The Inside Word since '96
 




* Championship Sunday *

Avon Tops NMH, 4-1; Wins Eighth Title


Salem, NH -- The all-senior line of Quinn Smith, Michael Pereira, and KJ Tiefenwerth figured in all four goals and senior goaltender Josh Dionne kicked out 36 shots to lead Avon Old Farms to a 4-1 win over Northfield-Mt. Hermon in the 2010 New England Prep Championship Game here today.

The win gave Avon Old Farms and their head coach, John Gardner, a record eighth title. No other school has more than two titles.

This was a compelling matchup, as the two teams -- Avon was seeded seventh, and NMH eighth -- were, to put it euphemistically, not exactly looking like championship teams in the early weeks of the season. They certainly were at the end, though.   

The key to the game came
early in the second period when the Winged Beavers, down 1-0, drove home a pair of power play goals a mere 37 seconds apart, the first from Smith, a Boston College recruit, and the second from Pereira, who'll be heading to UMass in the fall.

Just 54 seconds into the third period, Smith notched a short-handed goal, and the writing was on the wall. Tiefenwerth finished things off with an insurance goal late in the third.

Both goaltenders, NMH senior Branden Komm and Avon's Dionne, were excellent in this game -- and they had to be, as both teams have highly-skilled forwards who can score in bunches.

Another key to the game was Avon's success in shutting down NMH's vaunted five-forward power play units.

Avon likes to come out and blitz teams early, using the intimidating factor of speed, puck movement, and an enormous -- and loud -- student fan section to put opponents back on their heels, and often in a deep hole, before they know what hit them.

Today, however, Avon, while holding the edge in play over the course of the first period, came out cautiously, closely watching NMH's dangerous forwards while waiting for chance to pounce. They got their best opportunity when, with 2:40 remaining in the period, Smith snapped a shot from the right side, but it glanced off the post to Komm's left.

The Winged Beavers got another chance when NMH's Brian Plungis was called for a slash with 1:58 left in the period. But  Avon's power play never had a chance to set up. Instead, NMH won the faceoff in their end and senior Nick Gordon brought the puck up through center ice on a 2-on-1. It looked like Avon's point men were perhaps looking for the Hoggers to dump it in and, as they gave them more room than they should have, Gordon just kept coming. Meanwhile, Garrett McMullen swung in behind him, enabling Gordon to leave a nice drop pass and then cut to the far post where McMullen hit him with a perfect pass. 1-0, Hoggers and the 'Avon Army' was silenced, at least temporarily.

To add to Avon's trouble, defensemen Pat McGregor was called for a trip when his team was on the power play late in the period. Twelve seconds later, Avon d-man Colin Sullivan was called for boarding, enabling NMH to send out their power play unit for a power play that bridged the first and second, and included a stretch of 5-on-3 play for the Hoggers. Avon weathered the storm.

Avon got their chance to go on the power play at 3:50 of the second, when the Hoggers' Wes Beck was called for a cross-check. And they wasted no time, as Quinn Smith knocked home the rebound of a Kyle Quick point shot at 3:59, just nine seconds into the power play. They set up, fired, and pounced on the rebound. It was suddenly a 1-1 game. Then, 26 seconds later, NMH's Austin Cangelosi was called for holding. Again, Avon struck quickly, this time 20 seconds into the power play, Mike Pereira burying one five-hole at 4:36. Tiefenwerth got an assist on the goal.With the 2-1 lead and the Avon supporters creating a din, the Winged Beavers kept the pressure on, forcing Komm to continuously come up with big saves to keep his team in the game.

Dionne, who will be attending Duke on a lacrosse scholarship, came up with some big saves, too, including a couple during an NMH power play in the middle of the period, when Josh Woody was alone in the slot with the puck on his stick. 

With two seconds left in the second period, Avon's Mark Naclerio was called for a penalty, giving NMH 1:58 of power play time to start the third. However, 54 seconds into the third Avon struck for their own shorty. The play started when Pereira, realizing that NMH had two forwards back on D, beat Austin Cangelosi wide and fed a beautiful backhanded pass to Smith in the slot. Smith beat Komm upstairs for the 3-1 Avon lead.

From that point forward, Avon did a textbook job of keeping NMH's opportunities to the perimeter.

With 7:52 left, Avon had a goal waived off when it was ruled the net was off the mooring.  

Avon put a capper on the win with a great passing sequence between Teifenwerth, Smith, Pereira, and defenseman Pat MacGregor. Tiefenwerth finished it off at the 13:50 mark. 

And that was it. Avon held the fort, and earned their eighth title. The day ended with Avon's fans swarming the ice in glee.

Afterward, Avon head coach John Gardner, title #8 in his back pocket, was in a good mood as well. "How proud am I of these kids?" he asked. "We came back from the dead this year. We were buried and dead the first week after the Christmas Classic. We tied Taft in a game we should have won. Then we lost to Hotchkiss in overtime after blowing another two-goal lead. That Monday, we had a fatherly -- or grandfatherly -- talk and discussed how we would come back and just take the rest of the season game by game. Two days later, we beat Kent. How we came from where we were to here is incredible to me. I attribute it totally to great senior leadership -- guys like KJ (Tiefenwerth) and Quinnie (Smith) and Josh Dionne completely turned the season around. Dionne was immense today."

"I have the benefit of the most experienced coaching staff in prep hockey in Brian Doyle and Billy Maniscalco and John Dunham. They kept me focused. I almost broke up our second line three weeks ago, but Billy said, 'Don't break 'em up. They'll score.' And they did. Against Gunnery and Nobles they were our best line. Today, though, our seniors were just great."

"I have great respect for the job the NMH coaches did with their team. I thought in the middle of the first period, Komm came up very big for them. He held the fort. They had that 5-on-3 and we just weathered the storm. They didn't get here by smoke and mirrors. They are a very good team."

Gardner was asked about the eighth title and what it meant to him personally. "My job is just to help the team. Maybe they believe me. I try to be an honest person. I obviously still have the passion, and I try to enjoy the journey. Eight titles is great and it feeds my ego, but every year is different -- and interesting."

NMH coach Tom Pratt was happy with his team's effort and season. "Everyone worries about the Avon storm and we more than held our own in the first period. Komm gave us the confidence to get going. I didn't feel we were intimidated or in awe. We came to play. We took some penalties and Avon has some guys who know how to score. We are a little thin defensively. McMullen was dinged up a bit in the third. We had a lot of back-to-back shifts. Our bench got thin there."

Pratt was asked what he said to his players after the game. "I said, 'If a prep poll was taken back in November, do you know how many votes you guys would have had? Zero!' This season was really a confluence of events that started in Lawrenceville (i.e., the two games played without a goaltender). That was a catalyst. We were galvanized by that and we found an identity at the Cushing tournament when we beat Pomfret, Lawrence, and Cushing in succession. We found a formula that clicked for us there. As a group, this team was very resilient. The road wins at places like Taft and Choate were big. We beat good teams. And then sneaking in as the #8 and beating Kent on the road... this group was so excited. There was no hesitancy whatsoever. And Komm just got on a huge roll this past month. You need good goaltending in February and March and he just exuded confidence. He was out at the top of the crease, absorbing shots, and he's so positionally sound. He was key to the formula, just a big part of the equation."     



-- Criscuolo's Five Points Lead Choate Past Berkshire

Junior Kyle Criscuolo (3g,2a) had a five-point afternoon to lead Choate to an 8-4 win over Berkshire in the large school championship. Dan Linell (1g,2a), Dan Schuler (1g,2a), and Alex Hagen (2g) also had big games for the Wild Boars.

The game was a tight 3-2 game after two periods, but Criscuolo went on a tear in the third, figuring in four of Choate's five goals to turn the game into a rout.

When the game got to 6-3 at the 10:02 mark, Berkshire head coach pulled his goalie, Mitch Gillam, for the extra attacker. Then, with 6:51 left, Choate took a penalty, giving Berkshire a 6-on-4. Choate took a second penalty, now giving Berkshire a 6-on-3. And Berkshire cashed in as Keith Veronesi buried one from the slot at the 12:07 mark.

Berkshire would get no closer. Linell buried an empty netter with 3:31 left to make it 7-4, and, with the goalie back in and Choate now on the power play after Mike Sinsigalli was called for a cross check with 2:34 left, Schuler made it 8-4 with 1:22 left, an assist going to - who else? -- Criscuolo.

Early on this was a close game.

Choate broke out on top on a Kyle Criscuolo rebound goal at the 12:00 mark, with an assist going to Ben Foster. The Wild Boars extended their lead to 2-0 when Alex Hagen scored from a scrum, Danny Linell assisting, at 12:56.

Berkshire cut the lead to 2-1 when Kyle Lockwood, manning on the point on the power play, blasted one top shelf at 16:33. Assists went to Jake Goldberg and Trevor Mingoia.

In the second, Choate extended their lead to 3-1 when Hagen scored off the rush, assists going to Linell and Foster at 7:37.

Berkshire again cut the Choate lead to one goal when Mike Sinsigalli put home the rebound of a Corey Wiznowski shot from the top of the right faceoff circle at 10:25.

 

-- LaFosse Goal Gives KUA Small School Title in 2nd OT

An unassisted power play goal by junior Peter LaFosse 58 seconds into the second overtime period lifted Kimball Union to a 3-2 win over Dexter and gave the Wildcats the 2010 small school championship.

On the game-winning goal, the puck emerged from a scrum out to the left faceoff circle where LaFosse slapped it back on net. The puck hit the blade of Dexter defenseman Jared Wiedemann's stick and up under the crossbar. Dexter junior goaltender Kevin Green, who was terrific today, had no chance. 

This was a good, entertaining game between two very good teams. To those skeptical of Dexter due to their regular season schedule, they showed they can go toe-to-toe with strong programs. Dexter, brought along nicely by Dan Donato and his staff, is a young team with skill, and will go into next season as a force to be reckoned with. As for Kimball Union, coach Ryan Miller and his staff have done a terrific job bringing the program back to prominence. The players on both teams came to play today. No one appeared to be acting like this was some kind of consolation game.  

KUA got on the board first, going up 1-0 on the power play when defenseman Dan Cornell's shot from the point made its way through traffic, beating Sean Green at 7:38 of the first. Dexter got it back when Patrick Curtis's shot from outside the faceoff circle beat KUA goaltender Martin Oullette with 10 seconds left in the period.

The second period was scoreless.

In the third, KUA went up 2-1 when Ali Hakim, just before cutting to the bench on a line change, moved the puck to sophomore Dennis Kravchenko, who carried it into the zone 1-on-1 and took a high shot from 15 feet out out that broke off the glove of Green, falling behind him into the net at the 6:10 mark.

Dexter tied it up a little over a minute later, at 7:24, when Mike Sullivan, at the left point, fired one that would have gone wide, but deflected off a KUA player and into the net. Cam Darcy and John Magliozzi picked up assists on the play.

As the first OT period began, Dexter was down a player, as Patrick Curtis appeared to have separated his shoulder while checking KUA's Ryan Cole late in the third. The OT started out a little tentatively but picked up steam as it went along. Both teams had good scoring opportunities but Kimball Union had the edge in play in that they had more stretches of sustained pressure than Dexter. However, Dexter blocked a lot of shots, but when they got through, Dexter goaltender Kevin Green, who is playing with a lot of confidence, came up with some key saves, particularly in the latter stages. With 34 seconds left in the extra frame, Kravchenko broke in alone, was slashed by Joseph DiPietro, but got a shot off that Green came up big on. The penalty was called, giving KUA 1:26 of power play to start the second overtime period.

They would only need 58 seconds of it.

 


Sun. 3/7/10

Championship Sunday Schedule
-- @ the Icenter; Salem, NH

Piatelli/ Simmons Tournament, 10:30 am
Dexter vs. Kimball Union Academy

Martin/Earl Tournament, 1:00 pm
Berkshire vs. Choate

Stuart/Corkery Tournament Final, 3:30 pm
Avon Old Farms vs. Northfield-Mt. Hermon

Note:

-- Avon Old Farms will be going for their eighth title, having won in 1989, 1993, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008. No other school has won more than two. Schools that have won two are Belmont Hill (1985, 1990), Thayer (1986,1987), Deerfield (1984, 2003), Tabor (1988,1991), Hotchkiss (1992,1995), Canterbury (1994,1997), Cushing (1996,1998), St. Sebastian's (2001,2002), and Salisbury (2006,2009). Kimball Union (1982), New Prep (1983), and Exeter (1999) have each won one title.

-- Avon and NMH have met once this year, on Wed. Jan. 20th at NMH. Avon emerged the winner by a 7-5 score. The Winged Beavers scored four of the game's first five goals and held a lead of 6-2 in the third before NMH scored three of  the game's last four goals. The Hoggers attack was led by freshman Austin Cangelosi (3g,1a). Avon's attack was led by Cam Hatch (2g) and Quinn Smith (2g).

-- Choate and Berkshire have met once this season, on Wed. Jan 20th at Berkshire. Choate won by a 6-3 score. The teams traded goals in the first, but Choate then exploded for four in the second, and won going away. For Berkshire, Kevin Sullivan (2g,1a) led the way. For Choate, Philippe Hudon and Alex Hagen each had a goal and an assist. Hudon is suspended from school and ineligible to play this afternoon.

-- Dexter and Kimball Union have not played each other this season -- or any season. Until a few years back, Dexter only went through the ninth grade.





Live Updates from Salem

* Large & Small School Semifinals *


Large School Semifinal: Choate 7, Tabor 5


Alex Hagen had three goals -- the last an empty netter -- and Dan Schuler had two to lead Choate to a 7-5 come-from-behind victory over Tabor today.

Tabor will face Berkshire tomorrow at 1:00 pm.

Choate went up 1-0 when Dan Linell tapped one home from the corner of the crease, the puck breaking off Tabor goaltender Robbie Kang at the 10:44 mark. Assists went to Alex Hagen and Greg Kreisinger.

Tabor evened it up at 1-1 when, from a scrum in front of Choate goaltender Dan Rivellini, Gabriel Renaud knocked one home with 2:16 left.

Tabor took a 2-1 lead when, with 21 seconds left in the period, Tim Coffey, stationed back door, finished off a nice passing sequence with Kevin Salvucci and Cam Spiro.

In the second, Tabor went up 3-1 when Tim Shea scored at 2:05, with an assist from Ian Coleman. After the goal, Dan Rivellini was replaced with Nick BonDurant.

Tabor's Coleman took a holding penalty, and Choate cashed in as Hagen poked in a rebound from a scrum in front at 8:34 to cut the lead to 3-2.

Just 39 seconds later, Tabor went up 4-2 when Coffey found Spiro alone in the slot. Spiro buried it top shelf.

Choate, 1:01 later, again cut the lead to one when when Dan Schuler put in a Kyle Criscuolo rebound.

Choate entered the third trailing 4-3, and quickly reeled off three unanswered goals in the first five minutes, the first by Will Laverack from Kreisinger. Next, Schuler created, off a Tabor turnover, a give-and-go with Criscuolo to give Choate a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Finally, Hagen gave Choate a two-goal lead -- the eventual game-winner -- with the assist going to Linell to make it 6-4.

Tabor came back with a goal by Coffey, his second of the day, off a nice play by Spiro, who worked the puck along the end boards and got it out front to cut Choate's lead to 6-5.

Tabor never really mounted any sustained pressure after that, and Hagen added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the deal for the Wild Boars.
 


Large School Semifinal: Berkshire 3, Cushing 2

A Jake Goldberg goal with nine seconds remaining lifted the Berkshire School to a 3-2 win over Cushing Academy here today.

On the game-winner, Kevin Sullivan's pass from the right faceoff circle found Goldberg in front, and the Brown recruit cashed in.

Berkshire will play the winner of the upcoming Choate/Tabor game tomorrow at 1:00 pm.

After an uneventful first period, play picked up in the second, though the game was over halfway through before anyone got on the scoreboard. It was Berkshire that broke through, when Goldberg juked a d-man at the inside edge of the left faceoff circle and found Kyle Lockwood breaking to the net. Lockwood tapped it past Cushing goalie Chad Hardy at the 10:46 mark.

Cushing tied it a little over a minute later when Mike Conderman was sprung with a nice stretch pass from defenseman Corey Scammon, broke in alone and beat Berkshire goalie Mitch Gillam at 11:55.

Berkshire took the lead back at the 15:07 mark when Sullivan converted a nice pass from Goldberg.

Then, Cushing tied it up with 1:03 left in the period, with Conor Sheary scoring his second goal of the period, with RJ Boyd assisting.

The third period started out tentatively, but play picked up midway through. Each team had two or three good scoring opportunities, but couldn't convert until, with time running out, Berkshire notched the game winner.

 

Small School Semifinal: Dexter 4, Hebron 0

Dexter, behind a Cam Darcy hat trick and shutout goaltending from junior Kevin Green, skated to a textbook 5-0 win over Hebron Academy here today. Dexter skated well, moved the puck well, killed penalties efficiently, controlled the play throughout, and gave Hebron no opportunities to get into the game.

Tomorrow, they face Kimball Union in the small school title game (10:30 am).

In the first, Dexter went up 2-0 on a pair of Cam Darcy goals, both assisted by Brendan Fitzgerald and John Magliozzi.

There was a little controversy late in the period when it looked like Dexter had gone up, 3-0, but the referee waived it off, ruling the net was off the mooring.

In the second, Dexter added two more. Darcy completed his hat trick 1:06 in to make it 3-0. Magliozzi, from Matt Furey and Nick Bligh, made it 4-0 at 13:07.

In the third, Matt Furey added a power play goal at the 14:45 mark, with assists going to Patrick Curtis and defenseman Mike Sullivan.



Small School Semifinal: Kimball Union 2, Tilton 1


Kimball Union got a pair of second period goals, the first a power play tally from defenseman Pat Doherty at the 13:25 mark, assisted by Gabe Veilleux and Dennis Kravchenko at 13:25, and the a second a Ryan Cole tally, with Rafael Turcotte and Doherty assisting.

Tilton's Justin Ducharme, from Julien Tetrault and Max Balaban, scored with 3:39 remaining in regulation to cut KUA's lead to 2-1.Tilton exerted heavy pressure at the end, but couldn't push home the tying goal.

Both goaltenders, KUA's Martin Oullette and Tilton's William Flachsbinder, had strong games.

KUA will play the winner of the upcoming Dexter-Hebron game at 10:30 am tomorrow.



Fri. 3/5/10
Elite Semifinals:

A Night of Nail-Biters

Naclerio Goal Lifts Avon past Nobles, 5-4 --

A Mark Naclerio goal -- his second of the game -- with 1:27 remaining in regulation lifted Avon Old Farms to a 5-4 win over a game Nobles squad in a nail-biter that went right down to the final buzzer.

It really looked like Nobles, trailing 4-2 and looking gassed after the second period, would get picked apart by a quick Avon squad in the third. However, Nobles dug deep, utilized the second intermission, gathered energy and came out flying, blitzing Avon for two goals in a little over a minute, tying up the game, and setting up a battle that didn't resolve itself until the final buzzer.

First, sophomore Andrew Doane cut the Avon lead to 4-3, scoring off a faceoff 36 second in. Assists went to Nick Raffone and Ben Wiggins. Right afterwards, Nobles' Kevin Hayes carried the puck behind the net, held it, and hit Mark Hourihan, stationed out front, with a perfect pass. Hourihan buried it at the 1:02 mark, much to the delight of the Nobles' faithful.

Avon, though, got right back into it and the two teams traded chances and power plays for the duration. Both goalies,  Avon's Josh Dionne and Nobles' Gene Lane, were forced to come up big.

Nobles had a good chance to go ahead when, with 2:57 left in regulation, Avon turned it over in their own end and Nobles forward Jared Lackey fired a shot that glanced off the crossbar.

A minute and a half later, Avon scored the game winner, but it went down to the wire, as Nobles, with four seconds left, set up nicely off the faceoff in the Avon end, and got the puck on net and, with four seconds left and everyone crashing the net, almost pushed the puck past Dionne. Avon, however, held the fort and will advance to play Northfield-Mt.Hermon Sunday at 3:30 pm.

When the game started out, it looked like Avon was going to blow Nobles out as they scored two goals in the first three minutes of play. Nobles, however, was able to slow things down slightly in the middle of the period and get one back. But the Winged Beavers just came right back with more pressure, moving the puck quickly with precision passing.

Senior Mike Pereira was the story of the period, figuring in two of the three Avon goals.

A minute or so in, Paul Mimms scored off a weird angle deflection -- a little hard to tell exactly how it went in, but it appeared to be a redirection, likely off a skate.

At the 2:37 mark, Avon went up 2-0 when Pereira took a pass at the blue line, neatly pulled the puck from behind him as the turned his body and hit Quinn Smith, who was breaking to the net, with a nice pass. Smith knocked it home from the far post. Avon had the early momentum, and the loud Avon Army energizing them further.

Nobles, however, wasn't fazed, coming back with a big goal to cut it to 2-1 when Ben Wiggins drove to the net and Doane knocked home the rebound at the 11:27 mark.

With 1:46 left in the period, Pereira buried the rebound of a Kevin Tiefenwerth shot to make it 3-0.

The second period was a better one for Nobles. They came out with a lot of energy and got on the board in the first minute on a great effort by Doane, who carried it up the right side, walked an Avon D, circled around behind the net and got it out to the point where Phil Sciretta put it on net, and Nick Raffone knocked home the rebound to cut Avon's lead to 3-2.

Nobles had a great chance to tie it up on a 5-on-3 advantage, but couldn't capitalize.

Late in the period, with 1:13 left, Avon scored off a great passing sequence, with Mark Naclerio and Morgan Mullen swapping passes as they moved into the Nobles' zone with speed. Naclerio finished the play off, snapping it past Nobles' Lane to give Avon a 4-2 lead.

Avon goaltender Josh Dionne was called on to make some big saves, and Lane came up with some nice ones as well.

As the second period came to an end, Nobles' top two lines and D pairings looked gassed, which didn't exactly bode well for Nobles' chances of a comeback in the third, but they confounded all, came back and made it a game, falling just short..

 

***


JC Cangelosi, NMH Come Through in OT --

Westminster fought back from a 3-0 deficit to send the game into overtime, but came up short in the extra frame as NMH junior JC Cangelosi took a pass from younger brother Austin Cangelosi and beat Westminster goaltender Patrick Spano five-hole at the 5:53 mark. The play was set up by Joe Birmingham, who spotted the younger Cangelosi at the far blue line, hitting hit him with a beautiful pass through the neutral zone - and right on to his stick. Cangelosi spotted his older brother breaking to the net, and NMH, with the 4-3 win, moves on to Sunday's championship game where they will face the winner of the upcoming Nobles/Avon game.

The winning goal came shortly after Westminster had a great opportunity when Peter Michaildis found Andrew Tegeler on a backdoor play but couldn't stuff it past NMH goaltender Branden Komm.

In the first period Gabe Colana put MNH up 1-0 with a power play goal at the 7:57 mark, with assists going to Sean Cirbus and Austin Cangelosi. Less than a minute later, at 8:51, JC Cangelosi made it 2-0 with an assist from Austin Cangelosi.

In the second, 1:17 in, Garrett McMullen scored to put NMH up 3-0, with assists going to Joe Birmingham and Nick Gordon. At 15:33 Westminster, on the power play, cut it to 3-1 when Ryan Tyson scored with assists going to Dan Hnatko and Jeff Smolens. The Hoggers' Josh Woody was called for a hit from behind -- a five minute major -- at 16:44, but Westy couldn't get anything past Komm as the period came to a close.

Westminster started the third with 3:44 of power play remaining on the major, but failed to cash in. However, shortly after, at the 4:23 mark, defenseman Brian McQuillan took a pass from Peter Michaildis and drilled one from the slot to cut the Hoggers' lead to 3-2.

Westminster tied the game at 3-3 when a delay of game was called against NMH goaltender Branden Komm for knocking the net off during a scrum with 2:53 to play, and Westminster was awarded a penalty shot. Ryan Tyson took it, skated in, dipped the left shoulder slightly and beat Komm high stick side to tie it at 3-3, sending the game to overtime.

 


Today's Schedule

Today!
@ the Icenter; Salem, NH
Stuart/Corkery Tournament Semifinals
Westminster vs. NMH, 5:30 pm
Avon vs. Nobles, 8:00 pm


Recent History:

Westminster and NMH have met only once this year, at NMH on Sat. Dec. 5th -- exactly three months ago -- and Westminster took that one, 6-3. Westminster, on the strength of a Connor McBride first-period hat trick and three power play goals, led 4-0 after one, and then picked up another power play goal and a shorty to lead 6-0 late in the second. In addition to McBride, Peter Michaildis (1g,2a), Ryan Tyson (1g,1a) and defenseman lex Pascal (3a) also had big days for the Martlets. Northfield's Joe Birmingham scored with 11 seconds left in the second to cut it to 6-1. Sean Cirbus and Brian Plungis (SHG) scored third period goals to make the score somewhat respectable. Patrick Spano stopped 32 of 35 for Westminster, and Branden Komm stopped 28 of 34 for NMH. The Hoggers incurred 20 penalty minutes in the game, and Westy had 16. It was the first game of the year for Westminster, and the second for NMH.

Nobles and Avon have not played each other this season.

Tomorrow
@ the Icenter; Salem, NH
Piatelli/ Simmons Tournament Semifinals:
KUA vs. Tilton, 9:00 am
Hebron vs. Dexter, 11:30 am
Martin/Earl Tournament Semifinals:
Cushing vs. Berkshire, 2:00 pm
Tabor vs. Choate, 4:30 pm

Sunday

@ the Icenter; Salem, NH
Piatelli/ Simmons Tournament, 10:30 am
Martin/Earl Tournament, 1:00 pm
Stuart/Corkery Tournament Final, 3:30 pm

 




Quarterfinals Highlights

A Day of Upsets

Westminster 2 @ Belmont Hill 1
– Westminster came out with speed and attacked from the opening faceoff, scoring off the rush when Andrew Tegeler took a nice pass from Peter Michailidis and tucked it low glove side past Belmont Hill netminder Derek Metcalfe at 3:21 of the first. Belmont Hill got it back less than two minutes later on a flukey goal that went off the skate of a Westminster defender and deflected past Martlets junior goaltender Patrick Spano. At 8:33 of the first, Westminster scored the game-winner when Corey Taber banged home the rebound of an Alex Pascal shot from the point. After that, the game became, increasingly, a defensive clinic, as Westminster did a good job clogging up the neutral zone and, for the next two-and-a-half periods, really kept Belmont Hill from getting  much in the way of odd-man rushes or sustained pressure. Down low, Belmont Hill struggled to find an uncovered man, or even make individual efforts to drive to the net. Westminster also used Belmont Hill’s big sheet very effectively, and never gave their hosts a chance to take control of the game. Basically, it was a typical Westminster game, and we mean that in a good way. There were no penalties in this game – zero. Afterwards, Westminster coach Tim Joncas said, “I thought we adjusted to the big sheet quickly, and did a good job using the width to our advantage. I thought our kids played hard and did what it took to win. They played a very controlled game.” Westminster advances to the semifinals and will face NMH Friday (5:30 pm) in Salem, NH -- on the big sheet.

@ Nobles 3, Milton 2 – The fans were packed in like sardines for a rematch of Saturday’s exciting season finale, and they got their money’s worth as once again these two teams took it down to the wire. In many ways it was similar to Saturday’s game in that Nobles had a two-goal lead early in the third, but Milton kept at it, made it a one-goal game on a Dan Merenich goal 3:24 in and then, for the rest of the way, just kept plugging away. However, this time there would be no miracle finish, as Milton just couldn’t bury one more before time ran out on their season. As one observer said, “These two teams really hold you at the edge of your seat.” The key for Nobles in this game was the play of big forward Kevin Hayes, who was totally on his game, setting up all three Nobles goals, two off the stick of Matt Harlow and one off the stick of Ben Wiggins. Nobles advances to the semifinals and will face Avon Old Farms in the second semifinal Friday night at 8:00 pm.

Northfield-Mt. Hermon 4 @ Kent 1 – Branden Komm kicked out 43 of the 44 shots he faced to lead NMH past top seed Kent and into Friday’s semifinal, where they will face Westminster. NMH’s offense was, for the most part, kept in check by Kent, but the Hoggers took advantage of their opportunities, particularly in the second when Austin Cangelosi and Joe Birmingham beat Kent senior goaltender Matt Madrazo to put their team up 3-1. (Kent’s #1 goaltender, Brown recruit Marco DeFilippo was ineligible to play due to a fighting major/DQ he received in Saturday’s season finale). In the third period, Kent, down 3-1, came at NMH hard, outshooting them 21-5. However, Kent, whose top line was kept off the board, couldn’t solve Komm. Afterward, NMH coach Tom Pratt said, “Branden Komm was immense and our D played well, allowing him to see the shots. In the third, they really threw the kitchen sink at us. Komm was out at the top of the crease and really controlled his rebounds well. He made the saves he needed to make and we weathered the storm. Kent is physical, a big, strong team and they got their licks in but our guys didn’t back down and we took the body well. We didn’t back down from encounters and initiated our share as well. Komm was the difference, but our forwards, who are quick, kept their feet moving and created a lot of problems for their defensemen. We came with some energy, and we were able to generate opportunities using that quickness.”

Avon Old Farms 7 @ Gunnery 3 – Avon broke open a 1-1 second period tie by exploding for four unanswered goals en route to a 7-3 dismantling of #2 Gunnery, the second straight Avon thumping of Gunnery, the other time coming back on Feb. 15, a 6-0 decision that was Gunnery’s last loss before today. Gunnery, which would outshoot the Winged Beavers 46-32 on this day, swarmed the Avon end in the first period, requiring goaltender Josh Dionne to come up big to keep his team in the game until the offense clicked in. The big line for the Winged Beavers was the all-junior line of Morgan Mullen (3g), Mark Naclerio (1g,3a), and Greg Gozzo (1g,3a). Afterward, Avon head coach John Gardner said, “We weathered the storm in the first period, and we attacked what we thought were their weaknesses – we brought our weak side wing down so when they came out of the corner we tried to wall them off and chip it by them for odd-man breaks. We also moved the puck well. They’re a good offensive team and we took some things away from them. Josh Dionne played very well. He weathered the storm big time. The Mullen-Naclerio-Gozzo line has really started to mature. They had a good game.” Avon will be facing another offensive powerhouse in Nobles in Friday’s second semifinal in Salem.


Large School Recaps:

@ Cushing 4, Deerfield 2 – After Deerfield went up 2-0 on a pair of first period Connor Doyle goals, Cushing came back with four unanswered goals, the last an empty-netter, to advance to Salem, NH, where they will face off against Berkshire Saturday at 2:00 pm. Cushing outshot Deerfield, 35-17, in this one.

@ Choate 4, Andover 0 – Dan Rivellini posted a 30-save shutout and Dan Linell (2g,1a) and Alex Hagen (3a) paced the offense to lead the Wild Boars past Andover. Choate’s next stop is Salem, NH and a 4:30 pm Saturday tilt with Tabor.

Berkshire 8, Exeter 1 – In a neutral site game played at the Groton School, Berkshire dismantled Exeter. Jake Goldberg, with four goals, paced the Bears attack. Mitch Gillam stopped 24 of 25 shots for the win.

Tabor 4, Salisbury 2 – In a neutral site game played at Loomis-Chaffee, Cam Spiro (3g,1a) figured in all four of the Seawolves’ goals and Robbie Kang kicked out 39 of the 41 shots he faced.


Small School Recaps:

@ Tilton 3, Pomfret 2 (OT) – An Andrew Dustin goal at 2:54 of overtime lifted Tilton to the overtime win and a Saturday meeting – their fourth of the season – with Kimball Union. Max Balaban notched the Rams’ two other goals, and Justin Ducharme had assists on all three of their goals. William Flachsbinder stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced for the win. Pomfret’s Sam Gifford stopped 28 of 31 in a losing cause.

Hebron 5 @ Brewster 4 (OT) – Hebron led by 4-1 well into the third period, but Brewster's Brian Hart scored at 11:01, Joey Grasso followed with another at 13:30 to make it a one-goal game, and then, at 15:39, Hart struck again to tie it at 4-4. In overtime, Ian Canty saved the Lumberjacks' bacon at the 11:58 mark. 

@ Dexter 4, South Kent 3 – Nick Bligh had a pair of goals and Kevin Green stopped 29 of the 32 shots he faced to lead Dexter past South Kent and into a Saturday matchup with Hebron (11:30 am). Sean Thomas (2g) and Shayne Gostisbehere (2a) led the Cardinal attack.  

Kimball Union 4, St. George’s 1 – In a neutral site game played at Winchendon, Martin Oullette stopped 18 of 19 shots and Ryan Cole (1g,2a), Dennis Kravchenko (1g,1a), and Gabriel Veilleux (1g,1a) led the offense for the Wildcats, who will face Tilton at 9:00 am Saturday. St. George's goaltender Paul Roche kicked out 48 of 52 shots in a losing cause.

 

We are hoping to receive some quality photos from today's quarterfinals. If you have something you like, please send, along with a caption, to information@ushr.com. Thanks! -- USHR



Quarterfinals Scoreboard
Stuart/Corkery Tournament

#8 NMH @ #1 Kent -- NMH 4, Kent 1
#5 Westminster @ #4 Belmont Hill --  Westminster 2, Belmont Hill 1 
#6 Milton @ #3 Nobles -- Nobles 3, Milton 2
#7 Avon Old Farms @ #2 Gunnery -- Avon 7, Gunnery 3 

Martin/Earl Tournament

#8 Deerfield @ #1 Cushing -- Cushing 4, Deerfield 2
#5 Berkshire @ #4 Exeter (@ Groton) -- Berkshire 8, Exeter 1
#6 Tabor @ #3 Salisbury (@ Loomis) -- Tabor 4, Salisbury 2
#7 Andover @ #2 Choate -- Choate 4, Andover 0

Piatelli/ Simmons Tournament

#8 St. George's @ #1 KUA (@ Winchendon) -- KUA 4, St. George's 1
#5 Pomfret @ #4 Tilton -- Tilton 3, Pomfret 2 (OT)
#6 Hebron @ #3 Brewster -- Hebron 5, Brewster 4 (OT)
#7 South Kent @ #2 Dexter (@ Pomfret) -- Dexter 4, South Kent 3

Friday March 5th Schedule @ the Icenter; Salem, NH
Stuart/Corkery Tournament Semifinals:
Westminster vs. NMH, 5:30 pm
Avon vs. Nobles, 8:00 pm

Saturday March 6th Schedule @ the Icenter; Salem, NH
Piatelli/ Simmons Tournament Semifinals:
KUA vs. Tilton, 9:00 am
Hebron vs. Dexter, 11:30 am
Martin/Earl Tournament Semifinals:
Cushing vs. Berkshire, 2:00 pm
Tabor vs. Choate, 4:30 pm

Sunday March 7th Schedule @ the Icenter; Salem, NH
Piatelli/ Simmons Tournament, 10:30 am
Martin/Earl Tournament, 1:00 pm
Stuart/Corkery Tournament Final, 3:30 pm

 



What If
The new playoff rankings system introduced this season may have seemed a bit much for those who aren't hardcore mathematicians, but, in this case, necessity was the mother of invention. Given the infux of the former Div. II teams and the huge disparity in the schedules different teams played, a drastic change was needed.

The good news is, it worked.

In the final USHR poll of the year, released one week before the playoff teams were determined, seven of the teams appearing in Wednesday's 'elite eight' quarterfinals made our poll, which only has ten slots. The three that were in our poll that did not make the top 10 are the top three seeds in the large school tournament. This means, basically, that the top 12 JSPR teams were the teams that we felt, from watching a huge number of prep games, were the true top 12. This also supports our wish for a 12-team or 16-team top-level postseason tournament. We believe the former can be accomplished by giving the top four finishers a bye into the semifinals. (We'd prefer a 16-team field, but the headmasters have long opposed that, and appear unlikely to change their position.)

This season, 709 NEPSIHA games were played that counted toward the final standings, and each game had an impact on those standings. However, some games had a much larger impact on the system than others. Here are the ones that turned out to be particularly significant:

February 13, 2010: Tabor 3, Dexter 2 - This was the single most important game played in the season in terms of its impact on the JSPR rankings. This was the only game that Dexter played against a fellow team under consideration.  Since Dexter lost, it meant that they had the worst record against fellow top 16 finishers (Dexter finished at 16th in the JSPR Ranking.) If Dexter had won this game they would have been 6th in RPI instead of 10th and would have posted a 1-0-0 record against teams under consideration, which would have been the best record of all 16 teams under consideration! It was this loss against Tabor that knocked Dexter out of the running for the elite eight, and also had the biggest ripple effect on the prep standings. Had they beaten Tabor, Dexter would have won a minimum of six JSPR considerations and would have been in serious contention for a spot in the big tournament.

December 19, 2009:  Andover 2, Westminster 1 -- This game cost Westminster the opportunity to host Belmont Hill on Wednesday instead of having to travel. Here's why. The only comparison that Dexter won was against Westminster, and that was solely due to the Marlet's loss in the Flood-Marr to Andover. In the mutual opponents category for the JSPR comparison between Dexter and Westminster, Dexter was 2-0-1 and Westminster was 2-1-0 (The loss to Andover). This loss cost Westminster the comparison. If they had beaten Andover they would have finished with 11 JSPR points and would have been the #4 seed in the elite eight. As you can see, Dexter's gaudy won-lost record combined with a weak schedule made them the king of wild cards this season.

January 1 and January 27, 2010.  NMH 6, Cushing 0 and NMH 6 - Cushing 5 --  If Cushing had won just one of these two games they would have made the elite eight -- and NMH would have been on the outside looking in. NMH, with these wins, earned two points in their JSPR comparison against Cushing. Cushing earned a point from having the 4th highest RPI (compared to NMH at 8th), and Cushing got a point from having a better record against mutual opponents. However, both teams had .500 records against teams under consideration, and NMH with their two head-to-head wins took the tie-breaker and won the comparison. Also, with a win in one of these games, Cushing would have held the better record against teams under consideration, and NMH would have had one less point in the head-to-head matchup points. This would have been enough to give Cushing the comparison (and nine JSPR points) and the 6th seed in the elite eight. They also would have held the tiebreaker over Milton, and dropped the Mustangs to 7th.

There are countless other games that we could analyze for their individual impacts on the fortunes of teams vying for playoff spots, but no single ones compare to those. Under the new system, every game matters, and some games matter a lot, even if it might not be apparent until well after the fat lady has sung.





2009-10  NEPSIHA All-Star Teams
East All-Stars:

G - Martin Ouellette, Jr., Kimball Union
D - Pat McNally, Jr., Milton
D - Gus Young, Sr., Nobles
F - Kevin Hayes, Jr., Nobles
F - Mike Conderman, Sr., Cushing
F - Conor Sheary, Sr., Cushing

West All-Stars:

G - Alex Vazzano, Sr., Gunnery
G - Marco De Filippo, Sr., Kent
D - Logan Roe, Jr., Kent
D - Brandon Russo, Sr., Salisbury
F - Kevin Sullivan, Sr., Berkshire
F - Mike Pereira, Sr., Avon Old Farms
F - Philippe Hudon, Jr., Choate

The above squads are voted on by NEPSIHA coaches.




A Little Monday Morning Explication
The final JSPR standings, due to a four-way tie between Avon, NMH, Cushing, and Choate for the last two playoff spots, took a little bit of sweat and anxiety to sort out. The tiebreaker for teams with the same amount of points in the JSPR comparison is the winner of a further round of JSPR comparisons. - the tie-breaker, in other words. Here's how that broke down.

Avon: beat NMH, beat Cushing, lost to Choate (2-1).
NMH
: beat Cushing, beat Choate, lost to Avon.(2-1).
Cushing: beat Choate, lost to NMH, lost to Avon (1-2).
Choate: beat Avon, lost to NMH, lost to Cushing (1-2).

These comparisons -- which are drawn up regardless of whether or not teams played head-to-head matchups -- elevate Avon and NMH into the 7th and 8th seeds, respectively, with Cushing and Choate just missing out.  Since Avon beat NMH in their JSPR comparison, Avon receives the 7th seed, with NMH receiving the 8th seed.

Here at USHR, on Saturday night, we incorrectly predicted that Cushing would be in the elite eight. This mistake occurred when we incorrectly computed Avon's record against mutual opponents with Salisbury. In our incorrect computation, Salisbury and Avon tied in the mutual opponents category, thus giving the comparison to Salisbury.  When recomputed, Avon had a better record against mutual opponents than Salisbury, which gave the Winged Beavers a crucial point that moved them into a four-way tie. Once in the four-way tie, as explained above, the tiebreaker elevated Avon and KO'd Cushing. Sorry for any misunderstanding this may have caused.

We have also been receiving numerous questions about Belmont Hill, and how they are ranked so high despite going 4-4 over their final eight games. The key to their high ranking is the fact that Belmont Hill had a record of 4-2-2 against teams under consideration, good enough for the third best record of the 16 teams under consideration.  This combined with their high overall record (7th in NEPSIHA), and high RPI (also 7th in NEPSIHA) gave them a better resume than every team beneath them in RPI.  This means in every JSPR comparison against teams with a lower RPI, they won the JSPR comparison (giving them nine total JSPR points). Belmont Hill also upset Cushing in the JSPR comparison (Cushing sits 4th in RPI) by virtue of their better record against TUC's and mutual opponents (Belmont Hill was 10-2-2 against ten mutual opponents, while Cushing was 9-4-1).  This gave Belmont Hill 10 JSPR points and the fourth seed in the playoffs.

 




Prep Playoff Schedule


Stuart/Corkery Tournament

Wed. March 3
#8 NMH @ #1 Kent, 3:30 pm
#5 Westminster @ #4 Belmont Hill, 3:30 pm
#6 Milton @  #3  Nobles, 5:30 pm
#7 Avon Old Farms @ #2 Gunnery, 3:30pm

Martin/Earl Tournament

Wed. March 3
#8 Deerfield @ #1 Cushing, 3:30 pm
#5 Berkshire @ #4 Exeter (@ Groton), 4:30 pm
#6 Tabor @ #3 Salisbury (@ Loomis), 4:00 pm
#7 Andover @ #2 Choate, 4:45 pm

Piatelli/ Simmons Tournament

Wed. March 3
#8 St. George's @ #1 Kimball Union (@ Winchendon), 4:00 pm
#5 Pomfret @ #4 Tilton, 4:30 pm
#6 Hebron @ #3 Brewster, 5:30 pm
#7 South Kent @ #2 Dexter (@ Pomfret), 3:00 pm

Semifinals and Finals (at the ICenter in Salem NH):

Stuart/ Corkery semi-finals at 5:30 and 8:00 pm on Friday March 5
           Final on Sunday March 7 at 3:30 pm

Martin/Earl semi-finals are Sat. March 6 at 2:00 pm and 4:30 pm 
                    Final on Sunday March 7 at 1:00 pm

Piatelli/Simmons semi-finals at 9:00 am and 11:30 am
                   Final on Sunday March 7 at 10:30am