December 29, 2011

Prep School Journal: KUA turning heads with start

By Justin Churchill

Kimball Union Academy has sprung to a great 9-1-0 start in the first month of the prep hockey season. The team looks to be one to be reckoned with first-year head coach Mike Levine (Sandwich, Mass.) at the helm.

The team features just five seniors on the team, but has not let that slow it down. With an undefeated record going into the Flood-Marr Tournament at Milton Academy, KUA looked to be one of the favorites to win. The team made the championship game, but lost 4-1 against a talented Noble and Greenough team.

The tournament was still very positive for the team, as they picked up wins against Milton, Deerfield and a very strong Salisbury team. Levine feels that the tournament will be a crucial point in KUA’s season.

“It’s a great experience for our kids; they play in front of a ton of people and it’s a high level of hockey.” Levine said. “It gives our kids a good breadth of experience and it’s a battle every night.”

KUA is a team that has been tested with a packed early-season schedule. Going into the Flood-Marr, Levine’s team had played six games in the span of two weeks.

“You don’t want to say that or use that as an excuse, but we have had five games this week. Obviously our guys were gassed, but you gotta be sharp even if you are tired.” Levine said.

Last season’s star forward, Dennis Kravchenko, was a large part of the team’s success, but recently left to play junior hockey. However it seems the void has been filled by the likes of junior forwards Niko Rufo (Stoneham, Mass.) and Jonathan Charbonneau.

Rufo, who is committed to play for Nate Leaman at Providence College, leads the team in points with 15. At the Flood-Marr, Levine felt that he played well, as he was pestering the Nobles defense late in the game,

“I think Niko Rufo played really well for us this weekend.” Levine said.

Defensively Alex Carle seems to be leading the way for the Wildcats, as he has picked up seven points on the season. The junior captain had the only goal in the championship game for KUA and was also singled out by Levine despite the team’s tough day on defense.

“Alex Karl was phenomenal for us on the back end.” Levine said.

Ahead for KUA is the Belmont Hill Tournament after Christmas. Levine feels that his team could use the break to get its legs back under them and looks forward to the bigger challenges in its schedule.

“We got to stay fresh and we got to figure out ways to grind out wins again tough opponents.” Levine said.

Game of the Week

KUA vs. Nobles, Flood-Marr Tournament championship game

Nobles showed why it is a top team in prep hockey this season, as it combined for four goals over a strong KUA defense.

Senior forward P.J. Falvey (Hingham, Mass.) opened the scoring for Nobles in the first. From that point on KUA was out of the game as Nobles dominated the puck for most of the game. When the final whistle blew, Nobles won 4-1 and took home the championship.

New England power rankings

1. Lawrence Academy (5-0-1)
2. Noble and Greenough (7-1-0)
3. Phillips Exeter (8-1-0)
4. Kimball Union (9-1-0)
5. Albany Academy (8-1-0)
6. Salisbury (7-2-0)
7. St. Paul’s (6-2-0)
8. Avon Old Farms (6-2-1)
9. St. Sebastian's (6-1-0)
10. Gunnery (6-2-1)
11. Holderness (7-2-0)
12. Westminster (4-2-0)
13. Brunswick (6-2-0)
14. Cushing (4-2-2)
15. Berkshire (5-2-2)
16. South Kent (5-2-0)
17. St. Mark's (5-2-1)
18. Brewster Academy (4-2-0)
19. Middlesex (3-1-0)
20. Choate (4-3-0)

Justin Churchill can be reached at