Boston High School: Tommy Evangelista

ESPN Boston MIAA All-State boys' hockey team

March, 24, 2011
First Team
F - Colin Blackwell, St. John’s Prep
The senior center and captain led the Eagles with 45 points (24 G, 21A) while earning MVP honors from the Catholic Conference. Playing on Prep’s top lines, in addition to power play and penalty kill units, the Harvard commit was a +42 this season for the Super Eight finalists.

F - Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic
Collier was perhaps the most versatile player in the state. The junior BU commit scored the game-winning goal in the Lancers’ Super Eight championship, but the winger was also a mainstay of MC’s penalty kill units, playing defense. The Charlestown native tallied 63 points (24 G, 39 A) during the regular season while guiding the Lancers to their first D1A title.

F - Mike Vecchione, Malden Catholic
The Lancers captain and UNH signee led their potent offense with 70 points (26G, 44A) during the regular season. The senior winger also broke the Catholic Conference’s all-time single-season scoring record during MC’s run in the Super Eight. The Saugus native is looking at playing in either the British Columbia Hockey League or the United State Hockey League next year.

D - Connor Evangelista, Malden Catholic
The junior blue liner was perhaps the most underrated element to the Lancers’ Super Eight title run. Whether it was through an outlet pass springing the rush or on the penalty kill, the Wakefield native did it all. Evangelista was among the state’s top-scoring defensemen and contributed 25 assists during the regular season for the D1A champion Lancers.

D - Marc Hetnik, Catholic Memorial
The Knights senior was like having a fourth forward out there, who also readily handled the opposing team’s top players night after night. The Chestnut Hill native is considering BU, Holy Cross and Merrimack among his college choices and is likely to play in the British Columbia Hockey League next year.

G - Kyle Williams, Central Catholic
The junior netminder spearheaded the Raiders’ run to the Super Eight. With Williams carrying a bulk of the load, Central Catholic surrendered just 43 goals this season while posting a goal differential of +45. He was also a driving force behind the Raiders’ Super Eight run and turned in a strong performance in a near upset bid against Malden Catholic.

“Line Change” Second Team
F - Tim Driscoll, Hingham
After scoring the winning goal in the Harbormen’s Super Eight championship in 2010, the Holy Cross commit captained Hingham to a D1A return in 2011. The senior winger led the Harbormen with 34 points (12 G, 22A) during the regular season and is exploring opportunities to play a prep postgraduate year of hockey before enrolling at Holy Cross.

F - Ryan Fitzgerald, Malden Catholic
The talented sophomore was the fulcrum the Lancers’ prolific top line, centering Collier and Vecchione. The BC recruit was MC’s second leading scorer during the regular season, netting 66 points (24 G, 42 A) for the Super Eight champions.

F - Tyler Piacentini, Weymouth
The senior captain was the sparkplug to the Wildcats’ Super Eight run. While he was often the smallest player on the ice, Piacentini was typically the most visible, letting his play to the talking. With a 61-point regular season (31 G, 30 A), he finished fourth in the state in scoring to MC’s dynamic first line.

D - Chris Joyce, Needham
The senior blue liner was the Rockets’ third leading scorer and a stalwart on defense who seldom left the ice. Joyce tallied 24 points in the regular season (7 G, 17 A) while leading Needham to yet another Super Eight appearance.

D - Alex Pompeo, Hingham
The senior was among the state’s leading point-getters among blue liners and finished second on the Harbormen in scoring to Driscoll. Pompeo was an integral part of the Harbormen’s Super Eight title run in 2010 and their repeat appearance in 2011.

G - Donald Hesse, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
The Spartans netminder was among the state’s leaders in all goaltending statistical categories, including a measly goals against average of 1.90 during the regular season. Hesse spurred St. Mary’s to its first Super Eight appearance this season. The Salem native is considering playing hockey at several postgraduate prep schools next season.

Best of the Rest
F Garrett Allen, Dartmouth
F Mike Cashman, BC High
F Liam Centrella, Andover
F Tom Coleman, Needham
F Ryan Connors, Marshfield
F Liam Coughlin, Catholic Memorial
F Joe Czarnota, Reading
F Ryan Dempsey, Marblehead
F Ryan Doherty, Tewksbury
F Terence Durkin, BC High
F Kevin Emmerling, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
F Tommy Evangelista, Central Catholic
F Riley Flanagan, Weymouth
F Dan Graham, Arlington Catholic
F Anthony Hardy, Bridgewater-Raynham
F Mitch Hamor, Beverly
F Alex Holland, Woburn
F Jack Jenkins, Billerica
F Sam Kurker, St. John’s Prep
F Chris Leblanc, Winthrop
F Nick Leonard, Central Catholic
F Conal Lynch, Boston Latin
F Chris Maguire, Waltham
F Jim McGrath, Medfield
F Dan O’Hear, Catholic Memorial
F Ross Olsson, Billerica
F Cam Owens, Wilmington
F Drew Oxley, Saugus
F Kurt Roderigues, Saugus
F Nick Roberto, Malden Catholic
F Jason Salvaggio, Xaverian
F Joe Scarfo, Winthrop
F Casey Shea, Woburn
F Devin Smith, St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
F Andrew Taylor, Oliver Ames
F Zach Wells, Barnstable
F Andrew White, BC High
F Garrett White, Malden Catholic
D Steven Bellew, Hingham
D Steven Bristol, Weymouth
D Sean Kavanagh, Springfield Cathedral
D Cam Kennedy, St. Mary’s (Lynn)
D Jake Kulevich, Marblehead
D Ryley MacEachern, Austin Prep
D Eric Muise, Peabody
D Alex Taddeo, Franklin
G Joe Cerulo, Wakefield
G James Cox, Braintree
G Peter Cronin, BC High
G Zac Rondeau, Springfield Cathedral
G Kyle Jacobs, Pembroke
G Chris Treon, Westwood

All Rookie Team (Top 5 to Watch for Next Year)
  1. Shane Eiserman, F, St. John’s Prep
  2. Tyler Sifferlen, F, Malden Catholic
  3. Tom Besinger, F, BC High
  4. Sean Cleary, G, Barnstable
  5. Nolan Redler, F, Winchester
Coach of the Year
John Flaherty, BC High
It took just one season for Flaherty, who took over for legend Joe McCabe, to get the Eagles back to the Super Eight after missing the playoffs in the previous two seasons. The BC High graduate guided the Eagles to a 15-6-3 record that included an appearance in the Super Eight crossover round. Flaherty also works at the school as its Director of the Fund.

Hingham closes Super 8 with win over Central

March, 13, 2011

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. –- The Super 8 tournament picture didn’t become much clearer following Sunday’s game between fifth-seeded Hingham and eighth-seeded Central Catholic.

Goals by Steven Bellew and James Gordon helped Hingham prevail 2-1 in a game that eliminated Harbormen, but still left Central Catholic will a chance to advance.

The Raiders are 1-2 in Group 1 and will make it to the semifinals if Malden Catholic (2-0) defeats Weymouth (1-1) by more than one goal when the teams meet tonight at Tsongas Arena.

If the teams finish with the same record the first tiebreaker is goal differential. The second tiebreaker is head-to-head results. Central Catholic, which beat Weymouth 2-1, has been outscored 7-6 in its three tournament games. Weymouth has scored five goals and allowed five.

Central Catholic coach Mike Jankowski said he gave no thought to pulling goaltender Kyle Williams late in the third period even though his team trailed by a goal.

“None,” Jankowski said. “It’s a bit of an awkward situation, but obviously we’re playing to move forward. You want to play to win, but at the same time given the tournament you have [look at the bigger picture].

“This isn’t about one game, it’s about three games. I think we’ve shown that if we play with effort and energy we can play with anyone.”

If Weymouth wins tonight, Weymouth and Malden Catholic will move on to the semifinals. Hingham (1-2) was eliminated by goal differential. The Harbormen were outscored 13-6 in pool play. The Harbormen, last year’s tournament champion, lost to Weymouth (4-3) and Malden Catholic (8-1) in their previous tournament games.

“The math isn’t in our favor,” Hingham coach Tony Messina said. “We kind of knew that the way the game was going. Our No. 1 goal was just to play the game like you normally would. Just happy the crew stayed with the game plan. We played a pretty good game considering we were playing for pride. I’m proud of that.

“These last games, when the odds are against you, are tough to play.”

Tommy Evangelista scored for Central Catholic, which dropped its overall record to 18-7-1. The victory boosted Hingham to 14-7-4.

Each team scored in the opening period. After Bellew gave Hingham a 1-0 lead, Central Catholic pulled even when Evangelista got the puck past goaltender Derek McInnis with 3:23 left in the period.

The Harbormen regained the lead when Gordon beat Williams between the pads with a shot from the slot at 8:09 of the second.

“After that we had some point-blank chances that went wide,” Messina said. “They weren’t even on net. [Central Catholic’s Kyle Williams] is a good goalie and he’s a big kid, so there’s not a lot of room to shoot at. You tend to get picky when you’re in front of the net. Try to shoot at the corners and sometimes you miss.”

St. John’s Prep (2-0) will face BC High (2-0) in tonight’s final game. Both teams will advance out of Group 2.

“I loved the way we played in spurts,” Jankowski said. “I loved the way we played in the third period. Kyle made some big saves when we needed them.

“The stage is set. We are where we are.”

Editor's note: Central Catholic was eliminated from crossover round contention later in the day, following Weymouth's 5-4 loss to Malden Catholic. Weymouth advanced on the second tie-breaker on the ground of goal quotient.

Central outlasts Weymouth in Super 8 battle

March, 9, 2011

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. -- Central Catholic didn’t have many scoring chances in Tuesday night’s Super Eight tournament game against Weymouth, but the Raiders took advantage of the best ones they did have.

Nick Leonard scored on a penalty shot, and Tommy Evangelista added a power-play goal to propel eighth-seeded Central Catholic past fourth-seeded Weymouth, 2-1, at Merrimack’s Lawler Arena.
Penalty Shot
Brendan Hall/ESPNBoston.comCentral Catholic forward Nick Leonard bears down on Weymouth goaltender Brian Brady during their Super Eight playoff game at Merrimack College. Leonard scored on the play to help the Raiders to a 2-1 victory.

The victory raised Central Catholic’s overall record to 18-6-1 and its tournament record to 1-1. The Raiders opened the tournament with a 4-2 loss against top-seeded Malden Catholic.

“They outplayed us for the majority of the game,” Central Catholic head coach Mike Jankowski said. “We made a few plays and capitalized on the opportunities that we had.”

Meanwhile, Weymouth had a hard time getting the puck past Central Catholic goaltender Kyle Williams, who recorded 27 saves.

“Kyle played unbelievable tonight,” Jankowski said. “Every time it looked like they were going to cash in on an opportunity, he was there to close the door on them. It was really on Kyle’s shoulders. Can’t say enough about his play tonight.”

Senior forward Tyler Piacentini scored Weymouth’s lone goal. Piacentini leads the team in goals (32) and points (64).

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome,” Weymouth head coach Matt Cataldo said. “I thought the kids played extremely hard. We had a lot of good chances. Tonight just wasn’t our night. Normally we bury nine out of 10 of those good shots that we had – especially the flurries we had in the third period. I thought we deserved better.

“Their goalie made some big saves, but we helped him out a little bit. He goes down every single shot and if you go up high on him you’re gonna beat him, which is what we did on that first goal. We had a lot of low shots on the ice off the pads, off the stick, so it’s something to learn from.”

Weymouth slipped to 18-4-2 overall and 1-1 in the tournament. The Wildcats were coming off a 4-3 triumph over fifth-seeded Hingham, last year’s Super 8 champion.

It was a 1-1 game until Evangelista collected a power-play goal at 2:32 of the second. Leonard and Ryan Daigle were credited with assists.

Weymouth had several good scoring opportunities in the third – including a shot that hit the left post – but couldn’t pull even. Weymouth goalie Brian Brady made 13 saves.

It was 1-1 after the opening period. Piacentini handed Weymouth a 1-0 lead on a wrist shot from the right circle 2:24 into the game, but Central Catholic pulled even when it was awarded a penalty shot. Leonard scored the goal at 12:37.

“It was exciting,” Jankowski said. “If we had to pick one guy, he’d be the guy we’d pick to take it.”

Each team is scheduled to play its final game in pool play Sunday. Weymouth will face Malden Catholic (2-0), and Central Catholic will face Hingham (0-2). Each contest could be moved if the Hockey East quarterfinal-round series between Merrimack and Maine goes to a third game.

If teams are tied after pool play is complete, goal differential in tournament games is the tiebreaker that will be used to determine which teams advance.

“We couldn’t ask for more,” Jankowski said. “We have a chance to move forward, so it’s pretty exciting.”

MIAA hockey playoff notebook

March, 8, 2011
With no action on the local rinks on Monday, we decided to clear out the ole trusty reporter's notebook after a busy first week of tournament play.

Saturday’s first-round Super Eight matchup was a family affair for the Evangelista clan.

The family’s attention was divided between cousins Conor, of top-seeded Malden Catholic, and Tommy, of eighth-seeded Central Catholic.

Adding another dimension to the matchup was that Conor, a junior defenseman on the Lancers’ top pairing, would be duking it out all night with Tommy, a junior center, and the Raiders’ top line.

“My cousin’s really fast, so I told my uncle that I’d have to break Tommy’s blades to have a chance out there, so that he didn’t burn me,” Conor said with a smile. “We talked a lot before the game though.”

Conor may have gotten the last laugh, as Malden Catholic held off Central in a 4-3 victory, but the cousins also have had opportunities to play on the same side while growing and most recently as last summer during the Hockey Night in Boston tournament.

It’s also evident that talent runs through the bloodline. Conor was among the top scoring defensemen in the state with 27 points during the regular season, while Tommy has been a consistent scoring threat for Central with 17 goals and 20 assists this season.

“We didn’t have anything else on the side,” Conor said of his pregame conversations with Tommy, “just bragging rights.”

You can ascribe many labels to Mike Vecchione’s play, but you might soon have to apply the title all-time leader to his very impressive resume.

With three assists during Malden Catholic’s 4-3 win over Central Catholic on Saturday, Vecchione tied the Catholic Conference’s single-season scoring record with his 73rd point. The UNH commit entered Super Eight play with 26 goals and 44 assists for the regular season.

“I had no idea,” Vecchione replied after being informed of the milestone. “That’s a great feat.”

It seems fitting that Vecchione would tie the record with assists since it’s the selfless manner that has allowed the winger to prosper to unparalleled heights playing alongside linemates Brendan Collier (63 points regular season) and Ryan Fitzgerald (66 points).

Every year, there seems to be a breakout player who takes his game another level to lift his team in the Super Eight. Think of then junior Tim Driscoll willing the Harbormen to the title last year, including his game-winning goal in the final.

It’s safe to say that the early leader in the clubhouse in this year’s young tournament is Woburn forward Casey Shea. The junior forward led the Tanners in scoring this season, so his postseason brilliance thus far hasn’t come as a surprise. But he’s certainly set a tremendous pace.

Shea made a big splash in Woburn’s win over Springfield Cathedral in a play-in game on Monday with five goals, including a natural hat trick in the first period. So what did he do to follow up that performance? He only turned in a SportsCenter-worthy goal, beating two St. John’s Prep defenders in alone, deking them out of their skates before finding the back of the net once again.

“Casey did what he usually does,” Tanners head coach Jim Duran said of the goal.

Who could’ve seen Coyle-Cassidy’s overtime upset over top-seeded Mansfield in Division 2 South this weekend? Well, we hate to toot our own horn as did have the Warriors as one of our dark horse teams in our postseason picks.

All kidding aside, there’s a concurrent theme to C-C’s upset, as well as that of Scituate over top-ranked Bourne in D-3 South, and that’s strength of schedule.

The Warriors entered postseason play with a marginal record of 9-9-2. However, the degree to which they’d been tested in their 20 game schedule was without parallel in D-2. Aside from turning in their eighth straight Eastern Athletic Conference title, Dave Borges’ team played a schedule that included four Super Eight field teams, including BC High, Hingham St. Mary's of Lynn and Springfield Cathedral, and a host of other Division 1 teams. Granted, the Warriors took their lumps against both BC High and Hingham, but they showed why they could be such a dangerous postseason team tying up Cathedral, 2-2, just one week before the Panthers slipped into a Super Eight play-in game.

Freshman Hayes the hero for Central Catholic

March, 1, 2011

BILLERICA, Mass. -- Lloyd Hayes wore a smile that nearly stretched from one ear to the other as he spoke with reporters following Monday night’s Super Eight tournament play-in game.

Hayes, a freshman, turned out to be the hero in Central Catholic’s 3-1 triumph over St. Mary’s of Lynn. Hayes scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal when he swatted a rebound past St. Mary’s goaltender Donald Hesse to break a 1-1 tie with 2:19 to play.

It was the fifth goal Hayes has scored this season, and certainly the most memorable one.

“Kevin Poulin got the rebound and brought it right to the net,” Hayes explained. “He almost had [the goal], but I just put it home. I had plenty [to shoot at]. I wasn’t going to miss that.

“It was unbelievable. My adrenaline was flowing like crazy.”

Central Catholic got an insurance goal when junior forward Ryan Daigle scored into an empty net with 3.6 seconds to play.

“You can’t get any better than that, right?” Central Catholic coach Mike Jankowski said. “This game is all you can ask for. You’re able to play your way in and show you’re deserving, and hats off to St. Mary’s. They played fantastic. It was a great hockey game.”

Mike Kelleher also scored for eighth-seeded Central Catholic, which improved its record to 17-5-1. The Raiders will face top-seeded Malden Catholic in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

“Everyone contributed tonight,” Jankowski said. “Three different guys (scored). Everyone chipped in. The first guy and the last guy on the bench.”

Ninth-seeded St. Mary’s slipped to 14-6-3 and will now compete in the Division I North tournament. It was the first time the Spartans have appeared in the Super 8 field.

“I thought we played two very solid periods of hockey,” St. Mary’s coach Mark Lee said. “Then in the third we came out flat and just never really got it going. They took advantage. That’s a good team over there.

“We had a good jump in our step for the first two periods. I don’t know why, but in the third period we were kind of sluggish.”

St. Mary’s opened the scoring when Corey Bartlett beat Central Catholic goalie Kyle Williams with a straightaway slap shot from just inside the blue line at 7:20 of the first period. Defenseman Cam Kennedy was credited with the only assist on the goal, which was scored while the teams were skating four-on-four.

Central Catholic pulled even on Kelleher’s power-play goal at 8:58 of the second. Nick Leonard set up Kelleher with a cross-ice pass and Kelleher converted from low in the left faceoff circle.

Kelleher has a team-high 18 goals this season, and Leonard leads the team in points (43) and assists (33). Tommy Evangelista collected the second assist on Kelleher’s goal.

It looked like the teams might be headed to overtime until Hayes pounced on a rebound and scored while he was near the left post.

“For a freshman it was pretty amazing,” Jankowski said. “Pretty amazing.”

“Donald had the stop, we couldn’t clear the guy in front and they had two or three whacks at it,” Lee added. “I think it was on the third whack they got it. Just a good effort on their part, and we couldn’t clear the front of the net.”

“Hesse gave the effort we needed. We just couldn’t finish as a team.”

Central Catholic, which lost a play-in game last season, has won seven of its last eight games.

“I guess it comes down to they played three periods of hockey, and we played two,” Lee said. “We just didn’t have the same energy we had in the first two periods in the third.”

10's a crowd: A Super 8 primer

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

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

Take a peek:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Handicapping the Super 8 'Watch List'

February, 15, 2011
Over the weekend, the Super Eight “Watch List” was compiled by the Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association. In what has proved to be a particularly wild year, 21 teams made the initial list for observation during the final two weeks of the season. The mere number of teams on the list is a testament to how truly even competition has been through the year.

Aside from our weekly Top 25 state hockey poll, we’re going to take a little time to break down the Watch List, making a case for each team and their chances at the big dance while ranking the likelihood they will be among the field in addition to couple of X-factors to their postseason success.

It goes without saying that there’s a lot of hockey left to be played, but here’s how we see them stacking up as of right now.

As always, feel free to sound off and leave a copy of your rankings in the comments section.

1. Malden Catholic (13-2-2)

Why they’re in: Wire-to-wire, the Lancers have been the state’s most consistent team, minus one hiccup against Hingham. The top line of Brendan Collier, Ryan Fitzgerald and Mike Vecchione is without parallel. Not only that, the Blue Blades have depth throughout. Simply stated, they’re the team to beat.

X-factor: So much has been written (we’re included) about the Lancers offense, but they have a defensive corps to boot led by Connor Evangelista and Colin MacGillivray, not to mention the very steady Pat Young in net.

2. Hingham (10-4-4)
Why they’re in:
There’s been some turnover from last year’s Super Eight championship team, but the Harbormen still have some important cogs in the fold from that squad starting with their captains: winger Tim Driscoll and defenseman Alex Pompeo. They form the nucleus of a group that’s been there and done that, evidenced by some clutch late season wins, like last week’s comeback win against St. Mary’s of Lynn.

X-factor: Rangy junior winger Matt Hughes (6-foot-2) has exhibited a quick release and knack for finding the back of the net. The Harbormen have gone through stretches where they’ve struggled to score. If Hughes is on his game, Hingham will be all that much tougher to beat.

3. St. John’s Prep (10-5-1)
Why they’re in:
The Eagles have assured themselves a second-place finish in the Catholic Conference with a 4-3-0 record thus far. Quite frankly, that should be a good enough resume to gain Super Eight entry in any season. In addition, Prep has Top 25 wins out of conference against Austin Prep, St. John’s (Shrewsbury), Springfield Cathedral and Woburn.

X-factor: The question entering the season was how far Harvard commit Colin Blackwell could lead the Eagles. But he hasn’t just had to do it alone. Freshman Shane Eiserman could soon follow Blackwell’s footsteps as a D-1 recruit. In net, Prep has it covered with junior David Letarte who’s underrated.

4. St. Mary’s of Lynn (12-3-3)
Why they’re in:
The Spartans aced their Catholic Central schedule with a 7-0-3 record, out-scoring their opponents 37-12. It all starts from the goal out with netminder Donald Hesse sporting a sub-2.00 goals against average. Sophomore Bobby Mullins has stepped up to shoulder the offensive load and leads the squad with 12 goals.

X-factor: The Spartans don’t have too many marquee out-of-conference wins, but we’re looking past that in this panel’s consideration of their merits on the strength of their conference schedule which includes three Top 25 squads in Archbishop Williams, Arlington Catholic and Austin Prep. St. Mary’s pushed Malden Catholic on Monday before losing, 3-2, but the Spartans have a couple more high profile non-leaguers on the docket with Springfield Cathedral and Weymouth.

5. BC High (9-4-3)
Why they’re in:
First-year head coach and longtime Eagles assistant John Flaherty set a goal to get his team back into the postseason this season. Not only has BC High qualified for the state tournament, it very well looks like they’re Super Eight bound. The Eagles started Catholic Conference play 0-3-1, but were able to salvage two wins down the stretch. Their 3-3 tie against Malden Catholic seemed to be a springboard for the team to believe in itself.

X-factor: A big tip of the cap goes to the Eagles’ senior leadership in keeping the young squad together, led by captain Mike Cashman, and assistant captains Jack Buckley, Brendan O’Malley and Andrew White.

6. Weymouth (15-2-1)
Why they’re in
: We expect that the Wildcats will put their finishing touches on Bay State Carey league title on Wednesday against Braintree despite a recent bump in the road with a loss to Needham. It’s hard to imagine Weymouth not being a shoo-in for the field of eight having been so dominant wire-to-wire. We could get a glimpse at how the Wildcats could play in the field with a string of late season tests against Catholic Memorial, Central Catholic and St. Mary’s in the next two weeks.

X-factor: It all comes down to defense in the postseason and with defensemen Andy Sheridan and goaltender Brian Brady, the Wildcats have senior leadership covered.

7. Woburn (12-3-1)
Why they’re in:
The Tanners hold a slight 1-point lead over Winchester in the tight race to the Middlesex League crown. Their demonstrative 4-1 win over Reading on Saturday could go a long way toward punching their ticket. The Tanners control their own destiny with two more scheduled league games (Stoneham and Winchester) and, if they take care of business, they should be in.

X-factor: Woburn seems to be peaking at the right time and hasn’t lost since their first meeting against Reading on Jan. 8. Juniors Eddie Aprile and Bobby Smith played up for their latest big game against the Rockets last week.

8. Catholic Memorial (7-7-1)
Why they’re in:
Bar none, nobody plays a harder schedule in the MIAA than the Knights every year. They’re accustomed to playing Super Eight-caliber hockey every time out and they get everybody’s best. For a CM team, they’re young, but they’re also plenty talented with defenseman Marc Hetnik leading the way. Sophomore Liam Coughlin (8-8-16) has been a revelation.

X-factor: Quite frankly, whether or not they have enough points to get to the tournament. It’s not often you’re taking a serious look at a .500 club come this time of year, but it again speaks to the quality of schedule in the Catholic Conference as well as out-of-conference. So here’s the gauntlet, five points in five games and they’re in.

9a. Central Catholic (12-4-1)
Why they’re in:
Less than a week ago, we had the Raiders ticketed for the top four of the eight-team field. After a lack-luster 1-1 tie against Billerica last Wednesday, Pandora’s Box opened. Now, as it stands as of publication time, the Raiders hold a 1-point lead over Billerica in the DCL/MVC with four games to play. The Indians also have four games to play. We’ll hedge that the winner of this pre-postseason mini tournament will have a chance at the Super Eight.

X-factor: Kyle Williams is that type of goaltender that can carry a team on a postseason run, but the Raiders can be dangerous if Tommy Evangelista and playmaker Nick Leonard are on point.

9b. Billerica (7-1-7)
Why they’re in:
If the aforementioned Raiders tail off and the Indians can pull of the DCL/MVC title, that’s it. On the plus side, the Indians have lost only one game, a 3-2 loss to Burlington. On the negative side, they’ve also only won less than half of their games as well.

X-factor: Health. The Indians were down five players in their 1-1 tie against Central Catholic, but the job head coach Mike Mastrullo pulled mixing and matching lines was masterful, plus his team came to play. It’s that side of Billerica that makes you believe.

11. Needham (10-5-3)

Why they’re in: Building steam.

X-factor: Experience, Super Eight that is.

12. Springfield Cathedral (11-7-0)
Why they’re in:
Aren’t the Panthers always in?

X-factor: Zac Rondeau = game-changer.

13. Winchester (10-5-1)
Why they’re in:
Surviving the Middlesex League.

X-factor: Ryan McGoff.

14. Xaverian (8-5-2)
Why they’re in:
A Catholic Conference team on the outs?

X-factor: Dave Michaels.

15. Braintree (10-4-3)
16. Reading (12-4-1)
17. Arlington Catholic (8-3-6)
18. St. John’s Shrewsbury (10-6-1)
19. Barnstable (11-1-3)
20. Austin Prep (9-5-3)
21. Marshfield (10-2-4)

Short-handed Billerica ties Central Catholic

February, 10, 2011

BILLERICA, Mass. –- You could see it on Billerica’s bench.

There was clearly something missing -- players.

For what the 19th-ranked Indians may have lacked in manpower against No. 4 Central Catholic Wednesday night at Hallenborg Memorial Pavillion, they made up for in grit. Even though the Billerica MASH unit only took a point away from its 1-1 tie with the Raiders, Indians head coach Mike Mastrullo was pleased with his team’s effort.

“Tonight really was a moral victory,” he said. “The kids showed up. We were thin, we had some kids out sick. We started the game three players short and then we lost two more during the game, so we were five players short.

“It was nice to see kids work hard for a good 45 minutes. That’s been our biggest issue this year.”

The Indians (6-1-6, 5-0-4) took three of a possible four points in their season series with Central Catholic (10-4-1, 6-1-1), after taking a 2-0 win over the Raiders at Lawrence Valley Forum on Dec. 22. Billerica also holds a one-point lead over the Raiders atop the DCL/MVC standings, although there’s still much to be decided before tournament time,

“Until someone dethrones Central Catholic, they’re the perennial leader in the conference, and they’re right at the top again,” Mastrullo said.

Billerica looked poised to complete the season sweep, carrying play for much of the first period when the Indians doubled up Central Catholic in shots, 14-7. The Indians finally broke through against Raiders junior netminder Kyle Williams (23 saves) with 3:57 remaining in the first. Jack Jenkins went top-shelf with a wrister from the right side circle on a feed from Arthur Raposa. Brandon Kuzmich also picked up an assist on the play.

Central Catholic responded in the second period when Billerica carried through with its ‘short-handed’ theme. The Raiders enjoyed four power play opportunities in the second, cashing in on the third with Nicholas Pelrine’s goal from Ryan Daigle and Tommy Evangelista.

The Raiders had several late chances to net the go-ahead marker, but the luck of the puck didn’t seem to be in their favor.

It looked as though Evangelista struck for a game-winner with about four minutes left to play; however, the goal was waved off as the net had been knocked loose from its mooring behind Indians goalie Bob Bourgeois (21 saves).

“We had some unfortunate plays,” Central Catholic head coach Michael Jankowski said. “We had a breakaway that was blown dead, that was a tough one with a player’s helmet getting ripped off. We had a goal called back without a whistle being blown. It’s tough. We didn’t get the bounces tonight.”

The Raiders had built up a head of steam in the midseason, winning nine straight games before a 3-1 non-league loss to Austin Prep on Monday.

Now, without a win in their last two outings, they’re looking to regroup.

“This is kind of the way we started the season,” Jankowski said. “We regrouped after all those snow days … Hopefully, now we can get back together and put together another nice run like we had earlier in the season.”