Avon Blanks Cushing; Wins Second Straight Title
Salem, NH – Avon Old Farms beat Cushing 3-0, behind shutout goaltending from Jon Quick, to take the 2005 New England prep title, their second straight, and fifth in school history.
No other school has won more than two titles. All of Avon’s titles have come under head coach John Gardner.
Today’s game was a tense, defensive battle fought largely in the neutral zone, along the boards, and in the corners. While both teams were able to break in for occasional flurries, neither team was able to string together a lot of passes in equal-strength situations, nor sustain long periods of pressure.
Cushing, with strong team defense, from the goal out, gave themselves a chance to win, but Avon was simply stronger overall -- and loaded with seniors who’d won it once and were bent on doing it again.
While it was the senior Quick who was the difference in the game, Cushing junior goaltender Richard Bachman had another excellent game today, capping off a strong weekend.
As for the game, the first period was scoreless, but at the 9:33 mark, Cushing’s Aaron Bogosian took an interference penalty and Avon’s potent power play clicked into action. While the Winged Beavers didn’t score, the Penquins got a good look at Avon’s vaunted power play --- and took only two more penalties the rest of the day.
Unfortunately for Cushing, Avon cashed in on the next one. Forty-six seconds after Steve McClellan went off for holding, Avon’s Ryan Mero, from the right corner, fired a pass out front onto the stick of Sean Backman, who banged it home to make it 1-0. Defenseman Eric Quinlan also picked up an assist on the play.
At 13:10, Avon’s Dillon Rioux went off for holding. Then, 19 seconds later, Avon’s Steve Driscoll was called for a cross-check.
Cushing suddenly had a 5-on-3 for 1:41 -- and an opportunity to tie up the game.
But Quick was too good. Cushing had one particularly great chance, by Pat McLaughlin, but the senior goaltender from Hamden, Conn. robbed him.
The game was penalty-free from there on out.
Five minutes into the third period, the Winged Beavers had an excellent scoring opportunity as Matt Smalley made a great pass to John Mori, whose shot went just wide of the post.
Several minutes later, at the 8:06 mark, Cushing defenseman Kevin Kessler mishandled the puck at the blue line and Avon’s Joe Sides swooped in, picked up the turnover, and broke in alone, tucking it by Bachman with a neat backhander to make it 2-0.
With about five minutes left, Bachman was forced to make a couple of big back-to-back saves on Mori and Smalley to hold the game at 2-0.
In the final minute of play, Bachman was pulled for an extra attacker, but Avon’s Augie DiMarzo scored the empty-netter with 43 seconds remaining to salt it away.
Afterward, John Gardner, who joined his Wesleyan football teammate and classmate (’74) Bill Belichek in the pantheon of coaches who’ve won repeat titles, said he was “overjoyed” by the victory.
“I’ve felt a lot of pressure this year and I’m sure it transferred to our players. To repeat is a hard thing in sports.
“I thought we were focused. We played tough tough defense, and our counterattack is lethal with our speed.”
Gardner cited the work of Quick, who'll be moving on to UMass in the fall. "It all starts with him," Gardner said. "I don't know what his numbers are, but he's been outstanding all year. Also, our D stepped up and played great and our forwards were flying."
"I give Cushing credit," Gardner said. "Their goaltender in particular made a lot of nice saves. We had some odd-man rushes where he came up big."
Down the hall, Cushing head coach Steve Jacobs was, despite coming out on the short end, pleased. "I'm proud of our team, that's for sure. We lost to a great team. Our plan going in was to respect their speed, move it out of our end quickly, and play our game."
"We thought if we could get some chances, we'd be there at the end. We just couldn't get it past Quick. Defensively, we played solid. Bachman was outstanding. He beat two great teams (in the playoffs) and gave us a chance to win today. He's the real deal. A big-time goalie."
"And," Jacobs added, "Keith Yandle is the best D I've seen in the country. He and Bachman were the big reason we're here."
"The atmosphere and the level of play was tremendous," Jacobs added. "It was an outstanding game between two great teams, and a testament to prep hockey."
St. George’s Wins Div. II Crown
Salem, NH – St. George’s, behind the shutout goaltending of Clem McNally and four-point games from Shea Guthrie (2g,2a) and Liam Chatterton (1g,3a) blanked Hoosac 6-0 to win the Div. II prep school title this afternoon.
With the win, St. George’s, which fell a goal short to South Kent in last year’s prep title game, takes the school’s first boy’s hockey championship.
Other big offensive producers for St. George’s were defenseman Jon Lareau (3a) and
David Vandenberg (1g,1a). Paul Bertrand and Anthony Longo also had single goals.
Four of St. George’s six goals came on the power play, one one of those – Guthrie’s third period goal – came on a 5-on-3.
The game was never really in doubt. St. George’s just was too skilled and their puck movement far better than Hoosac, which didn’t seem to have that much left in the tank after yesterday’s upset of St. Mark’s.
Afterward, St. George’s head coach Rich Dempsey said, “It was great after two years of being the bridesmaid in the finals to finally win it all. It was great for all the kids, but especially for the seniors who are the heart and soul of the program.”
“Today was lopsided,” Dempsey added. “But we had a great game yesterday against Worcester Academy. Our toughest opponent was Brooks in the quarterfinals.
Asked about Guthrie, Dempsey said, “When he’s playing well, he elevates the level of play. He controls the tempo, especially on the Olympic sheet here. He kills penalties. He’s had an exceptional career. He was given every opportunity to leave the school for the OHL or other programs, but he believed in his teammates. Today was a tribute to that.”
Games Times for Sunday's Title Tilts
All games are at the Icenter in Salem, NH, a wild and wooly -- no sales tax! -- Mass/New Hampshire border town.
Div. I Championship Game:
#1W Avon vs. #1E Cushing, 3:00 pm
Div. II Championship Game:
#4 St. George's vs. #7 Hoosac, 12:30 pm
The knowing coves, as A.J. Liebling would refer to those with the confidence to play the odds, have Avon Old Farms down as the clear-cut favorite in the Div. I game; ditto for St. George's in Div. II.
Avon, of course, won the title last year, beating Tabor 3-2 on an Augie DiMarzo overtime goal. Avon also won the prep title in 1989, 1993, 2000.
Cushing last won it all in 1998, beating Deerfield 1-0 on a first period short-handed goal by Jeremy Wilson. Cushing also won it all in 1996.
In Div. II, St. George's has never won a prep title, though they came close last year, bowing to South Kent, 3-2, in the championship game. In 2003, they also appeared in the championship game, bowing to Proctor Academy.
This is the first time Hoosac has appeared in post-season play.
Driving Directions to the Icenter: From Boston, Take Route 93 North. Right after crossing the Mass/New Hampshire border, take Exit 1 (Rockingham Park Boulevard). After exiting, you will see a sign for Mall Road, which will take you up on an overpass. When you come to a traffic light, take a right. This is Mall Road (you will see the race track on your right). Very shortly thereafter, it comes to a T, take a left there (Rt. 38 South), go straight through two sets of lights, and you'll see the Icenter about a half-mile down on the right.
Bachman Leads Cushing to Semifinal Win Over Salisbury
Salem, NH – Cushing fought back from a 2-0 first period deficit with four unanswered goals to top Salisbury, 4-2, and advance to tomorrow’s New England Prep championship game against Avon Old Farms.
The difference in the game was goaltending, and Cushing’s Richard Bachman was the key, closing the door on Salisbury from the 8:12 mark of the first period onward and coming up with, among many saves, three breakaway stops.
The offensive cogs were Tom Bardis (1g,1a), Aaron Bogosian (1g,1a), and Keith Yandle (2a).
This was a team win for Cushing. Salisbury, which is fast and has a big sheet in their home rink appeared very well-suited to the Icenter, which also has an Olympic sheet. But Cushing managed to negate that advantage, staying with their opponents and taking away their space.
Early on, things looked good for Salisbury. Mike Atkinson got things going for Salisbury, breaking in and firing a wrist shot that beat Bachman stick side at 3:52 of the first period.
Just a few minutes later, Will Ortiz got the puck to Jeremiah Cunningham who moved it to Estey. The big winger put a nice move on Bachman, tucking the puck behind him at the 8:12 mark.
That was the last goal that Salisbury would score.
Cushing got on the board with 3:48 remaining in the period when, off the faceoff, Aaron Bogosian drew the puck back to his winger, Bardis, who sniped one, beating MacKinnon cleanly to cut the lead to 2-1.
At 4:19 of the second period, Cushing tied it at 2-2 when Bogosian, off a pass from Yandle, fired a long shot from just inside the blue line that MacKinnon didn’t appear ready for. Bardis also got an assist on the play.
The winning goal came just 1:20 later when Yandle fired one from the right side. The puck hit MacKinnon, bouncing off him, and Pat McLaughlin knocked home the rebound.
Bachman made a couple of great saves to hold the lead, off Cunningham and Ortiz.
Cushing made it 4-2 when Aaron Blades carried it into the zone, got it to John Frey who took a shot that appeared to hit a player in front – everyone went one way and the puck was suddenly in unoccupied territory and Blades knocked it home.
That was all the scoring for the game. When Salisbury came out for the third period, senior Jeff Mack had replaced MacKinnon in goal. Mack wouldn’t face many shots in the third period as Cushing slowed things down and protected the lead effectively. And when Salisbury broke free for some choice scoring opportunities, Bachman was there to come up with the big save.
Tomorrow, Cushing will be going for their first prep championship since 1998.
Avon Dominant in 5-1 Semifinal Win Over Nobles
Salem, NH – Avon Old Farms, in a decisive win, topped Noble & Greenough 5-1 here this afternoon. With the win, the Winged Beavers advance to the championship game, where they will go for a second straight New England title tomorrow against the winner of the Cushing-Salisbury game.
In a penalty-filled game (15 Avon, 14 Nobles), Avon picked up two power play goals and Nobles one.
Senior Jon Quick was once again excellent in goal, kicking out 27 of 28. Matt Smalley (1g,1a), Brian Warner (1g,1a), Sean Backman (1g,1a), Augie DiMarzo (1g,1a), and Eric Quinlan (2a) each notched two points to head up the scoring parade.
Early on, Nobles put pressure on Avon, taking six of the first seven shots, one of which went wide left of a partially open net. Seconds later, Nobles senior Matt Nelson took a shot that rolled around the crease for a tantalizingly long time before Avon cleared it. Then Ryan Maguire had a partial breakaway down the left wing. Nobles, it should also be mentioned, had a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:33 in the middle of this stretch.
At 8:52 of the first, Avon got on the board when Chris Davis picked up a loose puck in the Nobles end and passed it to Smalley coming down the slot. Smalley got his stick out and deflected the puck over the left shoulder of Nobles sophomore goaltender John Muse.
With 2:35 left in the period, John Mori took a pass from defenseman Jeoff Jarnot, burned down the left side and ripped one top shelf to make it 2-0.
At the 6:56 mark of the second period, defenseman Brian Warner, on the power play,fired a low hard shot from the left point to make it 3-0.
At 13:38, again on the power play, DiMarzo took a nice pass from the left side, and fired a tough angle shot that beat Muse cleanly to make it 4-0.
Avon, by our count, finished the second period with a 17-8 shot advantage.
In the third, just 50 seconds in, DiMarzo flew down the left side and put a nice pass on Backman’s stick to make it 5-0.
Nobles, eight seconds into a 5-on-3, got a goal from Ryan Maguire on a slapshot from the left faceoff circle, and that was it.
For the Winged Beavers, who are at the top of their game, it’s on to tomorrow and a chance to repeat.
Hoosac Shocks St. Mark’s
Salem, NH -- Hoosac School, whose credentials to even be in the playoffs were questioned due to their weak regular-season schedule, spotted St. Mark’s to a 2-0 first period lead here today and then took over the game, emerging with a 3-2 upset win.
St. Mark’s, in the first, looked like they were going to win this one going away, particularly after junior forward Justin Pallos scored a pair of goals, the second on the power play, to give his team a 2-0 lead.
After that, St. Mark’s appeared to stop skating, but Hoosac kept at it, playing with energy and determination.
At 4:06 of the second period sophomore Shawn Sacco of Montreal, Que. scored from a scramble in front of St. Mark’s goalie Jeff Natale to cut the St. Mark’s lead to 2-1. Mike Schiavi, a sophomore from Beaconsfield, Que. took the original shot.
Hoosac wouldn’t score again in the second.
However, Hoosac came out hard in the third, and, 52 seconds in, defenseman Kyle Hardy whipped one from the left point that found an opening inside the far post.
Just 1:14 later, Jamy LaPointe, a sophomore from Trenton, Ontario, picked up a dump-in that had caromed off the end boards and rebounded out to the left corner of the net, and popped it home at the 2:06 mark for the goal that would give the Owls a 3-2 lead. Hoosac held off St. Mark’s the rest of the way – and emerged with the biggest win in the program’s history.
Hoosac will meet St. George’s in the Div. II championship game here tomorrow at 12:30 pm.
Guthie Leads St. George’s Past Worcester Academy, 6-2
Salem, NH --- A shorthanded goal by St. George’s senior center Shea Guthrie at 8:57 of the second period broke open a 2-2 tie and sent St. George’s on to a 6-2 win over Worcester Academy in the first New England Div. II prep semifinal here today.
Several minutes after Worcester’s Pat Brosnihan scored a huge goal to tie the game at 2-2, driving to the net with a defender draped over him, Worcester Academy found themselves with a power play and a chance to take the lead.
Instead, Guthrie struck, carrying the puck into the zone slowly, killing time off the clock. The d-man kept giving him room, though, and Guthrie turned him, almost in slow motion, cut across the crease and lifted a backhander up under the crossbar past Worcester goalie Ryan Comerford.
Later in the period, St. George’s forward Nick Carro scored on a rebound to make it 4-2. In the third, St. George’s added a pair, the last an empty-netter by Guthrie.
Guthrie, excellent throughout, finished with four points (2g,2a), Carro had a three-point afternoon (1g,2a), and Mike Soros hadtwo points (1g,1a).
For a 6-2 game, it was an entertaining one, wide open and with plenty of hitting and scoring opportunities. In addition, it was a close game -- until Guthrie struck.
Saturday’s Semifinal Schedule
All games are at the Icenter in Salem, NH, right off Route 93 near the Mass./New Hampshire border.
Div. I Semifinals:
#1W Avon vs. #2E Nobles, 3:30 pm
#1E Cushing vs. #2W Salisbury, 6:00 pm
Div. II Semifinals:
#1 Worcester Academy vs. #4 St. George's, 11:00 am
#7 Hoosac vs. #6 St. Mark's, 1:15 pm
On Sunday, the Div. II championship game will faceoff at 12:30 pm, followed by the Div. I championship game at 3:00 pm.
Today's Quarterfinals: Live Scoreboard
Here are today's quarterfinal matchups. We'll be getting updates througout the afternoon and will fill in the details as soon as we get them, so check back often.
DIV. I EAST:
#4 Andover at #1 Cushing, 3:30 pm: 0-0 after 1 period. Goalies: Bachman (Cush.) and Ward (And). Cushing's Bardis stopped on breakaway. Andover's Smith 5-min major for boarding with 35 sec. left in period. **** After 2nd period Cushing up 2-0, goals by Aaron Blades (Yandle, Frey) and McLaughlin PPG (D'Agostino). **** Cushing got goals from Kyle Koziara and Derek Nisula in the third. Chris Cahill scored a pair for Andover. Final: Cushing 4, Andover 2.
#3 Thayer at #2 Nobles, 5:00 pm: Goalies: Muse (N&G) and Frechette (TA). Nobles leads 1-0 on a Jimmy Hayes goal with 59 seconds remaining in the first. **** After 2, it's still 1-0. **** Two Josh Franklin goals in the third, the second a bomb from just over the blueline -- right under the crossbar; goalie didn't even move. 3-1 Nobles with four minutes left. Nobles adds an empty-netter. Final: Nobles 4, Thayer 1.
DIV. I WEST:
#4 Canterbury at #1 Avon, 3:30 pm: Avon up 2-0 after 1. Goalies Quick (Avon) and Zuck (Canterbury). Ryan Mero and John Mori (ppg) were the goal scorers.**** In the second Mero picked up his second of the game; Matt Smalley also scored. 4-0 Avon after 2. *** No scoring in the third. **** Final: Avon 4, Canterbury 0.
#3 Taft at #2 Salisbury, 3:30 pm: 0-0 after 1. Goalies: MacKinnon (Sals.) and Kremer (Taft). Shots approx. 14-10 in favor of Salisbury.**** After 2, Taft leads 2-1 on goals by Pacioretty and Townsend. Atkinson scored for Salisbury. *** After 3, it's 3-3 as Smolinsky scored for Salisbury 25 seconds in. Estey put Salisbury ahead 3-2 at 6:35, but Taft's Sean Carty scored at 13:54 to tie it up and send it into OT. **** Andrew Estey scores 1:18 into OT, his second goal of the game. Ortiz, off the forecheck, got it to Cunningham who made a cross-crease pass to Estey who one-timed it by Kremer, who had no chance on it. Final: Salisbury 4, Taft 3 (OT).
Div. I Saturday Semifinal Matchups:
#1W Avon vs. #2E Nobles, 3:30 pm
#1E Cushing vs. #2W Salisbury, 6:00 pm
#8 Kent’s Hill vs. #1 Worcester Academy, 4:00 pm (at Phillips Exeter Academy): Worcester up 2-0 after 1. Goalies: Comerford (WA) and Witherspoon (KH). Goals from Kevin Flanagan and Bobby Barrett. *** Still 2-0 after 2 -- scratch that: it's 3-0 after 2 as Flanagan had his second of the game for Worcester. Kent's Hill had a two-man advantage in the period, but failed to score. **** In the third Worcester goes up 4-0 on a Pat Brosnihan goal, but Kent's Hill roars back with three unsanswered goals, by Phil Lamy, Sean Naughton, and Pat Bambery, the last with 50 seconds left. Kent's Hill pulled their goalie but couldn't get the equalizer. Final: Worcester Academy 4, Kent's Hill 3.
#7 Hoosac at #2 Vermont, 3:30: Goalies: Smoke (VA) and Grignon (Hoosac). Vermont up 1-0 after 1 on Steffan Kolleval goal.**** Still 1-0 VA after 2nd.**** Hoosac scores three in third to win, 3-1. Final: Hoosac 3, Vermont 1.
#6 St. Mark’s vs. #3 Brunswick, 4:00 (at Choate): St. Mark's 3, Brunswick 1 after one period. Biggs has a pair of goals for St. Mark's, and Duplessis has one. Oberbeck has Brunwick's goal. Brunswick outshot St. Mark's 14-11 in the period. Goalies: Kirchen (B) and Natale (SM) **** Smith and Irving have added 2nd period goals for St. Mark's and Brunswick's Oberbeck had his second of the game for Brunswick. It's 5-2 St. Mark's after 2. **** Biggs scores his third of the game for St. Mark's, to make it 6-2 on an empty-netter with about a minute left. Final: St. Mark's 6, Brunswick 2.
#5 Brooks at #4 St. George’s, 4:30 pm: St. George's leads 1-0 with 8:25 remaining in the second period. Mike Solos is the goal scorer for St. George's. Goaltenders are McNally (SG) and Missert (B). **** St. George's up 2-1 after 2. Vandenberg scored for St. G; ?? for Brooks. **** Third period delayed 25 minutes due to Zamboni breakdown. Game is moved to the back rink. **** St. George's scores all three goals in third -- Longo, Carro, and Passemato were the scorers. Final: St. George's 5, Brooks 1.
Div. II Saturday matchups:
#1 Worcester Academy vs. #4 St. George's, 11:00 am
#7 Hoosac vs. #6 St. Mark's, 1:15 pm
Canadian Independent Secondary School Association (CISSA) Championship Series:
Wed. Mar. 2, Game 1 (Best 2-of-3): St. Andrew's College 5, Upper Canada College 1.
Goalies: SAC -- Anthony Greco, 35 saves (he was the difference in the game). UCC -- Zach Saunders, 31 saves.
SAC Goals: Rudy Allen (2), Marko Kovacevic, Brad Levick, and Clinton McCullough. UCC Goals: Colin Greening.
Game #2 is scheduled for Sat. 3/5 at UCC (1:30 pm). Game #3, if necessary, will be played Wed. 3/9 at St. Andrew's.
Calling All Blackberries
We’re going to do things a little differently for the quarterfinals this year. We’re going to attempt to post updates at the end of every period of every game, both Div. I and Div. II, and both boys and girls.
We’re looking for volunteers, most especially volunteers with Blackberries who would be willing, when each period ends, to send a short e-mail to us with the score at the end of each period and, if known, goal scorers. It’s fine, if something seems newsworthy, to add additional info. The important thing, however, is to get the basic info in, so people can get scores in what will be pretty close to real-time.
If anyone has a Blackberry and would be willing to help out, please email email@example.com and let us know which game you will be attending. Also, if you do NOT have a Blackberry, but would be willing to phone in scores at the end of periods, please email us and let us know because we may be able to use you, too, either as a principle reporter or as a backup. After all, not everyone has a Blackberry, but virtually everyone has a cell phone.
The goal is to keep the whole hockey community up to date, and give those who can’t be at the games timely information. With your help we can pull this project off. It should be fun.