May 9, 2014

2014 High School Championship Roundup

By Matt Williams


Malden Catholic made it four in a row with their 5-2 win over Austin Prep in the Super 8 final. (Photo by Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)
 

BOSTON — The Malden Catholic hockey team doesn’t like to worry about dynasties, preferring instead to look at every game as a chance to grab two points.

After the Lancers made history by winning their fourth straight Super 8 title with a 5-2 win over Austin Prep, it’s hard to find a better word to describe them.

Four-year contributors Tyler Sifferlen (two goals) and Nick Rolli found the back of the net to lead MC (20-4-0), which tore through the Super 8 with 18 total goals in four wins. By winning their fourth straight, the Lancers became just the second program to do so in the elite tourney, joining 
Catholic Memorial (1991-95 and 1997-01) as four-peat champs.

“It’s a special feeling, especially with how important it was for our seniors to get their fourth,” said Lancers junior forward Ara Nazarian, who also had a goal in the final. “It’s a feeling that never gets old. It’s truly been a special three years and I can’t think of another group of boys I’d rather play with.”

The final was a rematch of last year’s title game, in which the Cougars pushed MC and fell by a single goal. The Lancers led 1-0 after one this season and broke the game open with three straight in the second period.

“All season we seemed to have some layoff in the second period and it happened again,” said Austin Prep defenseman J.J. Layton. “We came out flying in the third but we just didn’t in the second.”

MC led 5-1 after two, and AP’s Bobo Carpenter scored twice in the third period to make things interesting. The Cougars had a couple of solid chances to make it a one-goal game, but Rolli and the Lancers defense held them off.

“The first line had some pretty goals, but we say the team needs to do everything to win. From the 27th kid on the roster down, everybody works hard,” said MC coach John McLean. “It pays off in big games like this.”

The last game played at TD Garden on Championship Sunday was arguably the best as Beverly (22-1-1) scored a third-period goal to a break a tie with Medfield and win the Division 2 state title, 2-1.

Connor Irving directed a backhand toward the net and it glanced off a Warrior defender and into the cage with 12:47 left. Medfield threw everything it had at Beverly goalie Tim Birarelli (25 saves) over the final stretch, but the junior stayed calm and was on top of his game as the Panthers secured their first state hockey title.

“The last two-and-a-half minutes was my favorite part of the game, because I love to battle and make big saves,” said Birarelli. “Those two-and-a-half minutes will probably stay with me forever.”

Beverly took a 1-0 lead on Matt Hamor’s power-play goal in the second, only to see the Warriors tie it when Justin Hirschfeld scored 12 seconds later. The entire D2 final was a tightly checked game that displayed skating, passing and big saves on both sides.

“We told them before the third period that we had 15 minutes left, this was it,” said Beverly coach Bob Gilligan. “They went out, put the effort in and got it done.”

In Division 1, Reading took out Braintree, 4-1, to claim its first state title in six years. The Rockets (17-8-2) rode the hot goaltending of Ian Lapham through the playoffs, including an incredible 11-round shootout win over league rival Wilmington in the Division 1 North final.

The title game against a Braintree team that had fallen in the Super 8 play-in round saw Reading’s Jake Barbera, Matt Thomson, Sean Verrier and Mike Thomson score goals. Braintree’s tally came from Nick Ward and made it 2-1, but the Rockets regained a two-goal lead in the third and scored an empty-netter to ice the crown.

The Division 3 title tilt was a coronation as Shrewsbury took care of Hanover, 7-1. Matt Dillon had a goal and helped out on five others to lead the Colonials, who actually trailed 1-0 before exploding for the last seven goals of the game. Jack Quinlivan had a pair of goals for Shrewsbury and Matt Ward also scored.              

The Division 2 girls final was similar, with Westwood topping Wellesley, 6-2. Ela Hazar had a goal and two assists as the Westwood girls won their first state championship by opening up a 5-0 lead before Wellesley got on the board in the third.               

The Division 1 girls final saw Duxbury edge Arlington Catholic, 2-1, as the Dragons won their fourth straight state championship, albeit the first in Division 1. AC tied it, 1-1, on Danielle Kelley’s goal in the third, but Duxbury retook the lead on the next shift with Marissa Fichter scoring the winner.

Massachusetts’ best female goalie, Rachel Myette of Duxbury, won her fourth state title between the pipes and made 17 saves.

CONNECTICUT

Fairfield Prep ruled the roost in the Nutmeg State for the second straight year, as the Jesuits topped Darien, 2-1, in the Division 1 state final. Fairfield Prep (16-4-3) needed back-to-back overtime wins to make it back-to-back titles: Vinny D’Amore’s overtime strike won the state final, and the Jesuits nipped Notre Dame-West Haven, 4-3, in the semifinal. Darien had been seeking its first state title since 1969 and upset top seed Notre Dame-Fairfield in the semis.

No. 13 seed Daniel Hand of Madison stunned the Division 2 bracket by winning it all with a 5-4 decision over Amity in the final. Hand-Madison blitzed No. 1 seed East Catholic, 5-1, in the semis and then beat an Amity team that it had lost to earlier in the season.

Ben Solin’s hat trick keyed Hand-Madison’s victory while Michael Beliveau and Dan Healy also scored and goalie Chase Briggs had a strong postseason in which his team beat seeds 4, 5, 1 and 2 on its way to the championship.

In Division 3, freshman Scott McLean’s first goal gave Newtown a 2-1 overtime win over the E.O. Smith/Tolland co-op and its first state title. Conor Hanley’s power-play goal tied it after the co-op took an early 1-0 lead.

MAINE

Dropping the last two Class B state finals didn’t kill Messalonskee. It made it stronger, and probably made it the strongest hockey team in Maine.

The Eagles took out Gorham, 6-1, to win their first state championship and cap off a perfect 21-0 season that included a December win over the Class A champs and de facto bragging rights as the state’s best club.      

Dan Condon had two goals and one assist and brothers Jared and Chase Cunningham (goal, two assists each) scored to break Messalonskee’s 1-1 tie with Gorham. Dylan Burton also had a goal and two assists.            

The Class A title was claimed by Falmouth, which won its second straight title by shading St. Dom's, 3-2. The Saints had upset Bangor to reach the final, but once they got there the defending champs prevailed.          

Jack Grade had two goals for Falmouth, including the winning marker in overtime. Caleb Labrie had both tallies for St. Dom’s. 

The Maine girls championship went to undefeated Scarborough, which wrapped up a 21-0 season by beating Lewiston, 3-1, in the state final. Freshman Elizabeth Gross had a hat trick for the Red Storm, Maine’s first undefeated girls team in four years.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Manchester Central might not have been the first team picked to win the Division 1 title in the Granite State, but the Little Green were the last ones standing. They took down top-seeded St. Thomas in the semifinals and then shaded Londonderry, 3-1, in the final, with both victories backboned by goaltender Ian Beliveau.            

No. 2 Salem had been upset by Pinkerton in the quarters, which opened the road for Manchester Central after they beat the No. 1 seed themselves. The Little Green busted that door down by getting goals from Nathan Potvin, Ross Lougee and Noah Duplessis in the championship game, finishing the year 14-7. Manchester Central was under .500 midway through the year but won its last eight games to claim the title.          

Bedford made it three straight Division 2 championships and finished off a perfect 21-0-0 season for good measure with a 3-1 win over Bow in the state final. Leading scorer Nate Boyd had the game-winner for Bedford, while Jeremy Myers also scored twice.    

Souhegan made sure there wouldn’t be a repeat champion in Division 3 when it upended John Stark/Hopkinton, 5-4, on Joe Nutting’s winning goal with under four minutes to play. Souhegan finished 18-2-0 and rallied in the final despite trailing twice in the second and giving up a 4-3 lead, all in the second period.     

There were no surprises in the girls state final, with Hanover taking the Granite State crown for the fifth straight season with a dominant 5-1 victory over Berlin-Gorham.

RHODE ISLAND

No team in New England knows better than Mount St. Charles that where you finish the year is a lot more important than where you start.             

After losing all three regular-season meeting with Bishop Hendricken, and the first game of their best-of-three state championship series, the Mounties rattled off back-to-back wins to snatch the crown.  

The Mounties took Game 2 of the series 4-3 in overtime and then won it all with a 5-2 triumph driven by three first-period goals that staked them to an insurmountable 3-0 lead. Mountie goalie Brian Larence was named MVP of the tourney, which saw Hendricken beat Smithfield in the semis and Mount St. Charles top La Salle. 

Cranston won Rhode Island’s Division 1 title, outlasting Burrillville, 3-0, in the winner-take-all Game 3 of their series. They’d taken Game 1, 4-3, and fallen 6-3 in the Game 2 leading into the final. Austin Alzate (two goals) and Ryan Beliveau handled the scoring in the final for Cranston, and Anthony Lancellotti had the shutout.   

The Division 2 crown was won by Cumberland, which went 18-0 in the regular season, dispatched 
Middletown in the quarters, edged Lincoln in overtime of Game 3 of their semifinal series and then took out PCD/St. Raphael/Wheeler’s co-op team in a two-game sweep in the finals. Tournament MVP Greg Wellington had a hat trick in the deciding win over the PCD co-op.

East Providence won the Division 3 championship with a dramatic 2-1 overtime win over Narragansett in Game 3 of their series. It was the second overtime win of the playoffs for EP, which used an extra session to sweep West Warwick in the first round before beating Narragansett, 4-1, in Game 1 and falling 1-0 in the second contest.

In the girls state championship, Warwick’s co-op program beat La Salle in back-to-back 2-1 games to sweep their series. Freshman goalie Gabriella Dicomitis was outstanding in the postseason for Warwick, which finished 17-6.            

In Division 2, Barrington/Mount Hope/Portsmouth swept the Narragansett/North Kingstown/South Kingstown co-op 4-2 and 5-0 to win its second straight championship.

VERMONT

It was apparent for most of the season that Champlain Valley and Essex were the two best teams in Vermont high school hockey.               

As with most of the year, the Redhawks left little doubt that this was their year, winning the Metro Division title with a 4-2 victory and finishing the season 20-1-2.

Thomas Samuelsen, Drew Pitcher, Kaleb Godbout and Elliott Mitchell had goals, and CVU goalie Greg Talbert made 25 saves.  

In the Lake Division (D2) championship game, Stowe edged Middlebury, 2-1, thanks to Chad Haggerty’s game-winning goal that came at 8:04 of the third period. It was the second goal of the game for Haggerty, who also equalized after Middlebury had taken a 1-0 lead in the second.         

Both girls state finals in Vermont were thrillers. Essex came from behind to beat BFA-St. Albans 3-2 in overtime of the Metro Division final. Kathleen Young scored twice to bring the Hornets back from a two-goal hole in the third, then assisted on Melanie Theriault’s winning goal in sudden-death OT.             

Middlebury’s girls held off Burr and Burton, 2-1, to win the Lake Division championship. Baily Ryan made half of her 24 saves in the third period to earn the first state title for the Tigers (19-3-1). Sara Boe had both goals for Middlebury.

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This article originally appeared in the April edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to access the FREE digital edition.