April 25, 2013

Southern comfort helps Brooks win first championship

By Mike Zhe

Brooks School won its first Piatelli/Simmons title in March, knocking off top-seeded Kents Hill in the championship game. (Photo by Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)

SALEM, N.H. — Georgia on their minds?

If it isn’t, maybe it should be.

Brooks School capped off its finest season with a Piatelli/Simmons (small school) championship last month, beating top-seeded Kents Hill, 4-1, in the final at the Icenter for the first New England title in program history.

On a team that prides itself on defense, it was a pair of Georgia products — senior defenseman Mitch Nylen and senior goalie Colin Langham — that formed the backbone. They are two of four Georgia players on the team, a group that includes brothers K.J. and Connor Moore.

“Yeah, the legacy continues,” laughed Nylen, echoing Langham outside a jubilant locker room after the tournament final. “Hey, they keep coming here and keep doing a great job, so hopefully it will continue.”

Four different players scored goals for Brooks, which got 14 saves from Langham and played an almost airtight defensive game against explosive Kents Hill.

“We knew they had a lot of offensive weapons,” said Nylen. “So we just knew it was going to be five-on-five in the zone, and we were going to have to limit their time and space. From top to bottom, everyone just did a great job with that.”

Defenseman Cam Armstrong (first goal of the season), K.J. Moore, Ian Speliotis and Nick Vasilopoulos scored the goals for Brooks, which has enjoyed an upward progression under coach Dave Ries.

“It’s just having the right group of kids, who do things the right way, who love Brooks School and are in it for the right reasons,” said Ries.

Kents Hill (23-8-2) got its lone goal from Drew Sommerhoff late in the second period, making it 3-1. But it didn’t have enough to erase the deficit and claim its first title since 2008.

Two years ago the Bishops took a big step forward, finishing 11-8-3. Last year they were 16-11-1, sharing the title in the ISL’s Eberhart Division with Rivers and reaching the semifinals of this tournament.

This year, the Bishops won the Eberhart outright by beating Rivers, St. George’s and Buckingham, Browne & Nichols down the stretch, and then had to knock off another league foe — sixth-seeded Middlesex — on the way to the final.

 “We had two races to three,” said Langham, “one to capture the ISL and one to capture this. We just all got together. After break, we all played together.

“It was fun, especially with Middlesex, since we tied them 2-2 in the regular season. Honestly, this was just the perfect way to end our senior year. There’s no better way you could actually write this.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2013 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

Twitter: @MikeZhe603
Email: mzhe@hockeyjournal.com