The Inside Word since '96
 
 

 

3/8/09

 

Championship Sunday:
Iles, Crimson Knights Wear Crown

Salem, NH -- Junior goaltender Andy Iles was perfect and the skaters in front of him relentlessly ground down Exeter as Salisbury, in their first year under head coach Andrew Will, took a 4-0 decision in the 2009 New England Prep Championship game here today.

The win gives Salisbury their second Div. I title – they won their first in 2006 – and their second overall (they won a title as a Div. II program in 1991).

Today’s game was a little lacking in drama because, as Salisbury built up their lead, they simultaneously clamped down on Exeter, allowing their opponent no opportunity to mount any kind of sustained attack.

The first period was a little quiet, as Salisbury played a tentative and conservative game, making sure three guys were back. Neither team came up with much in the way of quality chances.

In the second, after a ten-minute delay for repair to the ice, senior center Frankie Drolet, off a screen, put Salisbury on the board – juniors Kyle Hughes and Brandon Russo picked up assists – at the 3:29 mark.

Then, at 8:14, with his team shorthanded, Russo made a great pass out of his end to junior Mike McCann in the neutral zone. McCann head-manned it to junior Kyle Armstrong who beat Exeter junior goalie Max Fenkell with a high wrist shot for the 2-0 lead.

Salisbury took five penalties in the period (to Exeter’s three) but the Exeter power play, their strong suit all season, was sporadic, mainly because Salisbury’s PK was a very aggressive one -- they just didn’t give Exeter any room to operate. On top of that, not only was Salisbury winning virtually all the 1-on-1 battles, but they were winning practically all the faceoffs, too.

The fact that Salisbury could build a 2-0 lead in the period despite taking all those penalties didn’t speak well to Exeter chances of mounting a comeback.

The third period was very tough for Exeter, as the puck was in their end for huge stretches of the period. Salisbury just forechecked like mad, banging Exeter every chance they got, and making it extremely difficult for them to clear the zone, much less move it through center ice.    

 

Salisbury went up 3-0, with a power play goal late in the period. The goal was a nice tic-tac-toe tally, with senior Danny Biega moving it to Russo, who found sophomore Gunnar Hughes, who banged it past Fenkell at the 14:26 mark. 

With 1:31 left on the clock Kyle Hughes converted a pass from senior John Guay to put Salisbury up 4-0, and that’s how the 2008-09 prep season came to an end.

“The key thing today was being able to shut down their top line – that’s a phenomenal group,” said Will afterward. “The thing we talked about most coming into the playoffs was playing our game regardless of who our opponent was, and that worked out great for us today. Iles was a big part of shutting them down, and Biega and Heselton were a big part of that as well.”

Asked about the season as a whole, Will said, “We were a team without a home rink all year long, a team that had to get on a bus every day to go to practice. This championship represents a full team commitment. I couldn’t be prouder of what they accomplished

Exeter coach Dana Barbin tipped his cap to Salisbury. “They were obviously a terrific team – relentless, strong. When the game was in the balance and we had power play chances, we couldn’t take advantage. We took some uncharacteristic penalties. But it was quite a season for this group of kids. At the start of the season, I didn’t think we’d be able to get this far, but we did.”

***

Div. II:
Dunn, New Hampton Upset Hebron, 3-2

Salem, NH -- New Hampton, behind a strong team effort and excellent goaltending from senior Pat Dunn, upset #1-seeded Hebron, 3-2, in the final Div. II New England Prep Championship here today.

New Hampton, which had taken a 1-0 lead on a Joe McCabe wrist shot at 3:17 of the second period, struck hard and fast in the third period, going up 2-0 when McCabe walked out of the corner unmolested and buried his second of the game -- an unassisted effort – at the 4:31 mark. Less than a minute later, this time on the power play, New Hampton’s Kyle Zobler, at the back door, scored to put give his team a 3-0 lead.

Things were looking bad for Hebron, down by three with less than ten minutes to go, but they didn’t pack it in. Instead, they mounted a relentless attack. At 8:06 Matt Siracusa got it out to Eric Rodriguez, who was barreling down the slot. Rodriguez banged it home to cut New Hampton’s lead to 3-1 with 6:54 on the clock.

Just 1:17 later, Hebron cut New Hampton’s lead to 3-2 when, off the faceoff, Andrew Cetola got it to Chad Goodwin who drove to the net and muscled a shot past Dunn.

Suddenly, it was a 1-1 game, with 5:37 remaining on the clock. Hebron just kept coming,  but Dunn just barred the door. It was a real onslaught, too, and didn’t let up until the buzzer. And New Hampton, having taken the lead and then weathered the storm, emerged as the 2009 Div. II prep champion – the last Div. II prep champion.

Afterward, New Hampton head coach Mike Levine said, “I thought we executed our game plan well, keeping our third guy high and jamming sticks all over the ice. Our guys were very disciplined in that regard.”

Asked how it felt to win it all, Levine said, “I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I was thinking about where the program was four years ago and where it is today – winning a prep championship. The credit goes to these kids. They worked hard. They believed in each other. Our goalie…. words can’t describe how well he played.”

Hebron coach Matt Plante said, “I tip my cap to Mike. He’s done a great job. It’s not easy to get into the playoffs and then to the prep finals two years in a row. His team went out and did what they had to do today. Patrick Dunn was phenomenal. I also want to say that I thought our kids did a great job and I’m proud of everything they did this season. They just came up short.”

“Even when they went up 3-0 I never lost faith. I know the heart of this team and I thought if we could have gotten it tied up, we’d have had a good chance in OT – if it got to OT. But Pat Dunn was the difference-maker today.”

 


3/7/09 

Saturday’s Semifinals

Div. I

-- Exeter 3, Gunnery 2 (final)

A Nick Kondiles power play goal at 6:37 of the third period lifted Exeter to a 3-2 win over the Gunnery, and a shot at their first New England prep championship in ten years when they go up against Salisbury tomorrow at 3:00 pm.

Right from the opening faceoff, this was an entertaining game – really, the classic of the playoffs (thus far), with up-and-down action, playmaking, skating, hitting, and tremendous goaltending at both ends.

Early in the first, Exeter went up 1-0 on the power play when senior Matt Hatch got the puck out to Tommy Larkin who faked a shot and dished it to over Dan Weiniger at the right faceoff circle. Weiniger roofed it off the crossbar -- a snipe -- at the 6:35 mark.

At the 9:01 mark, Weiniger was stopped by junior goaltender Alex Vazzano – a great save -- on a breakaway, but Hatch, trailing, knocked home the rebound to make it 2-0.

Gunnery came back, though. With 2:11 in the period, a long pass through the middle by junior Thane Heller sprang Vinny Scotti for a breakaway. An Exeter player tripped Scotti, but, as the junior was falling to the ice, and the referee had his hand up to call the penalty, Scotti, in a highlight reel special, got off a shot that beat Exeter junior goaltender Max Fenkell stick side to cut the Exeter lead to 2-1. If Fenkell had stopped the shot, it would likely have been called for a penalty shot.

There was no scoring in the second period, but at the eight minute mark it appeared that Heller had slipped one between Fenkell and the post. The referee ruled no goal, however, saying the net was off its mooring before the puck crossed the line. 

The third period was the game’s best. Early in the stanza, Gunnery tied it up when junior Shane Gorman took a pass from sophomore Terrence Wallin and drove to the net, banging it past Fenkell at the 3:07 mark.

The winning goal came on the power play, with Gunnery's Rob Badger off for boarding. Exeter’s Larkin moved it, point to point, to senior Jeff Reppucci, who spotted Nick Kondiles back door. Kondiles tucked it home at 6:37 to give Exeter a 3-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish.

There was still nearly 12 minutes to play, though, and Gunnery wasn't going to back down. Exeter's starting six is tough to beat, but Gunnery has a deep group of kids who can all skate and forecheck with intensity and, as they had all game, they came at Exeter hard, flooding the Exeter end, and, in general, giving a bigger and older Exeter team all they could handle and then some. 

If there was a difference in this game it was the fact that Exeter has had a lethal power play unit all season, and tonight was no exception. Gunnery had six penalties called against them in the game, to only one for Exeter. And twice Exeter cashed in on their opportunities.

Both goaltenders in this game, Fenkell and Vazzano, were on their game – and both were frequently tested.

It's a shame one team had to lose because this was as compelling a game as any we've seen this year. Exeter we’ll see again tomorrow. Gunnery, a young team, might be around for a while.


--
Salisbury 4, Andover 3 (final)

Salisbury struck for three goals in five minutes -- the final one a shorthanded game winner -- to come back from a 3-1 third period deficit and skate off with a 4-3 win over Andover and a berth in tomorrow's Div. I prep championship game.

Andover might be kicking themselves for a while over this one.

With a little over ten minutes left in regulation -- at the 7:24 mark – things were looking very good for the Big Blue as senior Josh Geary scored from a wild scrum in front to put  Andover up, 3-1.

But, like they say, there is nothing less safe than a two-goal lead, and that was borne out tonight. Just 31 seconds after Geary had put Andover up 3-1, Salisbury's John Guay, driving to the net, shoveled a backhander past Andover senior goaltender Glenn Stowell to trim the lead to 3-2 at the 7:55 mark.

Then, a little over four minutes after that, with Andover senior defenseman Ryan Heavey off for interference, Salisbury junior defenseman Brandon Russo, from the left point, moved the puck to senior Frankie Drolet at the right faceoff circle. Drolet drilled one past Stowell to tie the game at 3-3.

The backbreaker came with 2:48 left and Salisbury skating shorthanded. Junior Mike McCann took it down the right side and fired one that beat Stowell 5-hole and gave Salisbury the 4-3 lead.

It was a discouraging turn of events for Andover, no doubt about that, but they didn’t throw in the towel. Instead, they came at the Salisbury defense hard and created all sorts of havoc around junior goaltender Andy Iles, who was excellent throughout, but especially so as Salisbury made their comeback down the stretch.   

Going back to the beginning, Andover got on the board first, when senior Nick Craven tipped a Ryan Heavey shot from the left point at the 9:30 mark of the first period. Salisbury got it back when Adam Platt picked up a Reid Johnson pass in center ice and broke in alone on Stowell, who went down a little early, allowing Platt to pick the top shelf to tie the game at 1-1.

In the second period, Andover junior Chris Kreider faked Salisbury defenseman Vic Heselton 1-on-1, then faked Iles as well – just not all the way. Iles stayed with it just enough to smother Kreider’s shot with his pad.

Andover kept it up – throughout the period, as Salisbury kept handing Andover power play opportunities. Salisbury was whistled for four minors in the period to Andover’s one. While Andover came up empty on their first three man-up opportunities, they converted the last, as junior wing Garnet Hathaway gave Andover a 2-1 lead with 16 seconds in the period. The play started with Luke Duprey, from the point, moving the puck to Kreider in the slot. Kreider then hit Hathaway coming out from behind the net and Hathaway hooked it past Iles. The call that led to this goal seemed a little dubious. Salisbury junior forward Kyle Hughes got a piece of Andover’s Heavey, who was driving down the slot. It might not have been called at all, but Heavey made contact with the post, lost his balance, tumbled into the endboards, and had to be helped off the ice. Heavey, though, was back for the start of the third when, after a promising start, it all crumbled for Andover.

Salisbury did a good job keeping Kreider in check (he had the one nice assist mentioned above, but that was all he could put on the board). The difference in this game was simply that Iles was sharp, and Stowell was not.


Div. II

-- Hebron 5, NYA 2 (final)

Juniors Cam Moniz (1g,1a) and Andrew Bettencourt (2g,1a) led Hebron to a 5-2 win over North Yarmouth Academy and a showdown with New Hampton in the Div. II championship game tomorrow. Hebron broke out to a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by Moniz and Nathaniel Dupere. NYA cut in to 2-1 on a Simon Hebert goal. Hebron put it away with three straight goals - the first two by Bettencourt, the last by Eric Rodriguez -- in the second to stretch it to 5-1 after two. North Yarmouth’s Tom Gildersleeve scored in the third to make it 5-2. 


-- New Hampton 4, Dexter 2 (final)

New Hampton, behind a goal and an assist from senior Kyle Zobler, took a 2-0 lead in the second period and held on for a 4-2 win over a youthful Dexter squad. The first period was a feeling-out period. In the second, New Hampton went up on a Joe McCabe goal at 2:32. Zobler made it 2-0 when he rolled out of the corner and roofed one for an unassisted goal at 4:14. Dexter got on the board with a couple of minutes left in the period when talented freshman Cam Darcy, back door, popped one in. In the third, Mike Carr off an assist from Zobler made it 3-1 with a nice move in front. McCabe added an empty-netter to make it 4-1. Darcy scored his second for Dexter when he banged home a rebound from in front with 50 seconds remaining. Senior Pat Dunn got the win in net for New Hampton, and soph Kevin Green for Dexter.


  


3/7/09

Prep Semis on Tap for Today

Today, we'll be doing recaps of each game from Salem, NH immediately after they conclude. Yesterday, we conducted an informal polling of college recruiters and NHL regional scouts, asking them to pick the Div. I winners. Salisbury was picked over Andover; and Exeter over Gunnery. And who do they think will take the whole thing? Salisbury. They won't get any argument here. Over the past two weeks, we've watched Salisbury score five goals, all in the second period, to defeat Taft 5-1. A couple of weeks later, we saw them break open a 1-1 game against Hotchkiss by scoring four lightning-quick third period goals. They showed the same propensity early in the season as well, scoring four third-period goals against Milton in the Flood-Marr. And, yes, that was a 1-1 game when they struck. They have a tendency to strike fast -- and then really stick the knife in -- that is a step above any other team. Look also for how the Scarlet Knights cover Chris Kreider, who can strike fast and take over a game all by himself -- if he gets the room. Lawrence Academy had a couple players -- Matt Baldino and Jason Molle -- all over him Wednesday. They did an excellent job, but could only minimize the damage, as Kreider had assists on both of the game's goals. As for the late game, Exeter is better than people realize. The top line of Weiniger, Hatch, and Kondiles is very dangerous, the defense combination of Larkin and Reppucci is as good as any, and Fenkell is excellent in net. Gunnery, though, can cause teams all sorts of grief, and their goaltender, Alex Vazzano, is excellent.



Printable Playoff Bracket

3/4/09 updated

Prep Quarterfinal Recaps
March 4, 2009

Div. I

@ (#1E) Exeter 4, (#4E) Belmont Hill 2 --
Dan Weiniger scored three goals – the third an empty-netter – to lead #1E Exeter to a 4-2 home win over #4E Belmont Hill and a Saturday matchup with the Gunnery (6:00 pm). In a quick-paced, up-and-down game Exeter broke out to an early lead on a Ryan Williamson goal at 6:24 of the first, but less than three minutes later Nick Tierney tucked home a rebound off the post to make it 1-1. Early in the second, Exeter took the lead for good as Weiniger scored a pair of goals exactly one minute apart, the first on a tip of a Jeff Reppucci point shot and the other on a rebound. At 11:04 Belmont Hill made it a one-goal game when Connor Brickley broke in alone and roofed one on Exeter junior goaltender Max Fenkell. Belmont Hill had a golden opportunity late in the second as they were the beneficiaries of what was nearly a full two-minute 5x3 power play. They had a few good chances but Fenkell was up to them all. The game held there – a tense 3-2 game with good action at both ends until Weiniger put it away with the empty-netter at the end. The empty-netter, by the way, tied the Exeter record for most goals in a single season, set by Tom Cavanagh in the ’00-01 season. Belmont Hill played without sophomore center Brandon McNally (one game DQ), a key playmaker who might have made the difference in what was a one-goal game. Belmont Hill outshot Exeter, 34-36. Exeter senior defensemen Jeff Reppucci and Tom Larkin each had a pair of assists. 


(#3E) Andover 2 @ (#2E) Lawrence Academy 0 --
Senior goaltender Glenn Stowell kicked out all 28 shots he faced in leading visiting Andover to a 2-0 win over host Lawrence Academy in an excellent, up-and-down game. After a scoreless first period, and what was looking like it might be a scoreless second period, Andover struck first with 5:29 left when junior Chris Kreider fired a shot -- his first of the game -- from between the faceoff dot and the wall that trickled through the pads of Lawrence senior goalie Matt Walsh and toward the goal line. Andover junior Garnet Hathaway dove and poked it over the line to give his team a 1-0 lead. In the third, with his team on the power play, senior Josh Geary skated into the Lawrence zone and cut right to left, held it, and, at the far post, found open net to shoot at – and didn’t miss. Kreider set that play in motion as well, skating the puck out of the Andover end. Despite the two points, Lawrence did a good job containing Kreider. He wasn't given anything. Whatever room he got he had to battle for. He took some hits, but he also hit back, and chipped back with some big plays defensively, using his speed to catch guys as the play came back the other way. At any rate, the goal, which put Andover up 2-0, came at the 6:18 mark. That was all Andover would need. Shots in the game favored Andover, 28-27. Lawrence was playing without senior forward Steven Whitney (one game DQ), which clearly hurt them --he's usually good for a goal and an assist a game, which would have changed the complexion of this one. Senior Wayne Simpson just didn't have the room he usually has to work with. Andover faces Salisbury in a Saturday semifinal matchup (3:30 pm).


@ (#1W) Salisbury 8, (#4W) Berkshire 1 –
In a rather unusual scene this home game for Salisbury was played at their home-for-a-season at their opponent's "old rink.” It probably wouldn’t have made a bit of difference where this one was played, as it was all Salisbury, as the west’s top seed rolled to an 8-1 win and a Saturday matchup with Andover (3:30 pm). Berkshire, after squandering two 5x3’s in the game’s first five minutes, finally cashed in on a 5x4 when senior Justin Agosta opened the scoring, but it was all Salisbury after that as the Crimson Knights scored eight unanswered goals in advancing to a Saturday semifinal matchup vs. Andover (3:30 pm). Senior defenseman Danny Biega (2g,2a) had a huge game, as did sophomore forward Gunnar Hughes (2g,2a). Other standouts included junior defenseman Brandon Russo (1g,2a) and junior forward Kyle Armstrong (1g,1a). Junior goaltender Andy Iles made 32 saves on 33 shots for Salisbury.


(#3W) Gunnery 2 @ (#2W) Taft 1 --
Junior Nicholas Luukko scored the game winner with 2:21 left in the third and junior Alex Vazzano stopped 27 of 28 shots to lead Gunnery to a 2-1 win and a Saturday semifinal matchup with Exeter. After a scoreless first period, senior Mike Garlasco put Gunnery up 1-0 at 5:28 of the second. However, just 50 seconds afterward, Taft’s Jesse Root answered on the power play to knot the game at 1-1. That’s how it stood until Luukko’s late game heroics. Taft junior goaltender Steve Racine kicked out 22 of 24 shots for Taft.



Div. II

@ (#3) New Hampton 7, (#6) Worcester Academy 2 --
Seniors Cody Sharib (2g,1a), Kyle Zobler (1g,2a), Mike Carr (1g,1a), Joe Gehrig (1g,1a), and Mike Tierney (2a); and sophomore Christian Kader (1g,1a) all had big afternoons in leading New Hampton to a Saturday semifinal matchup against Dexter (11:00 am). Senior Pat Dunn picked up the win by stopping 19 of 21 for New Hampton as his offense outshot Worcester, 41-21. Seniors Scott Rosenthal and Tory Cole netted the goals for the Hilltoppers; sophomore Michael Barton had a pair of assists.


@ (#1) Hebron 6, (#8) Vermont Academy 0 --
In a game played at the Tilton School, senior Chad Goodwin (2g,1a) and junior Chris Gacsy each netted a pair of goals and senior goaltender Craig Ryan kicked out 23 shots to earn his seventh shutout of the season – and second in a row -- as Hebron topped Vermont Academy, 6-0. Seniors Ken Pia (1g,1a), Eric Rodriguez (2a), Matt Siracusa (2a), and Andrew Cetola (2a) all had two-point games for Hebron. Next up for Hebron is a Saturday matchup with North Yarmouth Academy (1:15 pm).

Other quarterfinal results:

@ (#2) Dexter 3, (#7) St. George's 2 --
Sophomore Steve McKenna (1g,2a) figured in all three goals as host Dexter scored in the first, second, and third periods to take a 3-0 lead. Senior Robert Lerro (1g,1a) and junior defenseman Matt Furey (2a) each had two points for Dexter. St. George's mounted a late comeback effort, with junior Mike Violette (1g,1a) figuring in both Dragons goals. Dexter sophomore goaltender Kevin Green kicked out 26 of 28 shots for the win. Dexter will be facing New Hampton in the first semifinal on Saturday (11:00 am).

@ (#4) NYA 3, (#5) Groton 1


Saturday Prep Semifinal Schedule:
all games at the Icenter; Salem, NH

Div. I

#1W Salisbury vs. #3E Andover, 3:30 pm
#1E Exeter vs. #3W Gunnery, 6:00 pm

Div. II

#2 Dexter vs. #3 New Hampton, 11:00 am
#1 Hebron vs. #4 NYA, 1:15 pm

Sunday March 8:
Div. I Final, 3:00 pm
Div. II Final, 12:30 pm

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. 

Tickets prices, per day, are $2 for students with school ID and $5 for adults.




3/2/09

Whitney, McNally DQs Upheld

As a result of game DQs in regular season finales on Saturday, two key players will have to sit out their team’s quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday.

Lawrence will be without senior forward Steven Whitney when they host Andover. And Belmont Hill will be without sophomore forward Brandon McNally when they travel up to Exeter.
 
Both Belmont Hill and Lawrence Academy appealed the DQs to Supervisor of Officials Ned Bunyon. Today, though, Bunyon upheld the referees’ decisions.

Whitney’s DQ was assessed after the final buzzer sounded. As the Lawrence players streamed onto the ice to celebrate, Whitney wasn’t happy with a St. Paul’s player who came too close to the celebration. Whitney pushed the player away – and the player went down. Whitney was given a minor and a game, and was sent off the ice just as the players were about to go through the traditional post-game handshake.

We wrote about McNally’s situation the other day, as we actually were on hand to see that one. What was odd about that situation was, first of all, it was not a fight. Second, the two referees huddled for a good length of time. One then went to the Belmont Hill bench and told coach Ken Martin that matching roughing penalties (plus an additional minor to a BB&N player for slashing) were going to be called. The other referee went to the BB&N bench and told head coach Terrence Butt that both players were getting the gate. Butt, understanding McNally’s situation vis a vis the playoffs, told the official he felt the penalties excessive.

But the penalties stood. George Tahan, Belmont Hill’s AD and assistant hockey coach, told us after the game that he would be appealing the decision, little knowing that on the same day Lawrence Academy would be in the same boat.

We didn’t see the game at Lawrence on Saturday, but we spoke to head coach Kevin Potter, who described the scene as he saw it. “Right at the end of the game we were protecting a two-goal lead and a boy from St. Paul’s -- #27 (Sam Courcelles) – came through the crease just as the buzzer sounded. Wayne Simpson put a shoulder to him, and he went down. He got up mad and kind of went into the pile (of Lawrence players who were beginning to celebrate). Meanwhile #8 on St. Paul’s (defenseman Julien Shine) was coming toward Whitney and Whitney pushed him away and #8 went down and Whitney turned and joined his teammates in the celebration.”

“There was no elbow. No punch. During a game far more things go on. There was ‘an incident,’ but it was not in my estimation even close to a game DQ penalty. The two St. Paul’s players were quickly taken down to the other end of the ice. And the referees didn’t take Whitney out (of the game) there. That came afterward when one referee stopped the handshake line while the other ref went down the line looking for #21 (Whitney) and… I was in shock.”

“The ref told my captain that Whitney ‘smoked #8’ and that is not the case.”

“I would be the first,” said Potter, “and you can check my whole career… if there was a DQ infraction against a player of mine and the refs didn’t see it, I would sit that player myself.”

“This doesn’t feel right.,” added Potter. “I know it’s not the right call.”

Right after the game, Potter, who didn’t see the infraction, conducted his own quick investigation. He spoke to St. Paul’s head coach Mark Bozek, and the St. Paul’s players involved. No one, he said, felt that what happened was worthy of a game misconduct.”

”The officials,” said Potter, “handled it really professionally. They spent 20-30 minutes after the game. That was cool. They could have just said, ‘We’re out of here.’”

One thing the officials did, at Potter’s request, was to look at video shot by a  parent. They watched it directly on the camera. “The video,” says Potter, “was inconclusive. It was from the wrong side of the pile of players. It showed the Simpson incident with #27 clearly but on the other side of the group of players you just see one player fall down.”

Later, Potter saw another video, shot from the other side of the rink. And on this video, Potter says, everything is clear, especially when watched on a TV screen. “It was a push- away, kind of like ‘get out of here.’ Just two kids coming at each other. It’s a shame. It’s unfortunate.”

Given the stakes, Potter thinks that this new video should be seen by Bunyon.

“I would really like them to look at the video.”

But even if they did, Potter isn’t sure what would be the step that follow.

”The frustrating part,” he said, “is that there is no procedure.”

John Whitney, Steven’s father, who told us he was “beside himself” over the thought that his son might have played his last prep game, considered asking for an injunction and even spoke to a lawyer about it. (There is a legal precedent, in December Mansfield High was granted a game-day injunction in Taunton Superior Court after the MIAA had asked them to forfeit a football playoff game due to using a fifth-year player in two games earlier in the season.). But there’s a serious pitfall to that route. What if, after the playoffs, the case goes back to the judge and -- just for the sake of argument, let’s say Lawrence has won one or more games -- the Judge decides to uphold the officials original decision? It would be messy. The NEPSIHA tournament could be won in a judget’s chamber… by a forfeit.

Potter doesn’t want to go down that road. And John Whitney, while angry, expressed trepidation about the route as well.

However, Potter said that in the morning his AD would be talking to the NEPSAC head to determine if there is any kind of process that hasn’t been touched on.

“We are going to think it through. He (Bunyon) is not going to change his call. But what we are questioning here is… well, we just want to find out if there is a procedure available to us. We just  want to make sure we are fighting for Steve and the entire team. The situation warrants it. Yes, (Steve) made a mistake – he could have just skated by the kid, but he didn’t and that’s unfortunate. Still, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime. It’s way over the top.”

“We get on the ice for practice at 5:00 pm (Tues). We will fight until then and then move on. If we have to move forward without Steve, we will. It will give us incentive as a team to get beyond Wednesday so he can play on Saturday.”

One irony here is just how few penalties Whitney, no stranger to the box in the past, has taken lately. His game misconduct at the buzzer Saturday was the first penalty of any sort called against him since the St. Seb’s game on Feb. 6. And going back to Dec. 17th he has a grand total of 10 minutes in penalties.

“He’s played his heart and soul out for this team,” said Potter.

And now it looks like his teammates are going to have to play their heart and soul out for him.



Printable Playoff Bracket


3/1/09 --- Updated with Full Final Div. I & Div. II Rankings


Prep Playoff Matchups

Here are Wednesday's prep matchups, with the latest time/location updates as of Monday 3/2 at noon. Everything here is now confirmed, unless otherwise indicated. Nonetheless, we would recommend checking back just to make sure there are no further changes. 

Div. I


Quarterfinals:
Wed. March 4, 2009

#4W Berkshire @ #1W Salisbury, 4:30 pm (@ the old rink at Berkshire School) 
#3E Andover @ #2E Lawrence, 5:15 pm (late start due to 3:15 pm girls playoff game) 

(Winners to meet in first semi -- Sat. 3/7/09, 3:30 pm; Salem, NH) 

#4E Belmont Hill @ #1E Exeter, 4:00 pm
#3W Gunnery @ #2W Taft, 3:30 pm

(Winners to meet in second semi -- Sat. 3/7/09, 6:00 pm; Salem, NH) 

Div. II

Quarterfinals:
Wed. March 4, 2009

#7 St. George's @ #2 Dexter, 3:30 pm
#6 Worcester @ #3 New Hampton, 4:00 pm

(Winners to meet in first semi -- Sat. 3/7/09, 11:00 am; Salem, NH) 

#8 Vermont Academy @ #1 Hebron, 4:00 pm (@ the Tilton School)
#5 Groton @ #4 North Yarmouth, 4:00 pm 

(Winners to meet in second semi -- Sat. 3/7/09, 1:15 pm, Salem, NH)

-- Title games are on Sun. March 8 in Salem, NH. Div. II at 12:30 pm, and Div. I at 3:00 pm  


FINAL STANDINGS:

Below are the full final rankings for both East and West. On top of that, for fun, we ran all 39 NEPSIHA teams through the formula to see how things would shake out if Div. I playoff teams were ranked by a straight 1-8 system instead of being split up into East and West. As you can see, quarterfinal matchups under that system would have Taft @ Exeter; Belmont Hill @ Lawrence; Berkshire @ Salisbury; and Gunnery @ Andover.  

East (Final):

 1. Exeter (1-1-2) = 4
 2. Lawrence (2-2-3) = 7
 3. Andover (3-3-1) = 7
 4. Belmont Hill (4-4-5) = 13
 5. Nobles (5-6-4) = 15
 6. Tabor (6-4-7) = 17
 7. Milton (10-10-6) = 26
 8. Governor’s (11-9-10) = 30
 9. KUA (12-11-8) = 31
10. Cushing (9-7-16) = 32
11. Proctor (8-8-18) = 34
12. St. Seb’s (13-12-9) = 34
13. NMH (14-13-12) = 39
14. Brewster (7-15-17) = 39
15. St. Paul’s (15-14-15) = 44
16. Holderness (16-16-13) = 45
17. Thayer (18-17-13) = 48
18. Tilton (20-18-10) = 48
19. BB&N (17-19-19) = 55
20. Rivers (19-20-20) = 59


West (Final):

 1. Salisbury (1-1-2) = 4
 2. Taft (4-4-1) = 9
 3. Gunnery (2-2-6) = 10
 4. Berkshire (3-3-4) = 10
 5. Hotchkiss (4-4-5) = 13
 6. South Kent (8-8-3) = 19
 7. Westminster (7-7-7) = 21
 8. Winchendon (6-6-12) = 24
 9. Deerfield (9-9-8) = 26
10. Choate (9-9-9) = 27
11. Kent (11-11-9) = 31
12. Avon (13-13-11) = 37
13. Williston (12-12-14) = 38
14. Canterbury (14-14-12) = 40
15. T-P (15-15-17) = 47
16. Loomis (16-16-15) = 47
17. Millbrook (17-17-16) = 50
18. Pomfret (18-18-18) = 54
19. Albany (19-19-19) = 57

East-West Combined (Final): 

 1. Exeter (1-1-3) = 5
 2. Lawrence (2-2-4) = 8
 3. Salisbury (3-3-4) = 10
 4. Andover (5-5-1) = 11
 5. Gunnery (4-4-11) = 19
 6. Berkshire (7-6-8) = 21
 7. Belmont Hill (6-7-9) = 22
 8. Taft (10-10-2) = 22
 9. Nobles (8-9-6) = 23
10. Tabor (9-7-14) = 30
11. Hotchkiss (10-10-10) = 30
12. South Kent (14-14-7) = 35
13. Westminster (13-13-12) = 38
14. Milton (18-18-13) = 49
15. Winchendon (12-12-26) = 50
16. Deerfield (20-18-14) = 52
17. Choate (20-18-16) = 54
18. Governor’s (19-17-20) = 56
19. KUA (20-21-18) = 59
20. Kent (23-22-16) = 61
21. Cushing (17-15-30) = 62
22. Proctor (16-16-37) = 69
23. St. Seb’s (26-25-19) = 70
24. Avon (25-24-23) = 72
25. Williston (24-23-28) = 75
26. NMH (27-26-22) = 75
27. Brewster (14-29-33) = 76
28. Canterbury (29-28-26) = 83
29. St. Paul’s (28-27-29) = 84
30. Holderness (31-30-24) = 85
31. Tilton (35-33-20) = 88
32. Thayer (33-32-24) = 89
33. Trinity-Pawling (30-31-34) = 95
34. Loomis (36-34-31) = 101
35. Millbrook (37-35-32) = 104
36. BB&N (32-37-38) = 107
37. Pomfret (38-36-35) = 109
38. Rivers (34-39-39) = 112
39. Albany (39-38-36) = 113


Div. II (Final):

 1. Hebron (1-1-1) = 3
 2. Dexter (2-2-4) = 8
 2. New Hampton (3-3-2) = 8
 4. North Yarmouth (6-4-3) = 13
 5. Groton (4-6-9) = 19
 6. Worcester (10-5-5) = 20
 7. St. George’s (5-9-11) = 25
 7. Vermont (8-10-7) = 25
 9. Roxbury Latin (9-6-11) = 26
10. Hoosac (7-10-10) = 27
11. Berwick (12-8-13) = 33
11. Kents Hill (14-13-6) = 33
11. Pingree (13-12-8) = 33
14. Brunswick (11-15-15) = 41
15. Middlesex (15-15-14) = 43
16. Brooks (18-16-16) = 50
17. Harvey (16-19-19) = 54
17. Rye CD 16-19-19) = 54
19. Portsmouth Abbey (21-17-17) = 55
20. Kingswood-Oxford (20-18-18) = 56
21. St. Mark’s (19-19-19) = 57
22. St. Thomas More (22-19-19) = 60
22. King-Low (22-19-19) = 60