Boys Prep Hockey – Martin/Earl Large School Championship: For Third Time In Five Years, Kent Is King

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 30 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Daily Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for Mens Prep School hockey since 1988, as well as womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. for almost 20 years. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.

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The Kent School braintrust of (l to r) assistant captain Braden Pohlma, assistant captain Gio DiGiulian, captain Teddy Mallgrave and assistant captain Owen Mahar with Martin/Earl championship trophy. (Dave Arnold photo)

For the third time in five seasons, Kent School is the Martin/Earl Large School champions in Boys Prep hockey.

In Sunday’s championship game at Harvard, the fifth-seeded Lions squeaked out a 3-2 win over third-seeded Dexter Southfield. Senior Gio DiGiulian broke a 2-2 tie with with title-clinching goal with just 47.8 seconds remaining in regulation.

Kent knocked off Deefield 4-1 in the quarterfinal round, and then Berkshire, 5-4 in Saturday’s semifinal.

“Building a strong team for year happens all around the NEPSAC, but doing it year in and year out requires a level of commitment from the school, coaches, administrators and support staff this is a step above,” said Kent coach Dale Reinhardt. “I think it also speaks to the experience our players and students have at Kent. From a recruiting perspective, there is no more powerful recruiting tool than the voices of the players who have played in your program. We keep being able to reload our roster because our alums had such a positive experience they can’t wait to talk about it and share it with those who come next.”

Not lost in the win was the play of Kent goaltender Aidan Hopewell. The Shields held a big advantage in shots on net, but could only get two behind the senior from Ashburn, VA.

Kent School is the 2024 Martin/Earl Large School champions
(Dave Arnold photo)

“From a micro perspective, I think we had the two best players in the game with Aiden Hopewell standing on his head, especially in the first period, and Gio being Gio and scoring two goals,” said Reinhardt.

The teams traded first period goals. DiGiulian, a Cornell recruit, opened the scoring for Kent. It was matched less than a minute later by Dexter Southfield defenseman Matt Hines, whose shot from the point deflected past Hopewell off a skate.

It stayed 1-1 until the third period, when Owen Mahar gave Kent (18-8-2) its second lead of the game.

Later in the period, Dexter Southfield’s Joe Marchi tied it at 2-2, only to see DiGiuilian rise up and pot the game-winner late. The senior collected the puck in the slot, wheeled around and buried a wrist shot.

“Gio did what Gio does,” Reinhardt said. “He found a way to get a puck to the back of the net. He is just a pure goal scorer. 24-25-49 is no joke of a line with the schedule we play. I have no reservations saying Gio is the best player in New England, and we have seen most of them.”

To reach the final, Dexter Southfield had a pair of solid wins over Belmont Hill (6-3) and Andover (4-1).

** Featured photo also courtesy of Dave Arnold

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