December 6, 2012

Prep Journal: Berwick aims to pick up where they left off

By Mike Zhe

Jon Grassie (left) and Liam Darcy (right) will lead the way for the Bulldogs this year. (Photo: Berwick Academy)

Every year, it seems there’s one team that gets caught up in the New England postseason numbers game and spit out, and last year it was Berwick Academy.

Berwick, a day school located just over the New Hampshire border – a five-minute walk, tops – in South Berwick, Maine, has never been mentioned among the New England prep powers.

But behind players like young defenseman Liam Darcy, who committed to New Hampshire earlier this fall, and leading scorer Ricky Kramer, the Bulldogs took a 10-8-1 record into the final weekend of the season, knowing that a pair of wins would likely earn them a spot in the eight-team Piatelli/Simmons (small school) tourney.

On Friday, they took care of business against Governor’s Academy, a good Independent School League team, by a 6-4 count.

“That put us in,” said Berwick coach Andy Lathrop. “Then we lost at Cushing (4-3) in overtime the next day. I think, had we tied them, we would have been in. The loss hurt us.”

That win lifted Cushing into the No. 8 seed in the Stuart/Corkery (elite) tourney, and bumped Kimball Union down to the Piatelli/Simmons, which it eventually won. Berwick was the odd team out.

The Bulldogs skated away from that 2011-12 season knowing they could play with the better teams in New England, but they didn’t get a chance to do so on a postseason stage.

The good news? Berwick brings back just about everyone, save for three forwards, the position at which it was deepest. Darcy, a puck-moving sophomore, leads a seasoned blueline corps that also returns seniors Jon Grassie and Neil Maietta, and adds Alex Joslyn and Nolan Dow.

Kramer is joined up from by players like James Winkler, a junior; and sophomore Lucas Michaud, both of whom have generated Division 1 interest.

An 0-3 start to this season has been tempered by the caliber of competition – Belmont Hill (3-1), Gunnery (5-3) and Kent (5-0).

“It will all depend on how the group comes together,” said Lathrop. “We certainly return a veteran group. I’m hoping they pick up where they left off.

“I don’t see a glaring hole, but that doesn’t mean there’s not one there.”

Game of the Week

Lawrence Academy at Belmont Hill, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Couple of Keller Division heavyweights in this one. Lawrence boasted one of New England’s best senior classes last year. This year, behind Carl Hesler and Co., that honor may fall to Belmont.

New England Prep School Power Rankings

To read Mike Zhe's analysis of each team in the top 20, head to our prep school power rankings page.

1. Salisbury School (3-0) 
2. Kimball Union (2-0) 
3. Belmont Hill (2-0) 
4. Avon Old Farms (1-0-1) 
5. Cushing Academy (1-1-1)

6. St. Sebastian’s (1-1)
7. St. Paul’s School (1-1) 
8. Governor’s Academy (1-1) 
9. Noble and Greenough (1-2) 
10. Westminster (1-0) 

11. The Gunnery (2-0) 
12. Lawrence Academy (1-0)
13. Dexter School (0-0-2)
14. Choate (1-0-1)
15. Kent School (2-0)

16. Rivers School (1-1)
17. Middlesex School (1-0)
18. Brooks School (2-0) 
19. Berkshire School (2-1)
20. Phillips Exeter (1-1-2)

Mike Zhe can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @MikeZhe603.