High School Hockey
---- — DERRY — While the puck may now be lost somewhere in the world of unidentified practice equipment, Pinkerton’s Dominic Corsetto isn’t about to lose any sleep over its whereabouts.
After all, he doesn’t need a piece of rubber to remind him of living every young hockey player’s dream. Not with some terrific memories, along with a nifty gold medal and championship plaque.
“That goal was the perfect way to cap off an amazing season,” said Corsetto. “I never thought it was going to be my goal that gave us a championship. It was crazy.”
One season ago, Corsetto wrote his name into Pinkerton Academy and local hockey lore by scoring the game-winning goal in the Astros’ 3-2 Division 1 state title game victory over Manchester Memorial.
But while he may have claimed the ultimate achievement in high school hockey, Corsetto made the decision to return to Pinkerton for another run with the Astros this season, even as so many of his championship teammates made the decision to jump to either junior hockey or prep school.
“I’m afraid to think about where we would be without him,” said Pinkerton coach Casey Kesselring. “He is our go-to guy when we need a goal, and he makes sure everyone is accountable. He has the tenacity you don‘t see too often, and he is exactly the kind of person you want your team to look up to. He has a nearly-unanimous pick for captain.”
After an Eagle-Tribune All-Star campaign last season, Corsetto has stepped into the role as captain and No. 1 option for his squad, scoring a team-high 11 goals for the Astros who sit at 7-4-3.
“He has stepped up a lot as a player and leader,” said his brother, sophomore Gio Corsetto. “He is the guy we go to when we need to big play or need advice. He knows what it takes to be successful.”
Dominic has embraced the new role an Astros team that saw its three top goal-scorers from a season ago — future Division 1 college players Zach Sanford and J.D. Dudek and along with Brendan Philippon — leave to play elsewhere, breaking up what could have been the most dominant team in New Hampshire in years.
“If they were all back we would be champion favorite for sure,” said Corsetto. “You are of course disappointed to lose anyone from a championship team. I knew Zach and J.D. were going to go, but didn’t know about some of the other guys. I respect their decision and don’t want to make judgment.
“But, for me, there’s nothing better than playing for the school with your friends. When you go to a high school game, and there is a huge crowd, you have something you can’t get in juniors.”
Two seasons ago, however, Corsetto nearly saw his hockey career derailed, after suffering a serious concussion during a February matchup against Exeter.
“We were on the power play and I was skating through the neutral zone,” he said.
“Coach always told me to take it wide, but I took it up the middle and a kid’s elbow hit me in the forehead. It was a really tough process to go though.”
Corsetto did not return until the postseason, and played sparingly in the Astros’ upset tourney loss to archrival Londonderry.
A season later, he would experience an even more frightening moment during a January game against Concord.
“I was skating up the left side and wasn’t looking,” he said. “Then I picked me head up and a guy hit me. I was knocked out cold for a couple of minutes. It was scary. I had another concussion, but strangely even though I was knocked out the concussion wasn’t as bad as the one the year before.
“My father took the helmet I was wearing when I got both concussions and threw it in the trash. He literally threw it away, then bought me a new one. I feel much safer now. You can’t play scared, because if you do that’s when you get hurt.”
Corsetto returned to finish with 13 goals and 33 points, eighth best in the region, with the last his best in the title game.
“Someone said to me, ‘I can’t believe you didn’t have Dudek and Sanford on the ice with the clock ticking down in the title game,’” said Kesselring.
“I told him that, in the clutch, you have to have Dom on the ice. He has this relentless attitude. He’s so tenacious, and has the speed and quickness to succeed.”
While the idea of moving to juniors did enter Corsetto’s head in the offseason, he decided Pinkerton was still where his heart was.
“When you are playing for your high school team you can really connect with the guys in a way you can’t in juniors,” he said.
“I felt like it was best for me to play my senior year. Plus, it costs $7-8 thousand to play juniors.”
Playing on a top line alongside his brother Gio and Connor Brady, Corsetto (11-12—23) has helped Pinkerton rebound from a 2-2-2 start to improve to 7-4-3 on the heels of three straight wins.
“This is an inexperienced team that took a while to get going,” he said.
“We feel like we have a very balanced team that will do everything we can to win. There are three, even four lines that can play, and we feel like we can make another run.”
Best of the best
Methuen superstar Matt Bauchman, after a slow start, has caught fire of late with 10 goals in his last 10 games and continues to cement his legacy as one of The Eagle-Tribune area’s all-time greatest scorers.
Bauchman, a three-time Eagle-Tribune All-Star, now has 11 goals for the season and 80 goals for his prolific career. That is nine more goals than Eagle-Tribune Player of the Decade Paul Jaskot scored in his legendary career at Central Catholic (2003-07).
With five games to go in his high school career, Bauchman would need a tremendous effort to reach 100 goals.
But with 12 more tallies he would pass 2008 Eagle-Tribune Player of the Year Ryan Sifferlen of North Andover (91 goals) and former Salem star Pat Hallagan (89) for the most goals for an area player since the year 2000.
Red hot Raider
Central Catholic’s 1-1 tie with Austin Prep on Wednesday was a very unusual night for the Raiders.
Mike Kelleher didn’t score a goal.
Since the calendar turned to 2013, the Central star has been just about unstoppable, scoring at least one goal in eight straight contests.
Kelleher has scored 14 goals in 10 games since the new year. That includes two hat tricks (vs. Andover and Chelmsford) and two more two-goal games. The Raiders are 6-1-2 over that stretch.
The senior winger has been on fire the entire season, scoring an area-leading 20 goals.
Three games to get to
Saturday, Salem at Londonderry (Salem Icenter), 4:30 p.m.: A showdown of two of the top three teams in NH Division 1. The Blue Devils rolled over the Lancers 7-2 in their first matchup, but Londonderry is much improved. They share a rink, so it’s a home game for both teams.
Wednesday, Central Catholic at Malden Catholic (Malden Valley Forum), 7:10 p.m.: The two-time defending Super 8 champs eliminated the Raiders from the tournament a season ago in the Super 8 semifinals. MC features a bunch of locals including UMass Lowell-bound Tyler Sifferlen.
Wednesday, Pinkerton at Londonderry (Salem Icenter), 3:50 p.m.: The Astros have caught fire of late, while the Lancers will be coming off their big matchup with Salem. The two have not played yet, but face off twice in a matter of five games.
Carrying the torch
Pinkerton’s Dominic Corsetto has remained to lead an Astros squad that was hit hard by exits.
Player 2011-12 stats Would be 2012-13 team comment
Zach Sanford 36-33—69 Pinkerton senior Islanders Hockey Club (EJHL) 2012 Eagle-Tribune Player of the Year
J.D. Dudek 20-33—53 Pinkerton junior Kimball Union Committed to play college at Boston College
Dominic Corsetto 13-20—33 Pinkerton senior Pinkerton Academy Scored game-winning goal in state title game
Brendan Philippon 19-11—30 Pinerton junior Valley Jr. Warriors (EJHL) Corsetto’s linemate last season
1. Central Catholic 10-2-3
2. Salem 8-2-1
3. Pinkerton 7-4-3
4. Brooks 8-5-2
5. Londonderry 8-3-1
Honorable mention: North Reading (8-4-1), Whittier/Amesbury (7-7-1)