LA, Belmont Hill Battle for Position
Going into the last weekend of the regular season, the West playoff picture appears set with Salisbury, Taft, Avon, and Westminster locked into that order.
The East is a different story. Nobles and Cushing are locked in at 1-2, but Lawrence Academy and Belmont Hill will be battling it out for the #3 slot.
Here's how it looks in the East.
1. Nobles 1-1-1 = 3
2. Cushing 2-2-3 = 7
3. Lawrence 3-3-4 = 10
4. Belmont Hill 4-4-2 = 10
5. Exeter 5-6-6 = 17
6. Andover 7-8-5 = 20
As you can see, Lawrence and Belmont Hill both are tied with 10 points, but if the season were ending tonight, Lawrence would finish third, as they would win the tie breaker, i.e., the have the edge in two of the three criteria. This gives LA the advantage going into Saturday's action, because, if both teams win -- or both lose -- Lawrence would hold onto the third position. It appears that the only way Belmont Hill can move up to third is by winning Saturday while Lawrence loses. In short, if Lawrence wins their final game, the third slot is theirs.
On Saturday, Belmont Hill hosts BB&N (2:00 pm), while Lawrence plays at St. Paul's (2:30 pm), which will be a challenge. At Concord, NH yesterday, St. Paul's topped Belmont Hill, 4-2.
We don't see any scenario whereby Exeter and Andover, both of whom lost yesterday, can gain a playoff berth. Too much NMH!
All of the above numbers are unofficial. We'll leave you with this caveat: it's within the realm of possibility that things could change due to non-playoff teams moving above or below .500, but we believe it unlikely.
In other prep news, Jason Aigen is no longer the head coach at Loomis-Chaffee, and has reportedly left the program and the school. Bob Howe, the former head coach at Millbrook and now the AD at Loomis, is finishing the season as head coach. Look for Howe to stay on as Loomis' head hockey coach next year -- and into the foreseeable future.
Calling All Blackberries, Treos, Razors – and Plain Old Cell Phones
For this year’s quarterfinals, we’re going to do what we did last season, and post updates at the end of every period of every game, both Div. I and Div. II, both boys and girls.
We’re looking for volunteers to phone in scores at the end of each period and, if possible, include goal scorers, shots on goal, etc. This worked really well last year and, in pretty close to real time, we were able to bring updates to people across the country and around the world.
If you’re willing to help out, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know which game you will be attending.
With your help, we can pull this project off again. It should be fun.
Exeter Tops Andover
Andover, Mass. -- A goal by senior defenseman Kevin Crane midway through the second period led Exeter to a 3-0 victory over Andover in the traditional season finale between the two archrivals today.
Exeter added two empty netters in the final minute of play, by Chris Downer and Phil Negus, to seal the win.
Exeter's game-winnng goal came when Michael Doherty got the puck to linemate Nick Downer who, from behind the goal line, spotted Crane inching down from the right point. Downer put the puck on Crane's stick and the Princeton recruit ripped it over the left shoulder of Andover goaltender Matt Ward at the 10:54 mark of the second period.
If the game, played in front of a jam-packed and loud arena, was tense before the goal, it was even more so afterward, as both goaltenders were up to everything thrown their way, with Ward facing more -- and tougher shots -- though that's not to take anything away from Exeter's Jonathan Lee, who was flawless today, earning the shutout.
The big difference was Exeter's team play, which was excellent.
Andover made a statement right off the opening faceoff with some heavy hitting, but that would be the only aspect of the game in which they would hold an edge today, for the hitting didn't translate into much in the way of scoring opportunities. While Andover was able to use their speed to get the puck through the neutral zone and into the Exeter end, things fizzled when they got there as Exeter kept them to the perimeter and made it difficult for their hosts to string together passes or maintain any kind of sustained pressure.
Exeter, on the other hand, was able to take hits, make plays, hold the puck in the Andover end, and get it to the front of the net, particularly during their power play opportunities.
Exeter outshot Andover 38-24.
Despite that, it was still a very tense 1-0 game played with a lot of emotion. Both teams lost on Wednesday to teams they should have beaten, which took them out of playoff contention. If felt like both teams were playing for the season today, that this was their playoff game.
After the game, Exeter coach Dana Barbin said, "There was a burning desire to win this game and it starts with my three captains (Crane and the Downer twins). It was a great team performance. They played smart, strong hockey. I'm real proud. What a way to end the season. For Exeter -- and Andover -- nothing is sweeter than beating your rival."
For Andover, a senior-laden team, their five-game winning streak vs. Exeter came to an end.
"Losing the last game to Exeter," said Andover head coach Dean Boylan, "is very difficult. The locker room is very quiet now."
"Our kids played hard," Boylan added. "Exeter played hard -- and well. They earned it."
-- At Gill, Mass., Tabor Academy's Mike Jangro scored the game winner with 37 seconds left to give the Seawolves a 4-3 victory over NMH. The goal was Jangro's second of the day. Junior Robbie Kunka had 36 saves on 39 shots for Tabor, who finished their season with a 10-game winning streak.
-- At Middletown, RI, Middlesex topped host St. George's, 4-1, behind senior goaltender Joe Hanson, who kicked out 43 of 44 shots.
-- At Millbrook, NY, in an Empire Cup semifinal, host Millbrook blanked Portledge 9-0. Eric Satim (2g,3a), Nick Williams (2g,1a), Patrick Moore (1g,2a), and Scott Arnold (1g,2a) led the way offensively. Adam Zippin posted an 18-save shutout.
-- At Harvard's Bright Hockey Center, Thayer topped St. Sebastian's, 5-4. No further details available.
-- At Ashburnham, Mass., eight different players scored goals as Cushing Academy bopped Holderness, 8-2. Richard Bachman stopped 30 of 32 shots for the win.
-- At Portsmouth, RI, a Rob Turner overtime goal lifted Portsmouth Abbey to a 4-3 win over North Yarmouth Academy. The goal was Turner's second of the day.
-- At Milton, Mass., Nobles needed third period goals from Mark Fayne and Mike Murray (his second of the day) to erase a 4-2 deficit and gain a 4-4 tie with host Milton. Defenseman Mike Matczak had a pair of goals for Milton. Ian Stearns kicked out 39 of 43 shots in the Milton net.
-- At South Kent, Conn., Mike Vaskivuo scored an OT goal to lift South Kent to a 4-3 win over Winchendon. The goal was Vaskivuo's second of the game. South Kent outshot Winchendon, 49-44.
-- At New Milford, Conn., Salisbury beat Canterbury, 10-0. The big point producers were Will Ortiz (3g), Mark Arcobello (1g,2a), Kevin Quick (1g,2a), Ryan Grimshaw (3a), Ben Ketchum (1g,1a), John Cavanagh (1g,1a), Garett Ince (1g,1a), and Jeremiah Cunningham (2a). Salisbury outshot Canterbury, 42-33. Ross MacKinnon and Anthony Borelli split the shutout for Salisbury.
-- The Worcester Academy at Berwick game was cancelled because of snow.
-- At Kent, Conn., Choate got goals from three different scoers and Rob Wilechansky stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 3-1 win over host Kent.
-- At Saxton's River, Vt., Vermont Academy got a short-handed goal, an even-strength goal, and an empty-net goal in a 3-1 win over Brunswick.
-- At Concord, NH, junior goaltender Justin Gates came up big, kicking out 39 of 41 shots in Lawrence Academy's 4-2 win over St. Paul's. Steven Whitney (1g,1a), Jason Schneider (1g,1a), Brett Moore (2a), and John Simpson (2a) led the way offensively for Lawrence.
-- At Southborough, Mass., Ben Thurston (1g,2a) and Harrison Biggs (3a) figured in all three goals as St. Mark's blanked Groton 3-0.
-- At Belmont, Mass., junior defenseman Kevin McNamara scored a pair of third period goals to turn a 3-3 tie with BB&N into a 5-3 win. McNamara also had an assist in the game to give him three points on the day. Matt McCollem (1g,3a), Mark Dube (1g,1a), and Colin Moore (2a) were other big contributors to Belmont Hill's win. Jeff Fanning scored all three of BB&N's goals.
-- At Meriden, NH, Ben Severance kicked out 25 of 26 shots to lead Kimball Union to a 2-1 win over Tilton.
-- At Deerfield, Mass., Westminster edged Deerfield 3-1 behind goals from Jayson Saraceno, David Earl, and Ben Smith (empty-netter). Junior Bill Wiedersein stopped 22 of 23 shots to pick up the win in the Westminster net. Deerfield finished the season with nine losses in their final ten games.
-- At Millbrook, NY, in the Empire Cup championship game, host Millbrook topped Trinity-Pawling, 8-3. Mike Arnold (3g,1a), Eric Satim (1g,2a), and Ryan Smith (2g) led the way for Millbrook.
The NEPSIHA Tournament Committee will be crunching numbers and going over things again in the morning and by early afternoon should have an official tally. Our numbers indicate no change from the projections we made after Wednesday's games.
This is what we have now:
1. Nobles -- 3
2. Cushing -- 7
3. Lawrence -- 10
4. Belmont Hill -- 11
1.Salisbury -- 3
2. Taft -- 6
3. Avon -- 9
4. Westminster -- 12
While both Lawrence and Belmont Hill will make the playoffs, they are pretty close numerically. That might be an area to watch for further confirmation. It's within the realm of possibility that they could flip-flop, though we don't see it happening.
Prep Playoff Quarterfinal Matchups
Here are the playoff matchups for Wednesday, March 1.
#4E Belmont Hill @ #1E Nobles, 5:30 pm
#3E Lawrence @ #2E Cushing, 4:00 pm
#4W Westminster @ #1W Salisbury, 3:30 pm
#3W Avon @ #2W Taft, 3:30
#8 St. Mark's @ #1 Brooks, 3:30 pm
#7 Brewster @ #2 Hebron, 3:30 pm
#6 Vermont Academy @ #3 Middlesex, 3:30 pm
#5 Brunswick @ #4 Proctor, 4:00 (at St. Mark's)
Official NEPSIHA Div. I Rankings:
1. Nobles 1-1-1 =3
2. Cushing 2-2-2 = 6
3. Lawrence 3-3-5 = 11
4. Belmont Hill 4-4-3 = 11
5. Exeter 5-5-4 = 14
6. Andover 8-8-6 = 22
7. Tabor 6-6-11 = 23
8. St. Paul's 7-6-12 = 25
9. Tilton 9-9-9 = 27
10. Thayer 10-11-7 = 28
11. St. Sebastian's 10-10-10 = 30
12. NMH 12-12-8 = 32
1. Salisbury 1-1-1 = 3
2. Taft 2-2-2 = 6
3. Avon 3-3-3 = 9
4. Westminster 4-4-5 = 13
5. South Kent 5-5-4 = 14
6. Pomfret 8-8-7 = 23
7. Hotchkiss 7-6-11 = 24
8. Gunnery 9-9-7 = 25
9. Winchendon 6-7-13 = 26
10. Millbrook 10-11-9 = 30
11. Choate 11-10-11 = 32
12. Berkshire 14-13-6 = 33
1. Brooks 1-1-1 = 3
2. Hebron 3-2-3 = 8
3. Middlesex 6-3-2 = 11
4. Proctor 4-4-4 = 12
5. Brunswick 2-5-9 = 16
6. Vermont 6-6-6 = 18
7. Brewster 9-6-6 = 21
8. St. Mark's 10-6-5 = 21
9. St. George's 8-9-8 = 25
10. Berwick 5-10-10 = 25
11. Groton 11-11-11 = 33
Millbrook Wins Empire Cup
Portledge 5, Hoosac 4
Millbrook 5, Hill 3
Trinity-Pawling 3, North Jersey Avalanche 0
Wyoming Seminary 7, Albany Academy 2
Millbrook 9, Portledge 0
Trinity-Pawling 4, Wyoming Seminary 3 (T-P wins in a shootout)
Millbrook 8, Trinity-Pawling 3
Hoosac vs. Hill
NJ Avalanche vs. AA
Curran Lifts Taft over Hotchkiss
Lakeville, Conn. – A goal by Taft junior Bryan Curran with 22 seconds remaining in regulation lifted the #3-ranked Rhinos to a 3-2 come-from-behind win at Hotchkiss today.
Hotchkiss got on the board first with a power play goal late in the first period. Cory Korchin took neat passes from Peter Massar and Adam Kaiser and, from the left circle, beat Taft goalie Andrew Margolin to give his team a 1-0 lead at the 15:17 mark. For much of the opening period, Hotchkiss had the edge in play.
Taft tied the game at 1-1 early in the second when Bobby Kramer mounted a rush down the right side and poked the puck between the legs of Hotchkiss goaltender Ryan Moses at 1:30. Andrew Balysky and Woody Redpath picked up assists on the goal.
A little over a minute later, on another power play, Hotchkiss regained the lead, going up 2-1 when Korchin picked up his second goal on a deflection off a Taft player at the 2:50 mark.
The second period ended with Hotchkiss up, 2-1.
Early in the third, Taft had a chance to tie things up on a 5-on-3 advantage, but their power play fizzled, producing only a couple of shots on net.
Shortly after, though, the momentum seemed to swing, and Taft developed a more effective attack in the Hotchkiss end. At 8:31 the Rhinos tied things up when Balysky scored from a scramble in front of the Hotchkiss goal. Kramer picked up an assist on the goal.
At this stage, the game picked up, with both teams mounting strong rushes into their opponents’ end. It appeared the game was headed for OT when, with less than 30 seconds in regulation, Taft’s Corey Griffin fed Jerome Wallace, who in turn passed the puck to Curran, who nailed the game-winner with 22 ticks left on the clock.
Taft outhost Hotchkiss 32-27. The game turned on some fine goaltending by Margolin and Moses, as both were both called on to make several key saves, some on point-blank shots, to keep their teams in the game.
This was the second time in two weeks that Taft and Hotchkiss played a nail biter. On February 11, Taft, playing at home, defeated Hotchkiss 4-3 in overtime. -- T.M.
Lawrence Hopes to Clinch
Lawrence Academy hopes to clinch a playoff berth with a win at St. Paul's tomorrow (2:30 pm). That's all they have to do -- win. However, if they lose... and Exeter tops Andover... and Thayer tops St. Sebastian's... and Belmont Hill tops BB&N... well, it's possible that Lawrence could drop far enough in the strength of schedule criterion that Exeter could sneak into the last playoff spot. However, it's a huge longshot that all four games will be decided in a way that benefits Exeter, and even if that happens it's not certain that it would be enough. There are many permutations and the St. Seb's vs. Thayer game (1:00 pm at Harvard) is key because St. Seb's is 11-11-2 in NEPSIHA Div. I games now. If they lose tomorrow, and drop below .500, it will impinge on the numbers of their season's opponents, setting off a mini chain reaction. So it's not over yet, not offically, anyway.
-- There may be a scenario whereby Avon could move up in the third criterion and flip-flop with Taft, thus giving Avon home ice vs. the Rhinos next Wednesday. We don't see it happening, though. There also may be a scenario whereby Westminster gets bumped out of the last playoff spot. Again, a lot of different things would have to happen.
-- In Div. II action today, host Proctor came back from a 4-2 deficit, scoring four unanswered goals to top Brooks, 6-3, just the second Div. II loss for Brooks all season. The loss won't affect Brooks, who look to go into the playoffs as the #1 seed, but Proctor, by winning, appears to have locked up the #2 seed. The #3 through #8 seeds are up in the air going into the final day's action.
Playoff Scenario: Down to the Wire
We’re coming down to the wire in the playoff race and, with a week to go, there is one spot still open in the East and West. One caveat. We have tried, all season long, to update game scores and keep our database complete. We think it is. But, our records are only as good as what is reported. So, while we are confident in our rankings, they are unofficial.
In the East, Nobles seemingly has a lock on the top seed. There might be some wild combination of events that could tumble Nobles from the top spot, but, if so, we haven’t been able to figure out what such a scenario would look like. The battle for the second seed in the East—and home ice advantage—remains open. Cushing currently has an edge over Belmont Hill for the second seed, but it is a tenuous one. The scenarios under which Belmont Hill can leap over Cushing are too varied to figure out; as they depend on how both teams do and whether any teams they have played climb above or fall below the .500 mark. After Wednesday’s games, we’ll have a better idea of the possibilities for the weekend, and we’ll update things then. Now for the final spot. It is wide open! As of today, we have Lawrence sitting in the fourth spot, followed by Andover and Exeter. We played with a number of scenarios and one thing is clear: Lawrence cannot afford a stumble this week, and Andover and Exeter have to win to have a chance. Depending on how Lawrence does, the Andover-Exeter rivalry game on Saturday could also be a battle for a playoff slot. However, if Lawrence wins its games, it appears that the only hope that Andover and Exeter have is for some strange things to happen that would change the strength of schedule rankings for the three teams.
Out west, Salisbury appears to be locked in as the first seed. It also appears to us that Taft is solid in the second spot and will battle Avon Old Farms in the first round of the playoffs. In the battle for the final spot, Westminster has the edge over Hotchkiss and Winchendon. Because both Hotchkiss and Winchendon lag in the strength of schedule criterion, they will need some help to move up to the fourth spot. It can happen, but they each need to win their games and say a little prayer. Of course, if Westminster wins out, they are probably all set for a first round meeting with Salisbury.
Things will be clearer after Wednesday’s action, and we will have an update before the games this weekend. And for those of you who are wondering if any of the new playoff criteria proposed in the off-season would have changed anything, we’ll be studying that after the playoffs are over.
1. Nobles – 3
2. Cushing – 7
3. Belmont Hill – 8
4. Lawrence – 13
5. Exeter –16
6. Andover – 17
7. Tabor – 23
8. Tilton – 25
9. St. Paul’s – 26
1. Salisbury – 3
2. Taft – 6
3. Avon – 9
4. Westminster – 14
5. Hotchkiss – 18
6. Winchendon – 18
7. South Kent – 20
8. Choate – 22
9. Gunnery 27
Lawrence Rolls On
Needham, Mass. -- Lawrence Academy took a major step toward gaining a playoff berth with a decisive 4-0 win over host St. Sebastian's here today.
In addition, the two teams in pursuit of Lawrence, Andover and Exeter, lost today. It's likely that Lawrence actually clinched today.
Lawrence outshot the Arrows, 44-18, and had the edge in all aspects of play, just pouring shots on St. Seb's junior goaltender Connor Toomey, particularly during their power play opportunities.
Four different scorers lit the lamp for LA, and junior Justin Gates picked up the shutout.
Lawrence, despite numerous chances that were turned away by Toomey, finally got on the board with 3:34 remaining in the first when they scored on the power play. After some excellent movement, the puck landed on the stick of freshman Steven Whitney, who was stationed behind the goal line, to Toomey's right. Whitney spotted Joe Ehiorobo in front and the senior from Maine snapped it home to give Lawrence a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
In the second, with the Arrrows' Todd Davis in the box for cross-checking, Lawrence senior Jason Schneider banged one home from the doorstep at the 7:54 mark.
It would be the only goal Lawrence would score all period, though the ice was severly tilted in their favor, particularly during two late power plays.
In the third period, Joe Whitney extended the lead to 3-0 when he took a pass from Schneider, came flying into the St. Seb's end, and a let a wrister fly that tipped off Toomey's glove and into the net at the 7:38 mark. With the exception of that goal, Toomey was solid in the Arrows' net, facing a ton of rubber.
At the 11:37 mark, while skating short-handed, Lawrence junior center John Simpson knocked home the rebound of a Steven Whitney shot for the 4-0 final margin of victory.
"We're playing good hockey," said Lawrence coach Kevin Potter. "I'm happy with the leadership from our older players. I'm happy with our freshmen, who played well. We played as a team, and we stayed out of the penalty box. We're treating every game like a playoff game now."
Note: St. Seb's junior forward Eric Lake, who has mono, was out of action again today.
-- At Dedham, Mass., #2 Nobles topped Governor Dummer, 3-1, on goals from Ryan Maguire, Josh Franklin, and Jimmy Hayes. Jack Clayman scored a power play goal for GDA. Nobles outshot GDA, 24-21. Junior John Muse kicked out 20 shots for the win. Nobles' senior forward Matt Rhone was given a misconduct for spearing late in the third and will miss Saturday's game at Milton.
-- At New Milford, Conn., #5 Avon Old Farms topped host Canterbury, 5-2. Nick Bonino (1g,2a), Chris Wieland (1g,1a), Cam Atkinson (1g,1a), and Steve Capraro (2a) led the Winged Beavers attack while Randy Wolcott kiccked out 34 of 36 for the win.
-- At Wallingford, Conn., Choate demolished Loomis, 10-0. Pat Kenney (3g,3a), Ryan Stewart (2g,2a), and AJ Meyer (3a) paced the Wild Boars' attack, and Chris Langstaff and Rob Wilechansky shared the shutout. Six of Choate's goals came on the power play.
-- At Greenwich, Conn., junior Christian Oberbeck (3g,6a) figured in nine of his team's ten goals as Brunswick crushed Rye Country Day, 10-1. Junior linemate Justin Letizia didn't do too badly, either, finishing with five points (3g,2a).
-- At Pawling, NY, junior forward Jack Downing (1g,2a) and senior goaltender Alex Kremer (26 saves) led #3 Taft to a 5-2 win over host Trinity-Pawling.
-- At Hoosick, NY, Vermont Academy got offense from Jamie Armstrong (2g,1a) and Steffan Kollevoll (3a) and solid goaltending from Matt Clifford (35 saves) in a 5-3 win over Hoosac, which outshot VA 38-22.
-- At Concord, NH, St. Paul's topped #7 Belmont Hill, 5-2. Yuri Bouharevich (2g), Jason DeGiovanni (1g,1a), Kevin Kaiser (2a), and Cameron Lanoue (2a) led St. Paul's. Tyler O'Brien kicked out 29 of 31 shots in the SPS net.
-- At Salisbury, Conn., Mark Arcobello scored both goals in #1 Salisbury's 2-0 shutout of Hotchkiss. Anthony Borelli had the shutout, with 19 saves. Ryan Moses was the hard-luck loser for Hotchkiss, kicking out 31 of 33.
-- At New Hampton, NH, Proctor Academy blanked host New Hampton, 6-0. Jon Peden (3a), Nick Pruett (2g), Chris Leach (2a), and Dana Lucenta (2a) led the Proctor attack. Josh Rosenholtz stopped 15 saves for the shutout. Proctor outshot New Hampton, 41-15.
-- At Concord, Mass., Zach O'Donnell (1g,2a), Christian Ebert (1g,2a), and Neil Adams (1g,1a) accounted for all of the Middlesex offense in a 3-0 win over Groton. Joe Hanson kicked out 28 shots for the shutout.
-- At Deerfield, Mass., a Jon Schanke OT goal led Kent to a 4-3 win over host Deerfield. Schanke (2g,2a) figured in all four Kent goals. Pat Aldridge (1g,2a) had three points for Kent. Matt Lovejoy (3a), Chris Wood (2g), and Merrick Freidman led the Big Green attack.
-- At Middletown, RI, St. Mark's edged St. George's, 2-1, on a second-period power play goal by Andrew Smith. Harrison Biggs scored in the first for St. Mark's, and junior Aaron Natale kicked out 30 of 31 for the win.
-- At Ashburnham, Mass., Aaron Blades, KC Honeyman, and Aaron Bogosian scored the goals and sophomore TJ Massie stopped 19 of 20 shots in net to lead #6 Cushing to a 3-1 win over Wyoming Seminary.
-- At North Andover, Mass., Ryan Riffe (1g,3a) and Bobby Farnham (3g) led host Brooks to a 6-4 win over Rivers. Tim Bigelow (2g,2a) figured in all four of Rivers' goals and Jeff Sullivan (1g, 2a) figured in three. Brooks outshot Rivers, 60-16. Rivers goaltender Scott Barchard was the hard-luck loser, kicking out 54 of 60.
-- At Exeter, NH, a Sean Driscoll OT goal gave Pomfret a 4-3 win, putting a huge hurt on #9 Exeter's playoff hopes. Driscoll (2g,1a) figured in three of Pomfret's goals, as did Rory Cosgrove (1g,2a). Exeter outshot Pomfret, 49-37, but Pomfret senior goalie Evan Johnson came up with 46 saves for the win.
-- At South Berwick, Maine, Cam Clark (1g,2a) paced the offense and junior goaltender Jared Hay posted a 26-save shutout as Berwick blanked Pingree, 6-0.
-- At Sheffield, Mass., Berkshire got goals from four different scorers and Adam Szczepanski kicked out 20 of 22 shots in a 4-3 win over Millbrook.
-- At West Hartford, Conn., Bryan Kriner (2g,3a), Bryan Abraham (2g,2a), and Jesse Estok (1g,3a) led Portsmouth Abbey to a 6-2 win over host Kingswood-Oxford. K-O goaltender Justin Potter kicked out 45 of 51 shots in a losing cause. Chris O'Reilly (22 saves) earned the win for PA.
-- At Albany, NY, host Albany Academy crushed Williston-Northampton, 7-1. John Sullivan (3g,3a) and Aleksey Koval (2g,3a) paced the Albany attack. Junior Kevin Heelan kicked out 36 of 37 for the win.
-- At Simsbury, Conn., Gunnery scored three unanswered third-period goals to upend #8 Westminster, 4-3. Defenseman Matt Helderman (1g,1a) and sophomore forward Austin Smith (2a) led the Gunnery offense. Pat Street got the win in goal, kicking out 34 of 37 shots.
-- At Gill, Mass., NMH junior goaltender Corey Jarecki shut out #10 Andover, 2-0, on 25 saves. Miles Winter and Ryan Crapser scored the NMH goals, and Oliver Drake notched two assists.
Brooks Remains #1 in Div. II
The Brooks School is once again #1 this week in the USHR Div. II prep poll, though Brunswick and Hebron are close behind.
USHR Div. II Prep Poll
Salisbury #1 -- Again
Once again, Salisbury tops the USHR Div. I Prep Poll, with Nobles right on their heels.
And if Nobles had scored in overtime of the Flood-Marr title game instead of Salisbury, we would have had a different team #1 team the last two months. They’re that close.
Here are the schedules for this final week:
Salisbury – vs. Hotchkiss, @ Canterbury
Nobles – vs. GDA, @ Milton
Taft -- @ T-P, @ Hotchkiss
LA -- @ St. Seb’s, @ St. Paul’s
Avon -- @ Canterbury, vs. Loomis
Cushing – vs. Wyoming Seminary, vs. Holderness
Belmont Hill -- @ St. Paul’s, vs. BB&N
Westminster – vs. Gunnery, @ Deerfield
Exeter – vs. Pomfret, @ Andover
Andover -- @ NMH, vs. Exeter
Hotchkiss -- @ Salisbury, vs. Taft
USHR Div. I Prep Poll -- Feb. 20
-- At Lawrenceville, NJ, host Lawrenceville crushed Bridgton Academy, 9-1. Leading the attack for Lawrenceville were Zachary Diaco (4g), Martin Drolet (1g,3a), Chris Pronchik (3g), Liam Teer (4a), and Thomas Scocozza (4a). In net, Cody McKinney kicked out 34 of 35 shots in Lawrenceville's season finale. Lawrenceville started the season 2-8, but then turned it around, winning 13 of the next 18, including the last nine in a row to finish the season with a winning record.
-- At Hebron, Maine, Hebron edged Hoosac, 4-3, with Matt Pedemonti (2g,1a), Jordan Krusch (1g,1a), and Oleksandr Romanenko (2a) leading the way. Senior Ben Jessome scored the game winner midway through the third.
-- At Kents Hill, Maine, Proctor edged host Kents Hill, 3-2, with Ian Flanagan scoring the winning goal late in the third period. Proctor's Neil Ruffini (1g,1a), Matt Robertson (2a), and Alex Milley (2a) each had two points. Proctor outshot Kents Hill 51-22 in the game. Kent's Hill goaltender John Hopkins kicked out 48 of those 51 shots in a losing effort.
This Week's Games
Mon. Feb. 20, 2006:
New Hampton @ Cushing B, 4:00
Winchendon @ Pomfret, 4:15
Gunnery @ Canterbury, 4:15
Wed. Feb. 22, 2006:
Taft @ Trinity-Pawling, 2:15
Millbrook @ Berkshire, 2:15
Loomis-Chaffee @ Choate, 2:30
Brewster @ Holderness, 2:30
Avon Old Farms @ Canterbury, 2:30
Gunnery @ Westminster, 2:30
Proctor @ New Hampton, 3:00
Vermont Academy @ Hoosac, 3:00
Groton @ Middlesex, 3:00
St. Mark's @ St. George's, 3:30
Hebron @ Bridgton, 3:30
Andover @ Northfield Mt. Hermon, 3:30
Belmont Hill @ St. Paul's, 3:30
Hotchkiss @ Salisbury, 4:00
Pomfret @ Exeter, 4:00
Kent @ Deerfield, 4:00
Williston-Northampton @ Albany Academy, 4:00
Millbrook @ Berkshire, 4:15
Rye Country Day @ Brunswick, 4:15
Lawrence @ St. Sebastian's, 4:30
Rivers @ Brooks, 4:30
Portsmouth Abbey @ Kingswood-Oxford, 4:45
Governor Dummer @ Noble & Greenough, 5:00
Milton @ Tilton, 5:00
Wyoming Seminary @ Cushing, 5:15
Thayer @ BB&N, 5:15
Pingree @ Berwick, 5:30
Fri. Feb. 24, 2006:
Portsmouth Abbey @ Roxbury Latin, 3:40
Xavier Catholic @ Harvey, 4:00
Brooks @ Proctor, 4:00
Rivers @ Pingree, 4:15
Berkshire @ South Kent, 5:00
Berwick @ Kent's Hill, 5:00
Winchendon @ Williston-Northampton, 5:00
Kingswood-Oxford @ Vermont Academy, 6:30
Kimball Union @ Tabor, 6:30
NYA @ St. George's, 7:00
Sat. Feb. 25, 2006:
St. Sebastian's vs. Thayer, 1:00 (@ Harvard)
Worcester Academy @ Berwick, 1:00
NYA @ Portsmouth Abbey, 1:30
Groton @ St. Mark's, 1:45
BB&N @ Belmont Hill, 2:00
Tilton @ KUA, 2:00
Brooks @ Governor Dummer, 2:00
Williston-Northampton @ Pomfret, 2:15
Berkshire @ Gunnery, 2:30
Choate @ Kent, 2:30
Lawrence @ St. Paul's, 2:30
Salisbury @ Canterbury, 2:30
Tabor @ Northfield Mt. Hermon, 2:30
Pingree @ Hebron, 3:00
Brunswick @ Vermont Academy, 3:30
Holderness @ Cushing, 4:00
Noble & Greenough @ Milton, 4:00
Middlesex @ St. George's, 4:00
Winchendon @ South Kent, 4:00
Exeter @ Andover, 4:00
Taft @ Hotchkiss, 4:30
Westminster @ Deerfield, 6:30
Loomis-Chaffee @ Avon Old Farms, 7:00
There is also a tournament Fri-Sat Feb. 24-25:
The Empire Cup -- at Trinity-Pawling & Millbrook Schools
(Albany Academy, Hill, Hoosac, Millbrook, NJ Avalanche, Portledge, T-P, Wyoming Seminary)
Wolcott Ties Up #1 Salisbury
Salisbury, Conn. -- #1-ranked Salisbury ran into a hot goalie today as Randy Wolcott’s acrobatic play gave #5 Avon Old Farms a 3-3 tie in a classic game between two of the top New England prep teams.
Wolcott stopped 44 of 47 shots by the Salisbury sharpshooters, including seven in a scoreless overtime period.
The pace of the game was fast, with numerous shifts of momentum, though Salisbury clearly had the edge in play.
But Wolcott, a junior who played last season at Notre Dame-West Haven High School, was the difference, making several spectacular saves, including at least a half dozen from point-blank range. On one save, while flat on the ice, Wolcott used his stick to block a rocket clearly destined for the upper part of the net.
The game got off to a fast start, with both teams making rink-long rushes that kept spectators in the full house on the edge of their seats. Salisbury drew first blood on a delayed penalty call, with Avon appearing to drop its guard, allowing John Cavanagh to feed a perfect pass to his cousin, David Cavanagh, who, from 15 feet out, drilled it into the top right corner to make it 1-0 at 9:20.
Salisbury outshot Avon 11-10 in the period.
The second period was scoreless, though if it weren’t for Wolcott, Salisbury could have come out of it with a four or five goal lead. Salisbury again outshot Avon, this time by a 12-11 margin, and the shots were hard, sure shots coming off a series of well-executed passes.
At 6:40 of the third, Salisbury, on the power play, went up 2-0 as Mark Arcobello unleased a strong slap shot from the center point of the blue line. Wolcott may have been screened on the play.
Just 49 seconds later, Avon got on the board when a Cam Atkinson shot on Salisbury goalie Anthony Borelli bounced off the goalie’s stick, trickled through his legs and rolled across the crease and goal line, just beyond Borelli’s desperate reach.
The momentum shifted, as this time Salisbury let down its guard, allowing Avon to swarm all over the Salisbury end and, just 22 seconds after the first goal, to strike again, tying things up at 2-2 as Garrett Kerr scored on a shot that somehow found its way through a huge pileup of players in front of the Salisbury goal.
Then the momentum shifted again, and Salisbury regained the lead when Michael Biega took a perfect pass across the crease from David Cavanagh and slapped the puck past Wolcott at the 9:40 mark. Wolcott had no chance on the shot.
Avon, though, did not cave. A little over three minutes later, at 12:42, the Winged Beavers tied the game up at 3-3 when Chris Wieland poked in a rebound after a rink-length rush by the Avon forwards.
In the final minute of regulation, Salisbury swarmed all over the Avon end of the ice, but Wolcott turned back each rush, one with a nifty glove save.
Salisbury dominated in overtime, taking seven shots on Wolcott, while Avon did not get off a single shot on Borelli. With less than half a minute left, Salisbury made one final push, but Wolcott stopped the initial shot on the drive and then, after losing his stick, shut down Salisbury while flat on his back, stretched out across the crease to cover a puck that was sitting there just waiting for a Salisbury player to tip it in.
”The goalie made the difference,” said Salisbury coach Dan Donato after the game. “We held the edge. We controlled the tempo. We should have won.”
Avon coach John Gardner agreed that Salisbury played the better game.
”We tried to stay with them, but Salisbury has a lot of talent,” Gardner said. “I’m glad we don’t have to see them again.” -- T.M.
Exeter's Lee Shuts Door on Deerfield
Exeter, NH – Exeter kept alive its playoff hopes with a 3-0 win over Deerfield Academy here today.
Junior goaltender Jonathan Lee kicked out 25 shots for the shutout.
Senior Chris Downer led the way with a pair of goals, while his twin brother, Nick, had a pair of assists. Brett Hughes scored an empty net goal for the final margin of difference.
After a scoreless first period, Exeter got on the board with a power play goal at the 4:04 mark of the second when Chris Downer took a pass from Kevin McCarthy and, from the top of the left faceoff circle roofed a nifty shot past Deerfield sophomore goalie Michael Dizgun to put Exeter up 1-0.
That was all the scoring for the period, though late in the period Exeter was able to pin Deerfield in their end for a good long stretch. Chris Downer had at least two good chances to add to the lead, but Dizgun was up to the task. Exeter had a clear edge in play in the second.
It remained a tight 1-0 game until there was just 3:48 remaining in regulation when Michael Doherty, off the draw, kicked the puck onto Nick Downer’s stick. He, in turn, got it to his brother who snapped it short side to put Exeter up, 2-0.
Things got a little messy in the final minutes. With 2:36 left Exeter’s Brett Hughes was called for hitting after the whistle, while Deerfield’s Micheal Del Mauro got a major and a game misconduct for head butting. Deerfield pulled their goalie, but the Big Green’s Matt Lovejoy took a penalty for cross-checking with 59 seconds left.
After the penalty to Exeter’s Hughes expired, fans saw the unusual sight of Deerfield skating a man down – a 4-on-5 -- with their goalie pulled. That lasted exactly 21 seconds for, with 15 seconds on the clock, Hughes, out of the box, scored into the empty net to make it 3-0 – and Deerfield head coach Brendan Creagh returned Dizgun to the net for the final 15 seconds of play.
Afterward, Exeter head coach Dana Barbin said, “That was a very strong team effort. Everyone played exceptionally hard – and smart. And Jonathan Lee has become a very nice goalie for us.”
Exeter plays Pomfret at home on Wednesday, and then finishes the regular season at Andover next Saturday, a game that could have huge playoff implications.
Deerfield, of course, is out of the playoff picture, so had to reach deeper down for motivation. A young, quick team, they return all their key players next season, including Dizgun who, despite the loss, had a very strong game today, kicking out 25 of 27 shots.
-- At South Kent, Conn., Williston-Northampton upset South Kent, 2-1, behind goals from Trevor Moss and Casey Vece and a big game from junior goalie Kevin Moore, who stopped 35 shots, including 16 in the third period, when South Kent poured it on. Late in the second, Moore was assessed a major for slashing and sent to the box. Senior John Scannell came into the game, played five perfect minutes, making five saves, and then handed goaltending duties back to Moore for the remainder of the game.
-- At Groton, Mass., Seth McNary kicked out 22 shots and Joe Ehiorobo (1g,2a) and Brett Moore (2g) led the offense as #6 Lawrence Academy blanked St. Mark's, 4-0.
-- At Watertown, Conn., Andrew Margolin kicked out 30 of 32 as #3 Taft topped Choate, 4-2. Max Pacioretty (3a) and Doug Jones (1g,1a) led the Rhinos' scorers.
-- At New Hampton, NH, Kenny Torsey scored a late third period goal to lift New Hampton to a 3-2 win over Kingswood-Oxford.
-- At Canton, Mass., Tyler O'Brien stopped 28 of 29 shots to lead St. Paul's to a 4-1 road win over Thayer. Jason Bourgea (1g,1a), Yuri Bouharevich (1g,1a), John Cronin (2a), and Francois Brisebois (2a) each had two points for St. Paul's.
-- At Concord, Mass., Christian Ebert scored a power play goal with 1:26 remaining in regulation to lift Middlesex to a 5-4 win over Rivers.
-- At Salisbury, Conn., #1 Salisbury and #5 Avon Old Farms battled to a 3-3 tie. Please see full story below.
-- At Kent's Hill, Maine, Brunswick topped Kent's Hill, 4-1. Sophomore defenseman Patrick Bursee had two goals for Brunswick. Justin Letizia (1g,1a), Christian Oberbeck (1g,1a), and Louis Aronne (2a) also each had two points apiece for the Bears.
-- At Ashburnham, Mass., Richard Bachman had a 20-save shutout as #7 Cushing blanked Kimball Union, 3-0. Ben Severance kicked out 49 of 52 for KUA. Cushing had goals from three different scorers, one in each period.
-- At Marion, Mass., Chris Bower had a hat trick and Ryan Carroll had 24 saves to lead Tabor to a 3-1 win over Holderness.
-- At Gill, Mass., Kevin Czepiel (4a), Miles Winter (3g), and Oliver Drake (1g,2a) provided the offense as NMH topped Loomis-Chaffee, 6-3.
-- At Simsbury, Conn., Berkshire, on the road, got goals from five different scorers and upset #8 Westminster, 5-3. Ben Smith (1g,2a) figured in all three Westminster goals.
-- At Kent, Conn., Canterbury topped Kent, 5-4, with Ryan Kupperman and Jordan Samuels each notching a pair of goals. Jon Schanke (2g), Patrick Aldridge (1g,1a), Ragnars Alksnis (1g,1a), and Matt Czerkowicz (2a) led the Kent attack.
-- At Washington, Conn., Pat Street had 26 saves and Sean McKevitt (2g,1a) and Pat Capella (3a) each had three points to lead host Gunnery to a 5-2 win over Albany Academy. John Sullivan had two goals in a losing cause.
-- At Millbrook, NY, Sean Driscoll had a pair of goals and Evan Johnson kicked out 22 of 24 shots to lead Pomfret to a 3-2 road win over Millbrook.
-- At Lakeville, Conn., Hotchkiss got goals from five different scorers and Zach Harding kicked out 23 of 25 as the Bearcats topped Trinity-Pawling, 5-2.
Nobles Tops Belmont Hill Again
Dedham, Mass. – Before today’s game, Nobles head coach Brian Day said, “I think we’re ready. We know they are better than what we saw in December. It will be a good barometer for us today.”
Day was referring to the first weekend of the regular season, when his squad out-gunned Belmont Hill 8 –2 on the road.
Belmont Hill was better today than they were that day, but Nobles is still the better team overall, and, in a business-like, “button-down” game, came out on top again, this time by a 3-1 score to sweep the season’s series.
Matt Rhone scored the game-winning goal, wristing a bullet from the right side of the slot past the glove of Belmont Hill goalie Wes Vesprini 15 minutes into the second period. The goal gave Nobles a 2-1 lead at the time, and quieted the Belmont Hill crowd, which had sensed an upset, or wished for one, from the opening faceoff.
Earlier, Belmont Hill had taken a 1-0 lead 12 minutes into the first period when a blocked shot by a Nobles defenseman went directly to the stick of Belmont Hill forward Mark Dube. Dube grabbed the puck, took a few strides up center ice, and feathered a pretty pass to Matt McCollem on the left boards. McCollem, showing patience, held the puck as he glided across the Nobles blue line. When the second Nobles defender committed, McCollem calmly flipped a tape-to-tape pass across ice to a wide-open Jake Moscatel. Moscatel took two strides and ripped one past Nobles goalie John Muse and into the upper right corner from 20 feet out.
The rest of the period featured numerous scoring chances by both teams, with good end-to-end movement. It also featured a Nobles goal called back by one of the referees who had, apparently, raised his arm for a pending Nobles penalty. After considerable discussion, the two red-faced referees resumed play, with one penalty going to Nobles and two to Belmont Hill.
Nobles needed just 23 seconds on the power play to tie the game at 1-1, with Mark Fayne getting the equalizer after some good work down low by Ryan Maguire and Rhone, who both got assists on the play.
In the second, Nobles slowly took control, and Rhone, as we mentioned, scored the game winner with three minutes to go in the stanza. The period featured good scoring chances from both sides, and some after-the-whistle shoving the refs didn’t see.
It remained a 2-1 game until there was just 3:31 left in the third when, with Belmont Hill down a man and Nobles applying pressure, Michael Griffin used his great reach to keep the puck in the Belmont Hill zone, helping set up defenseman Derrick Pallis, who slammed home the goal that made it 3-1, the final margin of victory. Assists went to Chris Huxley and Jimmy Hayes.
The unofficial shots on goal were 9-11-11 (31) for Nobles, and 8-9-9 (26) for Belmont Hill. – B.P.
Winged Beavers Zap Wild Boars
-- At Wallingford, Conn., #5 Avon Old Farms topped Choate, 7-4. Nick Bonino (2g,1a) and defenseman Ken Trentowski (1g,2a) each had three points for the Winged Beavers, while Chris Weiland (1g,1a), Cam Atkinson (2a), and Matt Serino (2a) each had two. Jamie Nudy (1g,1a) and Justin Mitchell (2a) led the Wild Boars attack.
-- At Kent, Conn., senior forward Ben Cook scored an OT goal to lift Kent to a 3-2 upset win over #9 Hotchkiss. Kyle Rank kicked out 39 of 41 shots for the win.
-- At Washington, Conn., Mike Vaskivuo (2g,1a) and James Whalen (1g,2a) led South Kent past Gunnery, 5-2. John Tague had two goals and Joe Pereira, Nick Lampson, and Tony Morrone each had a pair of assists for South Kent. Sergiy Sorokolat stopped 27 of 29 for the win.
-- At Greenwich, Conn., Robert Doyle had two goals and an assist to lead Lawrenceville to a 7-4 win over host Brunswick. Justin Letizia had a hat trick for Brunswick.
-- At Pawling, NY, senior Brett McCarthy had a hat trick to lead Trinity-Pawling to a 5-4 win over Millbrook.
-- At Andover, Mass., Alex Curran (2g,1a) and Broc Little (2g,1a) led #7 Cushing Academy to a 5-3 road win over #10 Andover. Richard Bachman kicked out 28 of 31 for the win. Chris Cahill (1g,1a) and Joe Smith (2a) led the Andover attack.
-- At Saxton's River, Vt., Tarek Bashir (2g,1a) and Andrew Ochalek (3a) led Vermont Academy to an 8-0 home win over Worcester Academy. Matt Clifford kicked out 11 shots for the shutout win.
-- At North Bridgton, Maine, Exeter topped Bridgton Academy, 6-4. Exeter's offense was led by Phil Negus (2g,1a), Mike Kelly (3a), Kevin Crane (2a), and Evan Crosby (2a). Bridgton got a pair of goals from Kevin Jodice.
-- At Groton, Mass., Brooks, ranked #1 in Div. II, edged Groton 4-3 on an OT goal by Dan Doherty. Sophomore Bobby Farnham had a pair of goals for the Bishops, while Ryan Riffe and defenseman Kevin Izzo each added a pair of assists. For Groton, freshman Conor Robinson (1g,1a) and Tristan Spaulding (2a) led the attack. Groton senior goaltender Greg Parker was the hard-luck loser, kicking out 38 of 42.
-- At Belmont, Mass., a Wes Stephanian OT goal lifted #4 Belmont Hill to a 2-1 win over Milton Academy. Kevin McNamara also scored for Belmont Hill. Brandon Nunn scored for the Mustangs, who lost yet another one-goal game. Ian Stearns kicked out 35 of 37 for Milton, while Wes Vesprini stopped 26 of 27 for Belmont Hill.
-- At Watertown, Conn., #3 Taft got goals from four different scorers en route to a 4-2 win over Deerfield. Alex Kremer stopped 31 of 33 shots to pick up the win for the Rhinos.
-- At West Hartford, Conn., Hoosac trounced Kingswood-Oxford, 13-0. Christian Cyr (3g,1a), Anthony Paquette (3g), Shawn Sacco (1g,2a), and Scott Evans (3a) led the Owls' attack.
-- At Pomfret, Conn., Brian Flynn (3g) and Sean Driscoll (3a) led host Pomfret to a 6-0 win over Berkshire. Evan Johnson kicked out 27 shots to earn the shutout.
-- At Byfield, Mass., #6 Lawrence Academy topped host Gov. Dummer, 4-1, with Joe Whitney (2g,1a) and goaltender Justin Gates (34/35) leading the way.
-- At Easthampton, Mass., Chris Cerbino (2g), Ryan Kupperman (1g,1a), and Ryan Miniaci (1g,1a) paced the attack, and Caleb Luther picked up an 18-save shutout as Canterbury blanked host Williston-Northampton, 6-0.
-- At Portsmouth, RI, Middlesex blanked host Portsmouth Abbey. Christian Ebert (1g,2a), Brandon Barry (3a), Neil Adams (2g), Scooter Dudley (1g,1a), and Wiley Wilson (1g,1a) led the way for Middlesex.
-- At Simsbury, Conn., #8 Westminster topped Loomis-Chaffee, 6-1. Jayson Saraceno (3g,1a) and Ben Smith (4a) led the way for Westminster with four points apiece. Evan Carriere (2g), Nick Pitsikoulis (1g,1a), and Alex Anderson (2a) each had two points. Bryce Shattie kicked out 22 of 23 shots for the win.
-- At Brookline, Mass., senior Nick Carro drilled a slapshot from the slot in the final minutes of regulation to give St. George's a 5-4 win over host Roxbury Latin.
-- At Winchendon, Mass., Holderness came back from a 2-0 deficit to top Winchendon, 4-2. The big story for Holderness was the 58-save effort from sophomore Andre Guay. Niko Uola (2g), defenseman Bill Silengo (1g,1a), and Aki Uola (2a) led the Holderness attack.
-- At Needham, Mass., St. Paul's topped St. Sebastian's, 5-3. Jason DeGiovanni (1g,2a), Yuri Bouharevich (1g,1a), Francois Brisebois (1g,1a), Kevin Kaiser (1g,1a), and defenseman Peter Child (2a) led the SPS attack.
-- At Meriden, NH, Mike Borrelli (1g,1a) and Joshua Boissoneau (1g,1a) led Kimball Union's offense in a 4-1 win over Berwick. Ben Severance kicked out 21 of 22 for the win. Jared Hay was the tough-luck loser for Berwick, stopping 36 of 39 shots.
-- At Albany, NY, #1 Salisbury crushed Albany Academy, 11-1. Mark Arcobello (2g,2a), Jeremiah Cunningham (2g,1a), Greg Collins (2g,1a), Ryan Grimshaw (1g,2a), Will Ortiz (1g,2a), John Cavanagh (2a), and Alex Biega (2a) led the Salisbury attack.
Brooks Still #1 in Div. II Prep Poll
The Brooks School, despite being edged, 1-0, by St. George's on Saturday in their first loss to a Div. II opponent this season, is still hanging onto the #1 spot in this week's USHR Div. II prep poll.
Brooks and Hebron both received first place votes, the only two schools to do so.
Hoosac, which is ineligible for the playoffs due to playing an illegal game before the official start of the season, beat both Proctor and Brunswick last week, and thus are ranked in this poll. Most coaches ranked them, though several abstained on principle.
USHR Div. II Prep Poll
Salisbury #1 Again
Once again, as they have all season, Salisbury (18-1-1) holds the #1 spot in the USHR Div. I Prep Poll.
USHR Div. I Prep Poll
Battle For Fourth Playoff Spot Looms
With two weeks to go, it looks like the top three teams in the East and West are pretty well set. Barring totally unexpected collapses, it appears Nobles and Salisbury will be the top seeds in their respective conferences. Belmont Hill and Taft look solid as the second seeds. And Cushsing and Avon Old Farms sit comfortably in the third slot.
But, with four teams in each conference qualifying, things remain interesting. Currently, Andover holds the fourth spot in the East and Westminster sits in the final playoff spot in the West. Andover cannot relax -- Lawrence and Exeter are nipping on their heels. In the West, Hotchkiss has the best chance to catch Westminster, but they have a tough road ahead.
Hotchkiss has four games remaining: Kent, Trinity-Pawling, Salisbury, and Taft. Winchendon plays Holderness, South Kent (twice), Pomfret, and Williston. Westminster finishes with Loomis, Berkshire, Gunnery, and Deerfield. Based on the numbers, Westminster has the easiest remaining schedule. For either Hotchkiss or Winchendon to have any chance of vaulting into that fourth and final playoff spot, they will need to win out (or lose, at most, once) and hope for some serious struggles for Westminster. Could it happen? Sure. But the numbers say it's unlikely. By this time next week, we will have a much better idea as to whether there will be any drama heading into the last week of the season out west.
In the East, the battle for the last spot is tighter and chances of movement are greater. Andover cannot count on an easy schedule over the final two weeks -- they play Cushing, Tabor, NMH, and Exeter. Tabor has been hot since the New Year and NMH, despite being an under-.500 team, has tied Cushing and, two days ago, beat Exeter. Andover's final game of the year, a home game against archrival Exeter, could be the game that decides the #4 spot in the East. Exeter has the easier schedule, statistically, facing Bridgton, Deerfield, and Pomfret before the finale at Andover. Lawrence probably needs to win out and hope for a boost on its strength of schedule criterion. They finish with GDA, St. Mark's (Div. II), St. Seb's, and St. Paul's. Lawrence could certainly win all their remaining games, but with Andover's tougher schedule and only three Div. I games left, Lawrence faces the toughest challenge. Nonetheless, they remain solidly in the hunt as we near the homestretch.
One thing we have noticed this year is that while a great start does not guarantee you a playoff berth, a slow start can cripple you. Tabor entered the new year at .500 and is 6-2-2 since. But the Seawolves have no chance of making the playoffs unless they win all their remaining games and there is a total collapse by all the teams ahead of them. And even that might not be enough. St. Sebastian's, on the other hand, seemed to be in good shape as the New Year dawned, but after winning their first four games of 2006, the last a 4-2 win over Nobles, they've gone 1-8-1 to fall out of playoff contention.
On a related note, Milton Academy has struggled this year, but they have also played one of the toughest schedules imagineable. The average winning percentage of their opponents, to date, is .582. They have played 15 games against teams with records better than .500 -- and they have three more remaining. While they have been blown out a couple of times (Salisbury, Nobles) they have also been in 14 games decided by one goal or less. At this level, having kids that compete when their record is poor says more about them, and their coaches, than a winning record.
Here's how the playoff picture looks:
1. Nobles 1-1-2 (4)
2. Belmont Hill 2-2-1 (5)
3. Cushing 3-3-3 (9)
4. Andover 4-5-4 (13)
5. Lawrence 5-4-7 (16)
6. Exeter 6-6-5 (17)
1. Salisbury 1-1-1 (3)
2. Taft 2-2-2 (6)
3. Avon 3-3-3 (9)
4. Westminster 5-4-4 (13)
5. Winchendon 4-4-10 (18)
6. Hotchkiss 6-6-6 (18)
This Week's Games
Mon. Feb. 13, 2006:
Berkshire @ Millbrook, 4:45
St. George's @ Portsmouth Abbey, 6:00
Wed. Feb. 15, 2006:
Millbrook @ Trinity-Pawling, 2:00
Proctor @ Brewster, 2:15
Hotchkiss @ Kent, 2:30
South Kent @ Gunnery, 2:30
Avon Old Farms @ Choate, 2:30
St. Mark's @ Rivers, 3:00
Middlesex @ Portsmouth Abbey, 3:00
Brooks @ Groton, 3:00
Cushing @ Andover, 3:15
Exeter @ Bridgton, 3:15
Milton @ Belmont Hill, 3:30
Hoosac @ Kingswood-Oxford, 3:30
St. George's @ Roxbury Latin, 3:40
Holderness @ Winchendon, 3:45
Lawrence @ Governor Dummer, 3:45
Berkshire @ Pomfret, 4:00
Westminster @ Loomis-Chaffee, 4:00
NYA @ Kent's Hill, 4:00
Salisbury @ Albany Academy, 4:00
Tabor @ Thayer, 4:00
Deerfield @ Taft, 4:00
Lawrenceville @ Brunswick, 4:00
Fieldston Prep @ Harvey, 4:15
Portledge @ Wyoming Seminary, 4:30
St. Paul's @ St. Sebastian's, 4:30
Hebron @ New Hampton, 4:30
Berwick @ Kimball Union, 4:30
Canterbury @ Williston-Northampton, 4:30
Worcester Academy @ Vermont Academy, 4:30
Hoosac @ Kingswood-Oxford, 5:15
Noble & Greenough @ BB&N, 6:00
New England Jr. Falcons @ Northfield Mt. Hermon, 6:00
Thu. Feb. 16, 2006:
Kingswood-Oxford @ St. Thomas More, 4:00
Fri. Feb. 17, 2006:
Brunswick @ Hebron, 3:30
Berwick @ Portsmouth Abbey, 3:45
Hoosac @ Harvey, 4:00
Belmont Hill @ Noble & Greenough, 5:00
South Kent @ Winchendon, 6:00
BB&N @ Milton, 6:00
South Kent @ Winchendon, 6:00
Andover @ Tabor, 6:15
Pingree @ Middlesex, 6:45
Bridgton @ Wyoming Seminary, 7:00
Sat. Feb. 18, 2006:
Brunswick @ Kent's Hill, 11:30 am
St. Mark's @ Lawrence, 1:00
St. Paul's @ Thayer, 2:00
Kingswood-Oxford @ New Hampton, 2:00
Rivers @ Middlesex, 2:00
Choate @ Taft, 2:00
Roxbury Latin @ Brooks, 2:00
Avon Old Farms @ Salisbury, 2:30
Groton @ St. George's, 2:30
Williston-Northampton @ South Kent, 3:00
Proctor @ Hebron, 4:00
Holderness @ Tabor, 4:00
Albany Academy @ Gunnery, 4:00
Kimball Union @ Cushing, 4:00
St. Sebastian's @ Governor Dummer, 4:00
Trinity-Pawling @ Hotchkiss, 4:00
Pingree @ Portsmouth Abbey, 4:00
Worcester Academy @ Lawrenceville School, 4:00
Deerfield @ Exeter, 4:00
Loomis-Chaffee @ Northfield Mt. Hermon, 4:00
Gilmour @ Wyoming Seminary, 5:00
Pomfret @ Millbrook, 5:00
Bridgton @ Hill School, 5:30
Berkshire @ Westminster, 7:00
Canterbury @ Kent, 7:00
Sun. Feb. 19, 2006:
Gilmour @ Wyoming Seminary, 10:00 AM
Bridgton @ Lawrenceville, 12:00
Proctor @ Kent's Hill, 12:30
Worcester Academy @ Hill, 1:00
Hoosac @ Hebron, 2:15
Mon. Feb. 20, 2006:
New Hampton @ Cushing B, 4:00
Winchendon @ Pomfret, 4:15
Gunnery @ Canterbury, 4:15
Deerfield, Mass. -- #5-ranked Avon Old Farms topped Deerfield Academy, 4-2, here today in a game in which all six goals came on the power play.
The game, up-tempo, wild, and wooly, was fun for spectators, though not for the coaches, as both teams, each with a large number of underclassmen, went through stretches where undisciplined play took over.
Deerfield became unglued a bit in the first. Andrew Mancini took a double minor for a hit from behind and Avon immediately carried the puck into the Deerfield end and, exhibiting good puck movement, kept it there for nearly a full three minutes before Cam Atkinson knocked the rebound of a Chris Wieland shot past Deerfield sophomore goalie Michael Dizgun to put the Winged Beavers up 1-0 at the 7:10 mark.
With 2:08 left in the period, the Big Green was whistled for their fourth penalty of the period. Thirty seconds later Nick Bonino banged home the rebound of a Kenny Trentowski shot from the left point, and Avon took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
The second period was pretty even with a lot of good up-and-down hockey. Deerfield had a number of opportunities to bury their shots, but instead wound up missing the net totally.
In the third period, Avon took some pointless penalties -- and allowed Deerfield to score two goals in rapid succession and tie things up at 2-2. First, Adam Boardman buried the rebound of a Matt Lovejoy shot to make it a one-goal game at the 6:17 mark. Then, at 7:42, a Matt Lovejoy shot missed the net, hit the glass, and bounced back out into play, where Michael Del Mauro, who had initially rushed the puck up ice, fired the rebound past Avon junior goalie Randy Wolcott to make it 2-2.
But a little over a minute later, Del Mauro took an elbowing penalty, and Avon scored the goal that would turn out to be the game winner. Less than a minute into the power play Avon cashed in when Cam Atkinson, uncovered at the far post, picked up a loose puck rolling across the top of the crease and fired it home to make it 3-2.
With 3:39 left, Del Mauro took another penalty, and once again Avon cashed in, as defenseman Kenny Trentowski spotted Bonino at the left of the crease and hit him with a perfect pass. Bonino fired it home for the final 4-2 margin of victory.
After the game, Avon head coach John Gardner said, "It's a good thing we worked hard on the power play, because we executed pretty well." As for allowing Deerfield back into the game in the third period, Gardner said, "We became undisciplined."
Deerfield coach Brendan Creagh said, "We were undisciplined. I thought we played well 5-on-5. And I thought our goalie played well. It was a game of power plays. And we were the less disciplined team."
-- At Byfield, Mass., BB&N came back from a 4-1 deficit on the road to tie Governor Dummer, 4-4. Jeff Fanning (2g,2a) and Leland Fidler (2g,2a) figured in all four BB&N goals. Michael Cerretti had a pair for GDA. GDA outshot BB&N, 50-25. Marc Pulde had 46 saves for BB&N.
-- At Washington, Conn., Pomfret topped Gunnery, 5-1. Brian Flynn (1g,3a), Justin Kemmerer (2g,1a), and Sean Driscoll (1g,2a) led the Pomfret offense. Michael Wenning kicked out 19 of 20 shots for the win.
-- At Marion, Mass., Tabor beat St. Sebastian's to take the Travis Roy Cup. Chris Bower (2g,1a), Charlie Svoboda (1g,1a), Chris Hartzell (1g,1a) led the way for the Seawolves. (For full game story scroll below).
-- At Lawrenceville, NJ, Chris Zaires (2g) and Chris Pronchik (2a) led Lawrenceville to a 6-2 win over Albany Academy.
-- In a neutral site game played at Kingswood-Oxford, #4 Belmont Hill blanked South Kent, 4-0, with Wes Vesprini earning a 43-save shutout. Jake Moscatel (1g,1a), Matt McCollem (1g,1a), and Mark Dube (2a) led the way offensively.
-- At Middletown, RI, St. George's made a statement, giving Brooks its first Div. II loss of the season, a 1-0 decision. David Vandenberg scored the Dragons only goal and sophomore goaltender Sean O'Brien had a 25-save shutout. Brooks goaltender Derek Missert was the hard-luck loser, kicking out 38 of 39.
-- At Gill, Mass., NMH topped Exeter, 6-4, with Miles Winter (3g,1a), Kevin Czepiel (3a), Ryan Crapser (3a), and Tom DiDonato (2g) leading the way. Mike Kelly had two goals for Exeter.
-- At Watertown, Conn., a Corey Griffin overtime goal lifted #3 Taft to a 4-3 win over #8 Hotchkiss. Doug Jones scored Taft's remaining three goals. Andrew Irving had a pair for Hotchkiss.
-- At Concord, Mass., host Middlesex got third period goals from Tom Blake and Christian Ebert to top St. Mark's, 2-1. Joe Hanson kicked out 29 of 30 for the win.
-- At Dedham, Mass., Ryan Maguire (3g,1a), Josh Franklin (2g,1a), Andrew Glass (1g,1a), Matt Rhone (2a), and Chris Huxley (2a) led #2 Nobles past Milton.
-- At Pawling, NY, Kyle Rank had a 24-save shutout as Kent topped Trinity-Pawling, 5-0. Matt Czerkowicz had two goals and one assist.
-- At Windsor, Conn., #1 Salisbury topped Loomis, 5-1 behind an Alex Biega hat trick. Mark Arcobello (1g,1a), Michael Biega (2a), Jeremiah Cunningham (2a), Kevin Quick (2a), and John Cavanagh (2a) also had multiple point efforts.
-- At Groton, Mass., #7 Lawrence blanked Proctor, 7-0. Seth McNary kicked out 37 shots to earn the shutout. Joe Whitney (2g,1a), John Simpson (1g,2a), and Jason Schneider (3a) each had three points.
-- At Plymouth, NH, Holderness and Kimball Union played to a 1-1 tie as KUA senior goaltender Ben Severance (42/43), and Holderness soph Andre Guay (34/35) went mano a mano.
-- At Simsbury, Conn., #9 Westminster edged Choate, 3-2. Jayson Saraceno (2g), Ben Smith (2a), and Jon Wolter (2a) each had two points for Westy. Bryce Shattie kicked out 19 of 21 shots. (For full game story scroll below.)
-- At Weston, Mass., Roxbury Latin topped host Rivers, 3-1. Sophomores Richie Iskra (2g) and Sean McCarthy (2a) led the Roxbury Latin offense. Freshman goalie Matt Walsh kicked out 25 of 26 shots to earn the win.
The blizzard aimed at New England isn't expected to arrive until this evening, so this afternoon's games appear safe. However, Cushing's game at Canterbury, originally scheduled for 6:00 pm, has been moved to 5:00 pm to allow the Penguins to get back to Ashburnham before the storm hits.
Cushing's game vs. Choate scheduled for Sunday at noon has been scratched. Look for it to be rescheduled.
__ Today's Winchendon at Berkshire game has also been cancelled. Because of Berkshire's full schedule over the last two weeks, it is unlikely to be rescheduled.
Tabor Wins Travis Roy Cup
Marion, Mass. – Tabor Academy held off a late rally by St. Sebastian’s to take the 10th annual Travis Roy Cup by a 5-3 score.
Tabor opened the scoring at the 6:41 mark of the first period after St. Sebastian’s turned the puck over in their own end, allowing Chris Bower to walk in alone on Arrows’ goalie Connor Toomey. Bower slid it over to linemate Zach Feiden and Tabor had a 1-0 lead.
The Seawolves came out flying in the second and at 12:11 upped the lead to 2-0 when Trevor Pawliczka tipped a Charlie Svoboda blast from the left point past a screened Toomey.
Several minutes later, Tabor scored with a second left on a 5-on-3 as Svoboda took a wrist shot from the bottom of the right faceoff circle that beat Toomey high.
Tabor outshot the Arrows 17-5 in the second period and took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission.
St. Seb’s finally got on the board 1:06 into the third. Freshman Chris Brown took a nice pass from Jordan Lalor and beat Tabor goaltender Ryan Carroll glove side. Exactly one minute later, though, Tabor got it right back on a Chris Hartzell goal. St. Seb’s answered that by scoring the next two goals, a powerplay goal by Brown at 6:51 and a nifty Doug Rogers goal with 2:32 remaining to make it a one-goal game.
As time wound down, St. Sebastian’s coach Steve Dagdigian called a timeout and pulled Toomey for the extra attacker, but Tabor’s Bower scored into the empty net to make it a 5-3 final.
Tabor outshot St. Sebastian’s, 37-26.
The John A. Cail MVP Award went to Tabor Academy senior defenseman Ben Smith.
Saraceno Leads Westy Past Choate
Simsbury, Conn. -- Jayson Saraceno scored two goals to lead #9 Westminster to a 3-2 win over Choate here this afternoon.
Ben Smith and Jason Wolter each had a pair of assists.
The win, combined with Hotchkiss' 4-3 overtime loss at Taft, puts Westminster at or close to clinching a playoff berth.
The first period, like much of the game, was a cat-and-mouse affair, with each team getting its chances but playing a tight, defensive style. With just under 44 seconds left in the opening stanza, Choate almost broke through when Greg Manz dug the puck out of the left corner, deked a defender and snapped a pass to linemate Pat Kenney, who fired a bullet that hit the shoulder of Westminster goalie Bryce Shattie. However, the puck rebounded out to Wolter, who skated it out of the zone, then passed it to Smith, who was streaking down the right side. Smith took a shot, and the rebound came out to Saraceno, who was going hard to the net. Saraceno poked it home to give Westy a 1-0 lead with 24 seconds left in the period.
Saraceno struck again at 5:30 of the second, banging home a goalmouth pass from defenseman Casey Fazekas. It was Fazekas who originally set the scoring play in motion by cooling picking a Choate clearing attempt out of the air with his stick, and passing it to an open Smith, who one-timed it right back to Fazekas.
Choate cut the lead to 2-1 less than two minutes later when Sam Bozoian knocked a rebound past a sprawling Bryce Shattie.
Westminster, though, regained the two-goal lead at the 13:25 mark. Smith, quarterbacking the power play, whistled a cross-ice pass to Nick Pitsikoulis, who snapped it past Choate goalie Andrew Miller from a very tough angle. Wolter also picked up an assist on the goal. It would also turn out to be the game winner, as the third period was scoreless until Choate pulled Miller for the extra skater and Dan Cohen scored for the Wild Boars with just one second left in the game. -- B.P.
2/8/06 Updated 2/9
Salisbury Comes From Behind to Top Taft
Salisbury, Conn. -- #1-ranked Salisbury scored two goals within a minute in the third period Wednesday to head off an upset by #3-ranked Taft with a come from behind 4-2 victory.
The game was a battle of two top five New England prep teams, and while Salisbury clearly had the edge through much of the game, the scrappy Taft team was able to knock the Crimson Knights off their game on several occasions during the contest.
Salisbury no doubt knew it was in for a battle early in the first period when it was unable to score on two power plays. Even though Salisbury outshot Taft 14-5 in the opening period, nothing got by Taft goalie Andrew Margolin.
Taft came out strong in the second period, gained the momentum and took the lead at the 6:27 mark when sophomore Andrew Balysky poked in a goal mouth pass from Bobby Kramer during a Taft power play. But the lead was short-lived for, only 51 seconds later, Salisbury defenseman Dan Reed fed a perfect pass from the right point to Will Ortiz, who was stationed at the left corner of the crease. Ortiz shot it into upper left corner to tie the game at 1-1. Margolin had no chance on the goal, which came at 7:18.
But Taft regained the lead at the 11:43 mark when Jeremy Dwyer took a cross-crease pass from Max Pacioretty and slammed it past Salisbury sophomore goaltender Anthony Borelli for the go-ahead goal. Taft, having outshot Salisbury 11-7 in the period, took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission.
Early in the third period, Taft's scrappy play kept Salisbury at bay. Perhaps overly anxious, Salisbury made some basic mistakes, including unnecessary icings, which brought the puck back to the Salisbury end several times. However, with just under seven minutes left in regulation, Salisbury regained control of the game when Greg Collins fed a pass across the crease to Mark Arcobello, who neatly placed a shot over Margolin's shoulder and just under the crossbar at 11:13 to tie the game at 2-2. Fifty seconds later, Paul Carey notched the game winner, with assists going to Sean Sylvester and Ben Ketchum.
Eager to tie up the game, Taft forward Jack Downing took a penalty, and Salisbury cashed in on the ensuing power play as Paul Carey, from the edge of the crease, converted a perfect pass from John Cavanagh to put his team up by 4-2 with 3:13 left to play.
As the game wound down toward the final minute, there was a scrum in front of the Taft goal as Salisbury players swarmed all over Margolin. Taft's Jerome Wallace was ejected from the game for unsportsmanlike conduct when he body slammed a Salisbury player in front of the goal. Two other Taft players, Doug Jones and Corey Griffin, and a Salisbury player, Nick Jaskowiak, received minor penalties in the dust-up.
Total shots in the game were 39-19 in favor of Salisbury.
Salisbury head coach Dan Donato was relieved at the end of the game.
"I think we played solid," said Donato. "Taft is a very good team, and Danny Murphy has done a great job coaching them. I was proud of the way we came out in the third period, found our legs, and got the job done. If we can get 35-40 shots off on a quality team like this, then we can be proud of our performance." -- T.M.
Correction 2/9/06: Taft's Jerome Wallace was not, as reported above, ejected from this game for body-slamming a Salisbury player. What he actually did was cross-check Salisbury defenseman Nick Jaskowiak in the face after the whistle. And while he was indeed ejected from the game, it was not by the referee. It was his coach, Dan Murphy, who sent him to the dressing room. In an e-mail today, Murphy described Wallace's actions as "totally uncharacteristic of Jerome Wallace and Taft hockey," adding that they showed "a lack of sportsmanship and inappropriate behavior in the face of adversity."
"It is safe to say," Murphy wrote, "that Jerome and our team learned a very valuable lesson yesterday in handling adversity in the closing minutes of a very good prep school hockey game."
Brisebois Goal Lifts St. Paul's
Milton, Mass. -- A second period goal by junior LW Francois Brisebois broke a 1-1 tie here today and lifted St. Paul's School to a 2-1 win over Milton Academy.
St. Paul's junior goalie Tyler O'Brien kicked out 23 of 24 shots for the win.
Milton took an early lead in this game, as John Bellotti scored on a rebound at 4:42 of the first.
St. Paul's began the second on the power play and scored just 54 seconds in as sophomore Jason Bourgea knocked home the rebound of a shot from the left point by Kevin Kaiser to make it a 1-1 game. Brisebois picked up an assist as well.
On the winning goal, which came at the 10:58 mark of the second, sophomore Cameron Lanoue took it to the net and dropped a pass for Brisebois, who deked Milton junior goalie Bryan Mountain and slid the puck by him for what would turn out to be the game-winner.
Milton worked hard in the third in an attempt to tie the game up, outshooting St. Paul's 15-5 in the period, but failing to get the equalizer.
"I thought we played a great second period," said St. Paul's head coach Tim Pratt. "Other than that, this was not our best effort."
Milton head coach Paul Cannata was happier with his players' effort.
"It was another close game for us," he said. "Bryan Mountain played very well, and we continue to plug away. There's a lot to like from this group."
-- At Avon, Conn., Gunnery got goals from four different scorers and senior goaltender Pat Street kicked out 33 of 35 shots in a 4-2 upset of #5 Avon Old Farms.
-- At Southborough, Mass., Brooks held off St. Mark's, 5-4, to remain unbeaten in Div. II play. Leading the way offensively for Brooks were Ryan Riffe (2g,1a), Bobby Farnham (2g), Eric Vachon (1g,1a), Kevin Izzo (2a), and Jake Hoefler (2a). For St. Mark's Harrison Biggs (2g,1a), Kevin Erving (2a), and Andrew Smith (2a) were the big producers.
-- At Greenwich, Conn., senior John Harvey notched a hat trick and freshman Matt Chase had a goal and an assist to lead Brunswick over Kingswood-Oxford, 5-1.
-- At Simsbury, Conn., two late third period goals by Jayson Saraceno allowed #9 Westminster to come back from a 4-2 deficit and earn a 4-4 tie with #8 Hotchkiss. Saraceno, who scored another goal in the third period, also had an assist, giving him a four-point day. Ben Smith (1g,3a) also had four points for Westminster. Both goalies in the game, Hotchkiss' Ryan Moses and Westy's Bryce Shattie, kicked out 25 of 29 shots.
-- At West Roxbury, Mass., Christian Ebert (1g,3a) Zach O'Donnell (2g), and Michael Pearce (1g,1a) led the way as Middlesex topped host Roxbury Latin, 5-2. Joe Hanson kicked out 28 of 30 shots for the win.
-- At Marion, Mass., Tabor upset #6 Cushing, 4-3. Jamie Jelinek (2g), Zach Feiden (3a), and Chris Bower (2a) led the way for the Seawolves. Junior Ryan Carroll made 33 saves for Tabor, who were outshot 36-23.
--At New Hampton, NH, Ryan Fitzpatrick (2g,1a) and Joe Trimboli (3a) led New Hampton to a 4-1 win over Kent's Hill.
-- At Wallingford, Conn., Justin Mitchell's late third period goal lifted host Choate to a 2-1 win over Pomfret. Andrew Miller kicked out 30 shots for the Wild Boars.
-- At Middletown, RI, St. George's outshot Rivers by a better than 2-to-1 margin, but had to settle for a 1-1 tie as Rivers senior goalie Scott Barchard came up with a 58-save effort.
-- At Sheffield, Mass., Kent got a pair of third period goals 19 seconds apart off the sticks of Matt Czerkowicz and Jon Schanke to turn a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 road win over Berkshire.
-- At Stamford, Conn., Zach Rosenthal (1g,2a) and John Scavelli (1g,2a) led the Harvey School to a 7-2 win over King & Low.
-- At Gill, Mass., host NMH crushed Williston-Northampton, 7-3. Leading the way for the Hoggers were Miles Winter (4a), Tom DiPieto (2g,1a), Kevin Czepiel (2g,1a), Ryan Crapser (1g,2a), and Oliver Drake (3a).
-- At Pawling, NY, an overtime goal by Ryan Kupperman led visiting Canterbury to a 6-5 win over Trinity-Pawling. Kupperman also had three assists in the game.
-- At Saxtons River, Vt., host Vermont Academy got goals from six different scorers in a 6-2 win over St. Thomas More. VA had a 56-7 edge in shots.
-- At Groton, Mass., #7 Lawrence Academy topped Thayer, 5-3. Joe Whitney (2g,1a) and Jason Schneider (1g,2a) led the way offensively while junior Justin Gates stopped 35 of 38 shots for the win.
-- At N. Bridgton, Maine, Nick Montour of Kahnawake, Quebec broke a 3-3 tie with 2:20 remaining in regulation to lead host Bridgton past Berwick, 5-3.
-- At Exeter, NH, host Exeter easily handled Pingree, winning 7-2 as Michael Doherty (2g,1a), Chris Downer (2g,1a), and Nick Downer (3a) each had three points apiece.
-- At Andover, NH, visiting Hoosac scored five third-period goals in a an 8-3 win over Proctor. Jamy Lapointe (3g,1a) led the Owls attack.
-- At Salisbury, Conn., the #1 Salisbury topped #3 Taft, 4-2. For the full story, scroll down to the article below this one.
Brooks Still #1 in USHR Div. II Poll
The Brooks School remains undefeated vs. Div. II opponents and once again sits atop this week's USHR Div. II Prep Poll.
USHR Div. II Prep Poll
Updated Playoff ScenarioIn less than three weeks, the regular season will be over and we will know the playoff pairings for this year's NEPSIHA playoffs. As of today, six of the eight teams look like solid choices. In the east, Nobles, Cushing, and Belmont Hill are in excellent shape as the season turns into the homestretch. Out west, Salisbury, Taft, and Avon Old Farms are solidly in playoff position. Nobles and Salisbury look to be solid #1 seeds; the #2-3 seeds will likely not be decided until the final weekend.
In both conferences, the fourth -- and final -- seed is still definitely up for grabs. Exeter holds a slight lead over Andover for the final eastern playoff spot, while Westminster occupies the final playoff berth in the west and will look to hold off Hotchkiss and South Kent.
Here is what the standings look like (top eight teams listed):
1. Nobles (4)
2. Cushing (7)
3. Belmont Hill (7)
4. Exeter (13)
5. Andover (15)
6. St. Seb's (19)
7. Lawrence (23)
8. Tilton (24)
1. Salisbury (3)
2. Taft (8)
3. Avon (8)
4. Westminster (13)
5. Hotchkiss (18)
6. South Kent (18)
7. Winchendon (20)
8. Choate (21)
While we don't want to focus too much on numbers -- the games are decided on the ice, after all -- there are some interesting stories to be told by looking at the strengths of schedule of the different schools. While certain teams are perennially tough, for many teams in prep hockey, their chance for success depends on a number of factors that are impossible to sort out before the season starts. So, it is difficult to know with any degree of certainty -- in advance -- whether any particular team is going to face a hard or easy schedule before the season gets rolling.
But, at this point in the season, we can see which teams have faced a tougher road so far. We have been tracking every team's strength of schedule as measured by the average winning percentages of its opponents. Of the top teams in the playoff hunt, Westminster, Taft, Avon, South Kent, Hotchkiss, Salisbury, and Winchendon all have strengths of schedule below .500. In other words, their opponents have, on average, records of under .500. In the east, the same is true for Cushing, Exeter, and Lawrence. Conversely, Belmont Hill, Nobles, and Andover have played tough schedules, with strengths of schedule above .500. The same is true for Choate in the west.
And what exactly constitutes a "tough schedule?" Perhaps it's worth keeping in mind that, given that conference games make up the bulk of most teams' schedules, a sub-.500 team in one conference may be better than an over-.500 team in another. So tough schedule becomes a relative term, dependent to some degree on the overall strength of a particular conference.
What does all this ultimately mean? Not much, given the way playoff criteria are set up. And just because teams have played relatively weak schedules does not make them undeserving of a playoff bid. If they win all those games, more power to them. Still, it's revealing to see how schedule strengths correlate with playoff positions and season success. -- S.S.
Salisbury Holding Onto #1 Spot in USHR Prep Poll
The Salisbury School once again holds the #1 spot in this week's USHR Div. I Prep Poll.
USHR Div. I Prep Poll -- Feb. 6, 2006
(updated 2/7 with game added for 2/9. Start time for Milton @ Nobles on Saturday is now back to original time of 4:00 pm.)
This Week's Games
Wed. Feb. 08, 2006:
Holderness @ Tilton, 2:00
Hotchkiss @ Westminster, 2:30
Taft @ Salisbury, 2:30
Gunnery @ Avon Old Farms, 2:30
Williston-Northampton @ Northfield Mt. Hermon, 2:30
Kent @ Berkshire, 3:00
Brooks @ St. Mark's, 3:00
St. Paul's @ Milton, 3:15
Cushing @ Tabor, 3:30
Portsmouth Abbey @ Groton, 3:30
Middlesex @ Roxbury Latin, 3:40
Andover @ Kimball Union, 3:45
Wyoming Seminary @ South Kent, 4:00
Kingswood-Oxford @ Brunswick, 4:00
Berwick @ Bridgton, 4:00
Kent's Hill @ New Hampton, 4:00
Millbrook @ Albany Academy, 4:00
Trinity-Pawling @ Canterbury, 4:00
Pingree @ Exeter, 4:00
Rivers @ St. George's, 4:00
Kingswood-Oxford @ Brunswick, 4:15
Loomis-Chaffee @ Deerfield, 4:30
Harvey @ King & Low-Heywood Thomas, 4:30
St. Thomas More @ Vermont Academy, 4:30
Belmont Hill @ St. Sebastian's, 4:30
Pomfret @ Choate, 5:00
Thayer @ Lawrence, 5:00
Hoosac @ Proctor, 5:00 Moved up to 4:00 pm
Noble & Greenough @ Governor Dummer, 5:15
Germantown Academy @ Hill School, 5:45
Thu. Feb. 09, 2006:
South Kent @ Williston-Northampton, 4:00
Proctor @ Exeter, 4:00 Makeup of 1/23 snow day
Fri. Feb. 10, 2006:
Pingree @ Roxbury Latin, 3:45
Kimball Union @ St. Paul's, 4:30
Gunnery @ Loomis-Chaffee, 4:30
Brewster @ New Hampton, 4:30
Governor Dummer @ Andover, 4:45
St. Sebastian's @ Milton, 4:45
Tilton @ Lawrence, 5:00
Brunswick @ Hoosac, 5:00
Thayer @ Belmont Hill, 5:00
Harvey @ Vermont Academy, 7:00
Nichols @ Wyoming Seminary, 7:00
Robert F. Hall School @ Shady Side Academy, 7:30
Sat. Feb. 11, 2006:
Roxbury Latin @ Rivers, 12:00
Robert F. Hall School @ Shady Side Academy, 12:00
Pingree @ Kent's Hill, 1:00
Kingswood-Oxford @ Vermont Academy, 1:30
St. Mark's @ Middlesex, 2:00
Harvey @ New Hampton, 2:00
St. Sebastian's @ Tabor, 2:00 (Travis Roy Cup)
Avon Old Farms @ Deerfield, 2:30
Choate @ Westminster, 2:30
Brooks @ St. George's, 2:45
Nichols @ Hill School, 3:00
Kimball Union @ Holderness, 3:30
Proctor @ Lawrence, 3:30
Berkshire @ Winchendon, 4:00
Wyoming Seminary @ Berwick, 4:00
BB&N @ Governor Dummer, 4:00
Salisbury @ Loomis-Chaffee, 4:00
Milton @ Noble & Greenough, 4:00
Albany Academy @ Lawrenceville, 4:00
Hotchkiss @ Taft, 4:30
Pomfret @ Gunnery, 4:30
Exeter @ Northfield Mt. Hermon, 4:30
Williston-Northampton @ Millbrook, 4:30
Hebron @ Brewster, 5:15
NSA @ Worcester Academy, 6:00 (@ NESC)
Cushing @ Canterbury, 6:00
NYA @ Hebron, 6:45
South Kent vs. Belmont Hill, 7:00 (@ Kingswood-Oxford)
Kent @ Trinity-Pawling, 7:00
Sun. Feb. 12, 2006:
Nichols @ Lawrenceville, 12:00
Cushing @ Choate, 12:00
Albany Academy @ Hill, 1:00
Winchendon @ Canterbury, 1:00
Wyoming Seminary @ Worcester Academy, 4:00
Mon. Feb. 13, 2006:
Berkshire @ Millbrook, 4:45
St. George's @ Portsmouth Abbey, 6:00
Milton Ties Up #8 Exeter
Milton, Mass. -- Milton Academy, with only three Div. I wins on their record, their top D-man, Mike Matczak, out with a broken arm and their top forward, Keith Nelson, moved back to defense, toughed out a 3-3 tie against #8-ranked Exeter here today.
Milton almost pulled off the win, as they took a 3-2 lead at 7:04 of the third period when freshman forward Kyle Mountain chased down a dump-in and, with the puck sliding toward the corner, slapped it at a tough angle toward the net where it caught Exeter goaltender Jonathan Lee by surprise, tucking itself inside the post.
With 1:47 in regulation, Exeter head coach Dana Barbin called a time out. With the faceoff in the Milton end, he pulled Lee for the extra attacker. It worked like a charm as the puck came back to Princeton recruit Kevin Crane at the right point. Crane saw Michael Doherty down low, to the side of the crease. Doherty, when the puck wound up on his stick, wasted no time with it, tucking it behind Milton junior goalie Bryan Mountain, who had a strong game for the Mustangs today.
A frenetic overtime period ensued. Neither team was playing for the tie. In the five minute extra session, 11 shots were taken on net, seven by Milton and four by Exeter. With ten seconds left Exeter defenseman Kevin McCarthy, a Dartmouth recruit with as hard a shot as we’ve seen in prep hockey this year, had the puck alone in the slot and teed it up. For a second, it looked like Exeter's game right there, but the shot went wide left, and the teams settled for a tie.
”This was our sixth overtime game this season,” said Milton coach Paul Cannata afterward. “Plus it was out twelfth game in which the difference was one goal or less. So the kids are competing. They played hard. They’re scratching and clawing.”
Five of the six goals in the game came on the power play – two of Exeter’s, and all of Milton’s, including a 5-on-3.
"I'm always after our guys to stay out of the penalty box," Exeter head coach Dana Barbin said."I give Milton credit. They played a fine game. But when you look at the two teams and the relative postion they're in, we should have gotten a W today."
Earlier, Milton broke out to a 1-0 lead with 1:23 left in the first period. Skating with a 5-on-3 advantage, sophomore Geoff Mucha, from the goal line, passed it out front to Brandon Nunn who knocked it home for a 1-0 lead. Exeter, while outshot in the period, had a strong territorial edge but didn't do much with it.
McCarthy tied it up for Exeter with a power play blast from the right point 22 seconds into the second period.
However, a little over five minutes later, Milton went up 2-1 when Mucha, on the power play, came down the right side and from out by the blue line put a low shot on net that beat Milton starter Teddy Hume, who was immediately pulled and replaced by Lee, who manned the Exeter net for the rest of the day.
Exeter tied it up at 7:09, again on the power play, when Michael Doherty, from the goal line, found Nick Downer out by the faceoff circle. Downer fired it home to tie the game at 2-2.
The second period belonged to Exeter, as they outshot Milton, 12-5.
That set up the third, and the overtime. All in all, an entertaining game, with each Milton goal being answered by Exeter, and plenty of up-and-down play leading up to a wild OT.
-- At Pottstown, Pa., Lawrenceville blanked host Hill, 4-0. Christopher Zaires led the L'ville attack with two goals. Thomas Scocozza and Robert Doyle added single goals. Junior Cody McKinney kicked out 21 shots to earn the shutout.
-- At Cambridge, Mass., BB&N sophomore goaltender Joe Cannata stopped 40 of 42 shots to lead his team to a 2-2 tie with Andover. BB&N got goals from Dave Casey and Wil Hartigan while Andover countered with goals from Chris Cahill and Joe Smith. Andover outshot BB&N, 42-20.
-- At Meriden, NH, Holderness topped KUA, 5-1. Lukas Andersen David (1g,2a) and Aki Uola (1g,1a) led the way offensively for Holderness. Colin Edge stopped 27 of 28 shots for the win.
-- At Saxton's River, Vt., Vermont Academy topped Hoosac 4-2 behind two-point efforts from Austin DeLonge (1g,1a) and Brian Gibbons (2a). Kyle Hardy (1g,1a) had two points for Hoosac.
-- At Marion, Mass., host Tabor topped NMH, 4-1. Jamie Jelinek (1g,1a) and Chris Bower (2a) led the Seawolves attack. Ryan Carroll kicked out 20 shots for the win.
-- At South Hamilton, Mass., Drew Tunney, Justin Letizia, and John Harvey scored the goals and Charlie Kirchen made 19 save to lead Brunswick to a 3-1 win over Pingree.
-- At Winchendon, Mass., Nick Quagliani scored a hat trick in Winchendon's 7-2 home win over Albany Academy.
-- At Middletown, RI, Jeff Ryan (2g,1a) led the way as St. George's topped Roxbury Latin, 5-3.
-- At Worcester, Mass., Brandon Goodnow (1g,2a), J.T. Leary (2g), and Bobby Barrett (1g,1a) put up the points and sophomore Nick Blanchette kicked out 28 of 29 to lead Worcester Academy to a 4-1 win over Portsmouth Abbey.
-- At Groton, Mass., Zach Miller (2g,1a) and David Orlowitz (1g,2a) were the offensive leaders and Greg Parker came up with a 36-save shutout to lead Groton to a 4-0 win over St. Mark's.
-- At Andover, NH, Matt Robertson (2g,2a), Neil Ruffini (2g,2a), Ian Flanagan (2a), and Tyler Violette (2a) lead Proctor Academy to a 5-1 win over Rivers.
This Week's Games
Wed. Feb. 1, 2006:
Kent's Hill @ Hebron, 2:00
Westminster @ Avon Old Farms, 2:30
Taft @ Kent, 2:30
Tilton @ Winchendon, 3:00
Exeter @ Holderness, 3:00
Gunnery @ Millbrook, 3:00
St. George's @ Middlesex, 3:15
Brooks @ Berwick, 3:30
Salisbury @ Trinity-Pawling, 3:45
Groton @ Rivers, 3:45
Kingswood-Oxford @ Rye Country Day, 4:00
Albany Academy @ South Kent, 4:00
Bridgton @ Proctor, 4:00
Noble & Greenough @ Thayer, 4:00 (@ Canton Sportsplex)
Portsmouth Abbey @ St. Thomas More, 4:00
New Hampton @ Stanstead College, 4:00
Deerfield @ Andover, 4:00
Hoosac @ Brunswick, 4:00
Northfield Mt. Hermon @ Kimball Union, 4:15
Canterbury @ Berkshire, 4:15
Williston-Northampton @ Loomis-Chaffee, 4:15
Vermont Academy @ Brewster, 4:30
BB&N @ St. Sebastian's, 4:30
Lawrence @ Belmont Hill, 4:30
Lawrenceville @ Wyoming Seminary, 4:30
St. Paul's @ Governor Dummer, 5:00
Pomfret @ Cushing, 5:00
Choate @ Hotchkiss, 5:00
Roxbury Latin @ St. Mark's, 5:00
North Yarmouth Academy @ Milton, 6:00
Thu. Feb. 2, 2006:
Kimball Union @ Vermont Academy, 4:00
Gunnery @ Pomfret, 4:30
Harvey @ Kingswood-Oxford, 4:45
Fri. Feb. 3, 2006:
Cushing @ Holderness, 3:30
Rivers @ St. Mark's, 3:45
St. Sebastian's @ Lawrence, 3:45
St. Thomas More @ Harvey, 4:00
Berwick @ Worcester Academy, 5:00 (@ NESC)
Pingree @ Portsmouth Abbey, 5:00
Andover @ Belmont Hill, 5:00
St. Paul's @ Noble & Greenough, 5:30
Proctor @ Tilton, 6:00
Sat. Feb. 4, 2006:
Andover @ BB&N, 1:00
St. Mark's @ Groton, 1:30
Northfield Mt. Hermon @ Tabor, 1:30
Pingree vs. Brunswick, 1:30 (@Kingswood-Oxford)
New Hampton vs. St. Thomas More, 1:30
Governor Dummer @ Thayer, 2:00
Middlesex @ Brooks, 2:00
Exeter @ Milton, 2:00
Roxbury Latin @ St. George's, 2:00
Lawrenceville @ Hill School, 2:00
Albany Academy @ Winchendon, 3:00
Hoosac @ Vermont Academy, 3:00
Holderness @ Kimball Union, 3:30
Rivers @ Proctor, 4:00
Tilton @ Bridgton, 4:00
Portsmouth Abbey @ Worcester Academy, 4:00
Shady Side Academy @ Wyoming Seminary, 5:00
Sun. Feb. 5, 2006:
Shady Side Academy @ Lawrenceville School, 1:00
Bridgton @ Winchendon, 1:15
Mon. Feb. 6, 2006:
Portsmouth Abbey @ BB&N, 5:45
Moody Stepping Down
Berkshire School head hockey coach Alex Moody will resign his position at the end of the season, at which time the Sheffield, Mass. boarding school will begin a search for a new teacher/head coach.
Moody, who is in his third year at Berkshire, made an appointment to see head of school Mike Maher last week, and told Maher he wished to leave the school at the end of the academic year and return to the Boston area, where his family is from.
“It was his decision, not mine,” Maher said. “I feel really strongly that it is communicated as such and not based on any speculation. I really like this guy a lot.”
“I was pretty surprised,” Maher added. “He didn’t project any outward signs that he was thinking of leaving.”
Maher did admit that there was discontent among some parents of hockey players at the school. When asked if that may have been a reason for Moody’s decision to leave, Maher said, “I’m only surmising, but I think it became wearying. But I don’t think it was the main reason. It was more just a personal decision.”
Moody was scheduled to tell the team of his decision today. Berkshire, which has a 4:15 pm home game against Canterbury, is 8-13-5, but has lost three in a row since beating Avon Old Farms on Jan. 21.
Moody was unavailable for comment this afternoon.
Maher, who had great success during his years as head coach at Taft, nixed any suggestion that he would return behind the bench, saying there was no connection between the two events.
“You can dispel any rumors that (the new coach) will be me,” he said. “I’m not in a position to do that now.”
Moody, a former Governor Dummer goaltender who went on to the USHL for a year before attending Colby, where he was captain his senior year, also coached at the Brooks School and, before that, was an assistant under Andy Murray at Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
Moody, hired in 2003 by the late Larry Piatelli, for whom he played at GDA, was 13-24-2 in ’03-04, and 19-15-1 in ’04-05.
Moody will continue at Berkshire through the end of the academic year, finishing up with the hockey team, teaching math, and coaching JV lacrosse.
Exeter's Doherty Notches Eight Points
-- At Avon, Conn., #5 Avon Old Farms scored three third period goals in a span of less than four minutes to break a 1-1 tie and top #7 Westminster for the second time in as many weeks.
-- At Hebron, Maine, Div. II power Hebron crushed Kent's Hill, 11-0. Jordan Krusch (6g,1a), Jason Butler (1g,6a), Oleksandr Romanenko (1g,3a), Josh Taylor (1g,3a), Dmytro Naida (1g,3a), and Erik Rousseau (1g,2a) lead Hebron's attack.
-- At Kent, Conn., Max Pacioretty (2g,1a) figured in all three Taft goals as the #4-ranked Rhinos topped host Kent, 3-1. Andrew Margolin kicked out 25 of 26.
-- At Greenwich, Conn., host Brunswick came back from a 2-0 deficit with five unanswered goals, each from a different scorer, to top Hoosac, 5-2. Freshman Michael Petchonka had 30 saves in the win.
-- At South Kent, Conn., Joe Pereira (2g,1a) lead the way offensively and Sergiy Sorokolat kicked out 28 of 30 for the win as South Kent topped Albany Academy, ,5-2.
-- At Concord, Mass., Middlesex topped St. George's, 6-2, behind the offensive punch of Zach O'Donnell (1g,3a), Christian Ebert (2g,1a), and Scooter Dudley (1gt,1a). Joe Hanson kicked out 36 of 38 for the win.
-- At Millbrook, NY, Scott Arnold (2g,1a) and Taylor Vit (1g,2a) led host Millbrook past Gunnery, 4-1. Adam Zippin stopped 26 shots for the win.
-- At Andover, NH, Matt Robertson (4g), Neil Ruffini (4a), Ian Flanagan (3a), and Chris Leach (1g,1a) led Proctor past Bridgton, 5-2. Josh Rosenholtz kicked out 33 of 35 for the win.
-- At Sheffield, Mass., Mike Saucier stopped 29 shots in a 3-0 blanking of host Berkshire. Kurt Garceau (2g,1a) figured in all three Canterbury goals, while Ryan Kupperman (1g,1a) and Pat Noonan (2a) each had two points.
-- At Winchendon, Mass., Brandon Castro scored an OT goal to lift host Winchendon to a 3-2 win over Tilton.
-- At Plymouth, NH, Michael Doherty (3g,5a) had an eight-point night while Nick Downer (3g,3a) and Chris Downer (1g,5a) each added six points apiece as #8 Exeter drubbed Holderness, 11-2.
-- At Canton, Mass., John Muse kicked out 31 shots as #2 Nobles shut out host Thayer, 3-0. Matt Rhone (2g) and Ryan Maguire (2a) led the attack for Nobles.
-- At Meriden, NH, a Miles Winter OT goal lifted NMH to a 4-3 win over host Kimball Union.
-- At Southborough, Mass., Matt Mason kicked out 31 of 33 shots to lead host St. Mark's to a 3-2 win over Roxbury Latin. Kevin Erving (1g,1a) and Harrison Biggs (2a) led the way offensively.
-- At Pawling, NY, #1-ranked Salisbury crushed Trinity-Pawling, 7-1. John Cavanagh (2g,1a), Paul Carey (2g), and Mark Arcobello (1g,1a) were the big offensive contributors.
-- At Belmont, Mass., in an excellent game, #3 Belmont Hill and #10 Lawrence Academy battled to a 3-3 draw. Wes Vesprini kicked out 36 shots for Bel Hill, while Justin Gates stopped 29 for LA. Brett Moore (1g,1a) and Sean Buckely (2a) had multiple points for Lawrence. Jake Moscatel (1g,1a) was Belmont's top gun.
-- At South Hamilton, Mass., Brandon Goodnow (1g,1a) and goaltender Matt Whitney (27 saves) led Worcester Academy to a 3-2 win over host Pingree.
-- At Byfield, Mass., host Gov. Dummer was blanked 3-0 by St. Paul's, which got a 25 save shutout from Tyler O'Brien and goals from three different scorers.
-- At Andover, Mass., J.P. Martignetti (3g,1a), Chris Cahill (2g,2a), Tommy Dignard (1g,2a), and Paul Scola (3a) led host Andover past Deerfield Academy, 6-3.
-- At South Berwick, Maine, Brooks, ranked #1 in Div. II, edged Berwick 1-0 on a first-period goal by defenseman Kevin Izzo. Derek Missert picked up a 15-save shutout.
-- At Oakdale, Conn., Portsmouth Abbey crushed St. Thomas More, 12-1. Bryan Abraham (1g,6a), Bryan Kriner (2g,3a), Jesse Estok (1g,4a), Rob Turner (3g,1a), Chris Thompson (2g,2a), and Jake Domos (1g,2a) were the big guns for PA.
-- At Ashburnham, Mass., host Cushing, ranked #6, was down 2-0 late in the second period, but came back with three unanswered goals. The third goal, the game-winner, came off the stick of Broc Little with 1:27 remaining.
-- In Kingston, PA, Lawrenceville topped host Wyoming Seminary, 4-1, as Codey McKinney stopped 20 of 21 and Laim Teer (2g) and Zachary Diaco (2a) led the offense.