Established 1996


Quarterfinal Predictions

We have twelve games on tap this afternoon, a number of which are intriguing matchups. Here are our predictions, along with each team's chances of winning.

Stuart/Corkery Tournament (AKA Elite 8)

#8 Brunswick @ #1 Avon Old Farms, 3:30 pm -- Brunswick's style is to pack it in and hope goaltender Brian Ketchabaw plays out of his mind. To win, Brunswick must also score the first goal. They don't have enough firepower to come from behind against a team as powerful as Avon. Avon's chances: 94%. Brunswick's chances: 6%. 

#7 Loomis @ #2 Kimball Union, 4:00 pm -- KUA can overwhelm opponents with firepower. Loomis's hopes revolve around playing peerless team D and hoping goalie Tim Birarelli steals one, much like he did vs. Salisbury a couple weeks ago. KUA's chances: 85%. Loomis's chances: 15%.

#6 Milton @ #3 Exeter, 5:00 pm -- Exeter has too much depth to mount a comeback against, so look for Milton to come out hard and throw everything they have at their hosts right from the opening faceoff. Goalie Ethan Domokos is the key for Milton's chances at an upset. Exeter's chances: 78%. Milton's chances: 22%.

#5 Gunnery @ #4 Salisbury, 3:00 pm -- Salisbury's hopes for a four-peat could get KO'd right here. Both teams are sound, and playing strong hockey down the stretch. Gustaf Westlund is out of action for Gunnery. Salisbury's chances: 55%. Gunnery's chances: 45%.

Martin/Earl Tournament (Large School)

#8 Nobles @ #1 Cushing, 4:45 pm -- We have a feeling a lot of goals will be scored in this one -- by both teams: Cushing's chances: 59%. Nobles' chances: 41%.

#7 St. Sebastian's @ #2 Westminster, 3:45 pm -- Westminster has a core of seniors that is likely to be too much for the young Arrows. Westminster's chances: 80%. St. Seb's chances: 20%.

#6 Belmont Hill @ #3 Proctor, 4:15 pm -- On paper, a very tough one to call. Belmont Hill has been streaky all season, but has played better the past couple of weeks. Proctor has home ice. Pappalardo and Walsh will have to come up big. Proctor's chances: 55%. Bel Hill's chances: 45%.

#5 Tabor @ #4 Thayer, 4:00 pm -- This could be a very good game. Thayer's late rush for an Elite 8 slot came up a bit short. We imagine the Tigers will have a huge chip on their shoulder after Saturday's 3-2 loss to Seb's. Thayer's chances: 67%. Tabor's chances: 33%.

Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small School)

#8 Canterbury @ #1 Rivers, 3:00 pm -- Rivers has a 12-game undefeated streak going (10-0-2), while Canterbury is 2-7-0 over last nine games. Rivers' chances: 97%. Canterbury's chances: 3%. 

#7 St. George's @ #2 St. Mark's, 4:30 pm -- The teams split their season series, with St. George's winning last Wednesday's game 4-1 behind a 45-save effort from Jr. G Shane Conlon. He might have to repeat that for the Dragons to have a chance. St. Mark's chances: 82%. St. George's chances: 18%.

#6 New Hampton @ #3 Brooks, 5:15 pm -- New Hampton edged Brooks in December, 6-5, in a physical, penalty-filled game. That kind of a game doesn't play to Brooks's strengths. Brooks's chances: 56%. New Hampton's chances: 44%.

#5 Lawrence @ #4 Dexter, 3:30 pm -- This one's a tough call, and should be a good one from a spectator's point of view. We'll go with Dexter. Dexter's chances: 58%. Lawrence's chances: 42%. 

Semifinals -- Sat. March 5
At campus sites

Stuart/Corkery Tournament (AKA Elite 8)
1/8 winner vs. 4/5 winner
3/6 winner vs. 2/7 winner

Martin/Earl Tournament (Large School)
1/8 winner vs. 4/5 winner
3/6 winner vs. 2/7 winner

Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small School)
1/8 winner vs. 4/5 winner
3/6 winner vs. 2/7 winner

Championship Games -- Sun. March 6
at St. Anselm College; Manchester, NH

Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small School), 12:00 pm
Martin/Earl Tournament (Large School), 2:30 pm
Stuart/Corkery Tournament (AKA Elite 8), 5:00 pm


Championship Sunday: Gunnery Wears the Crown

NEPSAC Championship Games
Sun. March 6, 2016
At St. Anselm College; Manchester, NH

Stuart/Corkery Tournament (AKA Elite 8):
Gunnery 3, Milton 2

Goffstown, NH -- In a tense, highly-competitive title game between two teams with more similarities than differences, Gunnery won its first Div. I title with a 3-2 win over Milton Academy here Sunday.

Gunnery, which won Div. II titles in ’87, ’89 and ’90, had been close before, most recently two years ago at Yale when, trailing 2-0 with less than six minutes remaining, they mounted a late third-period comeback to tie the game and send it to OT, where Evan Smith and Derek Barach combined on a goal that gave Salisbury the title. Three players from that team were on his year’s team: goaltender Trevin Kozlowski, defenseman Connor Dahlman, and forward Chad Varney.

The coach that year was Chris Baudo, who took over a moribund Gunnery program in 2003 and brought it to prominence, with five Elite 8 appearances in his final six years. His long-time assistants were Pete Whitney, who took the head coaching position at Post University last summer, and Craig Badger, who took over the reins from Baudo – and now, in his first year, has won a championship.

Sunday’s title game, between #5-6 seeds, might have flipped the natural order of things for those expecting Avon, Salisbury, or KUA to be on hand. But make no mistake. These teams had to knock off some heavyweights to get here. Milton has zero Div. I commits. Gunnery has several – goaltender Trevin Kozlowski (Army), and forwards Cam Donaldson (Cornell) and Jordan Robert (Clarkson). Swedish forward Gustaf Westlund, also a top soccer player, will certainly join that group, and could well be an NHL draft pick in June. But Gunnery is a lot like Milton in that they are both well-coached and feature quality forwards who keep their feet moving, play both ways, value puck possession, and are strong in transition. They don’t tee it up mindlessly, preferring to work it down low. Each team has excellent goaltenders. It all adds up to a win for the fans.

In the first period, Gunnery was the stronger team 5x5, and generated several good scoring chances that Milton goalie Ethan Domokos was able to handle. Milton had two power plays, however. But Gunnery goaltender Trevin Kozlowski stood tall, and the teams went to the first intermission tied at 0-0.

In the second, 3:40 in, Trevor Turnbull scored a rebound goal, with assists going to Andrew Dumaresque and Spencer Fox to put Milton up 1-0.

Gunnery got it back less than two minutes later when Gustaf Westlund split the Milton D with an eye-popping move and dished a nifty backhand pass to Cam Donaldson, who buried it.

With the game at 1-1 Milton’s Spencer Fox had a great turnaround chance midway through the second, but no dice.

The key goal of the game came with 1:42 left in the second, when Gunnery’s Daniel Haider carried the puck into the zone wide while linemate Evan Johnson drove hard down the slot. Somehow, Haider got the puck to Johnson and, on a bang-bang play, the puck was suddenly behind Domokos.

Gunnery carried that momentum into the second intermission, and back out onto the ice for the third period. They were all over Milton in the opening minutes.

At the 3:22 mark, Haider, who, along with his linemates, was a force throughout the postseason, scored a rebound goal off a Chad Varney shot to put Gunnery up 3-1.

Suddenly, Milton had a hill to climb. To their credit, they kept pressing. At the 7:17 mark of the third, Dumaresque, who was impressive in the playoffs, along with his linemates, cut Gunnery’s lead to 3-2, with Turnbull and Fox assisting.

Milton kept pressing, pulled their goaltender with a minute left, and had a couple of good chances in the final seconds. A little puck luck and the outcome of this one could have been different.

For the game, Gunnery outshot Milton 33-22.

After the game, Gunnery, enjoying the moment, didn’t seem to be in any hurry to vacate the ice at St. A’s. Coach Craig Badger, out there with his players, said, “Milton was very good. They play a very good system. They have enough talent so when they create turnovers, they can take over. Their D pushes out rebounds. They run that faceoff play with number 17 (Turnbull) that they got us with.”

“Two of our goals were off turnovers,” Badger added. “We try to force turnovers. We go hard at them, and then it’s up to us to take advantage.”

“It was just a good back-and-forth game – fast, intense, physical.

“I want to give credit to our guys. We started the season slow and just wanted to get better every game. We didn’t have a good Avon Tournament. After that, every game for us was a playoff game. So today we didn’t really approach things any differently than every other game we’ve played over the past two months. Our guys are coachable, they are character guys, and there’s great leadership. We just wanted to get better every game.

“We didn’t know much about Milton coming in. What I was surprised by was their hunger and relentlessness on pucks in the offensive zone. They throw pucks on net and swarm, using quickness and hunger. They pack it in tight in the d-zone, so you can’t tee it up.

“In the playoffs, Kozlowski avenged both his losses this season. He’s the real deal. He looks like a pro. Last year, he made a lot of big, athletic saves. This year, he didn’t have to move as much. He was strong, mature, and confident. And always in control. He could be a pro.”

Badger redirected the interview to his predecessor, who is still a dean at Gunnery but is also splitting time and was home in Rochester, NY with his family on Sunday. “All the credit goes to Chris Baudo and Pete Whitney,” Badger said. “I had nowhere to go but down!”

“Two years ago at Yale we had an underdog, out-of-the-blue mentality. This year was a little different. When we went into the playoffs, we knew we could play against Salisbury and Avon. We went into every game believing we were the better team.”

Milton head coach Paul Cannata was happy with what he saw from his team throughout the post-season.

“Yesterday at Kimball Union, we came up with a big goal at the end of the second period. Today, Gunnery did it to us. One kid went wide, the other went for the post. They got that one to drop. That meant we were chasing it in the third. We gave ourselves a chance at the end but we were chasing it.”

“There’s no shame in this,” Cannata added. “A lot of things have to happen to be playing on the final weekend. On this, I walk on the sunny side of the street. Am I a little disappointed now? Sure, but 24 months ago we were finishing a tough year (7-17-1 two years after winning a prep title in 2011). Today, we’re playing in the last game of the season. There are kids from that team two years ago on this team. They know that the program they are leaving is in better shape than the program they entered.”

“One other thing,” Cannata added. “You don’t get to this game without a good goalie. Ethan Domokos never changed his day-to-day approach this season. He was excellent.”


Martin/Earl Tournament (Large School):

Thayer 6, Westminster 3 --
Thayer never trailed today as they rolled to a 6-3 win over Westminster and headed home with the school's first hockey championship since winning back-to-back championships in 1986 and '87 with a team led by current Thayer head coach Tony Amonte.

"It was important that we got out to a quick start," Amonte said. "(Westminster) is a bigger, older, physically stronger team. The boys seemeed to be jumping. They wanted to take advantage of the day."

Thayer didn't get on the board until a Casey Carreau goal, off a nice pass from soph Aidan McDonough, with 6:41 left in the first. A couple of minutes later, Robert Carmody followed that up with a rebound goal to make it 2-0. Westy's JP Schuhlen followed that up with a reound goal of his own just 40 seconds later to cut Thayer's lead to 2-1 by the end of the period.

Thayer would get four of the next five goals and salt this one away. Westminster was flat and never got into the game.

Carreau (2g), Kyle Peterson (3a), Aidan McDonough (1g,1a), and Ty Amonte (2a) led the Thayer attack. Carmody, Christian Hayes, and Ryan Farrley also notched goals for the Tigers.

"Our team has been resilient all year," Amonte said. "That's due to leadership in older players. The first line carried them a lot of the season. They have been a key all year. Today we got secondary scoring as well."

"We peaked at the right time," Amonte added. "We've been in playoff mode for 2-3 weeks now."

"We knew coming into the last two weeks -- we had big games, like Tabor and Milton -- twice. We gained a lot of confidence in those games. We knew it was our time to make hay."

"(Casey) Carreau played incredible for us this year. Ty (Amonte) did all the little things, helping get the puck to Casey. It was a dream season for our seniors."

"It's been a fun year. It's bittersweet seeing your son play his final season. But very happy to be able to finish it off this way."

Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small School):

St. Mark's 3, Rivers 2 (OT)  -- An Ethan Kimball goal nine seconds into overtime lifted St. Mark's to a 3-2 win over Rivers in the Small School Championship game here today. The winning goal came off the draw, won by senior Zach Tsekos. Kimball, a junior wing from Holden, Mass., flew down the left side and fired a wrister that beat Rivers sophomore goaltender Aidan Porter short side -- and brought St. Mark's its second consecutive Small School title. 

St. Mark's coach Carl Corazzini said he'd told his guys before OT to move it up quickly, and use speed wide. Which is exactly what happened.

"It was a great shot. (Kimball) has been tremendous for us. He has over 20 goals, a really strong work ethic, and blazing speed. He's an excellent D-I prospect."

For the most part, the game was a defensive struggle. Rivers got on the board first, when junior Brendan Hamblet picked up a turnover in the slot and firedd it past St. Mark's senior goalie Ryan Ferland at 14:59 of the first.  

Just 42 seconds later St. Mark's got it back when a point shot from Josh Loveridge was stipped home by Zach Tsekos.

There was no scoring in the second, and deep into the third.

Rivers went up 2-1 with 3:26 left in the third. Freshman D Tony Andreozzi fired a shot from the point that beat a screened Ferland. It had the feel of a game-winner. But just 1:13 later a low bomb from the left point by junior d-man Michael Nantais tied it up for the Lions at 2-2, sending the game into OT, where Kimball wasted no time.


Prep Semifinals

Results from Saturday's semifinals, and matchups for Sunday's championship games.

Stuart/Corkery Tournament (AKA Elite 8)
1. Avon 2. KUA 3. Exeter 4. Salisbury 5. Gunnery 6. Milton 7. Loomis 8. Brunswick

#5 Gunnery, #6 Milton Advance to Sunday's Elite 8 Title Game

Gunnery 5 @ Avon Old Farms 3 -- On the eve of today's semifinal, the #1 goaltender on the #1-ranked team, Avon senior Matt Ladd, took 20 stitches when, in the locker room after practice, a teammate in skates stepped on his bare foot.

So the Winged Beavers were shorthanded going into today's game against a determined Gunnery team which, three days earlier, had dispatched defending champs Salisbury in a 3-2 road semifinal win.

Today, Gunnery did it again, earning another gritty road playoff win, this time in front of a packed house at Avon's Jennings Fairchild Rink.

Avon looked good at the start. Right off the opening draw, Tyler Carangelo took it right to the Gunnery net for a scoring opportunity. It appeared to be a starting statement from the home team. And it looked even better when, on a later power play, Patrick Harper skated it around from behind the Gunnery net and then held it until Gunnery senior goaltender Trevin Kozlowski went down -- and lifted it over his outstretched body and into the net to give Avon an early 1-0 lead.

Let us interject something here: the officiating in this game was really about as bad as this typist has seen this season -- and this was a prep semifinal game, with a trip to the championship game on the line. The first two periods were just bizarre. If either of the two teams benefitted from dubious calls, it was hard to discern. The game,  played at a high tempo, was very physical. But it wasn't a dirty game and the officials, in their zeal to prevent it from becoming one, called everything, thus putting themselves front and center and, simultaneously, bringing the game to the doorstep of anarchy. 

The second period was action-packed. Gunnery got on the board when, on the PP, senior Chad Varney, from behind the Avon net, spotted Daniel Haider out front with a perfect pass. Haider roofed it on Avon junior goaltender Brandon Schellin to tie the game at 1-1.

Gunnery took a 2-1 lead when, in even-strength play, a flurry around the Avon net produced several rebounds -- and several opportunities for Gunnery players to knock one home past Schellin. Avon couldn't clear out in front and, on the third whack, junior Albert Washco banged it past Schellin to put the visitors up 2-1.

Harper got it back for Avon, tying it up at 2-2 shortly after a power play had expired, with 9:45 left in the period.

And then Tyler Madden, on the PP, put Avon up 3-2 with just 1:03 left in the period, silencing the boistrous Gunnery cheering section. 

And then there was the third period. Noteworthy here was the fact that the officials jammed their whistles in their pockets and let the kids play -- to a point.

Also of note was the fact that Gunnery came out really hard in the third. Daniel Haider, who was a force all day for Gunnery, had a great early opportunity, but couldn't convert.

Gunnery tied it up at 3-3 when senior Cam Donaldson, who can do some pretty nifty things when given a square inch in which to work, carried the puck into the Avon end. It was a little difficult to see exactly what happened -- the rink was packed -- but junior Albert Washco eventually got the puck past Schellin. The game was tied, and Gunnery had a boost.

The game settled in a bit at this point, and took on a this-could-be-going-to-OT feel. The officials cooled it on the incessant penalty calling.

With 6:38 left, an Avon player was penalized off the draw, not really the kind of penalty that would normally be called when the whistles have been stashed, there's no flagrant foul, and the game is tied late. But it happened. 

And Gunnery, to their credit, took advantage of the situation. The game-winning goal was not a thing of beauty. Defenseman Josh Gagne wristed a shot from the point, Schellin moved laterally, but low, in order to get a clean look at the shot, and the puck sailed over his shoulder for the game-winning goal. 

Gunnery added an empty-net goal to make it 5-3.

"Our returnees led the way," said Gunnery head coach Craig Badger. "They play it the right way. Wednesday, Noah Williams had a big goal to get us going. Today, the Washco-Pellegrino-Donaldson line had two goals and were just all over the Avon net."

"Our game is to take away time and space. We did that on Wednesday against Salisbury and we did it today. These are dangerous teams."

Asked about defense and goaltending, Badger said, "I felt that with both Salisbury and Avon, we shut them down -- and they still both scored three goals."

Avon head coach John Gardner said, "Gunnery played well. They played hard. They kept the game simple."

It was a tough end to the season for Avon, but a good season, said Gardner.

"We had a 25-game unbeaten streak," he said. "We put Avon hockey back on the map."

Milton 2 @ Kimball Union 1 -- For the first 6-7 minutes, Milton, which had a tie and a win in two regular-season games vs. KUA, was blitzed by the host Wildcats. On top of that, Milton took a penalty. 

It looked, said Milton coach Paul Cannata, like "trouble early." But, he added, "we killed off the penalty and then balanced ourselves and came out of the period 0-0. We were lucky, especially given the crowd and the loud environment."

In the second, Milton leveled the playing field. After Jack Bliss hit a post, Bobby Beniers, who had won the faceoff, scored at 16:39 to put Milton up 1-0.

In the third, George Sennott tied the game up for KUA at the 7:05 mark. Nearly five minutes later, Milton came back with what would turn out to be the game winner, with Andrew Dumaresque putting a fake on a defender and scoring on KUA goaltender Payton Porter from 35 feet.

There were a total of three penalties called in this game, two against Milton and one against KUA. In its two playoff wins, Milton has had a total of one power play.

Kimball Union outshot Milton 35-30. Winning goaltender Ethan Domokos kicked out 34 of 35 shots and, while not forced to make 10-bell saves, was every bit as good as he had to be. 

He'll have to be good again on Sunday, when Milton faces Gunnery in the 2016 New England prep title game.


Martin/Earl Tournament (Large School)
1. Cushing 2. Westminster 3. Proctor 4. Thayer 5. Tabor 6. Belmont Hill 7. St. Sebastian's 8. Nobles

#2 Westminster, #4 Thayer to Face Off for Large School Title Sunday

Thayer 3 @ Cushing 2 -- A third period goal by junior Casey Carreau, from Ty Amonte and PJ Garrett, was the game-winner here.

Carreau (1g,1a), Ty Amonte (1g,1a), and Robert Carmody (1g) led the Tigers' attack.

For Cushing, junior Ashton Fry had both goals. Both goalies, Cushing's Joey Hallstrom and Thayer's Mike Royer, kicked out 29 shots.

Cushing finishes its season 21-11-1. Thayer, winners of 7 of 8 (and 10 of 12), moves on and faces Westminster in the Large School title game on Sunday. 

@ Westminster 4, Belmont Hill 2 -- After a slump (they lost 4 of 5), Westy has gone 6-1-1 over its last 8. Today, they never trailed against Belmont Hill. JP Schuhlen had a couple of goals (the second an ENG), and junior Jay Powell and sophomore D Patrick Dawson also had goals. Senior Stephen Gasior stopped 35 of 37 to earn the win. Freshman Connor Hopkins stopped 26 of 29 for Belmont Hill.


Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small School)
1. Rivers 2. St. Mark's 3. Brooks 4. Dexter 5. Lawrence 6. New Hampton 7. St. George's 8. Canterbury

#1 Rivers, #2 St. Mark's to Meet in All-ISL Final Sunday

@ Rivers 3, Dexter 2 (OT) -- A Frank Boie goal at 12:36 of OT lifted Rivers into the Small School Championship Game tomorrow against Dexter. 

In the first period today, Tommy Giandomenico and Nolan Donato gave Dexter a 2-0 lead. 

In the second, Michael Young and Teddy Wooding took it right back for Rivers, tying it up at 2-2.

There was no scoring in the third, thus setting up OT -- and Boie's game-winner.

For the game, Rivers outshot Dexter by a 36-21 margin. Sophomore Aidan Murphy was in net for Rivers, and junior Aidan Murphy was in net for Dexter. How many games have you seen with two goalies, each named Aidan?

@ St. Mark's 3, New Hampton 0 -- Senior Ryan Ferland kicked out all 31 shots he faced, and seniors Zach Tsekos, Peter Housakos, and Derek Osik each scored a goal.

ISL foes Rivers and St. Mark's will meet for the NEPSIHA Small School championship at noon on Sunday.


Sunday's Schedule

Championship Games -- Sun. March 6
at St. Anselm College; Manchester, NH

Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small School):
#1 Rivers vs. #2 St. Mark's, 12:00 pm

Martin/Earl Tournament (Large School):
#2 Westminster vs. #4 Thayer, 2:30 pm

Stuart/Corkery Tournament (AKA Elite 8):
#5 Gunnery vs. #6 Milton, 5:00 pm


Prep Quarterfinals -- and Weekend Schedule

Results from Wednesday's quarterfinals, and matchups for Saturday's semis. We'll have details on the quarterfinal games on Thursday.

Stuart/Corkery Tournament (AKA Elite 8)
1. Avon 2. KUA 3. Exeter 4. Salisbury 5. Gunnery 6. Milton 7. Loomis 8. Brunswick

@ Avon Old Farms 9, Brunswick 2 -- Brunswick was simply run out of the building early, trailing 4-0 with 8:30 remaining in the first period. Nonetheless, the Bruins made a strong push at the end of the period, giving a faint home to the Brunswick faithful, that feeling that if they could get one or, perhaps more realistically, two goals, things could get interesting. But despite the pressure, they came up empty -- and after one it was 4-0. Avon stretched it to 6-0 in the second before Brunswick's Christian LeSueur was able to get his team on the board with a nice goal late in the period. In the third, the game was essentially over. Avon was able to rest Patrick Harper, who played a couple shifts early.

As for Harper, Brunswick, like many teams, gave him too much time and space in which to work his magic. But it wasn't just the Harper Show. Other lines were strong as well. Matt Barnaby (1g,2a) had a really good game. Along with linemates Matt Allen and Matty Horton, they managed to hem Brunswick in for long stretches.

@ Kimball Union 6, Loomis 4 -- KUA senior center Patrick Shea scored on the game's first shot, which certainly didn't bode well for the visitors. Nonetheless, five minutes later, Loomis came back and tied it at 1-1 on a rebound goal from Connor Leighton. KUA went up on a George Sennott PP goal to give the hosts a 2-1 lead after one. In the second Thomas Samuelsen scored on a tip, then Shea scored his second of the game, from the high slot, to make it 4-1. At that point, it looked like the game could turn into a blowout, but Loomis, to their credit, roared back with a pair, from Justin Grillo and Trent DeNuccio. Suddenly, it's 4-3 and Loomis has some life. But it was a short life: a little over a minute later, KUA uber-D Ben Finkelstein fired home a hard snap shot to make it 5-3 with less than two minutes remaining in the frame. In the third, KUA extended its lead to 6-3 on a Jordan Harris goal, while Joey Cippolone scored a short-handed goal for Loomis to cut it to 6-4, which is where things ended.

Loomis, while decisively outplayed, hung in there througout. Their problem in this game -- if you want to call it that -- can be divined through a quick scan of the two teams' rosters. Loomis is young -- they have 11 sophomores on their roster, and most are playing key minutes. KUA is older. Their big weapons, like Finkelstein, Shea, and Sennott, are seniors. In other words, this could be their year.

Milton 5 @ Exeter 2 -- Milton came out hard and struck with a pair of goals just 11 seconds apart in the first period -- from Tiger Zhang and Spencer Fox (off a great goalmouth pass from Andrew Dumaresque). After that the Mustangs' energy level jumped another notch. They could have had a couple more and salted the game away early. Their puck movement was very good. They were moving their feet. And junior goaltender Ethan Domokos was on his game. 

At the 6:11 mark of the second period, Milton d-man Buddy Mrowka scored to make it 3-0 Milton. It sounded like it was tipped in front, but no matter: Milton was up 3-0 and Exeter was in a bad position. But Milton was also getting called for a rash of penalties -- at least four -- in the period, which gave Exeter a golden chance to get back into the game. Exeter did get one goal, with Bradley Ingersoll scoring on a rebound, but it seemed like it wasn't going to be anywhere near enough. Basically, their puck movement was flat, and they weren't moving their feet. They were getting shots off, but it wasn't a playoff-level PP. There was an opportunity to take advantage of Milton penalty killers who were sucking wind, and being heavily taxed, but Exeter didn't do it. What danger Exeter presented was turned away by Domokos.

Exeter's final power play of the second carried over to the third period, but fizzled. Milton didn't let up. Jack Bliss hit a post. Shortly after, Milton's Mrowka scored his second of the game to put the visitors up 4-1 with 6:43 left. Exeter head coach Dana Barbin pulled goaltender Joey Lazzaro and Exeter capitalized on it, as Ben Solin scored off a rebound with 3:55 left on the clock. With 2:40 left and the Exeter net again empty, Milton senior Spencer Fox scored his second the game to put the game on ice.

Exeter skated four lines in this game, while Milton, with 16 skaters dressed, was playing with three. The Mustangs' scoring is well-distributed: there are kids on every one of those lines who can come up with a key goal. And they compete. Perhaps hopping over the boards so often kept the visitors on their toes. Whatever, they certainly did well in scrums for pucks, and in the faceoff circle. The Mustangs' composure with the puck was also strong. Milton played an excellent team game. The final shots show that Exeter outshot Milton, but it didn't really feel that way. A lot of credit for that goes to Domokos, who played with a ton of poise, and wiped out any shot advantage. 

"The sense of confidence and well-being that we had earlier in the season has been elusive the last couple of weeks," Milton coach Paul Cannata said. "We had to battle through some tough opponents -- hats off to them."

"But we found our game today. I thought we played a good first period -- and coverted on those two opportunities. That gave us a boost. In the second, and the first 40 seconds of the third, we were killing a lot of penalties. We bent a bit, but we didn't break."

Gunnery 3 @ Salisbury 2
  -- Gunnery was unintimidated, and highly physical from the get-go, with three solid hits on the first shift. From there, the Highlanders worked hard, putting a body on Salisbury players whenever they came within range of a puck. This was clearly Gunnery's game plan, but a little unexpected and not without risks, particularly on the big sheet at Salisbury. Early on, though, most of the play was in the Salisbury end, as the Knights were forced to defend and chip the puck out. Despite their hard work, Gunnery was unable to generate many scoring chances. Finally, Noah Williams, on a 3-on-3 rush, cut to the middle and fired a quick snapshot 5-hole on Salisbury goaltender Nick Sorgio to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.

In the second, Salisbury regained momentum and was able to keep possession in the Gunnery end, which paid off with an Edgar Treijs tally early in the period. Salisbury, though, didn't quite get the lift from the goal they were looking for. It seemed as if Salisbury was trying to make the perfect play -- and bypassing the good play. For example -- and a glaring example at that -- Salisbury made a bad diagonal pass in their end which wound up handing Gunnery an odd-man rush the other direction. And Gunnery capitalized, too, as Evan Johnson roofed one just 4:36 into the period to restore Gunnery's one-goal lead.

A power play goal by Matt Danner, from between the top of the slot and the blue line, gave Gunnery a 3-1 advantage at the 11:12 mark of the second. Shortly after, Gunnery took another penalty, a major, which led to a Salisbury 5x3. The penalty, which lapped over into the third period, was successfully killed off by Gunnery -- a key kill.

After the home team failed to convert on that opportunity, the building seemed dead. The Salisbury faithful were silent. But then Gunnery took an unneccesary penalty on a scrum in front. Salisbury went on the PP. This time, they were moving the puck around -- and firing it. Finally, a Dayne Finnson screened shot from the point found the top corner and, with just over 12 minutes remaining, host Salisbury had closed to within a goal. 

The momentum swung back to Salisbury. Gunnery was hemmed in, but the line of Johnson, Varney, and Haider were able to get it out of the zone and push the Salisbury defense back. Nick Sorgio came up big for Salisbury in the third, keeping his team within range. Meanwhile, Salisbury took a couple of late penalties, giving Gunnery a 5x3 power play with around six minutes left. But there would be no more scoring for either team, and Salisbury's remarkable feat of three consecutive Elite 8 titles has come to an end.

In the end, the story here was the fact that Gunnery, which is going for their first prep title -- after a close call two years ago when they lost to Salisbury in an OT classic at Yale -- came into a hostile environment, kept their feet moving, and showed a desire to play physically, indeed, to play on the edge.

The other major difference was Gunnery senior goaltender Trevin Kozlowski, who kicked out 32 of 34 shots, played big, gave up few rebounds, and came up with outstanding saves when he had to. This is the second straight season the Army recruit has dispatched a powerful team in the quarterfinals. Last year, Kozlowski shut down the Miles Wood-led Nobles team, 6-1.

After the game Gunnery head coach Craig Badger said, "Our guys committed to playing the right way. We knew we did not have the same kind of experience on this big sheet, but our guys played the right way, made smart decisions, and followed the game plan all afternoon." 

Martin/Earl Tournament (Large School)
1. Cushing 2. Westminster 3. Proctor 4. Thayer 5. Tabor 6. Belmont Hill 7. St. Sebastian's 8. Nobles

@ Cushing 9, Nobles 0 -- #1 Cushing got two in the first, one in the second, and then exploded for six in the third to take a 9-0 decision from #8 Nobles. Jacob Kamps (2g,2a), Matt Dillon (1g,2a), Ashton Fry (1g,2a), and Ethan Roswell (3a) led the Penguins' attack. Joey Halstrom picked up a 15-save shutout. Cushing outshot Nobles 46-15. Cushing will host Thayer in the semis at 2:45 pm on Saturday.

@ Westminster 4, St. Sebastian's 2 -- #7-seeded St. Seb's got a PPG from RJ Murphy to take a 1-0 lead after one, but #2 Westy came back hard in the second, with goals by their three top-scoring seniors, Johnny McDermott, JP Schuhlen, and Taggart Corriveau. Nick Sanford kicked out 23 of 25 shots for the win. Westminster will host Belmont Hill in Saturday's semifinal (5:15 pm).

Belmont Hill 5 @ Proctor 2 -- Sam Hesler (2g,1a), Eric Butte (1g,2a), and John Copeland (1g,1a) led #6 Belmont Hill past #3 Proctor. Freshman Connor Hopkins kicked out 24 of 26 to earn the win for Bel Hill. They'll travel to Westminster for a semifinal matchup Saturday at 5:15 pm.

@ Thayer 5, Tabor 3 -- #4 Thayer came back from a 2-1 second period deficit to knock off #5 Tabor and advance to Saturday's semis, in which they will travel to Cushing for a 2:45 pm matchup with the #1 seeded Penguins. PJ Garrett (1g,1a), Casey Carreau (1g,1a), Mike Timperio (2a), Kyle Peterson (2a), and Ty Amonte (2a) led the Tigers' attack. Max Sauve (1g,1a) led the way for the Seawolves.

Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small School)
1. Rivers 2. St. Mark's 3. Brooks 4. Dexter 5. Lawrence 6. New Hampton 7. St. George's 8. Canterbury

@ Rivers 4, Canterbury 2 -- Top-seeded Rivers, on goals by Teddy Wooding, Tony Andreozzi, and Tyler Capello,  broke out to a 3-0 lead by the midpoint of the first period -- and never trailed. Rivers will host Dexter in a Saturday semifinal matchup (2:00 pm).

@ St. Mark's 3, St. George's 0 -- Ethan Kimball, Owen Allen, and Peter Housakos scored for #2 St. Mark's and Ryan Ferland kicked out all 25 shots he faced to pick up the shutout. St. Mark's will host New Hampton in a semifinal matchup Saturday (4:00 pm) 

New Hampton 1 @ Brooks 0 -- A Chris Lemay second period goal lifted #6 New Hampton to a 1-0 road win over #3 Brooks. Jacob Burhans (28/28) earned the shutout for New Hampton. Johnny Trotto (22/23) took a tough loss for Brooks.

@ Dexter 1, Lawrence 0 -- A Patrick Daly goal 2:31 into the game was all #4-seeded Dexter needed. Aidan Murphy, with 20 saves, earned the shutout for Dexter. Owen Zdunski (25/26) was the hard-luck loser for Lawrence. Dexter takes the big road trip to Rivers for a semifinal matchup on Saturday (2:00 pm).

Semifinals -- Sat. March 5
At campus sites

Stuart/Corkery Tournament (AKA Elite 8)
#5 Gunnery @ #1 Avon Old Farms, 2:30 pm
#6 Milton @ #2 Kimball Union, 3:00 pm

Martin/Earl Tournament (Large School)
#4 Thayer @ #1 Cushing, 2:45 pm
#6 Belmont Hill @ #2 Westminster, 5:15 pm new start time is 2:30 pm

Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small School)
#4 Dexter @ #1 Rivers, 2:00 pm
#6 New Hampton @ #2 St. Mark's, 4:00 pm

Championship Games -- Sun. March 6
at St. Anselm College; Manchester, NH

Piatelli/Simmons Tournament (Small School), 12:00 pm
Martin/Earl Tournament (Large School), 2:30 pm
Stuart/Corkery Tournament (AKA Elite 8), 5:00 pm

Around the Rinks

Thayer junior Casey Carreau -- the Tigers' leading goal scorer -- gets physical in Wednesday's 5-3 quarterfinal win over Tabor.
Thayer junior Casey Carreau -- the Tigers' leading goal scorer -- gets physical in Wednesday's 5-3 quarterfinal win over Tabor. (Photo: Dave Arnold Photography)
Jack DeBoer back in prep action after helping lead the US to the Gold Medal at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.
Jack DeBoer back in prep action after helping lead the US to the Gold Medal at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. (Photo: J. Alexander Imaging)
Hotchkiss junior D Marshall Rifai gets physical against Salisbury's Vellu Vanttinen.
Hotchkiss junior D Marshall Rifai gets physical against Salisbury's Vellu Vanttinen. (Photo: J. Alexander Imaging)
Jordan Kaplan notched three points (2g, 1a) in Salisbury's 8-2 win at Hotchkiss Wednesday Feb. 24.
Jordan Kaplan notched three points (2g, 1a) in Salisbury's 8-2 win at Hotchkiss Wednesday Feb. 24. (Photo: J. Alexander Imaging)