Boston High School: Tyler Bird

Barnstable's Willman took long road to Sabres

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
5:12
PM ET


PHILADELPHIA – Max Willman almost gave up playing hockey last spring after the conclusion of his high school career at Barnstable High School.

Good thing he didn’t. On Saturday, the Buffalo Sabres selected Willman in the fifth round of the NHL Draft. It was the ultimate reward for a year’s worth of hard work and dedication to getting better, but it all might not have happened had it not been for communication with a prep school coach.

Williston-Northampton head coach Derek Cunha presented Willman with the opportunity to play a post-grad year at his school and entry into some prestigious summer showcase events, including the Beantown Classic.

[+] EnlargeMax Willman
Courtesy Jeff Cox Former Barnstable standout Max Willman nearly gave up hockey before landing at Williston-Northampton for a postgraduate year. On Saturday, he answered questions in Philadelphia after being selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL draft.
“Coach Cunha gave me a chance. He put me in some summer tournaments and I took advantage of it,” explained Willman. “It’s overwhelming and exciting. It’s definitely a dream come true. Hard work pays off.”

“One thing he did was he made the most of every opportunity along the way,” Cunha said. “Starting with summer showcases last summer, midget hockey in the fall and then with us during the prep season, he got better and better.”

It’s the ultimate success story. Willman was ready to just head to Quinnipiac University as a regular student like many of his fellow graduates from Barnstable. Instead, he took Cunha up on the offer to play prep school hockey.

“When I graduated from Barnstable, I didn’t have very many options. I was looking to go to Quinnipiac as a student,” said Willman.

A year later, Willman has secured an offer to play college hockey at Brown University and is now a prospect in the Sabres’ system, as the organization attempts to rebuild.

“Some kids level out, but Max keeps getting better. He has a lot more potential for growth,” said Cunha, a Nobles & Greenough grad, who played college hockey at Holy Cross.

It wasn’t that Willman wasn’t a good hockey player when he skated for head coach Scott Nickerson at Barnstable. It was a matter of exposure.

“Exposure is a big thing. Not many [scouts] come down to the Cape to watch public school hockey,” Willman said.

Willman isn’t the flashiest player fans will ever watch, but he is the type of player who just gets the job done. He is tenacious and brings the play to his opposition.

“I have good vision and can see the ice well. I try to make my linemates around me better,” said Willman when describing his game.

He is a versatile scorer that can find the back of the net in many different ways.

"He can beat defensemen one-on-one, shoot and score from the perimeter or bowl his way towards the net," said Cunha. "He really dictates the play. He forces the play and makes defensemen worried about him."

Willman will join a strong recruiting class at Brown that also includes two other locals selected in the 2014 NHL Draft: Deerfield’s Sam Lafferty and Kimball Union’s Tyler Bird.

“It’s definitely exciting with the incoming class. I played with Sam [Lafferty] last summer and fall and played against him in prep school,” said Willman, who was also looking at Providence, Union, Holy Cross and Army.

Perhaps most importantly, in the minds of the Sabres’ brass, Willman is a character guy who will give his all every shift and be respected by his teammates.

“He’s a character guy, he’s a great kid,” Sabres General Manager Tim Murray said. “He’s the type of kid you want to marry your daughter. He’s a smart kid going to Brown.

“Every scout on our staff all said he was a good hockey player. There wasn’t one guy who said he wasn’t sure on this kid. I like unanimous decisions.”

Another unanimous decision around Philadelphia was that Max Willman was one of true feel good stories of the draft.

The NHL Draft kicks off tonight in Philadelphia and there are more than a dozen New England-bred skaters who are hoping to hear their names called during the two-day event.

Last year’s local draft class was exceptionally deep, with 12 New England-born players at the secondary or junior level coming off the board.

Before getting the scouts’ takes on this year’s class, here’s a look at the locals that made the NHL Central Scouting bureau’s final North American rankings:

SKATERS

45. Shane Eiserman, C/LW, Dubuque (Cushing, St. John’s Prep), 6-1 1/2, 200

58. Ryan Donato, C, Dexter, 6-0 1/4, 174

74. Miles Gendron, D, Rivers, 6-1 1/2, 181

79. Beau Starrett, C/LW, South Shore (Catholic Memorial), 6-4 1/2, 197

109. J.D. Dudek, C, Kimball Union, 5-11, 1/4, 180

116. Max Willman, C, Williston-Northampton (Barnstable), 5-11, 181

117. Tyler Bird, RW, Kimball Union (St. John’s Prep), 6-1 1/2, 200

119. Bobo Carpenter, C, Sioux City (Austin Prep), 5-10, 183

147. Jonathan Barry, D, Thayer Academy, 6-1, 192

177. Billy Sweezey, D, Noble & Greenough (Archbishop Williams), 6-0 1/4, 192

184. Sam Lafferty, C/LW, Deerfield Academy, 6-0 1/2, 187

203. J.C. Brassard, D, Noble & Greenough, 5-10, 190

GOALIES

14. Joey Daccord, Cushing (North Andover), 6-2, 199

In advance of the draft, we sampled the views of a couple of NHL amateur scouts based in the area and their evaluations of the aforementioned prospects.

Shane Eiserman
One scout’s take: “He’s a heavy body and he plays a heavy, physical game. He finishes his checks and he’s got a mean streak in him. He plays with an edge. He’s a good skater and he gets around the ice well – especially in a straight line. I think he projects a third-line winger, who can provide some secondary scoring.”

Scout’s need to improve: Scoring touch.

Ryan Donato
One scout’s take: “He has really high-end skills: great hands, super soft hands, great vision in offensive zone. So obviously that’s when he’s most dangerous, when he has the puck, you have to keep your head on a swivel. He has a great shot and the ability to thread a pass into a tight area.”

Scout’s need to improve: Skating.

Miles Gendron
One scout’s take: “He’s an interesting player because he’s a forward-turned-defenseman. He’s a kid that still needs time to learn the position, but he’s heading to UConn and he’s going to get great coaching from Mike Cavanaugh and Mike Souza – they’ve got big plans for him. He’s probably the most dynamic skater in the East – a great stride, fluid, long and thin with great balance. He’s a one-man breakout.”

Scout’s need to improve: Net-front defending.

Max Willman
One scout’s take: “I think he’s a kid that played at a lower level and was underrated for a while but he’s really coming on strong. I think he had a great year last year and he’s headed to Brown, so he’s maybe a bit of a wild card, just from perspective of taking the skill set that he has, and you can see it, and applying that to the next level. You might be taking a bit of a chance, but you’re getting a guy that has some really nice skill, can pass the puck as good as anyone and can shoot the puck well.”

Scout’s need to improve: Can he carve out role outside of top six skilled forward?

Bobo Carpenter
One scout’s take: “I don’t think he’s a natural goal-scorer, but he has an unbelievable shot, shoots a heavy puck. He’s good on the power play and he’ll be utilized there. He’s a very tough competitor and loves to finish checks. He’s always going as hard as he can to the whistle. He loves to the play in the role of a bottom six forward, and he can fit in there because he loves to finish checks and get those dirty, greasy goals. He’s going to a good place, a good school [BU] and I think he did fairly well in the USHL at the end of the season when he was there.”

Scout’s need to improve: Skating.

Joey Daccord
One scout’s take: “He’s a very technical goaltender. He handles the puck well and he’s good with his stick, he can move the puck like a college player. He’s very technical. He’s got good size, good height, a long, rangy kid. He just has to get a little more consistent with his play.”

Scout’s need to improve: Game-to-game consistency.

NEPSAC: Salisbury repeats as Elite 8 champions

March, 3, 2014
Mar 3
1:51
AM ET
NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- You had to wonder if a trend was taking place.

With the top seeds in Sunday night's other two NEPSAC championship games going down to defeat, would a similar scenario be in store for the Salisbury School?

The way seventh seed The Gunnery School was holding its own on the ice, it was a distinct possibility. But to understand the strength of the Crimson Knights program is knowing that such fears are a considerable waste of time.

Even though it took a little longer than it would've like, Salisbury completed its mission in dramatic style.

Evan Smith's goal at 15:19 in overtime lifted the Crimson Knights to a thrilling 3-2 triumph over the Highlanders and be crowned the Stuart-Corkery Tournament champions inside Yale University's Ingalls Rink.

The victory earns Salisbury (24-1-4) its second consecutive Elite 8 championship. Last year, they defeated the Kent School, after the Crimson Knights also hoisted trophies in 2009 and 2006.

The Gunnery (20-7-1) forced the extra frame by striking for a pair of goals late in the third period.

But all of that was soon forgotten following Smith's heroics after taking a a tic-tac-toe pass from Derek Barach and sending a hard wrist into an open right side of the net.

"I was just busting down the line and I saw Barach up high and gave him a drop pass," said Smith, who will play his college hockey in the same arena next year for Yale. "He fed it back to me and I had an open right side of the net to put it into. It was deflating being up two goals with five minutes left and them coming back to tie it. But all of us kept our composure and we came out in overtime and were determined to repeat as champs and that's what happened."

After a scoreless opening period, Salisbury went to work in the middle frame. At 4:12, Kale Kane, a junior from Kahnawake, Quebec, on the power play, dove head first to push a wobbling puck across the goal line for a 1-0 lead. The initial shot came from Barach. The puck bounced off of Highlander goaltender Matt Schneider and flipped into the air and behind his left leg pad where Kane alertly knock it in. Barach, a senior, finished with two assists, giving him a team-high 33.

Four minutes later, with Alec Mehr serving a charging penalty, it was Kane coming up huge again. Lined up in the left slot, the forward took a nice crossing feed from Matthew Muzyka and beat Schneider with a one-timer to make it a two goal contest. Schneider, a senior, had a solid first period, stopping several quality shots to keep the game scoreless.

Overall, his play was stellar on the night except for a couple of miscues in the second and Smith's game-winner in overtime. Schneider finished with 35 saves.

Not to be overshadowed in all of this, Crimson Knights netminder Mitchell Datz, a senior from Kitchener, Ontario, was equally impressive between the pipes. Datz turned aside 20-of-22 shots with the only blemishes coming in the third when he surrendered goals to Mehr at 12:31 with the man-advantage, and couldn't catch up to Joey Fallon's bullet from the right wing circle at 15:18 to even this tilt.

"Overall I was pretty confident during the overtime," Datz said. "We hadn't lost an overtime game all year so I was pretty confident in my teammate's abilities to score. It was a little nerve-wracking when they tied it up but going into overtime I knew I still had a job to do and needed to remain focused and confident. Fortunately my teammates got the win."

Salisbury's defense did a nice job getting through those last few minutes of the third as they buckled down refusing to allow the Highlanders to gain any further momentum from their scores. In overtime, the Crimson Knights controlled much of the play. They consistently worked the puck inside The Gunnery zone, putting up 11 shots in the process with Smith's being the most important one of the night.

"This was a fantastic hockey game by both teams," Salisbury head coach Andrew Will said. "It was two teams playing their best hockey at the right time of the year and it showed. We score two goals in the second period and they come back with two in the third. In overtime all we were focusing on was getting the next goal. Giving up those two goals certainly takes wind out of your sails but our guys went back to the locker room and refocused. We didn't worry about what happened because it's so easy to do that. We just set our sight to coming back and playing our brand of hockey which I thought we did."

Martin/Earl final: Loomis-Chaffee 3, St. Paul's 2

In a wide open affair at both ends of the ice, leave it to a turnover to decide matters.

Loomis-Chaffee senior forward Alex Esposito, from nearby West Haven, picked off an errant pass inside the St. Paul's zone, skated in alone on goaltender Nathan Colannino (23 saves) before beating the junior glove side at 9:35 of the third period to give his team a 3-2 victory in the Martin/Earl Tournament. The triumph marks the first NEPSAC boys hockey title for No. 6 L-C (15-10-3).

Ironically, it was Esposito who scored the game-winning goal in the closing seconds of Saturday's 2-1 semifinal victory over Phillips Academy-Andover.

"Their defenseman was bringing the puck up and I went down and it hit my hand," said Esposito of his deciding score. "I just came down on their goalie and held him out a little bit and then went short side. This is such a huge win for our program."

L-C got hot at the right time heading down the stretch. They closed out the season going 5-0-1 in their final six games. According to head coach John Zawisza, this team was built on a premise that you had earn what you got with a lot of hard work.

"We had a couple of rough patches during the season but I think we started peaking at the right time and were able to come away with a championship," said Zawisza, whose club lost to St. Paul's in a regular season meeting back on Dec. 19. "I credit our guys' persistence during the season. Even when it was rough they still showed up for work every day. We were able to find consistency over the last two weeks of the season and the kids found that will to win."

With both teams getting a few quality looks on net during the opening period, the game remained scoreless until the waning seconds of the frame.

With 14 seconds showing, Austin Ricci pushed in a short-side shot into the net, putting No. 1 St. Paul's (20-9-1) ahead 1-0.

But L-C, showing a little more patients with the puck in the second period than it did in the opening frame, answered back. Senior defenseman Matt O'Donnell, flying down the left wing, beat goaltender Nathan Colannino with a hard backhander at 8:03 to knot things at 1-1.

St. Paul's followed that up with a couple of scoring chances on goalie Nick Kamm (13 saves) but were denied. Back came L-C down the other end. Ben Sharf delivered a perfect centering pass over to Esposito in front of the crease and Esposito buried it into the back of the net to give L-C a 2-1 lead after 36 minutes.

"Over the course of his career Alex has gotten a lot of big goals for us," Zavisza said. "As a coach you want your top guys to have games like that especially when it really matters."

St. Paul's wouldn't be down for long though. Just 2:08 into the third, senior Cam McCusker, got enough his stick on the puck to slip it past the out-stretched left leg pad of Kamm to deadlock things at 2 apiece. But the offense went silent thereafter.

"Loomis played very hard so give them all the credit," St. Paul's head coach Mark Bozek said. "Either we were tired or we didn't have our best game tonight. It's tough to come out on the losing end after you've worked so hard all year. We gave up a couple of odd-man rushes and they made us pay for it. Rarely tonight did we have an odd-man rush."

Piatelli/Simmons final: Kimball Union 5, Dexter 1

The Wildcats claimed their second Piatelli/Simmons Tournament crown in three years after storming past top seed Dexter.

KUA jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period and never looked back.

The second-seeded Wildcats (26-6-5) officially put this one in the books with a three-goal third. Westwood native Bobby Hall and Andover product Tyler Bird scored 13 seconds apartj, both coming from the left circle, midway through the final frame to extend KUA's advantage to 4-0. For Bird, it was his team-high 33rd marker of the season.

Dexter junior sniper Ryan Donato got one back (his team-high 37th) a few minutes later but the damage was already done. Dom Franco (Scituate, R.I.) added an empty-net goal for the Wildcats in the waning seconds to finish this one out. KUA defeated Holderness in the 2012 championship game. Prior to that, the Wildcats won titles in 2010 and 1982.

After an uneventful first period, the Wildcats started to force the action during the middle frame. The up-tempo style would lead to a pair of goals. Chris Shero started things off by ripping a one-timer off a left wing circle face off feed from Brendan Riley to put KUA on the board at 12:16. Three minutes later, with the Wildcats continuing to move the puck up ice, forward Jacob Paluch, positioned at his own blue line, took a pass and fired a shot through traffic that Dexter goalie Pat Fraser (20 saves) never saw coming.

"We did get stronger as the game went on," KUA head coach Tim Whitehead said. "We obviously had a ton of respect for Dexter and knew it would be a tight game. The final score was not indicative of how this game was. We were able to kill off some penalties which was very important because we knew they had a strong power play.

“Our goaltender Paul Leger (18 saves) played very well in net and was our best penalty killer tonight. We just kept pushing offensively and got more chances with each period."

Dexter, which was in search of its second championship having last won it in 2011, finishes the season at 22-6-2.

"They did a nice job of clogging up the neutral zone on us, especially early which limited us offensively," Dexter head coach Dan Donato said. "They also did a nice job neutralizing Ryan before he got going a bit. We made some coverage mistakes on those two goals in the third. Both of those players are high-end guys and that is what high-end guys do when you make mistakes. I thought their first two lines really moved the puck well for them."
The National Hockey League's Central Scouting bureau released its midterm rankings for the 2014 draft today.

Once again, local-based skaters littered the rankings, with St. John's Prep and Cushing Academy product Shane Eiserman leading the class. The West Newbury native was 39th among the 200-plus ranked North American skaters.

There is also a goaltender in the mix, with Thayer Academy standout Bob McGovern ranking 25th among North Americans.

Here's how the locals stacked up:

(For a look at the complete rankings, click HERE.)

Skaters:
39 Shane Eiserman, Dubuque - USHL (U.S. NTDP, Cushing, St. John's Prep), C/LW, 6-1.5, 200
44 Johnathan MacLeod, U.S. NTDP (Kimball Union), D, 6-1.5, 200
54 Ryan Donato, Dexter School, C, 6-0.25, 174
83 Beau Starrett, South Shore Kings - USPHL (Catholic Memorial), LW, 6-4.75, 195
85 Miles Gendron, Rivers, D, 6-1.5, 173
121 Michael Turner, Cushing Academy, LW, 6-1.5, 192
123 Tyler Bird, Kimball Union (St. John's Prep), RW, 6-1.5, 202
146 Bobo Carpenter, Austin Prep, C, 5-10, 183
157 J.D. Dudek, Kimball Union, C, 5-11.25, 178
159 Michael Lee, The Gunnery, D, 5-11.25, 165
177 Max Willman, Williston Northampton (Barnstable), LW, 6-0, 180
188 Dominic Franco, Kimball Union, RW, 6-2.75, 183
193 Billy Sweezey, Noble & Greenough, D, 6-0, 190
204 Evan Smith, Salisbury School, C, 6-0, 190

Goaltenders:
25 Bob McGovern, Thayer Academy, 6-4, 245

Local 'Ones to Watch' from NHL Central Scouting

September, 23, 2013
9/23/13
10:45
AM ET
This morning the National Hockey League's Central Scouting Service released its preliminary "Ones to Watch" for the 2014 draft.

The New England region was well-represented with current and former high schoolers and prep schoolers making the grade.

Here's a breakdown of New England skaters:

MASSACHUSETTS HIGH SCHOOLS
B Skaters
Ryan Donato, Dexter School, C/LW, 6-0.25, 174 lbs.
Miles Gendron, Rivers, D, 6-1.5, 173 lbs.

C Skaters
John-Claude Brassard, Noble & Greenough, D, 5-10, 180 lbs.
Bobo Carpenter, Austin Prep, C, 5-10, 183 lbs.
William Feeney, Dexter School, D, 6-1.75, 202 lbs.
Michael Turner, Cushing Academy, LW, 6-1.5, 208 lbs.

C Goaltenders
Bob McGovern, Thayer Academy, G, 6-4, 245 lbs.

NEW HAMPSHIRE HIGH SCHOOLS
C Skaters
Tyler Bird, Kimball Union (St. John's Prep), RW, 6-1.5, 202 lbs.
J.D. Dudek, Kimball Union, C, 5-11.25, 178 lbs.
Dominic Franco, Kimball Union, RW, 6-2.75, 183 lbs.

CONNECTICUT HIGH SCHOOLS
C Skaters
Will Brophy, Westminster, D, 6-3.5, 193 lbs.
James Gobetz, Salisbury, D, 6-2, 188 lbs.
Mike Lee, The Gunnery, D, 5-11.25, 165 lbs.
Evan Smith, Salisbury, LW, 6-0, 190 lbs.
Mitchell Smith, Salisbury, LW, 5-11, 182 lbs.

C Goaltenders
Joseph Lissak, Taft School, G, 6-1.5, 203 lbs.
Sam Tucker, Choate-Rosemary, G, 6-1.25, 177 lbs.

UNITED STATES HOCKEY LEAGUE
B Skaters
Shane Eiserman (U.S. NTDP/ Cushing Academy/ St. John's Prep), Dubuque, LW, 6-1.5, 200 lbs.

UNITED STATES PREMIER HOCKEY LEAGUE
C Skaters
Beau Starrett (Catholic Memorial), South Shore, LW, 6-4, 190 lbs.
St. John's Prep standout and soon-to-be NHL Draft hopeful Brian Pinho led a deep pool of local skaters selected in Tuesday's "Phase 2" of the United States Hockey League's Draft.

Pinho was one of 13 skaters with ties to MIAA hockey who were taken on the day, including 10 who played for member schools last season.

Here's a list of players with New England ties who were selected Tuesday, listed by overall selection:

6. Brian Pinho (North Andover), C, St. John's Prep - Indiana

15. Ryan Segalla (Hanover), D, Salisbury - Dubuque

18. Merrick Madsen, G, Proctor - Des Moines

22. Connor Light (Sudbury), D, Phillips Andover - Omaha

25. Anthony Petruzzelli, LW, Brooks - Green Bay

28. Zach Sanford (Auburn, N.H.), LW, Islanders (EJHL) - Waterloo

30. Liam Coughlin (South Boston), C, Catholic Memorial - Dubuque

34. Danny Tirone (Trumbull, Conn.),G , Loomis-Chaffee - Cedar Rapids

37. James Winkler (York, Maine), RW, Berwick - Muskegon

53. Jake McCarthy (Dedham), D, St. Sebastian's - Muskegon

56. Garrett Hehir (Auburn, Mass.), C, Cushing Acacdemy - Lincoln

59. Shane Starrett (Bellingham), G, Selects Academy (Catholic Memorial) - Sioux Falls

66. A.J. Greer, LW, Kimball Union - Des Moines

93. Kevin Duane (New Canaan, Conn.), RW, Boston Junior Bruins (EJHL) - Des Moines

94. Terence Amarossa, D, Holderness - Sioux City

100. Aaron Titcomb (Charlestown), D, Salisbury - Cedar Rapids

105. Shane Kavanaugh (E. Providence, R.I.), RW, Cushing Academy - Dubuque

111. Connor Brassard (Fitchburg), D, Cushing Academy - Chicago

120. Mark Hamilton (Winthrop), D, Salisbury - Dubuque

140. Mark Dufour (Winthrop), RW, Kents Hill - Cedar Rapids

165. David Belluche (Andover), D, Phillips Andover - Dubuque

177. Carl Hesler (Boxborough), F, Belmont Hill - Waterloo

191. Miles Gendron (Shrewsbury), C, Rivers - Lincoln

192. Shane Bennett, C, Milton Academy - Waterloo

210. Evan Smith, C/LW, Salisbury - Dubuque

211. Ryan Collins (Newton), C, Ottawa (CJHL) - Indiana

213. Brendan Shane, C, The Gunnery - Des Moines

220. Niko Rufo (Stoneham), LW, Kimball Union - Green Bay

225. Mitchell Smith, C/LW, Salisbury - Dubuque

226. Michael Turner, LW, Cushing Academy - Indiana

230. Tyler Sifferlen (North Andover), F, Malden Catholic - Cedar Rapids

237. Mason Krueger (Nashua, N.H.), LW, Avon Old Farms - Waterloo

246. Vincent Ditmore, D, Choate Rosemary Hall - Chicago

257. Tyler Bird (Andover), RW, St. John's Prep - Tri-City

266. Nick Rutigliano (Shrewsbury), D, Boston Advantage AAA - Lincoln

272. Andrew Cross (Saugus), D, Austin Prep - Tri-City

274. Tyler Drevitch (Middleborough), RW, Boston Bandits (EJHL) - Sioux City

279. Colin MacGillivray (Peabody - Malden Catholic), D, N.H. Junior Monarchs (EJHL) - Youngstown

285. Will D'Orsi (Sudbury), F, St. Sebastian's - Dubuque

300. Nolan Vesey (North Reading), F, Austin Prep - Dubuque

307. Joel Daccord (North Andover - North Andover), G, Cushing Academy - Chicago

309. Sam Tucker (Wilton, Conn.), G, Choate Rosemary Hall - Youngstown

310. Charlie Corcoran (New Canaan, Conn.), C, Berkshire School - Green Bay

366. Jack Adams (Boxford), F, Malden Catholic - Chicago

367. Luke Stevens, F, Duxbury - Omaha

382. J.J. Layton (Peabody), D, Austin Prep - Omaha

384. Charley Borek (Durham, N.H.), F, Choate Rosemary Hall - Youngstown
St. John's Prep hockey junior forward Jack McCarthy announced his verbal commitment to Brown University Thursday afternoon via his Twitter account.

McCarthy, who posted 10 goals (tied for second) for 16 points in 24 games for the Catholic Conference champion Eagles, becomes the second Prep skater this academic year to give a commitment to Bears, joining fellow junior forward Tyler Bird.

"Committed to Brown University. Thanks to everyone who helped me over the years!" McCarthy wrote in his Tweet, announcing his decision.

It is unknown which year McCarthy, a Wakefield resident, will join the Bears.

Our MIAA boys' hockey All-State Team

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
9:11
PM ET
FIRST LINE
All-StateF - Liam Coughlin, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Finished third among all Division 1 players in scoring, while leading the Knights back to the Super 8 for the first time since 2009-10. The South Boston native put up 28-20-48 totals, tied for first among Catholic Conference scorers this season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Super 8: Austin Prep 2, St. John's Prep 1

March, 14, 2013
3/14/13
3:27
AM ET


LOWELL, Mass. -- Entering the season, everyone knew that Austin Prep a serious collection of talent. The knock against the Cougars was that they were very young, and that their defense might not be up to par with its offense.

As the winter progressed, those blueliners have vastly improved and grown into their roles, and because of how that unit performed in the postseason, the statement "AP is maybe a year or two away" no longer applies.

Led by senior Zach Fuller and junior Andrew Cross, the Cougars defense turned in perhaps its finest performance of the season and were a key factor in Austin's 2-1 victory over St. John's Prep in the second Div. 1A semifinal at Tsongas Center Tuesday night.

"Our defense the second half of the season has really turned it up,' praised AP head coach Louis Finocchiaro. "Andrew Cross has been playing phenomenally all year. Zach Fuller over the second half of the season has really come up big for us a senior defenseman. J.J. Layton, Matty Morgan, Leachy [Brendan Leach] and Kevin Kiley... they're playing well on that back end and no one gave them any credit in the beginning of the season. They said we couldn't win hockey games because we weren't good defensively but you know what? They're proving some people wrong and doing a fabulous job."

Throughout the Super 8, most of the focus in Austin's victories has been on goalie Elijah Harris, and rightly so. Harris was nothing short of spectacular in the two victories over Reading, and it was assumed that for Austin to have a chance against the top-seeded Eagles, Harris would have to steal it.

Instead, the defense made his life easier. Harris made 27 saves in the game but he didn't have to be spectacular like he was against Reading thanks to his defense. They did a terrific job of limiting the Prep from home run chances, they cleared the puck out of the zone often and kept the shooting lanes free and clear for Harris to do his job behind them.

A key cog in the maturation of the Cougars defense has been Cross. The junior spent two years at Malden Catholic, who will be AP's opponent in the championship game, before transferring over to Austin. His steady presence on the ice and guiding voice in the locker room has been invaluable to the rest of the young Cougars and that group is playing its best at the right time.

"I know we're very young," Cross admitted after Wednesday's game. "They've learned a lot from Coach [Finocchiaro] and I've taught them a couple of things myself about the high school game. Coming from playing select hockey and coming up to high school, thats a huge difference. We've grown as the year's gone on and playing against better competition makes you better every day. The forwards we have coming down at us in practice one on one, it's tough so we have very talented guys to up against."

AP OFFENSE DOES ITS PART
Speaking of those talented forwards, they had to come through as well and the Cougars top line really shined on this stage. After a scoreless first period, the two teams looked to be headed toward another goose egg n the scoreboard in the second until, with just under six minutes remaining. Eric MacAdams delivered a perfect feed to Nolan Vesey (2 goals) for an open look that AP on the board first.

St. John's Prep answered in the third as Tyler Bird stuffed home a rebound at 6:46 and finally began to show signs of reminding everyone why they were the state's top-ranked squad for most of the season. With just 2:40 remaining, MacAdams was hauled down on a breakaway that gave the Cougars a power play, and they cashed in on a flukey bounce.

Bob Carpenter fired a shot from the right wing circle that was tipped by Cam Russo and the puck went up into the air toward the far post where Vesey was camped with St. John's senior captain Brent Murray. Vesey's stick went up at the same time as Murray's glove, and the puck went off the blue-liners hands and dropped down into the net to give Austin a 2-1 lead with 2:11 remaining.

"It was a power play and I ended up on my off side," explained Vesey. "The puck went back to Bobo Carpenter and he let a rip go. My linemate, Cam Russo, tipped it, kind of went up in the air and their defenseman's glove and my stick went up and I couldn't even tell you. I closed my eyes then I saw the puck go over the line. Thats all that matters."

The Eagles pulled goalie Billy Price (18 saves) with just over a minute remaining for the extra skater, but Harris came through with a pair of big saves in the closing seconds to finish it off.

"I thought we played a pretty good game," Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson said. "Did we play a great game? No, but I thought we played well enough to win. We've had difficulty all year capitalizing and tonight it came back to bite us. You can blame it on a number of different things but bottom line is we didn't finish and they scored one more goal than we did. It doesn't matter how it goes in, they all count the same."

For Austin Prep, there is no waiting for next year. Their time has come now.

"Obviously its great experience and for them it took a while to believe in themselves and to know how to win big games," Finocchiaro said. "It was a learning process for us and halfway through the season, we were like, 'We don't know if its going to come.' We thought it might not come this year and we may have to wait until next year because we were up and down, we were like a rollercoaster. But then our last four games of the season, we've played really well right through tonight. They got some confidence going, they believe in themselves.

"St. John's Prep is a tremendous hockey team. They've been the number one hockey team all year long and for us to beat them tonight is a huge accomplishment."

LOOKING AHEAD
Sunday will hold extra special meaning to several Cougars, including Finocchiaro, who was a disciple of the late Chris Serino. Cross was a regular in the rotation during Malden Catholic's run to a second straight title a season ago. Now he stands as the top defenseman for Austin Prep and he knows a lot of eyes will be on him from now until Sunday.

"I'm looking forward to this game," Cross said with a smile. "I didn't think it was going to happen this way. It's going to be a dramatic game playing against my old teammates. I've known a bunch of them since I was probably about seven years old, I've been playing against them my whole life. We've just got to work hard at practice and go over the systems. We played them once already and we gave them a game. We didn't like the outcome (MC won, 4-3 in OT during the Chris Serino Holiday Tournament) the first time so we're going to be looking for some revenge."

And while MC has overcome its midseason struggles and once again looks like the team to beat, don;t think for a second that Austin Prep plans to lay down for them on the TD Garden ice.

"They won it the last two years," Vesey said almost defiantly. "There's not going to be a third time."

Super 8: St. John's Prep 4, Central Catholic 2

March, 10, 2013
3/10/13
11:16
PM ET


STONEHAM, Mass. -- Central Catholic didn’t make its Super 8 series easy against No. 1 seed St. John’s Prep. But as the Eagles faced elimination for the second game in a row, Prep star forward Brian Pinho finally beat Colin Soucy sending his squad past the Raiders, 4-2, in Sunday’s deciding Game 3 of their quarterfinal series at Stoneham Arena.

St. John’s Prep will play Austin Prep next in the semi-finals. The Eagles won a previous game earlier this season against the Cougars, but that was along time ago.

“You can forget about the fact that we beat them in January because it’s March now,” Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson said. “What we did during a game in January means nothing. Elijah Harris is playing very well for them. He is one of the best goalies in the state, and we anticipate that he will be tough to beat.”

Pinho struggled to finish throughout the series against the Central Catholic goalie, but he rose to the occasion when his team needed him. Late in the third period, seconds after Central Catholic had tied the game; the Providence College commit finally beat Soucy.

“Brian’s a great player, but he was starting to get a little frustrated because Soucy has had his number,” Hanson said. “We talked to Brian about it, but you can’t tell a kid how to score a goal. They have to just seize the opportunity and do what they do. He had that opportunity, and he buried it.”

St. John’s (19-3-1) loses 15 seniors after this season, so losing was simply not the way the leaders of the Eagles wanted to go out. Although the group helped get the win, there is still a lot of work to do.

“None of [the seniors] wanted this to be their last game especially [since it is only] the first round. It is satisfying that we won, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Hanson said.

Billy Price locked down the Eagles’ net, as the St. John’s goalie stopped 23-of-25 Central shots.

“Billy [Price] was great today, he looked very calm and poised out there,” Hanson said. “Even when they got that goal to tie the game [in the third] he stood tall.”

Soucy (20 saves) had an incredible run in the series, and the Raiders net-minder gave his squad a legitimate shot at knocking off the top seed.

“Colin [Soucy] stepped up his play, and everyone started to believe because of his play,” Central Catholic head coach Mike Jankowski said.

After a scoreless first period, Eagles forward James Currier made a nifty spin-o-rama move before firing the puck into the twine.

The Raiders (15-7-3) came right back though as Lloyd Hayes scored the Raiders first goal for the third game in a row to even things, 1-1.

“It’s just the character of Hayes because he just goes out there and competes for us,” Jankowski said.

Before the period could end, Paul Crehan picked up a rebound that came out to him in the slot. The forward rifled a wrist shot off the crossbar and into the goal.

“We hate to put a number on it because technically that is our [fourth line], but they certainly don’t play like a [fourth line],” Hanson said. “They are very comfortable playing together, they are very effective playing together, and that was evident by the goal that Paul [Crehan] had.”

Halfway through the third period, Christian Thompson tied things up by beating Price through the five-hole, but the deadlock only lasted only 26 seconds.

Pinho finally beat Soucy as a deflected shot went straight to him. Pinho was waiting on the backdoor, and he fired the puck into the goal as Soucy could not get over in time.

“It’s the best goal I have scored in my life,” Pinho said. “Soucy probably robbed me about five times this tournament, so it felt so good to get that goal. I can’t even describe it.”

Later in the third, Tyler Bird scored on the power play to extend the Eagles. Bird picked up a rebound and he made no mistakes firing the puck past Soucy.

“At that point we were just playing regular because we were trying to [prevent] a shorthanded goal, so we just had our first line out there,” Hanson said. “They had the man advantage, so it was just a benefit to us.”

Central Catholic pulled Soucy late, but the Raiders failed to put much pressure on Price as the St. John’s defense locked down.

Super 8: Central Catholic 4, St. John's Prep 1

March, 4, 2013
3/04/13
12:57
AM ET


LOWELL, Mass. -- In the final minute of the second period, Central Catholic goalie Colin Soucy found himself staring down the barrel of future Providence Friar Brian Pinho.

With the Raiders holding a 3-1 lead, the St. John's Prep standout had just forced a turnover at the Raiders blue line and walked in all alone. Pinho aimed for the high, glove side but Soucy flashed his mitt to nullify what could have a momentum - and game - changing goal.

Soucy made eight more stops in the third period, finishing with 22 for the game, and the eighth-seeded Raiders pulled the early shocker of the Super 8 by knocking off the top-seeded Eagles, 4-1.

"I knew what his moves were," said Soucy, drawing on the experience of playing the Prep back in December. "He came in, he was eyeing the glove side, and I just kicked out and made the save. I learned a lot on how his head moves, his stick fakes and everything like that. I knew that he shot glove a lot so i just wanted to make the big saves."

Raiders (15-5-3) coach Mike Jankowski not only felt that stop kept the Prep (17-3-1) from getting any spark of life, but it was also a huge confidence booster for his junior netminder, given who the shooter was.

"It was huge, especially with who we turned it over to," Jankowski admitted."You don't want to turn it over to anybody but if you turn it over to him...that's just a testament to [Soucy] and what he's able to do. Not looking at who it is but doing what he needs to do to shut him down and move forward."

Shots were even through the first two frames but Central seemed to more jump in its step while the Prep was surprisingly flat, something they weren't able to shake for the entire contest. The Raiders also cashed in the game's first goal as Lloyd Hayes fired a shot on Prep goalie Billy Price. Price made the initial stop but the rebound accidentally caromed off one of his defensemen and went right back into the net at 5:08.

The Eagles made amends on the power play just over five minutes later as Tyler Bird screamed a shot through the Central crease that got blocked but founds its way to Jimmy Currier, who stuck in a backhander to tie the game at 1-1.

Kevin Regan put CC back on top just one minute into the second, snapping off a beauty of a one-timer off a feed from Billy Stahley. Defenseman Nick Gorski, who also played a stellar game in his own end, contributed to the offense by rifling a shot into an open net off a long rebound with Price out of position. Central tacked on one final goal in the third, courtesy of Alex Lester.



"We had a lot of momentum from the Hingham game coming into this and we all knew that no one was giving us credit for what we can do," Gorski said. "We knew we could beat them, we already beat them this year. They’re a very strong program and we definitely knew we had a hard game coming. The first period really showed it. We came out flying and we just continued that for the rest of the game."

The two teams will meet again on Thursday (7:45 p.m.) for game two of the best-of-three series at Stoneham Arena.

Super 8 tournament primer and picks

March, 2, 2013
3/02/13
4:52
PM ET
There are less than 24 hours remaining before the puck drops on the Super 8 tournament Sunday at UMass-Lowell’s Tsongas Center.

So we’re taking this opportunity to break down the final eight. As the tournament takes on a best-of-three format for its first-round matchups this year, we’re taking a look at the head-to-head breakdowns for each series, along with predictions:

Series: No. 1 St. John’s Prep (17-2-1) vs. No. 8 Central Catholic (14-5-3)

Players to watch: Prep – F Brian Pinho, F Tyler Bird, F Andrew Brandano, F Jack McCarthy, F Cam Shaheen, D Brent Murray, G Billy Price; Central – F Lloyd Hayes, F Corey Webber; D Nick Gorski, D Alex Lester, G Colin Soucy.

Previous meeting: Central 2, Prep 1 on Dec. 26.

The skinny: Central fought its way into the eight-team field with an improbable comeback against Hingham in Monday’s play-in game. But they’ll have to be ready to go out of the gate against the top-seeded Eagles. Prep is deepest team in the field — from its forwards to its defensemen — and the Raiders will have to weather the Eagles’ ability to wear teams down by consistently rolling four lines (Claude Julien surely would love this Prep team). The goaltenders will also be under the spotlight in this series with both Price and Soucy making their debuts in taking over for tournament stalwarts David Letarte and Kyle Williams, respectively. The play of both goaltenders has been a strength for their teams this year.

X-factor: Can the Raiders parlay some momentum gained from their dramatic play-in game overtime victory into a Game 1 win against the Eagles? Also, what kind of a factor will Central winger Mike Kelleher be?

Prediction: Prep in two.

Series: No. 2 Springfield Cathedral (16-1-4) vs. No. 7 Malden Catholic (12-6-3)

Previous meeting: MC 2, Cathedral 1 on Feb. 21.

Players to watch: Cathedral – F Peter Crinella, F Dominic Blad, F D.J. Petruzelli, F Johnny Leonard, D Matt Foley, D Jack Williams, G John Liqouri; MC – F Mike Iovanna, F Ara Nazarian, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Pat Wrenn, D Casey Fitzgerald, D Nick Rolli.

The skinny: While the Panthers enjoyed some down time this week, MC set about making a statement in its 9-1 dismantling of Archbishop Williams in Monday’s play-in game. Perhaps no team in the state has been hotter than the two-time defending Super 8 champion Lancers and they’d like to prove that, once again, this is their time of the year. There will be plenty of top-tier talent on the ice when the team’s top forward units face off with Cathedral’s line of Crinella-Artie Potter-Blad opposed by MC’s Iovanna-Nazarian-Sifferlen troika. The key to this series, however, will be which team’s second and third lines come to play.

X-factor: Cathedral goaltender John Liquori. As we saw in the Panthers’ game against St. John’s Prep in the final week of the regular season, he’s capable of stealing points and games for them. He’ll need to be at his best to curb the Lancers’ attack.

Prediction: Malden Catholic in three.

Series: No. 3 BC High (14-3-3) vs. No. 6 Catholic Memorial (12-6-2)

Previous meetings: BC High 5, CM 1 on Jan. 16; BC High 4, CM 3 on Feb. 2.

Players to watch: BC High – F Tom Besinger, F Pat Kramer, F Steve DeForge, F Chris LaLiberte, D Sam Topham, D Ryan Shea, G Peter Cronin; CM – F Liam Coughlin, F Jack O’Hear, F Kevin Hock, F Aaron Clancy, D Dennis Medeiros, D Sean Heelan, G Brandon Collett.

The skinny: Can’t get much better than this, right? Right up there with Bruins-Canadiens. The teams will add another chapter to their storied history in the 50th-anniversary year of their hockey rivalry. While the Eagles claimed both meetings against their Catholic Conference counterparts during the regular season, the play was largely even (minus one second-period outburst in BC High’s 5-1 win in January). So expect more of the same in this series.

X-factor: Liam Coughlin. The Eagles had success neutralizing the rangy center during their regular season appearance, both in the offensive zone and in the face-off circle. But we’ve seen Coughlin (25-16-41) take control at times this season, and he’ll have to do so for the Knights to advance.

Prediction: BC High in three.

Series: No. 4 Austin Prep (13-1-6) vs. No. 5 Reading (16-1-5)

Previous meeting: N/A.

Players to watch: AP – F Nolan Vesey, F Bobby Carpenter, F Jake McKenelley, F Eric MacAdams, F George Sennott, D Andrew Cross, D J.J. Layton; Reading – F Rob Devaney, F Mike Thomson, F Jake Barbera, F Mark Dente, G Evan Morelli.

The skinny: The Battle of Reading is just one subplot to a group of first-round series rife with context. The high-flying Cougars attack will have to break through a sticky Reading forecheck that can give opponents fits. AP does enter tournament having played some of its best hockey of the year in the final week of the season, wrapping up a Cape Cod Classic championship. The Rockets, meanwhile, will gain the fan bases of the rest of the state as the lone remaining public school entrant in this year’s field.

X-factor: Nolan Vesey. Has the potential to be the best player in the tournament. For a young squad such as AP, however, Vesey’s leadership will be vital for their long-term Super 8 chances. He needs to set the tone.

Prediction: Austin Prep in three.

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 3, No. 2 BC High 2

January, 27, 2013
1/27/13
12:05
AM ET


WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Jimmy Currier had scored but one goal all season for St. John's Prep entering Saturday's Catholic Conference showdown with league-leading BC High.

It's safe to say Currier is officially "off the schneide."

The junior delivered a pair of highlight reel goals in the second period, one to tie the game, the other serving as the eventual game-winner as the third-ranked Prep claimed a 3-2 victory over No. 2 BC High at in the Fifth Annual 1st Lt. Derek Hines Memorial Game at Ristuccia Arena.

"Jimmy's capable of that and we've felt that way all year," praised Prep coach Kristian Hanson. "He's a really talented offensive player. I see it in practice and sometimes it takes one out there to give a kid confidence to go out and do it again. After he got that first one today, you could see it in him - he was confident handling the puck. It was a beautiful shot on that third goal. Jimmy had a great offensive day today."

The victory pulls the Prep (11-2-0 overall; 5-1-0 CC) into a tie with BC High (9-2-2; 4-1-2) atop the league standings with ten points apiece with a game in hand. Thanks to Malden Catholic's 4-3 victory over Catholic Memorial Saturday evening, St. John's can clinch its first league title since 1994 outright with wins over the Knights and Xaverian next week.

Currier's work on both tallies was a thing of beauty. Just one minute after BC High took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Tom Besinger, Currier went end-to-end, weaving around a pair of defenders like pylons before switching back to his forehand just in time to stuff the puck inside the far post at 6:12.

"When I was coming down, I had my feet moving a lot and after I cut to the middle I saw [linemate Andrew] Brandano and I was like, 'I should have gave it to him' and I just ended up going around him and putting it in," Currier described.

Just under five minutes later, Currier found himself with the puck in the right wing corner deep in the BC High zone. He floated out high and left, all the way over the top of the circle and fired a wrist shot through traffic back to the right side to give his club a 3-2 lead it would not relinquish.

"When I come out of the corner there it brings up so many options," the junior recalled. "I was coming across, moving left to right and the goalie was moving left to right. I just shot it far side and he didn't see the shot because there was a screen in front."

The Prep scored the game's first goal in equally spectacular fashion. Sprung loose up the right wing by one of his defensemen, Cam Shaheen worked his through the BC High zone, pushed the puck between the skates of his defender, then whirled around him and fired a wrist shot while dropping to one knee at 6:49 of the first.

BC High responded just over two minutes later as freshman defenseman Ryan Shea unleashed a rocket from the point for a power-play marker. BC High grabbed its first lead at 5:12 of the second when Besinger swooped in and buried the rebound of a shot by Sam Topham.

"They are a very good team and we knew that coming in and we skated with them," BC High head coach John Flaherty said. "They're a junior-senior team and they are very good. Brian Pinho, Jack McCarthy, Tyler Bird - those kids are as good as any kid around."

"You know they're coming at you and you know you've got to hang in there for the ride," he continued. "The fact that we skated with them for three periods and we were able to hang around and almost have a chance to tie the game at the end, that's a positive. It's an emotional game for them. A tribute to one of their all-time good players at St. John's Prep so its an emotional game for them. We knew that coming in and I'm proud of my guys for hanging in there for three periods and giving ourselves a chance at the end."

Recap: No. 3 St. John's Prep 5, No. 9 MC 2

January, 23, 2013
1/23/13
2:59
PM ET


MALDEN, Mass. – When hockey coaches talk about rolling four lines, there’s usually an assigned order that comes with such a statement. The top six forwards are called upon to score, and the third and fourth lines are supposed to bring the grit and, at times, shoulder the responsibilities of shutting down the other team’s top offensive threats.

Yet, St. John’s Prep head coach Kristian Hanson views his four lines not as ranked No. 1 through No. 4. Instead, they bear colors. The Eagles’ “Green Line” of Paul Crehan, Justin Longo and Cam Shaheen might not be viewed as Prep’s top offensive line by opposing teams, but they were the difference in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Catholic Conference rival Malden Catholic.

“The Green Line played really well for us tonight, that’s the line of [Justin] Longo, [Paul] Crehan and [Cam] Shaheen, they were possibly our best offensive line through the first couple of periods. Obviously, Paul getting that goal in the third period was really big for us.”

Crehan scored what proved to the game-winning goal, igniting a three-goal outburst in the third period.

The teams skated 2-2 after two periods, but the Eagles (10-2-0, 4-1-0) ran out to an early 2-0 lead, scoring on two of their first three shots on goal.

Despite the early deficit, MC (4-5-3, 0-4-2) controlled the possession game in the first period, outshooting Prep, 12-5. Eagles goaltender Billy Price stood tall in face of the Lancers’ first period onslaught, highlighted by a string of three straight point-blank chances on the power play.

Derek Osbahr had Prep to a 1-0 lead at 1:53 of the first, scoring on a partial breakaway. It was the Eagles’ first shot on goal. Shaheen increased the lead to two goals at the 12-minute mark of the first, breaking in off the left wing and going stickside with the wrist shot.

The Lancers rallied to draw even, scoring their first in the final minute of the first on Ara Nazarian’s power play goal and then on Matt Filipe’s equalizer at 11:12 of the second.

“It’s always a big game when we play MC,” Shaheen said. “We’ve had such a big rivalry with them the last three years we’ve played them. We know they’re a third-period team, so we said in the locker room, before we came out … We needed to be the team that stepped up and made plays in the third period. That’s what we did. We made big plays and that’s why we won the game.”

Crehan gave Prep the lead for good, knocking in a rebound while driving the net, scoring on the backhand while going tumbling into the end wall.

Tyler Bird closed out the victory two goals later in the third, his first coming on a tip attempt on the power play.

The Lancers earned two misconduct penalties in the game’s final minutes, including a game misconduct.

GOING THE DISTANCE
With Tuesday’s victory, Prep tied BC High atop the Catholic Conference standings with their eighth point. BC High is in action again Wednesday night against Xaverian and Saturday’s featured bout is the second round of Eagles vs. Eagles.

“Every point is important,” Hanson said. “Whether it’s Malden Catholic, or Xaverian, whatever team it is you have to bring your best effort.”

The Eagles know what’s ahead of them, and they’ll need to bring their best effort to erase a 2-0 loss to BC High on Jan. 9. But Prep also has the goal of winning its first Catholic Conference title since 1994 on the horizon.

“We have a lot of seniors on this team, we all have the same goals,” Shaheen said. “We want to make it far as we can in the playoffs and we’re on the road right now. We just want to make it to our best potential.”

Recap: No. 3 SJP 5, No. 6 Austin Prep 1

January, 20, 2013
1/20/13
12:46
PM ET


STONEHAM, Mass. -- Reading a 5-1 box score on paper looks as though the winning team had its way offensively. But, in hockey, as in many team sports, numbers can belie how important a sound defense is to influencing offensive prowess.

That was certainly the case Saturday night in No. 3 St. John’s Prep’s 5-1 non-league win over No. 6 Austin Prep, dealing the Cougars their first loss of the season. The Eagles’ victory was enabled by a stifling defensive display by their blue-liners. St. John’s held the Cougars in the single digits in shots on goal for the game, outshooting the Cougars 31-9 and controlling the flow of the game.

The Eagles were so effective in their own end, at times, it was easy to overlook them.

“We just played solid D and kept it simple, getting the puck up to the forwards, grinding, getting the puck out,” junior defenseman Evan Leclerc said. “We were just playing simple, true hockey.”

The Eagles (9-2-0) also played with the lead nearly from the get-go, as Tyler Bird opened scoring at 2:43 of the first on a partial break, sprung by an outlet pass from Ryan Byrne. St. John’s went to the room after the first with a 2-0 advantage after Cam Shaheen’s third goal of the season, with assists from Justin Longo and Paul Crehan.

They kept the pedal to the medal, starting the second period with a goal just 58 seconds in. Leclerc tallied his first of the season after some nice work down low by forwards Brian Pinho and Andrew Brandano.

The Cougars (6-1-3) broke up the shutout bid at 8:22 of the second with Brent Hill setting up a snipe from George Sennott.

The Eagles rounded out the second with Longo tallying his second point of the game, tallying an unassisted goal on a broken play.

Jack McCarthy increased St. John’s lead to four at 1:53 of the third.

“Coming in, Austin Prep was undefeated, so we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Eagles head coach Kristian Hanson said. “I think the kids really rose to the challenge tonight. I think from the first shift that our energy was pretty good. We have good team speed, but when we want to be physical, I think we can be a dominating physical team. I think we did that well tonight.”

IN THE CLEAR
Even with a goal in two, the most impressive part of Leclerc’s game came in the Eagles’ defensive zone. Leclerc thwarted a couple of Cougars rushes with bone-rattling hits.

“He was very physical,” Hanson said. “Yeah, he had the goal, but we thought he did a lot of little things. He was quick, he was physical, he made good decisions with the puck. He was one of our best guys out there tonight.”

Along with the all-around solid effort of its defenseman, including Brent Murray and Ean Mendeszoon, St. John’s also saw its depth in play.

Longo, a fourth-liner, chipped in with a two-point game (1G, 1 A).

“He’s an unsung hero type, but he’s had some huge goals for us this year,” Hanson said of Longo. “He’s a fourth-line guy, but he has the skill level of a first or second line guy. That fourth line has really played well this year. They play well in any kind of situation.”

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