EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 24, 2013

Central must take the tough road back to Super 8

High School Hockey
David Willis

---- — LAWRENCE — Super 8 selection day has made for some very stressful Saturday mornings in recent years for Central Catholic hockey.

“Everyone’s sitting around on their computers and clicking refresh waiting for every update from our coaches,” joked Raiders captain Nick Gorski. “And this year was no different.”

Central Catholic once again received some great news yesterday, but will again have to earn its shot at another berth in the Super 8.

The Raiders (13-5-3) were selected as the No. 8 seed yesterday, meaning they will have to play their way into elite tourney, by taking on No. 9 Hingham (13-7-2) in one of two play-in games tomorrow.

“This is what all the work and sacrifice throughout the season is for,” said Central head coach Mike Jankowski. “This is something that you just never take for granted. The kids are thrilled, and it makes everything worth it. Now we control our own destiny.”

Central will face the Harbormen, who won the 2010 Super 8 title, at 5:30 p.m. in Stoneham. The winner advances to the Super 8 first round, while the loser will drop back and become a top seed in the Division 1 North tourney.

This marks the fourth straight season Central has had to take the long road. It won play-in games last season, 2011 and 2009 and lost in 2010.

“There is honestly nothing like the Super 8,” said Gorski. “The excitement is amazing. We want to do everything we can to make it.”

The Raiders had the best showing in area history last year, when they advanced to the semifinals before falling to eventual champ Malden Catholic.

The tourney features a different format this season in the opening round, which is now a best-of-three series between two sets of four teams. Previously, it was a round-robin format with the teams advancing based on goal differential.

“I fully support the change,” said Jankowski, whose Raiders were eliminated based on the tiebreaker in 2011. “You don’t have to sit there and try to do the math to figure out where you stand.”

Central faces an extra challenge in the play-in, having to go without star Mike Kelleher, who is tied for the area lead with 21 goals. He is serving a suspension for breaking MIAA rules.

“We just want to go into Monday and focus on winning that game,” said Jankowski. “We will worry about things after that. The team is still very confident.”

The Raiders still pack plenty of punch, led by Lloyd Hayes (10 goals) — the hero of the play-in victory as a freshman in 2011 — and Alex Lester (10 goals). Gorski leads an intimidating defense, and goalie Colin Soucy has been a tremendous addition, with a 1.80 goals-against average.

If Central does advance, the Raiders earn a date with top-seeded St. John’s Prep, a team they defeated in the regular season.

“We have had good fortune to be a part of this tournament,” said Jankowski. “And it comes down to defense and goaltending most of the time. The team is thrilled, and we just want to play.”

Division 1A (Super 8)

Top Seeds: 1. St. John’s Prep 17-2-1, 2. Springfield Cathedral 15-1-4; 3. BC High 12-3-3, 4. Austin Prep 13-1-6

Power Players: Mike Kelleher, Central Catholic, 21 goals, 6 assists; Lloyd Hayes, Central, 10-9—19; Colin Soucy, Central, 1.80 goals-against average; Brian Pinho, St. John’s Prep/North Andover, 12-24—36; Billy Price, St. John’s Prep, 1.35 GAA; Tyler Sifferlen, Malden Catholic/Nroth Andover, 13-14—27; Ara Nazarian, Malden Catholic, 16-15—31; Patrick Kramer, BC High, 11-16—28; Peter Cronin, BC High, 1.38 GAA; Liam Coughlin, Catholic Memorial, 24-15—39; Brendan Collett, Catholic Memorial, 2.39 GAA; Nolan Vesey, Austin Prep/North Reading, 13-11—24; Elijah Harris, Austin Prep/Haverhill, 2.09 GAA; Peter Crinella, Springfield Cathedral, 22-15—37; John Liquori, Springfield Cathedral, 1.93 GAA; Sam D’Antuono, Hingham, 17-13-30

Bracket Breakdown: Led by North Andover’s Brian Pinho, St. John’s Prep has come a long way since losing to Central Catholic in December, and is the team to beat. BC High owns the top seed in many other polls, while Catholic Memorial could add championship No. 14 to its trophy case.

Willis’ selections: 1. St. John’s Prep — Providence College-bound Pinho is a dynamic presence and coach Kristian Hanson knows how to win; 2. BC High — With wins over St. John’s, CM and Malden Catholic, the Eagles have beat the best; 3. Malden Catholic — The two-time defending champs had a tough start, but have won six straight and Tyler Sifferlenof North Andover is a dynamic presence

Sectional Sleeper: Central Catholic — A decisive win over St. John’s Prep is reason for optimism. Colin Soucy has been a rock in net, and if Mike Kelleher returns from suspension (rules violation) it would be a huge lift for an offense that has scuffled without him.

Central Catholic

Opener: Tomorrow, No. 9 Hingham, 5:30 p.m. in Stoneham

Prime time players: Mike Kelleher, Sr., forward, 21-6—28; Lloyd Hayes, Jr., forward, 10-9—19; Alex Lester, Jr., defense, 10-8-18

The road ahead: Hingham stands between the Raiders and the Super 8. The Harbormen are led by Sam D’Antuono (17 goals). A win would earn them a shot at top seed St. John’s Prep at the start of the best-of-3 first round.

Division 1 North

Top Seeds: TBA (After Super 8 play-in)

Power Players: Scott Campbell, Andover, 13-6—19; Mark Campbell, Andover, 10-8—18; Colby Gilbert, Andover, 2.18 GAA Tommy Bishop, Chelmsford, 22-22—44; Derek Noble, Chelmsford, 1.70 GAA; Zach Blanch, Arlington Catholic, 16-16—32

Bracket Breakdown: The losers of the Super 8 play-ins drop down to become the top seeds here, which could prove a nifty consolation prize for Central Catholic if the falter tomorrow.

Willis’ selections: 1. The Super 8 losers become the favorites; 2. Chelmsford — Two of its three losses were to Central Catholic. Tommy Bishop is a dynamic scorer; 3. Arlington Catholic — Wins over Central and Archbishop William are impressive resume-builders

Sectional Sleeper: Andover — Hockey logic always dictates a hot goalie is the key to victory, and the Golden Warriors have that in Colby Gilbert and his four shutouts.

Andover

Opener: The Super 8 wait has the Division 1 pairings on hold

Prime time players: Scott Campbell, Sr., forward, 13-6—19; Mark Campbell, Soph., forward, 10-8—18; Colby Gilbert, Sr., goalie, 2.18 GAA

The road ahead: The road won’t be easy, but the victory over Central Catholic has the Golden Warriors feeling pretty good.

Division 2 North

Top Seeds: 1. Beverly 18-1-1, 2. Lincoln-Sudbury 15-2-3, 3. Wilmington 16-3-2, 4. Tewksbury 14-3-1

Power Players: Thomas Day, North Reading, 12-6—18; Billy Sexton, North Reading, 10-6—16; Keith Linnane, North Reading, 2.88 GAA; Graham Doherty, Beverly, 17-11—28; Jordan Dow, Lincoln-Sudbury, 27-15—42; Erik Kessler, Lincoln-Sudbury, 1.61 GAA; Cam Owens. Wilmington, 14-16—30; Drew Foley, Wilmington, 1.18 GAA; Derek Petti, Tewksbury, 21-26—47; Kyle Paquette, Tewksbury, 1.85 GAA; Jay Dylingowski, Newbuyrport, 10-10—20; Greg Penella, Boston Latin, 12-6—18; Michael Murray, Boston Latin, 1.95 GAA; A.J. Couto, Danvers, 17-7—24; Tucker Johnson, Wilmington, 14-8—22

Bracket Breakdown: Six combined losses for the top two seeds make it a tough upset bid

Willis’ selections: 1. Lincoln-Sudbury — With Dow’s 27 goals they have a dangerous offense; 2. Wilmington — A near upset of Malden Catholic (3-2) means it can play against top competition; 3. Beverly — Graham Doherty comes in hot, with a hat trick in his regular season finale

Sectional Sleeper: Shawsheen — Haverhill may not have had a great season, but beating a Division 1 team is still a plus for the Rams

North Reading

Opener: Tuesday, vs. Boston Latin, 6 p.m. at Woburn

Prime time players: Thomas Day, Jr., forward, 12-6—18; Billy Sexton, Sr., forward, 10-6—16; Keith Linnane, Sr., goalie, 2.88 GAA

The road ahead: The Hornets face a very tough task in Boston Latin, which played Central Catholic to a 1-1 tie and blew out MVC/DCL foes North Andover and Haverhill.

Girls Division 1

Top Seeds: 1. Woburn 17-0-3, 2. Beverly/Danvers 16-2-2, 3. Westford Academy 15-3-2, 4. St. Mary’s 15-3-4

Power Players: Veronica Alois, Andover, 12-9—21; Caroline Hughes, Andover, 10-10—20; Ashley Moran, Woburn, 23-25—48; Nicole Woods, Beverly, 22-19—41; Alison Butler, St. Mary’s, 31-23—54; Kendra Dow, Masconomet, 12-10—22; Ali O’Leary, Reading, 29-18—47; Melinda Vercollone, Lincoln-Sudbury, 14-11—25

Bracket Breakdown: Woburn is unbeaten, and that trend shouldn’t end

Willis’ selections: 1. Woburn — Led by Ashley Moran’s 48 points, the Tanners have been unstoppable; 2. Beverly/Danvers — Nicole Woods leads a dangerous attack; 3. St. Mary’s — Alison Butler has 31 goals.

Sectional Sleeper: Masconomet — Amanda Coppa and Alex Casale of North Andover play major roles for the Chieftains

Andover

Opener: Monday, at Winthrop/Lynn, 6:10 p.m.

Prime time players: Veronica Alois, Frosh., forward, 12-9—21; Caroline Hughes, Soph., forward, 10-10—20; Meg Leary, Sr., forward, 9-12—21

The road ahead: Winthrop/Lynn is hardly unbeatable (9-5-4). A victory means a date with top seed Woburn.

Girls Division 2

Top Seeds: 1. Duxbury 18-1-2; 2. Falmouth 16-1-2; 3. Wellesley 14-1-3; 4. Canton 16-3-1

Power Players: Amanda Conway, Tewksbury-Methuen, 44 goals; Hannah Murphy, Duxbury, 23 goals; Alexa Scribner, Falmouth, 19 goals; Cecily Docktor, Wellesley, 18 goals; Meaghan McKenna, Canton, 28 goals

Bracket Breakdown: A battle of three one-loss teams makes for a lot of parity

Willis’ selections: 1. Duxbury — Rachel Myette’s 0.97 GAA makes them the team to beat; 2. Wellesley — Cecily Docktor is one of two players with over 35 points; Falmouth — Alexa Scribner’s 19 goals leads the way

Sectional Sleeper: Sandwich — Claire Gauthier and Nicole Martin each have 24 goals

Tewksbury-Methuen

Opener: vs. Norwell, time and date TBA

Prime time players: Amanda Conway, Soph., forward, 44 goals

The road ahead: A win in the opener, and Methuen will take on No. 4 seed Canton.