Boston High School: Tommy Knox

Player Diary: Tommy Knox on superstitions

March, 4, 2011
Editor's note: Catholic Memorial senior goaltender Tommy Knox checks in with his second Player Diary installment of the hockey season with a firsthand look at the superstitious nature of goaltenders.

In sports there are many superstitions, whether it is a Nomar adjusting his batting gloves in between each pitch or Kevin Garnett bagging his head against the padding of supports for the hoop. But in my mind, hockey goaltenders are the most superstitious athletes out there. Most people do not understand why we do some of the things we do, but it is just part of our daily routine.

On game day, my preparation begins long before I step foot inside of the rink. About four hours before the puck drops I begin to gather up my equipment and load it into the truck. Then, I will head upstairs to put on one specific blue button up shirt along with a zip-up tie and a pair of khaki pants. Then its off to the rink with my mind only focused on the game and what I need to do to give my team a chance to win.

On the way to the rink, I typically try to get a quick nap in, usually as my family gets onto Route 24 in Taunton. Upon entering the rink, approximately an hour and a half before the game, I will have an energy bar in the locker room while taping my stick. Although I am a goalie, I am still particular about the way my stick is taped and if I am not happy with it I will not hesitate to retape it.

One hour before the game begins I will change into my black Adidas shorts and a t-shirt and eat a peanut butter sandwich while the coach talks strategy with the team. After the talk, I will go and take a 20minute stretch before I put my gear on. As I begin to get dressed I have always make sure I get dressed in a certain order. I always have to put on my left sock before my right, left skate before right, and left pad before right. Once I am half dressed, I find a cement wall and take a scene out of the move "Miracle" and juggle 3 golf balls off of the wall. This is a great way to get my hand eye coordination warmed up.

Right before game time the team says a quick "Hail Mary" and go onto the ice.

One final superstition I have before the puck drops is that with about 45 seconds left in warm-ups I skate along the bench as our manager Tim Murray throws me a water bottle. Then, I'm ready to play.

Superstitions can come down to the smallest detail, but as athletes we believe they help us play better. And, as long as we believe that, we will continue to perform them every day.

No. 1 Malden Catholic finishes No. 2 CM

January, 12, 2011

MALDEN, Mass. – They sure do finish with flair.

For the second straight game against a Catholic Conference foe, No. 1 Malden Catholic trailed in the third period. The Lancers clawed out of a 2-0 hole to come back and beat No. 3 St. John’s Prep last week, but, once again, MC found itself trailing late Tuesday night against No. 2 Catholic Memorial.

The Knights took a 2-1 lead 2:36 into the third on Liam Coughlin’s goal. That’s when the Lancers clicked into another gear, scoring three goals in a span of 1:12. MC netting six goals on 12 shots overall in the third period to finish in a flurry and a 7-3 victory over CM.

“In that five-minute stretch, we did everything right,” MC head coach Chris Serino said. “We handled the puck and we were moving it like that the whole game, we just weren’t finishing.’

The Lancers (7-1-0, 2-0-0) dominated play for long stretches of the first period and out-shot the Knights, 12-5. However, MC only mustered to sneak one goal past CM goaltender Tommy Knox in the first with Ryan Fitzgerald tallying his 11th of the season on a give-and-go.

The Knights (5-4-0, 1-1-0) evened the score 15 seconds into the second period when Dan O’Hear knocked in a rebound off Marc Hetnik’s shot.

“We played hard, we created turnovers, we generated some offense off of our forecheck,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said of his team’s effort in the second stanza.

The Knights hard work paid off again early in the third period on Coughlin’s marker assisted by Jack O’Hear – his second.

Yet, MC drew even with an unexpected lift from freshman Tyler Sifferlen. Defenseman Connor Evangelista sprung Sifferlen on a breakaway. He beat Knox top-shelf for the first of his two goals in the period.

“That really turned things around,” Lancers assistant captain Brendan Collier said of Sifferlen’s goal. “From there, we were able to keep getting the puck deep, forecheck their D and just wear them down.”

Collier kept the pressure on netting his 10th of the season 42 seconds later with assists from Fitzgerald and Paul Wrenn. Mike Iovanna added his seventh goal of the year on a two-on-one break for a 4-2 MC lead. Garrett White tallied his second point of night (1 G, 1A) with a power play goal set up by Mike Vecchione to give the Lancers a three-goal cushion.

Fitzgerald later added his second goal of the night, thanks to some gritty work in the corner by Vecchione who fed the puck into the slot from his knees.

Sifferlen rounded out scoring with his second of the night with 8.3 seconds remaining. Chris Stathopoulous also scored late for CM.

Serino credited the work of his third line, comprised of Sifferlen, Bob Keough and Jake Porazzo, in helping to keep the Lancers’ legs fresh throughout.

“We run three lines out there and we’re able to wear them down,” Serino added. “It helps us tremendously because we’re able to wear them down and we were able to bury the puck in the third period.”

No. 3 CM avenges '10, knocks off No. 2 Hingham

January, 8, 2011

BOSTON -- You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but there is nothing stopping the old pup from showing you a thing or two.

In a rematch of last year’s Super Eight championship, No. 3 Catholic Memorial avenged their title defeat with a 4-2 win over defending champion, No. 2 Hingham, at the Walter Brown Arena on the campus of Boston University.

The Knights are the kings of the Super Eight with 13 titles in all, their last coming in 2009. But the Harbormen stunned CM, 1-0, in last season’s finale preventing the Knights from back-to-back championships for the first time since they won three in a row in 2003-05. The win was the Harbormen’s first banner and was also only the second Division 1A crown for a public school in the history of the tournament (Reading, 2008).

But this time, the Knights showed they are back to lay claim to the top spot, as junior Cody Kingston’s goal 3:47 into the third period proved to be the game-winner in a game Catholic Memorial never trailed. If there was any sort of revenge factor, Catholic Memorial head coach Bill Hanson was not letting anyone in on that secret.

“Last year was last year, so (Hingham) have a Super Eight trophy at their school, but this is 2010-11 and no one has that trophy yet,” said Hanson.

Previously-unbeaten Hingham (4-1-3) controlled the first period, out shooting Catholic Memorial 11-5, and finding numerous scoring chances, as the Knights’ defense allowed the Harbormen to roam the slot and pick apart their blue line setup. Both teams, however, headed to the lockers without a tally.

After the scoreless first period, the Knights (5-3) finally broke through on a tip-in goal off the stick of junior forward Thomas Stanton at the 10:47 mark of the second. Sophomore defenseman Justin Ryder fired the puck from the left point, and Stanton had a perfect re-direct to beat Harbormen’s goaltender Derek McInnis (14 saves).

The lead didn’t last very long, as Hingham lit the lamp 2:42 later on a power play goal, courtesy of the Knights' third penalty of the second period alone. A tripping call on Stanton allowed Tim Driscoll, who had a goal and an assist, to punch home a rebound fired on net by fellow senior Marc Hetnik and the Harbormen were right back in the game.

But with only 40 seconds left in the period, sophomore Jack O’Hear gave the Knights a 2-1 lead on an assist from his brother, senior assistant captain Dan O’Hear (two assists).

“In the second (period) we adjust, in the third we adjust, and like I’ve told you guys before we just get better and better,” Hanson said about his team’s penchant for shutting teams down as the game progresses. “(We) were handling the puck better, made real good athletic plays, and we were opportunistic.”

No more so then in the beginning of the third period, when some great forechecking by senior Chris Stathopoulous on senior Jared Robichaud forced a loose puck out in front of McInnis and Kingston flipped the turnover into the Knights’ third goal of the game, a backhand tally right through McInnis’ five-hole.

“Kind of unfortunate, (Robichaud) was in the right spot down low, and we wanted him to center it,” Hingham head coach Tony Messina said. “He picked up the puck and made the wrong move to the center of the net -- unfortunately a good team like (Catholic Memorial) takes advantage of those mistakes.”

Said Hanson: “That’s (all) Stathopoulous and (Miles) McCarthy and they work so well below the faceoff dots. Cody just made a quick release, got rid of the puck, just got it to the goal, and I think that’s one (Hingham) might want to have back.”

Hingham was not finished, though, as Austin O’Connor cut the deficit in half when Driscoll’s blast rang the left post and went behind Knights’ goaltender Tommy Knox (17 saves) to the waiting stick of O’Connor, who was sitting on the right post for the easy tap-in poke.

But senior Dan Griffin picked up an untimely contact-to- the-head penalty with 2:45 remaining in regulation which ruined any momentum for Hingham to tie it up before the final horn and allowed Hetnik to double up the score on the power play with 2:11 left to play.

“Obviously you can’t take penalties in a game like this, especially a senior, we are going to learn from it,” said Messina. “Hopefully we will see (CM) sometime down in the future.”

HIN(4-1-3) 0 – 1 – 1 - - 2
CM (5-3-0) 0 – 2 – 2 - - 4

FIRST – None.
SECOND - CM – Thomas Stanton (Justin Ryder, Tom Barrett), 10:47; HI – Tim Driscoll (Marc Hetnik, Ryan Linehan), 13:17 (pp); CM - Jack O’Hear (Dan O’Hear), 14:20.
THIRD – CM – Cody Kingston (Chris Stathopoulous), 3:47; HI – Austin O’Connor (Driscoll, Alex Pompeo), 8:33; CM – Hetnik (Jack O’Hear, Dan O’Hear), 12:49

CM – Tommy Knox (17)
HI – Derek McInnis (14)

Player Diary: CM's Tommy Knox

January, 4, 2011
Editor's note: Catholic Memorial senior goaltender Tommy Knox checks in with his first Player Diary installment of the hockey season with a recap of the Knights' early-season exploits and a look ahead.

This season for Catholic Memorial is filled with a lot of new faces who are led by a solid group of returning players. We are a relatively young team and are depending on some of the younger players to step up and contribute. Our team does not need much more motivation then the wise words of Coach Hanson.

The team this year is looking to accomplish the ultimate goal of every team in Massachusetts, win the state title and bragging rights for the year. To do that we need to accomplish some minor goals along the way. We need to take the season day by day and get better each time we take the ice. Whether it is a practice or game day, we need to come out competing harder and playing smarter than we did the day before. Another goal of ours would be to win the Catholic Conference, as we have done in the past. To accomplish these goals we need to have strong performances all year by our seniors like Marc Hetnik, Danny O’Hear, and Chris Stathopoulous mixed in with underclassman Liam Coughlin and Jack O’Hear.

For me, personally, I would like to accomplish one single goal: to be able to play well enough to allow my team to compete night in and night out. This will only give my teammates more confidence in my playing style and allow them to get better. Hopefully, that will lead me to play at the next level in hockey, while also opening a few eyes in the hockey world.

So far this season, we have gotten out to a good start playing a difficult schedule. We battled against an always strong Delbarton (New Jersey) team, but unfortunately came up short. We came back strong though later in the schedule to put together three very convincing wins against Central Catholic, Thayer Academy, and BC High. Once this CM team begins to push the rock uphill, it will be very hard to step in our path and at this rate we will be a very hard team to play against come late February and early March.

Fast start paces No. 3 CM over No. 8 BC High

January, 4, 2011
BOSTON -- They were pretty much even, save for about a minute in the first period.

Outside of the third minute of the opening period in Tuesday night’s game at UMass Boston, No. 8 BC High was right with No. 3 Catholic Memorial in many regards. But the Knights simply did a better job burying their opportunities in a 3-0 win to open the teams’ Catholic Conference slate.

“We’ve had bad first periods all year,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said. “We’d talked about that coming into tonight. We said that we had to win the first period for a change.”

The Knights (4-3-0, 1-0-0) jumped on the board 2:36 into the first when Tom Barrett back-handed the rebound from a shot by Harrison Connelly into the back of the net. CM was back at it 13 seconds later when Liam Coughlin scored as a result of some crisp transition passes from Marc Hetnik and Ryan Sullivan.

The quick flourish could’ve rattled the young Eagles (3-1-1, 0-1-0), but BC High returned stronger in the second period and out-shot the Knights, 11-4.

Still, the Eagles weren’t able to finish as CM netminder Tommy Knox stopped 24 shots and collected his first shutout of the season.

“Other than a minute in the first period, I think we competed,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “We out-chanced them for part of the time. They capitalized, they finished their chances. We didn’t finish ours.”

The Eagles squandered four power play opportunities in the second period. The CM penalty kill unit was up to the task, consistently disrupting passing lanes, taking away BC High’s chances down low and blocking numerous shots before they could reach Knox.

“Tommy Knox is a good goalie, but you have to make sure he isn’t able to see the puck,” Flaherty said. “I think we allowed him to do that. We allowed him to see pucks, and for him to get in position, and we didn’t bang home rebounds that were waiting there for us.”

Coughlin was involved again on CM’s third goal, scored by Dan O’Hear. On a 2-on-1 break, Coughlin made a perfect saucer pass across the faceoff dots onto the tape of O’Hear’s stick with 7:20 remaining.

Knights senior defenseman Leo Stapleton doesn’t see a whole lot of ice time. That is except for when CM has a penalty to kill. Hanson utilizes Stapleton exclusively on the penalty kill, so he saw plenty of action during the second period when BC High had four stints on the power play. The Southie native sacrificed his body often, blocking six shots and leading a defensive effort that likely would’ve even pleased Claude Julien.

“It shows that we’re playing with courage and that we’re being aggressive in our own end,” Hanson said about the Knights’ multitudes of blocked shots.

That ethos plays into CM’s directives a man down, as well.

“We held them to not real good scoring chances,” Hanson said. “What we try to do is take away the backdoor play and we did that.

Passing thoughts: CM vs. Needham

December, 18, 2010
BOSTON, Mass. -- It was an early season rematch for two of last year's Super 8 entrants when No. 3 Catholic Memorial and No. 12 Needham faced off at Walter Brown Arena on Saturday.

The Knights took a 4-1 victory on the strength of a hat trick from sophomore Liam Coughlin. The center, who played for the Walpole Express last season, scored the final three goals of the game, including a game-clinching empty-netter in the waning seconds of the third.

Knights senior assistant captain Dan O'Hear also logged a mutli-point game, scoring CM's first goal of the game and setting up Coughlin's first tally -- what would prove to be the game-winner -- in the second period for a 2-1 CM lead. O'Hear feathered a tape-to-tape pass across the goal mouth to Coughlin, who banked the pass home behind Needham goaltender Connor Murray (24 saves).

Coughlin struck again 8:39 into the second period before capping the hat trick with an empty-netter that came as CM (1-1-0) was shorthanded. The rangy forward also set up O'Hear's goal for a four-point game.

Tommy Knox stopped 28 shots to earn in the win in goal.

Needham (1-1-0) got its lone goal in the first period when D.J. Walsh tipped in defenseman Corey Hood's shot from the point to tie the game, 1-1.

Here's a couple of passing thoughts from the non-league battle:
  • After CM's season-opening loss to LaSalle Academy in Providence, Hanson ran his team hard through practice this week, stressing a full 45-minute effort. "We went for 45 minutes today, that's for sure. That's what we have to do to win. We have to be hard to play against and our go-to guys have go to get it done."
  • With only one defenseman returning from last year's squad -- senior captain Marc Hetnik -- CM was left a little green on the blue line. In an effort to get a little experience on the back line, Hanson moved forward Chris Stathopoulous to defense and is playing beside Hetnik on the Knights' top pairing. The inspiration to move the smooth-skater back to the blue line came from Stathopoulous' experience on CM's lacrosse team. He's a longstick defender in lax, so Hanson thought, why not in hockey, too? "The way his physical skills are, he can skate, shoot, why not move him back to defense? He's got that acumen." The transition has been hasty, however. "He only really has two weeks of coaching back there," Hanson said, "but he gets better every day." Yet, if Saturday's sampling is any indication, the Knights may have found a dependable component to their D. It's not the first time Hanson's tried it either. Hetnik also first played as a forward at CM before making the switch.
  • Needham head coach Bill Guisti has the benefit of having seven seniors on this year's roster and he's been encouraged by their play early on. Guisti said forward Sam Nickles and Scott Atkinson, both seniors, have been among his most consistent players through preseason and the Rockets' early games. Nickles seemed to have the puck firmly attached to his stick throughout and had several quality chances. Atkinson exhibited good vision and the ability to transition the puck out of his defensive end. "He rarely makes a mistake," Guisti said of Atkinson. In addition to senior captains Chris Joyce -- whom Guisti believes should be the best D-man in the Bay State Conference this year -- and Tom Coleman, Needham has an experienced nucleus. "We've got to take it one game at a time and we've got Wellesley next," Guisti said. "So that will be a good challenge, but it would've been nice to get out of here with a win."

No. 3 CM reloads for another run

December, 17, 2010
WEST ROXBURY, Mass. – Senior defenseman Marc Hetnik may have said it best, stating the first thing a Catholic Memorial hockey player inherits when donning their sweater is a big ole bull’s-eye.

“Because you’re always touted among the top teams in the state,” Hetnik said after Thursday’s practice at the Jim Roche Community Ice Center, “you have the expectations to live up to the history of this program. And you have a coach like Coach [Bill] Hanson that expects a lot out of you.”

When playing in perhaps the state’s toughest conference (the Catholic) and consistently playing perhaps the state’s toughest schedule (which includes top flight out-of-state competition as well), there’s no time for the No. 3 Knights to rebuild.

They simply reload, year after year.

“We’ve had some great success in the past,” goaltender Tommy Knox said, “but we have to be leaders out there and follow the footsteps of the great players who have been through here to continue that CM legacy.”

For CM’s handful of senior players, including Hetnik and Knox, all they’ve known are trips to the Super 8. The Knights were within an eyelash of repeating as Super 8 champions last year until Tim Driscoll and Hingham derailed their bid in a dramatic finals match.

The team CM returns is much different from the one that skated off the Garden ice in March, painfully shy of achieving their goal. For instance, Hetnik is the lone blue-liner who is back.

However, the returning Knights have taken lessons from last year’s bitter experience.

“We know that every goal matters,” said Knox, an Acushnet resident. “One goal and you can be out of a game. It’s important to play every shot as if it’s the shot that will make the difference in the game.’

With all-everything sniper Derek Collucci gone along with stalwarts T.J. O’Brien and Troy Starrett, leadership on the front lines will fall largely to assistant captain Dan O’Hear. Hanson is also counting sophomore Liam Coughlin to have a breakout season. The rangy forward -- who is the son of Southie’s finest, Kevin Coughlin -- skated last season with the Walpole Express junior team and should add punch up front.

But Hanson knows all too well that the Knights will have to light the lamp consistently to make it out of the ever-competitive Catholic Conference this year.

“Anybody can beat anybody,” Hanson said. “Malden Catholic is definitely at the top, there’s no two ways about it, and I think they have been for the last couple of years. I think we just got lucky to beat them.

“It’ll be a dog fight, as it always is.”

Hanson also wants to ensure that his skaters are the best conditioned athletes.

During speed trials at the end of Thursday’s practice, a couple of Knights were bent over, tossing their cookies (and whatever other contents they happened to have in their stomachs) onto the ice.

The extensive skating period isn’t just to prove a point, it has a greater purpose.

“If they can get through that,” Hanson said, “it makes the game seem easy.”

17-7-1 (Super 8 finalists)
Head Coach: Bill Hanson, 35th season
Players to watch: G Tommy Knox, D Marc Hetnik, F Liam Coughlin.
The skinny: Unlike last year’s squad which was long in the tooth, this year’s model is largely coming fresh off the production line. “We have talented players,” Hanson said, “but they’re just going to have to learn how to play against the highest level of hockey they’ve ever played against.” The blue line corps is also inexperienced with Hetnik as the lone carryover from last year, but it helps having a top flight netminder like Knox, who had a save percentage over .90 last season and has Boston University and Providence College among his college suitors, to cover up any early season mistakes. “We need to play with a lot of energy and use our team speed, play through checks and playing physical,” Hetnik said. “That’s how we’ll be successful.”