Boston High School: Will Lawrence

Super 8: No. 2 Malden Catholic 4, No. 7 CM 3

March, 2, 2014
Mar 2

BOSTON — Both Malden Catholic and Catholic Memorial knew things would be different this time around and neither expected a repeat of the 11-0 drubbing the Lancers put on the Knights back on Feb. 14.

This one came down to the wire with Malden Catholic getting a late power play goal from senior Tyler Sifferlen who beat Knights goalie Brandon Collett after a great cross ice feed from junior John McLean. The goal was the second of the night for Sifferlen.

The Knights had a six on four advantage in the final minute with the goalie pulled but could not draw even and now trail the best of three series 1-0 as the teams get ready for Game Two on Wednesday night at the Tsongas Arena (8 p.m.).

“I thought it was an up and down game and I thought CM played great,” said Malden Catholic coach John McLean. “Tyler has been doing it for four years. He is a great player and a great leader and always seems to come up with big goals at the Garden. He is a character kid and he was in the right spot at the right time.”

The Lancers came out strong in the first period and got on the board when Ara Nazarian calmly cruised into the offensive zone and passed against the grain to defenseman Will Lawrence whose snap shot found the top left corner over Collett’s blocker.

CM would answer after being outplayed for most of the first period when Paul Hardiman banged home a pass from Michael Stathopoulos at the goalmouth to tie the game at one.

With a hard push to start the second period, the Knights took what would be their only lead of the night when Zach Sullivan found Aaron Clancy in the slot and the captain beat Alex Reissis over his blocker side.

Lancers Matthew Filipe had the answer just 31 seconds later with a highlight reel goal busting down the left wing, eluding a defender, and slipping one through the pads of Collett (22 saves).

Sifferlen was in the right spot midway through the second period when Nazarian found him in the neutral zone in stride and Sifferlen split the Knights defense pair and chipped the puck over Collett for a 3-2 lead.

“Ara just shot it up the middle and found me on the breakaway,” said Sifferlen. “It was just a lucky goal. It went over his shoulder. I think it went off his stick and went in.”

However, CM had the answer with under a minute left in the second period when Hardiman notched his second of the night after he poked the puck free from Reissis and buried his chance that tied the game at three.

Not lacking confidence: Despite falling behind 1-0 in the series, the Knights certainly put any doubts in the rear view mirror about the mirage that was the last time these two teams played.

After being outplayed over the first 15 minutes, Catholic Memorial outshot MC 24-14 over the last two periods and got a huge effort from Hardiman along the way.

“The past few times we have played against them we haven’t really got our offense going,” said Hardiman. “We thought we would just throw the puck on net and rebounds just happened to pop out to me.”

Both of Hardiman’s tallies took the Knights out of one goal deficits and that has the Knights feeling confident heading into Game Two.

“We knew what we had to do to play with and we just had to play our game,” added Hardiman. “I mean we are really confident going into the next game. Hopefully we can get a few more bounces.”

Big time player: While it was a “quiet” two-assist game for MC captain Aza Nazarian, it was a play in his defensive zone with time winding down that won’t show on the score sheet.

With the goalie pulled and C-M making their final push on a power play in the final minute, Anthony Pannagio had the puck on his stick, cocked and ready to fire into an open side, when Nazarian got his stick in the shooting lane and deflected the attempt wide of the net.

For a player known so much for his offensive ability, his subtle play on the defensive end saved his team from facing overtime.
FRANKLIN, Mass. – Malden Catholic hockey is accustomed to taking the best shot from their opponents, and Franklin brought it through the first period of Friday night’s tilt at Pirelli Veterans Rink.

The Panthers, who are making the jump to the Division 1 ranks this season, but played against the Lancers as an exclusionary game, came out with jump and the team defense in front of senior goaltender Devon Maloof held.

Yet, after scoring his first of three goals with seconds remaining in the first, Lancers sophomore center Matt Filipe got his team untracked, setting off a five-goal barrage in the second period of a 7-2 win over the No. 23 Panthers.

Through two games, No. 2 MC has now scored 15 goals.

Here’s more from tonight non-league game:

On point: Filipe already has six points through two games on the heels of his hat trick Friday. Perhaps none of his goals was more impressive than his power-play tally at 11:13 of the second.

Filipe gave the Lancers (2-0-0) a 5-1 lead after winning an attack zone faceoff through his opponents’ legs and then worked his way toward the crease, finishing on the backhand after sweeping across the paint.

Along with a two-goal game from senior Brian Cameron, Filipe provided the spark after a lack-luster start for the three-time defending Super 8 champions.

“He’s a man playing with boys now, which is scary,” Lancers head coach John McLean said of Filipe.

McLean credited his hot start as the result of an increased offseason commitment.

“Last year, he was a freshman, and you could see it. But all of a sudden this year … He lifts four days a week, he eats right, he trains right, goes to bed and it’s showing,” McLean said.

Filipe wasn’t the only of MC’s young guns to make an impression against Franklin. Freshman goaltender Kyle Casey stopped 22 shots to notch his first varsity win.

“The forwards weren’t mentally ready to go at the start,” McLean said, “but I thought the defensemen were good and Kyle Casey, freshman goaltender, made some key saves to keep them off the scoreboard.”

Blue-line depth: Both teams had to see good things from their defenseman.

For MC, Nick Rolli and John McLean are entrenched veterans. But the Lancers’ top four has rounded out nicely with Chris Hopkins and Will Lawrence making contributions Friday. Lancers freshman blue-liner Matthew Yianacopolus is one to watch for the future as well.

However, the Panthers matched MC’s “D” stride for stride in the first, with a commitment to playing within their system.

“With a team like that, it’s not the guy with the puck that’s going to beat you, it’s the second or the third guy,” Franklin head coach Chris Spillane said. “We talked about that, we practiced that. We did that well in the first period. Everybody stayed home. We were playing the puck, playing aggressively and making them work for their space.”

Franklin (1-1-0) has veteran leadership on the back line from senior captain Kyle Powers. Juniors Kyle Filbert and Mason Saunders showed good instincts, particularly in the first period, when the Panthers effectively snuffed out MC’s up-tempo transition game through the neutral zone.

However, that changed in the fateful second.

“I think the bigger, stronger, better conditioned kids showed themselves in the second period,” Spillane said. “We had a couple of goals where we couldn’t finish and every puck battle, they won.”

Some parting thoughts on the hockey season

March, 25, 2013
Flanked by a swarm of reporters, Sean Murphy’s eyes darted about as he searched for the words to say. The Burlington senior forward was never the center of attention during his high school career, so he didn’t have much experience in such a setting. He scored two goals at the TD Garden last week as the Red Devils’ repeated as Division 1 state champions. It was his first time playing at the Garden, having watched last year’s final unfold from the perspective of a fan. This was the first year Murphy made Burlington’s varsity hockey squad.

As Murphy responded to questions, teammates and members of the Red Devils’ coaching staff ribbed him. Their good-natured jabs caused Murphy periodically to break down and smile while he tried to maintain focus on the interview. They all knew the circumstances surrounding Murphy’s accomplishment. He’d done from off the team outright to hero.

During freshman year, Burlington didn’t host a freshman team. Murphy failed to make the junior varsity squad, so he went a year without playing for his high school. In sophomore year, Murphy earned a spot on the J.V. team, but it was the Red Devils’ lower team (the J.V. had been split into two teams). The next year, he moved up to the higher J.V. team, as many of his classmates won their first state crown. Finally, as a senior, Murphy made the varsity team.

He only scored one goal during the regular season, but Murphy broke out in the tournament, scoring five goals in the postseason, including two in the championship game.

When Murphy attracted the attention in the postgame following the Red Devils’ 4-2 victory over Marshfield on Sunday, Burlington head coach Bob Conceison watched a few paces away. He beamed and was eager to tell of Murphy’s story of stick-to-itiveness.

“That’s the kind of story that makes high school hockey great,” Conceison said.

As Malden Catholic won its third straight Super 8 championship, it would seem as though the Lancers simply picked up where they left off. But anybody who watched the defending champions’ season unfold would tell you this most recent run was anything but a sure thing.

In many years, this year’s MC model was uncharacteristic from the previous. Yes, the Lancers still had more top-end talent than anyone, with three Division 1 college recruits (and counting). But this was in broad strokes a young team and, more so, one that lacked experience in a Super 8 environment. Building on the contributions of talented senior leaders (Mike Vecchione in 2011 and Brendan Collier in ’12) in the last two years, the Lancers had to learn to do it on their own this year.

Helping to bridge the gap was senior captain Mike Iovanna, one of a handful of seniors on MC’s roster this year. Iovanna is self-described as someone who leads by example. The soft-spoken UMass commit has been a key cog in the Lancers’ run all along, but took on a greater role this year, inheriting the “C” on his sweater.

“You know what the expectations are,” Iovanna said of taking on the role of captain. “Knowing what Mike [Vecchione] and Brendan [Collier] meant in the room, I was able to learn from them.

“But I also know that I’m a different person from them. I’m a pretty quiet guy, but I knew I could set an example for the younger players as they had done for me.”

Iovanna combined with junior left wing Tyler Sifferlen and sophomore center Ara Nazarian to tally nearly half (113) of MC’s points on the season (245) on its top line. Aside from creating the Lancers’ scoring punch, Iovanna also contributed intangibles on MC’s top penalty killing forward unit beside Nazarian — who changed the face of the tournament with his four short-handed goals.

But aside from the first line, the Lancers relied on a new wave for contributions.

“They have their own identity, but it’s a new core,” Lancers head coach John McLean said. “It’s young, very talented players, with [Austin] Goldstein, [Matt] Filipe, [Jake] Witkowski and [Will] Lawrence on D, I thought John [McLean III] played well.”

Nothing was handed to this MC group; it was earned. Sitting a 5-6-3 as the calendar was about to flip to February, the Lancers had to learn on the fly.

“Right around Central Catholic, that was a big win for us and the kid’s became a team,” McLean said. “We went out to Springfield and, for whatever reason, Springfield always worked for us. We went on a roll.

Of course, none of that reflects the emotional component that followed MC hockey this year. Former head coach and athletic director Chris Serino succumbed after a long fight with cancer shortly before the season began.

His imprint remained in MC’s three-peat.

“It’s still Chris’s team a little bit,” McLean said.

Here’s a look at some recent updates in where some of the state’s top players are headed next year:
  • One of our favorite players to watch during the last couple of years was Burlington forward C.J. Grinnell. Grinnell led the Red Devils again in scoring (13-19-32) and is considering prep and junior options for next year, with Connecticut’s Canterbury School as a leading candidate. Just a thought that some college coach out there is going to get one heck of a player in a couple years.
  • Springfield Cathedral wasn’t able to get over the MC hump in the Super 8, but will more than likely have several of its graduating players skating on past this year. First-line winger Dominic Blad is heading to South Kent while defenseman Matt Foley is weighing options between Phillips Exeter, Choate Rosemary Hall and Berkshire School, along with college choices for the following year. All-State-caliber defenseman Jack Williams and center Artie Potter are also exploring options for next year.
  • The Woburn girls’ hockey program had perhaps the greatest collection of talent in the state this year. Case and point were made last week as two of the Tanners’ top skaters announced their college plans. Forward Kayla Smith gave her commitment to Salve Regina while defenseman Cassandra Connolly will be headed to the University of New England.
We’ll be handing out our awards Monday when we name our Mr. and Miss Hockey Award winners, as the best players in MIAA hockey this year. Here’s a look at our four finalists for the honors, in alphabetical order:

Mr. Hockey:
  • Liam Coughlin, Sr. C, Catholic Memorial: The rangy pivot helped lift the Knights to the Super 8 semifinals, leading the team with 28 goals and 20 assists for 48 points.
  • Peter Cronin, Sr., G BC High: Undoubtedly, the state’s best goaltender for two years running. The three-year starter posted a 94.6 save percentage along with seven shutouts this year.
  • Ara Nazarian, Soph. C, Malden Catholic: Led the Lancers in scoring (26-20-46) during the regular season in addition to leading all players in Super 8 scoring, while tallying an unheard of four short-handed goals for the three-time defending champions.
  • Brian Pinho, Sr. C, St. John’s Prep: A natural playmaker with vision, the Providence College commit led the Catholic Conference champions with 12-24-36 totals.
Miss Hockey:
  • Alison Butler, Sr. F, St. Mary’s (Lynn): Among the leading scorers in the state (37-25-62), Butler saved her best for last, netting the game-winning goal in the state championship game.
  • Hannah Murphy, Sr. F, Duxbury: The Dragons captain capped her prolific career with the program’s third straight state championship win, scoring 29 goals and adding 24 assists.
  • Shannon O’Neil, Sr. G, Austin Prep: Led all Division 1 starting goaltenders with a 1.08 GAA and eye-popping 96.8 save percentage to go along with 10 shutouts.
  • Kayla Smith, Sr. F, Woburn: Perhaps the most feared scorer in the state, Smith finished with 34-29-64 totals for the Tanners.

Recap: No. 9 Malden Catholic 4, No. 4 CM 3

January, 27, 2013

BOSTON -- When Ringo Starr sang “It Don’t Come Easy” all those years ago, he mind as well have been musing about No. 9 Malden Catholic’s fortunes of late. Entering Saturday night’s Catholic Conference showdown with No. 4 Catholic Memorial at Walter Brown Arena, the Lancers were on an uncharacteristic three-game losing streak.

But, for a change, MC played with the lead against the Knights, building a four-goal cushion by early in the third period. Still, the Lancers had to sweat it out, as CM countered for three late goals.

Yet, MC paid its dues and held on for a 4-3 win and two critical points, as the Lancers moved back to .500 at 5-5-3.

“We’ve had a rough couple of games,” junior forward Brian Cameron said. “We just wanted to work hard. We just wanted to get it over the red line, get it in, get in with the forecheckers with two guys staying high and then work from the dirty areas and get pucks to the night. That’s what we did tonight.”

The Lancers (1-4-2 Catholic Conference) amassed their lead with contributions coming throughout their forward lines.

Ara Nazarian put MC in the rare position of playing with the lead, potting his 13th goal of the season at 9:41 of the first, set up on Nick Rolli’s outlet pass.

The Lancers extended their lead in the second with Cameron’s first goal on the year, with Austin Goldstein and Will Lawrence picking up helpers.

And they seemed to all but snuff out CM’s comeback hopes with two early goals in the third. Cam Ferry marked his return to the lineup after being held out with a concussion with a goal at 2:44 of the third. Less than a minute later, Lancers captain Mike Iovanna scored what would prove to be the game-winner with a tip-in of point shot from John McLean III.

Then, midway through the third, it all changed.

“The problem is that we’re not used to playing with the lead,” MC head coach John McLean Jr. said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a lead this year like that [four goals]. We made some mental mistakes that we didn’t make in the first two-plus periods.”

John Maher broke up the shutout bid of Lancers goaltender Alex Reissis (17 saves) at 7:11 of the third. CM freshman defenseman Frank Cosolito then drew the Knights within two goals with his first career goal. Less than a minute later, Liam Coughlin made it a one-goal game with his 22nd goal of the season, with assists from Sean Heelan and Cosolito.

CM (8-4-2, 2-3-0) played with an empty net for the final 48 seconds, but was unable to get a shot on goal despite having an attack zone faceoff.

Now, as the Lancers mount their late push toward a playoff berth, it’s all a matter of what the reigning Super 8 champions do with the momentum.

“We just need to keep rolling,” Cameron said. “Our ultimate goal is to make it to the Super 8 and this was a huge win for us, a Catholic Conference win.”

In recent weeks, John McLean Jr. has referenced the Lancers being “too cute” with their play. As a result, MC made a concerted effort to get back to basics in practice this week, coming off of Tuesday’s loss to St. John’s Prep.

The difference was evident.

“I thought we had a good three, four days [of practice] with everybody back,” McLean said. “We got back to doing the basic things. We got to the red line, we dumped it in and we did the dirty work. Tonight, we didn’t score on rushes, it was all about getting it deep, and working hard and grinding them.”

Similarly, CM has been mired in a bit of a recent scoring slump. The Knights (0-3-2 in their last five) are now winless since their 7-4 win over MC in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 8; and they’d been held to just five goals in their last four games entering Saturday’s action.

So, while falling short of breaking their losing skid, there were positives to be gleaned from the Knights’ three-goal, third-period outburst.

“We’re in a five-game, I don’t want to call it a tailspin because we haven’t played badly, but we’re in a stretch where it’s not going in the net for us,” CM head coach Bill Hanson said. “We needed something like that third period to happen, for a little infusion of confidence, for us to say, ‘Hey, this is what we are.’”