-0-0, 1-0-0) have sometimes relied on Peter Cronin a little too much at times, according to the head coach, and the first period was an indication of that.

The Prep came out and peppered Cronin, who made 25 stops on the night, with 13 shots in the first period alone. Cronin was stout almost all the way through the period, but Nick Pandelena potted a wrist shot from the right circle with 50.8 seconds remaining in the period to answer Tim Larocque’s score earlier.

“That’s what we’ve come to expect from [Cronin], but we can’t rely on Peter all the time,” said Flaherty. “We have to play in front of him, we have to play for him. He’s an excellent goalie and he gives us a chance to win every night.”

The Prep saw plenty of highlight reel goals from Colin Blackwell in the past and they have another solid forward playing on the top line this season in Sam Kurker.

Kurker finished with two goals and an assist and almost put in at least one or two more if it weren’t for the efforts of Cronin.

“[Kurker] played a North-South power forward style game tonight,” Hanson said. “That’s when he is at his best. I thought he was physically strong, but overall he can be a pretty dominant offensive force.”