Boston High School: Tony Amonte

Recap: Thayer Academy 6, St. Sebastian's 3

January, 24, 2014
Jan 24
11:34
PM ET


CANTON, Mass. -- Tony Amonte, the third-year boys’ hockey coach at Thayer Academy, likes to offer up comparisons between the ISL's Keller Division to that of the Southeastern Conference in football. Both present major challenges and nothing ever comes easy.

Friday night, Amonte's Tigers learned that lesson all to well. After jumping out to a four-goal lead, Thayer watched in vain as divisional foe St. Sebastian's mounted a flurry to close to within a goal. But the Tigers had enough ammunition in the end to withstand the onslaught and pull out 6-3 victory in the 17th annual Arthur T. Valicenti Cup game at the Sportsplex.

"In high school hockey there are no guarantees,'' said Amonte, his team improving to 13-3-0. "There are so many swings and ups and downs in every game. St. Sebastian's always brings it and we didn't expect any less than that. In this league every game is battle. You lose one and you could be out of a championship. It's that important every game and it's the team that can maintain that level that always wins the league every year."

Fresh off a loss to St. Paul's School only 24 hours earlier, no one could blame Thayer if they began this tilt a bit flat. But it was quite the opposite. The Tigers opened strong, controlling the opening 18 minutes by working the puck inside the Arrows' zone and keeping St. Sebastian's out of theirs.

For its reward, Thayer scored three times in span of 4:32 during the opening stanza.

Defenseman Steve Cochrane got things started by ripping a shot just a few feet in front of his blue line to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 4:20. Less than two minutes later, Kyle Peterson, another defenseman, wristed a rebound to an open right side of the net to make it a two-goal advantage. Thayer had no intentions of slowing down. Catching St. Sebastian's back on its heels a bit, the Tigers continued to instigate their quick up-the-ice strategy. Forward Lincoln Griffin made it a 3-0 game with a re-direct in front of Arrows goaltender Teddy Loughborough (20 saves), coming at 8:52.

The momentum Thayer had enjoyed during the opening frame carried into the second period. At 8:18, Neil Conway scored on a spin-around just to the right of Loughborough, upping the lead to 4-0. With their backs pushed firmly against the wall, the Arrows had a choice to make. They could either wave the towel or come back fighting. They chose the latter and, as a result, made things quite interesting.

"We did not play a good first period," Arrows coach Sean McCann said. "They were all over us and we couldn't do the things we wanted to do. We struggled moving the puck and just couldn't connect the dots going up the ice. In the second period we started to get some momentum and were making better decisions with the puck."

St. Sebastian's caught a huge break after a pair of TIgers were sent to the penalty box, giving them a 5-on-3 power play for 54 seconds. Working the puck inside Thayer's end, the Arrows sent two hard shots towards Tigers netminder Bob McGovern. The second one deflected off of McGovern's leg pad and out to junior forward Will D'Orsi, who quickly flipped a shot just under the crossbar at 13:55, putting the Arrows on the board.

"For a team as young as we are I think this was a great thing to battle like we did and compete the way we did," added McCann, whose team falls to 6-9-1 after starting the year 5-1-1. "We are a team that has to learn a lot. We have a lot of young kids playing crucial minutes for us. It's a good learning experience but I hate to use that term because nobody wants to hear about learning experiences, these kids want to win."

With time winding down in the middle frame, St. Sebastian's capitalize on a Thayer mental breakdown. With the Tigers trying to score another goal before intermission, they forgot to play defense. That allowed senior forward Corey Ronan to break out through the neutral zone and remain a full-step ahead of the defense. Skating in alone on McGovern, who opted to stay in the crease instead of coming out to challenge the puck-handler, Ronan was able to slip a shot past the senior just before the horn sounded and send the Arrows into the second intermission down by only two.

"We had a good first period," said Amonte, who played at Thayer in the late 1980s, prior to spending 16 solid seasons in the NHL. "There was a bit of lull in the second period. There was a coaching error on their second goal. We were thinking offense in the final seconds of the period when we should've been thinking protect that three-goal lead. But you are always looking for more. The way I coach, you really don't think about defense because I played forward and you are always thinking about getting that next goal.

“They made a great play and Corey Ronan is a tremendously fast player and made a great move. We also know you can't get into the box against good teams like St. Sebastian's. You have to be discipline, especially when you are already on the penalty kill and then you take another penalty. That's what hurts you."

Realizing it was now back in the hunt, St. Sebastian's drew a bit closer only a few minutes into the third. Nick Flanagan found the back of the net to cut the deficit to 4-3 at 11:01.

Suddenly, everything Thayer had built early on was now in jeopardy. Momentum had clearly shifted over to the side of the Arrows. Following Flanagan's marker, McGovern managed to fend off a couple more on-line assaults from St. Sebastian's.

But for how long?

"Our team has a good mixture of skill and work ethic," McGovern said. "Last year I don't think we won a game by more than two goals so we were dialed in the whole 54 minutes. This year we have been able to run away with some games so it is actually good for us to be in a tight game like this right up to the very end. Games like this will only help us."

The Tigers were then skating around in desperation mode, attempting to rediscover their scoring edge.

At 14:38, sophomore Christian Simeone provided it. The forward scored off a rebound to give the Tigers a little breathing space. Then, with a little less than three minutes remaining, Griffin sealed this one up with his second goal, slipping a shot between Loughborough's leg pads just before colliding with the senior. Officials awarded the goal to Griffin, stating the puck had crossed the goal line before there was impact.

"St. Sebastian's had a lot of momentum in the third period so we knew we needed to come back strong and finish," said Griffin. "The second period was probably our worst period by far. We knew we had to stick to our game plan, work hard and finish off checks. Once we started doing that again, we knew it would work out for us."

NEPSAC: Thayer 4, St. Sebastian's 3 (OT)

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
2:31
PM ET


CANTON, Mass. -- Jonathan Sheedy swooped around the goal, arms raised in the air. A look of incredulousness was written on the senior captain’s face as he looked for his nearest teammate to hug.

With the figures “5:05” emblazoned on the scoreboard, Sheedy stopped time, delivering a 4-3 overtime win for Thayer Academy Wednesday at the Canton SpotsPlex.

Reflecting on his game-winner against St. Sebastian’s in the NEPSAC Martin/Earl Tournament quarterfinal tilt between ISL rivals, all Sheedy could think of is the last couple seasons and how far the Tigers have come.

“We’ve had two losing seasons in the last three years,” Sheedy said. “The fact that we were in the tournament this year, I was wicked happy for that. Now, we get to go to Salem, play in the semifinals Saturday. It’s just amazing.”

Thayer held a 3-0 lead in the second, despite the Arrows carrying play in the period. But Seb’s kept at it and finally solved Tigers netminder Bob McGovern (29 saves), scoring three unanswered goals, including two goals from senior forward James McLaughlin, to tie it in the third.

It was a familiar script.

“It was almost a mirror image of the other day, it was the same kind of game that we played on Saturday,” Tigers head coach Tony Amonte said of his team’s 3-1 win over the Arrows in last weekend’s Valicenti Cup game. “They won the second period, the only difference today was that they won the third.”

The Tigers jumped to a 2-0 lead at 14:19 of the second with freshman Ty Amonte tallying his second of the game on the set-up from Lincoln Griffin off a 2-on-1 break. Thayer struck again exactly one minute later on defenseman Jack Judge’s blast from the point.

However, the Arrows countered with an important goal just 17 seconds later with Tommy Kelley ripping off a one-timer on Corey Ronan’s feed.

“We needed to get one before the end of the period,” St. Seb’s head coach Sean McCann said. “We were fortunate to have a bang-bang play near the crease. It was a nice play by our guys and that helped us carry momentum into the third period.”

After being held scoreless on five previous power-play opportunities, the Arrows found the back of the net for the first time with the man-advantage to start the third. McLaughlin scored his first of two goals at 6:10 of the third. He then scored the equalizer with 7:31 remaining in regulation.

KEEP IT SIMPLE
After being outplayed for the bulk of two periods, Thayer brought its skating legs to the overtime session. Spurred on a by a key save by McGovern in the opening minute of overtime, the Tigers began getting pucks to the Arrows’ net with greater consistency.

It was all part of Amonte’s message to his team at the break: don’t make it too fancy.

“How many pretty goals do you see in an overtime?” the 16-season NHL veteran and Thayer alum said. “A la today, there’s no pretty goals in overtime at any level. So I told them to relax, go out there, play their game and just get pucks to the net.”

As the Tigers advance to play Avon Old Farms in Saturday’s tournament semifinal at the The Icecenter in Salem, N.H. (5:30 p.m.), they feel as though they’re playing with house money.

“This is all gravy,” Amonte said. “For us, we didn’t even expect to make the tournament, so we’ll give it our best and see what happens.”

AN IMPOSING FIGURE
In Thayer’s net, McGovern presents a conundrum for opposing players. That is, where exactly can you shoot?

The 6-foot, 3-inch, butterfly-style netminder affords snipers little space to shoot. And, with his sound positional play in the crease, seldom will you find the Tigers’ backstop out of place.

McGovern’s effort in the last two games against St. Seb’s even drew the praise of the opposing coach.

“He’s played really well this year,” McCann said. “We played them on Saturday and he was outstanding. He was so good today, so going down three-to-nothing, we were a little concerned about what we were going to be able to do.”

Thayer's Griffin commits to Northeastern

February, 26, 2013
2/26/13
5:46
PM ET
Thayer Academy hockey sophomore forward Lincoln Griffin has given a verbal commitment to Northeastern, Tigers head coach Tony Amonte confirmed.

Griffin, a 1997 birthdate player, is expected to join the Huskies for the 2016-17 season.

"Lincoln is a player with an amazing work ethic and a player who, on daily basis, is always working on some aspect of his game," Amonte said. "He is the one player on my team that always seems to find a way to get the job done."

The Walpole native led the Tigers in scoring as a freshman last season and again leads Thayer in scoring for the 2012-13 season with 14-23-37 totals through 23 games played.

"I was shocked that he wasn't scooped up earlier," Amonte added. "You can just see the drive and passion in his game every time he steps on the ice."

Thayer hosts ISL rival St. Sebastian's Wednesday in a NEPSAC tournament quarter-final game at the Canton SportsPlex (3:30 p.m.).

McEachern charts new course for Rivers

January, 27, 2011
1/27/11
6:43
PM ET
WESTON, Mass. -- It’s picture day for the Rivers School boys’ hockey team and teammates are horsing around between their individual shots and the finale — the group shot. First-year Red Wings head coach Shawn McEachern is waiting for the festivities to wrap up and jump in for the team photo at MacDowell Arena.

He leans forward, putting his weight on stick and says, “They’re funny.”

His young Rivers team is 8-9-0 (as of Thursday) and he’s satisfied with effort they’ve given while taking to a new style of play.

But mostly, the Waltham native and 13-year NHL veteran is having fun with this group.

“When it’s time to work, these guys get after it, but they’re able to laugh and have some fun,” McEachern said. “They’re good kids and they’re fun to be around. It keeps you young. It’s a blast to be around kids this age.”

McEachern retired in 2006, following his second stint with the Bruins. He always knew he wanted to coach when his playing career was over and the former Matignon great jumped right into his new career passion, taking assistant coaching jobs in Hockey East with Northeastern and UMass-Lowell, in addition to a stint at Salem State University.

He is one of three former Boston University Terriers and ex-NHLers to join the ISL’s coaching ranks this year, along with Tony Amonte at Thayer and Scott Young at St. Mark’s. McEachern’s new gig behind the bench at Rivers is his first at the high school/prep level and he inherited a team that hasn’t finished with a double-digit win tally since the 2004-05 season. So it’s a challenge.

“I just want them to grow,” said McEachern who also works under Jim McNally as the assistant director of athletics at Rivers. “I don’t want to set long-term goals on winning any certain number of games or anything like that. We just want to come out here every day and get better.”

The Red Wings have four freshmen and an eighth-grader on their roster who are feeling their way through the season. McEachern also inherited some talented leaders, however, with senior captains Connor Dempsey and George Crowley leading the way.

Dempsey, a Winthrop native, is a slick-skating center who has committed to play at Dartmouth with its 2012 recruiting class.

“He’s always pushing details, details, details,” Dempsey said. “But it’s all those small things that lead up to winning games.

“He’s probably the most professional coach I’ve been around though. Every single drill is full speed, he keeps everything up-paced and every practice is very fast.

Dempsey said it took a couple games for the Red Wings to get up to speed with McEachern’s approach to the game, but the results have followed.

“In the beginning of the season, it was hard to get everyone to plug in. Everyone was on their own page and not really following the system. Especially in the past seven, eight games, everyone’s started to plug in and we’re starting to win games. It’s just about everyone trusting themselves and trusting in the style that we’re playing.”

While that transition takes time, McEachern is enjoying the ride. The 41-year old accomplished much in his hockey career. He was a Hobey Baker Award finalist at BU, an Olympian and won a Stanley Cup in his rookie season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The lightning-fast skater also had the opportunity to play with his hometown team in Boston.

“Kevin Stevens called me the night before the deal and said that he was going to be traded to Boston and he thought I was going to be part of the deal, too,” McEachern said of the 1995 deal that re-shaped the Bruins, with youngsters Glen Murray and Bryan Smolinski headed the other way. “I was excited to come back and play in Boston, but it was tough because we left a team that had won two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh.’

McEachern finished his career skating with the Ottawa Senators and Atlanta Thrashers (where he was also captain) before returning home to Boston one last time.

Wherever he’s landed, he’s always maintained the same passion for the game.

“I was lucky enough to play professionally for a long time and I’ve coached at the Division 3 and Division 1 levels in Hockey East,” McEachern said. “Kids are the same, it’s just the talent levels that change.”

And with a little bit of consistency, the Red Wings will be on their way.

“I think before the two losses last weekend we were playing well,” Dempsey said. “It’s just coming out and playing all three periods. Once we do that, we’ll be fine.”

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