Boston High School: University of Maine

Nolan Vesey didn’t know what to expect from draft weekend. He’d tuned in Saturday to the second day of the NHL Draft to see if his friends from the area had been selected.

Then, he got a Twitter follower from someone who described himself as a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I couldn’t refresh my computer fast enough,” said Vesey, a product of Austin Preparatory School who spent last year with the South Shore Kings.

When his computer eventually caught up, he learned that he’d been taken by the Maple Leafs with the 158th overall selection.

Vesey, whose older brother Jimmy was drafted by Nashville during the third round in 2012, will skate at the University of Maine next season. But the North Reading resident was not among the NHL Central Scouting’s ranked skaters for the 2014 draft class, although he’d scored 26 goals with 40 assists in 48 games in the USPHL last year.

“I came into this year, just trying to get ready for Maine,” Vesey told ESPN Boston Saturday. “I had a really good year there. I talked to a couple teams throughout the year but honestly I didn’t have my hopes up too high.”

Vesey had talked to scouts from the Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, in addition to the Maple Leafs, earlier in the year, but hadn’t heard anything in the weeks leading up to draft weekend.

“My brother [Jimmy] told me, if it happens it’s great, if not, I’m still going to college and it can still work out,” Vesey said of the prospects of being selected.

Vesey, who is the son of former Boston Bruin Jimmy Vesey, scored 21 goals and added 13 assists for Austin Prep during his senior year in 2012-13 and considered playing in the USHL before moving on to the Kings this year. Now, he’s waiting for the call to join the Maple Leafs’ development camp, which he believe will be next weekend.

“Like every hockey player, I wanted to get bigger, faster, stronger,” Vesey said of his goals entering last season. “I think I accomplished those things, but it’s just the start. This is just the next step and you’re just trying to build on that.”

Lucas leaves championship legacy at Cony (Maine)

February, 13, 2014
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When Ben Lucas started classes at Cony High School, the Rams hadn’t won a football state championship since 1932. That streak stayed intact through his junior year. But as a senior, under coach Robby Vachon and offensive coordinator B.L. Lippert, Lucas threw for 3,357 yards and a state record 41 touchdowns. He capped that by throwing for 347 yards – 307 of them in the second half – and directing a game-winning 99-yard drive in the final minutes to defeat Kennebunk in the Class B state final. Lucas finished his career with 7,575 yards passing, and a state-record 89 touchdowns.

MaineHe also won the Fitzpatrick Trophy, the award given annually to the top senior football player in the state.

Lucas is heading to the University of Maine, where he’ll be one of five quarterbacks on the Black Bears’ roster. Lucas took some time to answer questions about his magical season, why he chose UMaine, and why he’s been a three-sport athlete throughout high school:

Q: Cony hadn’t won a state championship in a long time before this season. Was that history something you were aware of when you were playing as a freshman and a sophomore?

A: “It had been something I was aware of, but with the history of Cony Football, it seemed like we could never reach that goal until my junior year when Coach Vachon and Coach Lippert reminded us of it daily. But breaking huddles with it, and putting signs around the weight room that said 1932 pushed us to work harder.”

Q: What are some of the things that made the Cony football team successful this season?

A: “I think one of the things that doesn’t get talked about as to why we were so good was the bond we had as teammates. It was truly a brotherhood. We always hear about our team from a playing point of view, but the biggest reason why we were so good was how close we were. And how much we trusted each other and had each other’s back. And still, now even football has ended, we are just as close as during the season.”

Q: How often do you think about the state game against Kennebunk? Are we talking every day? What do you think about when you think about that game?

A: “I think about the state game every day and talk about it every day. And sure I always talk and think about the 99-yard drive. But was really special was the buzz of the community after. How we really united the town of Augusta, and the bus ride back, and getting a parade and police escort through town, showing up at Cony at 1 a.m., with our whole food court packed with people, and just seeing the support we got.”

Q: When you wrote your speech for the Fitzpatrick Trophy banquet, what were the things you really wanted to make sure you included?

A: “I really wanted to make sure I talked about my teammates, family and the process Cony football went through to get where we are now, and that we want to stay here.”

Q: A lot of players who are being recruited by Division I colleges in one sport will focus only on that sport. Yet you play basketball, high school baseball, and Legion baseball. Why is that important to you to play those other sports?

A: “I take pride in being an all-around athlete and I love all those other sports. Being a three-sport athlete is a cool feeling, and all the other sports help me become a better football player -- and I've been playing for so long, it’s hard to give up.”

Q: What are your plans for college? What’s going into that decision for you?

A: “I will be attending UMaine, majoring in either politics or government, as well as being on the football team. Maine was the best fit for me because I want to see how good I can be. It's the best school talent-wise I was being recruited by so I want to go there, work hard and prove that I can play at the next level.”

Marshfield's Shea commits to Maine

December, 3, 2013
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Marshfield hockey junior forward Pat Shea has given a verbal commitment to the University of Maine, Rams head coach Dan Connolly confirmed to ESPN Boston today.

The news of Shea's commitment was first reported by Mike McMahon of College Hockey News.

As a sophomore, Shea posted 11-25-36 totals for the Division 1 state finalist Rams, following an 18-point campaign as a freshman.

"He's a coach's dream," Connolly said of Shea. "The best thing that I can say about him is that he's always in the right position. He thinks the game defensively, and then, when we're moving the puck, he's a creative offensive player."

The date of Shea's arrival at Orono has yet to be determined.

Taunton's Johnson commits to Maine

September, 18, 2013
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Former Taunton baseball standout Connor Johnson has given a verbal commitment to the University of Maine, he tells ESPN Boston.

Johnson, a left-handed pitcher who is attending Bridgton Academy for a post-graduate year, was an Old Colony League all-star as a junior before becoming a Hockomock League all-star as a senior, following the Tigers' move.

In the last two seasons with the Tigers, Johnson was 16-5 with an 1.80 earned run average over 133 innings, with 111 strikeouts and 27 walks. He also picked up five saves.

"I'm really excited about it," Johnson wrote. "I went up there in August and loved everything about it.

"I think it's a great fit. It's great baseball, really good academics, top of the line facilities and I really like the coaching staff. It was a no-brainer to say yes when [Bridgton] Coach [Aaron] Izaryk told me they wanted to offer me a commitment."

The news of Johnson's commitment was first reported by Dan Ventura of the Boston Herald.

KUA's Roberto changes commitment to BU

April, 29, 2013
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Former Malden Catholic and Kimball Union Academy hockey standout Nick Roberto has switched his commitment to Boston University, after de-committing from Maine in the recent weeks. He will join the Terriers for the 2013-14 season.

Roberto, a Wakefield, Mass. resident, tallied 23 goals and 48 points in 29 games for the Wildcats last season.

"Nick has worked very hard to attain this goal," KUA head coach Mike Levine said Monday. "The KUA community is very happy for both him and his family."

Roberto played the previous three seasons with Malden Catholic, where he was a part of the Lancers' Super 8 championship team in 2010-11, before enrolling at Kimball Union. He also was part of the Wildcats' Piatelli/Simmons Tournament victory in 2011-12 and was named Flood-Marr Tournament Most Valuable Player in 2012.

He joins former KUA teammates Doyle Somerby and John Macleod as BU commits and becomes the seventh player with Massachusetts roots joining the Terriers next year, including Robbie Baillargeon, Brendan Collier (former MC teammate), Tommy Kelley, Dalton MacAfee, T.J. Ryan and Somerby.

Roberto's change in commitment was first reported by Jasper Kozak-Miller of the "Over the Boards" hockey blog.

Player Perspective: KUA's Nick Roberto

December, 18, 2012
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Kimball Union Academy hockey wrapped up its first-ever Flood-Marr Holiday Tournament championship on Sunday with a 4-2 win over Westminster School. The Wildcats were led by senior forward Nick Roberto, who earned the tournament’s David Rogerson Trophy as its MVP.

Roberto, a Maine commit and Wakefield, Mass. native, also became the first KUA player to take home MVP honors since 1975.

Considered one of the top prep hockey teams in New England entering the 2012-13 season, the Wildcats are in the hunt for another NEPSAC championship this year.

We caught up with Roberto, who started his high school hockey career at Malden Catholic, in between games on Friday:

Q: You have some pretty skilled players beside you on your line with Casey Miller and J.D. Dudek. How do your skills complement each other?

A: “We’re always on the same page. We’re not selfish players, we’re always looking for each other. I like Casey because I’ve been playing with him for two years now. He’s a pass-first and shoot-second kind of player. He’s always looking. Dudek came over [transfer from Pinkerton Academy] and he’s just a hell of a player, he’s going to [Boston College], that says a lot. He brings a lot of skill to the line. I’m more of a grind-it-out player, but Casey and him, it’s all skill. That goal, my first goal [on Friday] was all Dudek, Casey drove the net and I was high and Dudek just made a nice pass. I was lucky to get it underneath the crossbar. And then, at the end of the game … At first, I thought it was going to be a little bit scary, but we got it. Casey just found a little hole on the ice and I tipped [the shot] up and batted it out of midair.”

Q: The tournament started a little tough for you guys, but you took over the third period of your first game against Salisbury with your two goals, including the game-tier and the game-winner. What was the difference?

A: “I think I played the worst two periods of my life, then the third period, Coach [Mike Levine] just told everybody to relax. I was a little snake-bitten with my stick and then I just came alive in the third. But it was a team effort.”

Q: You have a very talented roster and, as a result, there’s high expectations again for this team this year. What do you expect of yourselves as a team?

A: “I think today [Friday] really showed what we’re made out of as a team. It was the first time we’ve been losing for two periods and we fought back. No one gave up. Everybody was really positive on the bench, and that helps a lot. Coach wasn’t negative. He’s always helping us, encouraging us. We just starting playing hard, getting shots to the net and good things happened.”

Q: You have a couple of your old Malden Catholic teammates – Connor Evangelista and Brendan White – playing with you. What’s it like having been around those guys for so long?

A: “Well, Connor and I have been best friends since we were about three years old. We’ve gone to every school together: preschool, elementary school, middle school, MC and now here. We were roommates last year. Brendan came along this year, and I’m roommates with [Providence College commit] Niko Rufo this year, but I think Whitey’s in our room more than we are. It’s just fun up there with those two because we’ve been friends for such a long time.”

Q: You’re still a couple years away from Maine, but what are your hockey plans from here?

A: “I went up there a couple of weeks ago, I saw them play BC and we talked after the game. They said they don’t have that many openings for 2013, so then I can play a year of juniors and step right in and play. I’m fine with that, they’re really supportive of me – whatever helps. I’m not looking to go to college right now with the economy being what it is. I might as well live the dream some more and I’ll get there when I get there.”

KUA's Roberto commits to Maine

February, 23, 2012
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Kimball Union Academy junior Nick Roberto has committed to the University of Maine-Orono for the 2013-14 season, head coach Mike Levine confirmed to ESPN Boston on Thursday.

Through 28 games, the 5-foot-9, 170-pound forward has 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points for the Wildcats.

The Wakefield, Mass. resident played the previous three seasons with Malden Catholic, where last year he was a part of the Lancers Super 8 championship team.

"He competes extremely hard, plays with energy, and uses his speed effectively," Levine said.

Roberto is the fourth Kimball Union player with Bay State roots to give a commitment to a Hockey East school, joining Niko Rufo (PC), Doyle Somerby (BU) and John Macleod (BU).

New England Roundup: Maine

September, 8, 2010
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Several outstanding individual performances highlighted the first week of high school football in the state.

MaineTwo teams expected to challenge for the Class A championship this fall cruised to victories as Western Maine power Bonny Eagle defeated Westbrook, 36-0, and defending Eastern Maine champion Bangor blanked Skowhegan, 49-0.

Quarterback Matt Rollins paced Bonny Eagle with a pair of passing touchdowns while also rushing for 123 yards and a score. Bangor senior Josiah Hartley made a successful transition from wide receiver to tailback, rushing for 125 yards and three touchdowns in his debut at that position.

In other standout performances, Collin Downs rushed for 176 yards on 15 carries and scored six touchdowns to lead Camden Hills to a 60-28 win against Nokomis. Both schools are recent additions to varsity competition in the state.

Cony quarterback Luke Duncklee led the Rams of Augusta to a 48-12 win over Mt. Ararat of Topsham. The senior, who has made a verbal commitment to the University of Maine to play baseball next year, rushed for 194 yards on 21 carries and scored four touchdowns. He also passed for 71 yards and a score.

(Read full post)

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