Cushing Blanks Canterbury
In a game between two teams battling for playoff position, Cushing Academy, behind a 24-save effort from Richard Bachman and goals from Damen Nisula, Tom Bardis and Pat McLaughlin (an empty-netter), came out on top, 3-0, in a neutral-site game played at UMass-Amherst.
The game, a physical, hard-fought battle, featured a scoreless first period, one in which Cushing came out strong, hitting virtually everything while putting early pressure on the Canterbury defense and goaltender Jason Zuck.
Canterbury, however, had the best scoring opportunity of the first period when defenseman Ryan Miniacci stole an errant Cushing pass and broke in on a 2-on-1. Vin Ciardullo moved to his right and fed a perfect pass to John Silvestro, who had an open side, but shot the puck wide.
The second period began just like the first, with Cushing putting hard and constant pressure on the Canterbury defense.
After trading early penalties, both teams settled down, but the hitting picked up.
With the puck low in Canterbury’s zone, some nifty board work by Cushing forward Aaron Blades paid off as he fed a pass from the corner to a very-ready Damen Nisula, who one-timed a slapshot over Zuck’s left shoulder from just outside the slot.
The period ended with some spectacular saves by Zuck, most particularly a point-blank glove save off a shot from Cushing forward Brad Malone.
Canterbury had the slight edge in shots on goal in the second.
In the third, Canterbury came out and put their most consistent pressure on the Cushing defense. Just ten seconds into the third, Penguins’ forward Pat McLaughlin was called for roughing. Canterbury kept the puck pinned in Cushing’s end on the powerplay, and forward Brian Smith knocked home a loose puck to the right of Cushing goaltender Bachman.
But this was not Canterbury’s day. Somehow, the referees called the play as dead, and the goal was disallowed, one of a number of blown calls in the game.
Canterbury seemed deflated after that, and Cushing wore them down with relentless physical play.
Cushing scored their second goal on a fast center-ice transition, with Tom Bardis banging home a goal on a pretty passing sequence from Aaron Bogosian and Broc Little.
With Zuck pulled, Cushing made it 3-0 with 45 seconds left and McLauglin potted his empty-netter off a nice pass from Keith Yandle.
Andover Playoff Bound
Exeter, NH – Andover rolled over Exeter, 7-2, here today, a win that will likely send them to the playoffs, and one that will definitely close the door on Exeter’s postseason hopes.
The way things appear now, Andover will gain the #3 slot for the playoffs, and Thayer #4. St. Paul’s topped Lawrence Academy, 6-3, today, but it appears that St. Paul’s is out nonetheless. Everything will be mathematically finalized at the morning’s coaches meeting and we’ll have the official results for you in the afternoon.
Today’s game, played in front of a packed and raucous house made up equally of fans from both schools, was an odd one, as Andover scored three shorthanded goals, two coming after Exeter pulled goaltender Chris Mannix in order to turn a 5-on-3 into a 6-on-3.The first time came in the second period with Andover ahead, 4-0; the second time came in the third, with Andover up 6-1.
In addition, Exeter scored on a penalty shot in the third period.
As strange as all that was, equally odd was the fact that Exeter outshot Andover, 37-23. That’s not a good indicator of the play, though, as Andover forwards were getting high-quality shots and cashing in, while many ofExeter’s shots were harmless attempts from the perimeter. As for the tough chances, Andover goalie Matt Ward was up to the task.
Andover struck first, when Kevin Maresco made a short pass from the slot to J.P. Martignetti, who tucked it inside the post, to Mannix’s glove side, 4:17 into the game.
The next two Andover goals pretty much indicated what was to be in store for Exeter.
On the first, normally sure-footed Exeter defenseman Kevin Crane fell at his own blue line, allowing Andover junior forward Chris Cahill to strip him of the puck and break in alone for a short-handed goal.
With 55 seconds left in the period, Cahill struck again, banging an Exeter forward into the boards, taking the puck from him, walking it to the top of the left faceoff circle, and snapping one up under the crossbar – a big-time goal, one of the best we’ve seen this season – and, to Exeter diehards, a disheartening one.
The first period ended with Andover up, 3-0.
At 3:29 of the second Andover’s Maresco fired a shot from the slot that went over the net and somehow came back out front where it was knocked home to make the score 4-0 Andover. Junior defenseman Anthony Christiano was given credit for the goal.
Halfway through the period, Andover had two players in the box and, with the faceoff in Andover’s end, Exeter head coach Dana Barbin pulled Mannix to give his team a 6-on-3.
It almost paid off when Tommy Price had a great opportunity from the side of the net. But the rebound came to Andover sophomore Joe Smith, out by the right faceoff circle. Smith fired it the length of the ice, right into the empty net, giving Andover a 5-0 lead at the 9:59 mark.
Exeter finally got on the board at the 10:08 mark when, still with the two-man advantage, Tommy Price got the puck out front to Michael Doherty, the younger brother of former Andover and UNH defenseman John Doherty, who knocked it past Ward to cut the Andover lead to 5-1.
With 3:44 to go in the second, Andover’s Maresco walked in from the right face-off circle and fired it past Mannix to make it 6-1.
Roughly 10 minutes into the third, with Andover’s Martignetti and Cahill both in the box for interference, Barbin again pulled Mannix to gain the 6-on-3. This time Exeter got several good opportunities in tight, causing Ward to scramble and come up with some nice saves. Once again, though, Andover finally found room and Maresco scaled the puck into the empty net to make it 7-1.
With under six minutes to go, Exeter’s Crane headmanned a pass to freshman forward Tom Clayton, who broke in alone and was pulled down from behind. Clayton was awarded a penalty shot and fired it past Ward, beating him high to the glove side. The goal, which cut Andover’s lead to 7-2, ended the scoring for the night.
Exeter got one more 6-on-3 when, with 3:13 remaining, Andover’s Cahill was called for interference, his fourth penalty of the game. Once again, Exeter couldn’t cash in.
Afterward, Andover coach Dean Boylan said, “I thought we played hard. We hung together as a team well. Ward played really well, especially those times when we were two men down, and our forwards played hard. We have a talented, hard-working group and if we get in the playoffs, we’ll see what happens.”
Prep Quarterfinal Matchups Announced
Here are the matchups for the quarterfinals on Wed. March 2. All game are at campus sites unless otherwise noted.
Div. I East:
#4 Andover at #1 Cushing, 3:30 pm
#3 Thayer at #2 Nobles, 5:00 pm
Div. I West:
#4 Canterbury at #1 Avon, 3:30 pm
#3 Taft at #2 Salisbury, 3:30 pm
#8 Kent’s Hill vs. #1 Worcester Academy (at Phillips Exeter Academy, 4:00 pm)
#7 Hoosac at #2 Vermont, Time TBA
#6 St. Mark’s vs. #3 Brunswick (at Choate, 4:00)
#5 Brooks at #4 St. George’s, 4:30 pm
Salisbury Tops Canterbury, 4-2
Salisbury, Conn.-- In a battle of two playoff-bound teams, host Salisbury got goals from Alex Biega, Mike Atkinson, Andrew Estey, and Ben Ketchum en route to a 4-2 win over Canterbury this afternoon.
Sophomore Ross MacKinnon kicked out 18 shots in the Salisbury net, while Canterbury senior goaltender Jason Zuck was kept busy at the other end, turning away 44 Salisbury shots.
The game, while fast-paced and hard-hitting, lacked the real high-intensity playoff atmosphere, resembling more of a cat-and-mouse contest between two teams who have worked hard to earn the right to go to the New England prep playoffs.
The game began with Canterbury applying heavy pressure in the first four minutes, but failing to convert.
Salisbury forward Mike Biega was whistled for elbowing during the early Canterbury flurry, giving Canterbury the first power play of the game. But Salisbury, on the penalty kill, almost cashed in when junior forward Sean Sylvester stole the puck in center ice and sped up the left side. Deking to his left, Sylvester found an open Jeremiah Cunningham flying through center ice and dished a perfect tape-to-tape pass, but Zuck, as he has done so often this season, saved the bacon with a beautiful glove save.
The penalty kill seemed to energize Salisbury, and for the next ten minutes the play was almost all theirs. With a little over eight minutes left in the first, Will Ortiz picked up a lose puck at his own blue line and turned up ice with speed. Joining in the rush, which somehow became a 2-on-1 with collisions all over center ice, was Salisbury defenseman Alex Biega. Ortiz deked the Canterbury defenseman to his right, then dished off to Biega, who wasted no time in blasting a shot on Zuck. The Canterbury goalie made the initial save, but Biega never stopped, knocking in his own rebound to give Salisbury a 1-0 lead at 9:31.
Canterbury tied the score at 1-1 on a Kurt Garceau slap shot from the left circle just two minutes later. Forwards Brian Smith and Marc Howe assisted on the goal, which came at 11:03.
Three minutes after the game was tied up, Mike Atkinson gave Salisbury the lead again, knocking in a shot from down low to make it a 2-1 game at 14:17. Assists went to Steve Smolinsky and sophomore defenseman Kevin Quick. The Salisbury line combination of Pollastrone-Atkinson-Smolinsky was impressive all afternoon, creating numerous scoring opportunities.
In the second period, Salisbury was sharp right off the bat, forechecking, hitting hard, and keeping the pressure on the visitors. Their work paid off on a pretty 3-on-2 rush, with quick east-west-east passing, as Estey put Salisbury up 3-1 at 3:39, with assists going to Ortiz and Atkinson. The goal was the only one of the period, one in which Salisbury had a 14-8 edge in shots.
At the start of the third period, Salisbury was short-handed for a full two minutes, thanks to a roughing call at the end of the second period on forward Jeremiah Cunningham. Canterbury’s puck control on the power play was better in the beginning of the third period, but they were unable to get any quality shots on MacKinnon. But just as the Canterbury power play expired, Garceau and defenseman Jason Snyder teamed up low in the Salisbury end and dug the puck out of a crowd behind the net. Garceau found Ian Goodwin pinching in from the left point, and Goodwin let go a slap shot that MacKinnon never had a chance on.
Suddenly, Canterbury was right back in it.
But as good teams will do, the play became very business-like. Canterbury did its best to limit the Salisbury forwards, patiently waiting for turnovers and attempting the occasional stretch pass to the streaking forward. A number of passes didn’t connect, but with three minutes left to play Canterbury’s Snyder hit Goodwin racing up center ice. Goodwin, a junior from Cooper City, Florida, broke in alone on MacKinnon, who stood his ground as Goodwin wristed the puck over the net – no harm.
Salisbury put the game out of reach with just 1:46 left on a Ketchum goal. Assists went to Mike Biega and Brad Baldelli, who did some hard work in front of a feisty and physical Canterbury defense.
“We need to be a bit smarter each shift,” said Canterbury coach Peter LaVigne. “We can’t win being stupid at times.”
Salisbury finishes the regular season with a 22-2-1 record, while Canterbury finishes at 23-6-3.
Remaining Div. I Regular Season Games
Fri. Feb. 25:
GDA at Pomfret, 5:15 (from 1/8 – note new starting time)
KUA at Tabor, 7:00
South Kent at Berkshire, 5:00
Williston at Winchendon, 5:00
Sat. Feb. 26:
Andover at Exeter, 4:00
Avon at Loomis, 7:30
Belmont Hill at BB&N, 2:00
Canterbury at Salisbury, 2:30
Deerfield at Westminster, 6:30
GDA at Brooks, 4:30
Gunnery at Berkshire, 2:00
Holderness at Cushing, 4:00
Hotchkiss at Taft, 2:30
Kent at Choate, 4:00
KUA at Tilton, 4:00
Milton at Nobles, 4:00
NMH at Tabor, 2:00
Pomfret at Williston, 1:30
South Kent at Winchendon, 4:00
St. Paul’s at Lawrence, 4:30
St. Sebastian’s at Thayer, 2:00 (Note: at Canton Sportsplex, not BC)
Also this weekend:
The Empire Cup Tournament (hosted by Millbrook and Trinity-Pawling)
Fri. Feb 25:
Hill School vs. Nichols, 6:00 (at Millbrook)
Portledge vs. Millbrook, 8:00 (at Millbrook)
Albany Academy vs. Wyoming Seminary, 6:00 (at Trinity-Pawling)
North Jersey Avalanche vs. Trinity-Pawling, 8:00 (at Trinity-Pawling)
Sat. Feb. 26
At their respective sites, the winners of Friday's games play at 12:00 pm and the losers from Friday play at 2:00pm. Finally, the winners of 12:00 pm games play in the championship game Saturday evening at 7:00, at the Millbrook School.
Thomson, Nipps Lead St. Paul’s Past Belmont Hill
Belmont, Mass. -- Senior forward Dewey Thomson scored a pair of second period goals and senior goaltender Skylar Nipps kicked out 31 shots to lead St. Paul’s to a 2-1 win over Belmont Hill here today.
With the win, St. Paul’s, 11-3-1 in league play, remains tied with Nobles in the Keller Division race. St. Paul’s hasn’t won a Keller crown in 21 years, since the 1983-84 team led by Don Sweeney and Ed Krayer. Also, and more importantly, it keeps St. Paul’s alive in the race for a playoff spot.
Today, after a lackluster first period with perhaps one decent scoring chance per team, things heated up in the second when St. Paul’s got on the board just 13 seconds in after the visitors got the puck down to the Belmont Hill end and applied pressure. Thomson was allowed to take a few whacks at a puck in front of Belmont Hill goalie Wes Vesprini. Eventually, he put it home for the 1-0 lead. Junior Kevin Kaiser got an assist on the play.
Belmont Hill got the goal back less than two minutes later, on what appeared to be a tip-in from a scrum in front of Nipps. Sophomore James Moscatel got credit for the goal, with an assist going to Brian McCafferty.
The game winner for St. Paul’s came when Nipps got the puck to senior forward Roly Morris, who moved it to Thomson, who carried it into the Belmont Hill end with speed. From the right faceoff circle, Thomson backhanded a high shot that sailed past Vesprini and into the net at the 11:43 mark.
That was all the scoring for the game. Belmont Hill, which outshot St. Paul’s, 32-23, though territorially it was a bit closer than that, had a great chance to tie it up with 2:51 left in regulation, but Nipps got his glove up quickly and came up with a game-saving save, snagging a high shot by Ryan Young, Belmont Hill’s leading scorer.
Afterwards, St. Paul’s head coach Tim Pratt said, “Belmont Hill is a good team and they outplayed us. But Skylar was great and we dug down when we needed to.”
“Dewey Thomson,” Pratt continued, “has really stepped it up since Ryan Blossom (lacerated spleen) has been out. He’s supplied the offense that we needed. But this is a team where guys step up. We have the two best goalies in the league in Nick Smith and Nipps, so we always have a chance, and today guys who don’t geta lot of credit – like Ed Ross and Andrew Dostie – played well. A lot of guys do a lot of little things well.”
In the West everything should remain the same, as Avon beat Canterbury, 5-0; Salisbury topped Hotchkiss, 4-0; and Taft rolled past Trinity-Pawling, 8-3.
In the East, Cushing beat Proctor, 9-3; St. Paul’s edged Belmont Hill, 2-1 (see below for more); Thayer thumped BB&N, 10-2; Andover beat NMH, 5-3, and Nobles beat GDA, also by a 5-3 score. Exeter’s hopes took a hit as they lost at Pomfret, 2-1, in OT.
As always, click on Game Results above for more details.
Wednesday’s Div. I Games
BB&N at Thayer, 4:00
Berkshire at Millbrook, 2:15
Choate at Loomis, 2:30
Deerfield at Kent, 4:00
Proctor at Cushing, 3:30
Exeter at Pomfret, 2:00
Holderness at Brewster, 2:15
Canterbury at Avon, 2:30
Nobles at GDA, 5:30
NMH at Andover, 3:30
Salisbury at Hotchkiss, 4:00
Tilton at Milton, 3:00
St. Paul’s at Belmont Hill, 3:45
St. Sebastian’s at Lawrence, 3:45
Taft at Trinity-Pawling, 2:00
Westminster at Gunnery, 2:30
Albany Academy at Williston, 4:15
Hebron at Bridgton, 4:00
There is one game today, Tuesday 2/22: Holderness at Exeter, 4:45. This game was originally scheduled to be played yesterday.
Avon Wins Battle of #1 vs. #2
Avon, Conn. – In a rink too jam-packed to even move in, #2-ranked Avon Old Farms topped #1-ranked Salisbury here this afternoon by a 6-2 score.
The game, the most highly-anticipated of the regular season, never really caught fire, mainly because a large number of penalties – 23 in total -- diminished the flow and turned the game into a special teams battle, albeit a strange one, as Avon scored one power play goal and two shorthanded goals, while both of Salisbury’s goals came on the power play.
While a number of penalties on both sides probably shouldn’t have been called, that wasn’t the story of the game. As Salisbury coach Dan Donato said afterward, “Avon worked harder than we did.”
In the early going, it looked good for Salisbury as they buzzed around the Avon end and took a 1-0 lead when, with Avon’s Eric Quinlan in the box for tripping, Salisbury center Mike Atkinson, over on the right side by the half boards, chipped a shot toward the net which somehow eluded Avon goaltender Jon Quick on the short side. The goal, which came at 6:57, was unassisted.
In the second half of the period, Avon began to settle down and get the puck to the front of the net more. With 2:52 left in the period, and the teams at even strength, Avon senior LW Sean Backman took a pass from defenseman Brian Warner, came flying over the blue line and unleashed a high slapshot which cleanly beat Salisbury sophomore goaltender Ross MacKinnon to tie the game at 1-1.
In the second period, Avon came out with high purpose, moving the puck well and taking control of the game by reeling off three straight goals in a span of 4:17.
On the first, a powerplay goal with Salisbury’s Atkinson off for elbowing, Avon wing Chris Davis worked the puck off the left wing wall and took it to the net, leaving it for Matt Smalley, stationed at the back door, to knock home and put Avon up 2-1, a lead they would not relinquish.
Several minutes later, at 7:48, Smalley struck again, this time scoring on a redirect. John Mori picked up the assist on the goal, which was even strength.
Then, a mere 15 seconds afterward, Backman put an exclamation point on Avon’s splurge when, with his team short a man, he gathered up a loose puck in the neutral zone and flew into the offensive zone, firing home his second goal of the game, and putting the Winged Beavers up 4-1.
Salisbury cut that lead to 4-2 when, with Avon’s Warner off for roughing and the Winged Beavers having difficulty clearing the puck, RW Jerry Pollastrone wound up with the puck in the slot near the hash marks and snapped a shot past Quick to give Salisbury their second – and last -- goal of the game at the 11:13 mark. Will Ortiz and Brad Baldelli picked up assists.
That was it for the second. Salisbury, down by a pair, came out firing in the third, outshooting the frequently shorthanded Winged Beavers by a 20-3 margin, but coming up empty.
The backbreaker came when Salisbury, on the powerplay, gave Avon their second shorthanded goal. It was a flukey one, as Salisbury’s MacKinnon skated out of his crease to play a dump in, but dropped his stick. Avon’s Rob Tesar picked up the loose puck and curled around the net. While MacKinnon scrambled to get back into position, Tesar coolly fired the puck home at the 4:19 mark.
At 8:55 of the period, Winged Beavers defenseman Jeoff Jarnot put the game out of reach, beating MacKinnon with a high wrist shot from the left point to make it 6-2, the final margin of victory.
MacKinnon was pulled at that point and replaced with Jeff Mack, who didn’t face a shot the rest of the way. Salisbury had two 5-on-3s late in the period, but couldn’t get the puck past Quick.
Afterward, Avon coach John Gardner said, “Quick played well, and our D stepped up – (Joe) DeBello and Jarnot are both coming off the flu. It was a hot rink, and an emotional game. Backman got us going today, but it was a team effort. I told them I thought they played hard, and with a lot of heart and desire.”
“This was a chance to play an excellent team – Dan Donato has a tough, talented hockey team. It was a chance to see where we stand.”
Afterward, standing outside the Salisbury dressing room, Donato looked back on the game and said, “Avon worked harder than we did. That was the most disappointing part for me. At the beginning of the season I told the team, ‘We never want to allow ourselves to be outworked.’ Well, today we were outworked, and I give Avon a lot of credit for that.”
Donato said he also felt that the game turned into game of special teams and his players got undisciplined. “It really turned around in the first because we started taking penalties. Avon has a very good power play -- and good penalty killing.”
However, said Donato, the game “does not put a damper on the season. We just have to go back at it at Hotchkiss on Wednesday.”
“We’re going to get a ton out of this game,” he added. “We were taught how hard we have to work.”
The Weekend Schedule
Fri. Feb. 18:
Nobles at Belmont Hill, 5:00
Milton at BB&N, 6:00
Tabor at Andover, 6:30
Winchendon at South Kent, 6:00
Sat. Feb. 19
Cushing at KUA, 1:30
Choate at Taft, 4:00
Salisbury at Avon, 2:45
GDA at St. Sebastian’s, 3:00
Exeter at Deerfield, 4:30
Holderness at Tabor, 4:00
Thayer at St. Paul’s, 2:30
Lawrence at St. Mark’s, 1:00
Gunnery at Albany Academy, 4:00
Millbrook at Pomfret, 5:00
Bridgton at Hill, 5:30
NMH at Loomis, 3:00
Williston at South Kent, 2:30
Hotchkiss at Trinity-Pawling, 2:30
Westminster at Berkshire, 7:00
Kent at Canterbury, 7:00
Sun. Feb. 20
Bridgton at Lawrenceville, 12:30
Choate at Deerfield, 2:00 (from 1/22)
Mon. Feb. 21
South Kent at Cushing, 4:00 (from 1/22)
Nobles at Lawrence, 4:00 (from 1/21)
Canterbury at Gunnery, 4:15
Holderness at Exeter, 4:45
Winged Beavers Chew Up Wild Boars
Avon, Conn. -- On Jan. 29, Avon Old Farms went down to Choate, and took a 2-0 lead into the third period only to give up three unanswered goals and lose, 3-2, one of only two losses the Winged Beavers have suffered this season.
Avon head coach John Gardner didn’t let his troops forget that fact today, and the Winged Beavers, playing hard from beginning to end, wound up avenging the earlier loss with an 8-0 pounding of the #8-ranked Wild Boars.
For Avon, John Mori (2g,1a), Ryan Mero (2g,1a), Chris Davis (1g,2a), Augie DiMarzo (1g,1a), and Trevor Bradley (1gt,1a) led the points parade and goaltender Jon Quick picked up the shutout.
Avon came out of the gate buzzing, and Choate helped them out in a big way, taking a handful of first period penalties, and watching as Avon’s potent power play cashed in on a couple of opportunities. Avon played with more discipline, staying out of the box until there were just 13 seconds left in the period. By then, it was 3-0 Avon, and the game was basically in the bag.
The Winged Beavers got on the board early -- at the 2:39 mark – when, on the powerplay, a Davis shot went wide of the net, but came off the backboards to Bradley, stationed at the far post. Bradley tucked the puck inside the post, on Choate goaltender Tristan Favro’s glove side, for the 1-0 lead.
With Choate’s Rence Coassin off for hooking, a Davis tip of a Brian Warner wrist shot from the left point put Avon up 2-0 at the 12:27 mark. Mori also picked up an assist on the play.
Avon got an even-strength goal with 39 seconds left in the period when Mero knocked home the rebound of a close-in shot by Bradley. Sean Backman also got an assist on the play.
In the second, Choate’s difficulties – aided in no small part by Avon’s speed and quickness – continued. At the 6:48 mark, after the Choate D failed to get the puck out of the zone, Avon’s Ken Trentowski fed DiMarzo, who snapped it past Favro, glove side, for a 4-0 lead.
Avon made it 5-0 when Mori stripped Choate’s Mike Migliaro in the neutral zone and broke in alone on Favro, finishing the play off with a strong backhander at the 8:04 mark.
At that point, Choate head coach Pat Dennehy called a time out. When play resumed, Choate picked it up, forechecking more successfully and getting a couple of scoring chances, though nothing Quick couldn’t handle.
Before long, though, Choate took another penalty, and Avon again came through on the power play, as Matt Smalley moved unmolested toward the net and was fed with a nice pass out from the corner by Davis. Mero picked up the second assist on the goal, which came at the 17:12 mark and made it a 6-0 game after two.
When Choate came out for the third, junior Andrew Miller took over from Favro in goal.
Miller had slightly better luck, keeping the Winged Beavers from adding to their lead for the first 12:38 of the period, until Avon defenseman Eric Quinlan headmanned it to Mori, who broke in all alone and buried it for a 7-0 lead.
With 3:39 left, after a Choate giveaway, Mero knocked home the rebound of a DiMarzo shot to make it 8-0.
This was an extremely decisive win by Avon, which dominated all aspects of the game, making Choate, a solid team, appear lost.
Afterward, Avon’s Gardner said that, “We got the jump on them, played hard, took advantage of turnovers, and put the puck in the net.”
“(Choate head coach) Pat Dennehy has done a great job with that team,” Gardner said. “I reminded our guys that they had beat us down there, so we prepared hard for them.”
Avon is now 19-2-0, #2 in this week’s USHR poll, and facing a visit Saturday from #1-ranked Salisbury in what is certainly the most-anticipated prep matchup of the regular season.
Wednesday’s Div. I Games
Andover at Cushing, 4:30
Choate at Avon, 2:30
BB&N at Nobles, 4:30
Pomfret at Berkshire, 3:30
Albany Academy at Salisbury, 4:00
Taft at Deerfield, 4:15
Loomis at Westminster, 2:30
Thayer at Tabor, 4:30
Trinity-Pawling at Millbrook, 2:00
Winchendon at Holderness, 3:45
Williston at Canterbury, 4:30
St. Sebastian’s at St. Paul’s, 3:15
Exeter at Bridgton, 4:00
Gov. Dummer at Lawrence Academy, 4:45
Belmont Hill at Milton, 5:30
Kimball Union at Berwick, 3:30
St. Paul’s Tops Thayer in OT
Canton, Mass. – A Dewey Thomson goal 39 seconds into overtime gave St. Paul’s a 4-3 win over Thayer Academy here today.
On the winning goal, junior center Matt Eagles put a perfect pass on the stick of Thomson, who winged a wrister high into the net to set off the St. Paul’s celebration.
Earlier, with just 1:09 remaining in regulation, Thayer had tied up the game on a Pierce Norton goal, a changeup from the slot that fooled St. Paul’s goaltender Skylar Nipps.
Nipps was the difference in the game, kicking out at least 35 shots. The senior from Orlando, Florida came up particularly big in the first period, when he was able to keep his team, outshot in the first 18 minutes by a 15-1 margin, in the game.
The Gibbons line – no surprise here – was on the ice for all three Thayer goals, and the sophomore from Braintree, Mass. got things going in the first when he flipped home the rebound of an Anthony Aiello point shot to give Thayer a 2-1 lead just 2:41 into the game.
Late in the period, Thayer went on a 5-on-3 power play and peppered Nipps, but came up empty.
The Thayer power play carried over for the first 30 seconds of the second period. St. Paul’s killed it off, which seemed to give them a lift, and less than two minutes later, with St. Paul’s now on a power play of their own, junior RW Kevin Kaiser banged home the rebound of a Eagles shot to tie the game at 1-1.
Thayer regained the lead when Gibbons carried the puck behind the St. Paul’s net and got it out front to Norton, who one-timed it past Nipps. Greg Collins also got an assist on the goal, which came at 6:37 and gave Thayer a 2-1 lead.
Right afterward, Thayer again took a penalty – make that two – and found themselves down by two men. St. Paul’s capitalized when Eagles slid the puck over to LD Andy Bodnarchuk, who had drifted down to the top of the left face-off circle, and snapped one off to tie the game at 2-2 at the 8:10 mark.
No sooner had that 5-on-3 ended than Thayer once again was whistled for two penalties and again found themselves facing a 5-on-3.
St. Paul’s scored again with 4:50 left in the period when Greg Valenski backhanded a pass from the left wing toward the slot. The puck deflected off the skate of Thayer defenseman Scott Simpson and right by goaltender Mathieu Frechette. Jason DeGiovanni and Peter Child also picked up assists on the play.
Thayer had a powerplay late in the period but failed to cash in. The period ended with St. Paul’s holding a 3-2 lead.
The shots were even in the second.
In the third, Thayer played a more disciplined game than they had in the previous period, and had a distinct edge in play again. Early on, they were able to keep the puck in the St. visitors’ end for long stretches. Nipps was called on to make some nice saves – one on Gibbons and another on Ryan Joyce stand out – but Thayer also missed the net on a good number of shots.
St. Paul’s Bodnarchuk, a poised, smooth-skating junior from Nova Scotia, was called for an elbow with 6:51 left and Nipps again held the fort for St. Paul’s, making nice saves off a Collins point shot, then one on the droorstep by Gibbons. Ryan Driscoll also had a great shot to finish off some nice tic-tac-toe passing, but Nipps stopped him. Norton had a great chance in close, but broke his stick.
Thayer took a time out with 1:35 left in regulation. When play resumed, Nipps made a nice save on a shot by Joyce, but couldn’t stop Norton, who tied it up with 1:09 left, sending it into regulation, where St. Paul’s made fast work of things.
Afterward, St. Paul’s head coach Tim Pratt said, “Skylar Nipps was outstanding, as he has been all year. He gave us our chance today.”
“Also,” said Pratt, “our guys played hard. We may be banged up and missing guys (top scorer Ryan Blossom, among others – ed.), but I never have to worry about our effort.”
Asked about the first period, Pratt said, “We have a ton of respect for Thayer, but perhaps we had a little too much there. The period ended 1-0, but we could easily have been down 3-0 or 4-0 if it weren’t for Nipps.”
“Starting in the second period, we realized why we’re here, and why we’re in contention for the Keller Division title.”
Pratt said killing off the 5-on-3 late in the first was “huge.”
“They missed a couple of opportunities, and we got a couple of breaks,” he said. “The longer the game went, the more confidence we got.”
Thayer coach Larry Rooney pointed to the second-period penalties as his team’s downfall. “We were undisciplined,” he said, “and it came back at us. The penalties really hurt us.”
Note: The loss was Thayer’s fifth of the season, and just their second at home. All five Thayer losses have come to Keller Div. teams: GDA (twice), Lawrence, St. Sebastian’s, and, of course, today’s to St. Paul’s.
This Weekend’s Games
Fri. Feb. 11
Andover at Proctor, 5:30
Berkshire at Pomfret, 4:00 (from 1/26)
Westminster at Choate, 7:00 (moved up from 2/12)
KUA at St. Paul’s, 4:30
Lawrence at Tilton, 5:30
Milton at St. Sebastian’s, 5:00
Belmont Hill at Thayer, 4:00
Andover at Proctor 5:30
Sat. Feb. 12
Andover at Choate, 2:00 (from 1/8)
Deerfield at Avon, 2:30
Gov. Dummer at BB&N, 1:00
Gunnery at Pomfret, 4:00
Holderness at KUA, 2:00 or 3:30 (check)
Lawrence at Proctor, 1:00
Loomis-Chaffee at Salisbury, 2:30
Millbrook at Williston, 5:00
South Kent at Bridgton, 7:30
St. Paul’s at Thayer, 2:10 (from 1/26)
Tabor at St. Sebastian’s, 2:00 (Travis Roy Cup)
Taft at Hotchkiss, 4:30
T-P at Kent, 7:00
Winchendon at Berkshire, 2:00
Millbrook at Williston, 5:00
Cushing vs. Canterbury (at UMass), 4:00
NMH at Exeter, 3:30
Nobles at Milton, 3:00
Kents Hill at Pingree 1:00
Roxbury Latin at Rivers 1:00
Berwick at Portsmouth 2:00
Middlesex at St. Mark's 2:00
Hebron at Brewster 5:00
Worcester at NSA 6:00
Sun. Feb. 13
South Kent at Bridgton, 10:30 am
Canterbury at Winchendon, 1:00
Worcester at NSA 11:00 am
Mon. Feb. 14
Millbrook at Berkshire, 4:30
Pingree at GDA, 5:00
Kent at Salisbury, 4:15 (from 1/22)
Westminster at Loomis, 4:45 (from 1/22)
Portsmouth Abbey at St. George's 4:00
Avon at Gunnery, 4:00
Berkshire at Kent, 4:00
Bridgton at Berwick, 4:00
Choate at Pomfret, 4:15
Deerfield at Loomis, 4:15
Exeter at Pingree, 4:00
GDA at Nobles, 5:15
KUA at Andover, 4:30
Lawrence at Thayer, 4:00
Millbrook at Albany Academy, 4:30
Milton at St. Paul’s, 4:45
Salisbury at Taft, 2:30
St. Sebastian’s at Belmont Hill, 3:00
Tabor at Cushing, 3:00 or 3:30 (check)
Trinity-Pawling at Canterbury, 4:00
Westminster at Hotchkiss, 2:30
Williston at NMH, 2:30
Proctor at BB&N, 3:15
Tilton at Holderness, 1:30
St. Mark’s at Brooks, 3:00
Winchendon at Worcester Academy, 2:45
Bridgton at Berwick, 3:00
Kent’s Hill at New Hampton, 4:00
Exeter at Pingree, 4:00
St. George’s at Rivers, 4:00
Salisbury Evens the Score
Watertown, Conn. – Back on the second Monday in January, Taft went up to Salisbury and knocked off their hosts, 5-4. This afternoon, Salisbury avenged that loss – its only one of the season -- with a convincing 5-1 win in Taft’s spiffy barn.
Today’s game, one of the season’s most highly-anticipated matchups, never really achieved lift-off, though the first two periods were fairly close, with Salisbury taking a 2-1 lead into the third. In the final period, however, the normally solid Taft defense fizzled, turning over the puck to the skilled Salisbury forwards, who scored three times to put the game out of reach.
Earlier, with about eight minutes left in the first, Taft had the first grade A scoring opportunity of the game, as Max Pacioretty picked up the puck along the boards near his own blue line, and moved it up to sophomore wing Jack Downing who finished off the rush with a goal mouth pass onto the stick of linemate Sean Carty, who was stoned by Salisbury sophomore goaltender Ross MacKinnon, who’d go on tohave a strong game.
Salisbury got on the board at the 17:29 mark when defenseman Phil Paquet made a nice play on the breakout, getting the puck up to Jeremiah Cunningham on the right side. Cunningham found former Framingham High star Will Ortiz near the left faceoff circle and Ortiz buried it for the only goal of the first period.
Early in the second, Taft’s Shane Farrell had a nice chance to even the score, but MacKinnon made the save.
Quickly afterward, Salisbury senior LW Brad Baldelli sliced through the slot and took a nifty pass from sophomore Mike Biega, stationed over by the right faceoff circle. Baldelli fired it by Taft sophomore goalie Andrew Margolin to put the visitors up 2-0 at 2:36. Steve Smolinsky, who set the play in motion from the Salisbury end, also picked up an assist on the play.
Taft got on the board at 5:52 when junior wing Doug Jones carried the puck behind the net, moved it out front to Pacioretty, who slid it back to Jack Christian at the right point. Christian unleashed a slapshot that beat MacKinnon low to the stick side to cut Salisbury’s lead to 2-1. There was no further scoring and Salisbury took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
In the third, Baldelli scored his second goal of the night at 7:30 when Taft turned it over at the blue line, and Baldelli picked it up, firing a 15-foot shot that appeared to deflect off the stick of Taft defenseman Peter Boldt and through Margolin’s 5-hole.
At 13:43 Taft turned it over in their own end and Salisbury’s Jerry Pollastrone jumped on it, whipping home a wrister from between the circles to make it 4-1.
Salisbury extended the lead to 5-1 – the final margin of victory -- when Andrew Estey fired a pass through the crease that zipped under Margolin’s outstretched pad and onto the stick of Will Ortiz, who redirected it home for his second goal of the night with 2:44 left.
Salisbury coach Dan Donato said, “Over the last two to three weeks we’ve started capitalizing more when other teams make mistakes. Plus MacKinnon was terrific, coming up with some big saves and calming the game down.”
Asked if Salisbury, now 17-1-1, had extra motivation coming in, Donato said, “Yes, it (the January defeat to Taft) was our only loss of the season-- we respect Taft and Danny Murphy.”
Over on the Taft side, Murphy said, “Salisbury played great. We didn’t play well, but they had a role in that. They capitalized on our mistakes. They are a very, very good hockey team. They’re the #1 team and I give them a ton of credit.”
This Weekend's Games
Fri. Feb. 4
Belmont Hill at Andover, 6:00
Cushing at Holderness, 3:30
Vermont Academy at KUA, 4:00
Lawrence at St. Sebastian’s, 4:15
Nobles at St. Paul’s, 4:00
Sat. Feb. 5
BB&N at Andover, 1:30
Bridgton at Tilton, 3:30
Milton at Exeter, 3:00
St. Sebastian’s at Nobles, 3:00 (makeup of 1/26 game)
Thayer at Gov. Dummer, 6:30
Holderness at KUA, 2:00
Albany Academy at Winchendon, 2:00
Tabor at NMH, 6:15
Sun. Feb. 6
Winchendon at Bridgton, 1:00
St. Paul’s vs. Lawrenceville, 12:15 (at Chelsea Piers, NYC)
New England vs. Philadelphia, 6:30
Mon. Feb. 7
Pomfret at Gunnery, 2:00
West Island College at S. Kent, 4:00
Andover at Deerfield, 3:45
St. Sebastian’s at BB&N, 3:15
Berkshire at Canterbury, 2:30
Proctor at Bridgton, 4:00
Hotchkiss at Choate, 3:00
Cushing at Pomfret, 3:30
Exeter at Holderness, 3:30
NMH at KUA, 3:30
Belmont Hill at Lawrence, 3:30
Loomis at Williston, 4:00
Millbrook at Gunnery, 3:00
St. Paul’s at Governor Dummer, 3:00
Thayer at Nobles, 5:45
Salisbury at Trinity-Pawling, 2:30
South Kent at Albany Academy, 4:00
Kent at Taft, 2:30
Avon Old Farms at Westminster, 2:30
Winchendon at Tilton, 4:00
Worcester at Pingree 4:30
St. Mark's at Roxbury Latin 3:45
Berwick at Brooks 3:00
Proctor at Bridgton 4:00
Vermont at Brewster 3:00
Hoosac at Brunswick 5:00
Gibbons Line Too Much for Nobles
Dedham, Mass. -- A lot of teams have to be sick of Thayer’s top line of Greg Collins, Brian Gibbons, and Pierce Norton, but none more so than Nobles.
In the teams’ two meeting this season, 10 of Thayer’s 11 goals have been scored by the aforementioned trio. On Jan. 8, at Thayer, the line figured in all six goals of the Tigers’ come-from-behind 6-3 win. Today, the line figured in four of five goals in Thayer’s 5-1 win over Nobles.Gibbons had three points (2g,1a); Norton had two points (2g); and Collins had an assist.
Despite the final score, this was actually a very good game between two good teams. The first two periods were particularly entertaining, featuring a good tempo, some nice plays, and ton of good hits – from both sides.
On Thayer’s first goal, at 7:59 of the first, Collins tried a wraparound on the stick side of Nobles sophomore goaltender John Muse, but the puck popped out front to Norton, who popped it home for the 1-0 lead.
Thayer made it 2-0 when senior defenseman Anthony Aiello converted another wraparound attempt at 13:06. Sophomore Mike Griffin picked up an assist.
In the second period, Nobles got on the board when junior defenseman Chris Huxley banged home a rebound at 3:09. Ryan Maguire and Matt Nelson picked up assists.
Gibbon’s restored the two-goal lead with a powerplay goal at 11:29, assists going to junior forward Ryan Driscoll and Norton.
The second period ended with Thayer holding a 3-1 lead. The game, though, was closer than it appeared: over the first two periods, Nobles outshot the visitors 18-14, though territorially Thayer had a slight edge.
In the third period, Nobles would again outshoot Thayer, this time by a 10-8 margin, but this time Thayer, which had ground down Nobles, had a huge edge territorially, even when killing off a penalty. As a matter of fact Thayer, which scored five unanswered goals in the third period when the two teams last met, would score two unanswered goals in the third period tonight. It appeared that Thayer came out after the second intermission with the sense that they owned Nobles in the third period, then set out to prove it.
Despite pouring it on for the first half of the final stanza, Thayer had nothing to show for it.Andrew Glass, Nobles’ talented freshman wing, hit a post about halfway through the period, then the play came down the other way and Muse robbed sophomore forward Paul Carey with a great glove save.
Quickly afterward, at the 9:10 mark, Norton scored to make it 4-1, with an assist going to Gibbons.
Just 13 seconds after Nobles’ pulled their goalie with 2:25 left, Gibbons potted an empty-netter from deep in his own end. Goalie Mat Frechette picked up an assist.
Afterward, Thayer head coach Larry Rooney said that, after Friday’s 3-2 loss to St. Sebastian’s, he was happy to take the win, though he and his staff thought the Thayer defense gave up too many odd-man rushes.
“And offensively,” he added, “we didn’t really pressure the D; we got some accidental offense, and some good bounces.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think we played poor, but I didn’t think it looked like a 5-1 win.”
“We can’t go into Saturday’s game against Governor Dummer and make the mistakes we made today and assume we will win.”
OK, but we’ll bet on them. Rooney’s squad is 17-3-1 on the season, which is no shabby neighborhood.