MIAA Boys D2 North Tourney Preview: Lowell Catholic leads 13-team field

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopouloshttp://www.hnibnews.com
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 MIAA Boys Division 2 North sectional may have only 13 teams involved but you can bet there will be plenty of action. Five first-round games are slated to kick off on Tuesday night.

The MVC/Dual County II and Northeastern Conference North each sends four teams to the dance, while the Cape Ann League has three.

Here is a preview of the teams by seeding:

#1 Lowell Catholic (16-2-2): The Crusaders have made quite a splash in this their first year in the Division 2 Tournament, grabbing the top seed. Now, they hope to make good on it.

Nathan Donaldson
Lowell Catholic

“The key to making a deep run is to continue to play sound fundamental hockey, especially in our own end of the ice,” said Lowell Catholic coach Tom Curran. “That probably sounds cliche but it really is that simple.”

Offensively, the Crusaders have many weapons with the likes of juniors Mitch Andrea (15-11-26), Nate Donaldson (15-12-27) and Mikas Kulbis-Marino (10-13-23), and sophomores Connor Doherty (17-19-36) and Alex Graves (9-16-25).

Junior Andrius Kulbis-Marino (23 pts) and senior Cam Pereira (13 pts) hold down the fort on defense. Senior goalie Steve D’Urso fashioned a solid 1.52 gaa.

#2 North Reading (15-2-3): The Cape Ann League champs scored just 54 goals this season, but have got things done with an excellent defensive game, allowing a scant 19 goals in 20 games.

John Day
North Reading

“We do place an emphasis on defense and our results have been outstanding,” said North Reading coach John Giuliotti. “This is a total team effort not with just our defensemen. We ask our forwards to work within the systems and when there have been breakdowns, John Day (goaltender) has come up with big saves at critical times.”

Day has a dazzling 0.95 gaa heading into the post-season. He is fronted by a solid group of defensemen led by senior James Doran and junior Kevin Murphy (14 pts).

The Hornets scoring is spread out, paced by juniors Matt Correiri (15 pts), Pat Scanlon (12 pts) and Owen Maxwell (11 pts), senior Matt Gravallese (11 pts) and sophomore Josh Zelilman (13 pts).

#3 Danvers (15-4-2): What a year it has been for the Falcons, going from missing the post-season to a Northeastern Conference North title and #3 seed.

“The players saw a huge improvement in the second half of the 2015-2016 season and with the entire team back our team set goals of qualifying for the state tournament, winning a Northeastern Conference title and now challenging for a Division 2 state title,” said Danvers coach Steve Baldassare.

Junior Tommy Mento (30-20-50 pts) is one of the top scorers on the North Shore. Senior captain Rob Tibbetts (14-6-20) and juniors Nic DiScullio (10-13-23) and Conor Purtell (13-26-39) have had big years up front as well for coach Steve Baldassare.

Junior Nick Taylor (2-25-27) has been the main anchor on defense. Senior Kris Mullaney and junior Colin Desmond are keys as well. Junior Yegor Bublik handles the job between the pipes.

Charlie Page

#4 Winthrop (13-3-4): The Vikings finished second behind Danvers in the NEC North. They played their usual defensive-style game again this winter, but added some offensive flash, scoring 79 goals.

Coach Dale Dunbar’s offense is led by senior Charlie Page (21-25-46), the NEC North MVP. He is assisted by juniors Henry Brooks (14-16-30), Steve Holgerson (19 pts) and Brian Chalmers (18 pts).

Senior Dave Barry (11 pts) is an All-Conference defenseman for the Vikings. Senior Matt Tarantino and junior Mike Lane have key roles as well in front of sophomore goalie Ryan Skoczylas.

#5 Methuen (12-4-4): First-year head coach Bill Blackwell figured the Rangers would be improved this season. The result? the most wins by a Methuen team in 23 years.

Patrick Cooper
Connor Dickson

“We felt like we could be better and had the state tournament as a goal,” said Blackwell. “Our offense has been amazing – we have a chance to have six players with 20 points or more. We do realize that defense wins games, especially in the state tournament so our team defense will need to improve if we are to make a run.”

Juniors Justin Pitari (16-21-37),  Brett Blackwell (8-26-34) and Patrick Cooper (20-6-26), along with senior Connor Dickson (15-12-27) and sophomore Ryan Mackey (10-15-25) and freshman Matt Horan (19 pts) lead the attack.

Freshman Justin Silverio has had a nice year on the blue line. Sophomore Devin Coonradt has seen the bulk of the action in goal.

#6 Tewksbury (13-5-2): A perennial tournament participant, the Redmen started slow but have come on and will post a threat in the post-season.

Jonathan Fowler
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Steve Johnson
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Colby Pierce

They too have a balanced scoring attack led by juniors Steve Johnson (10-16-26) and Rich Colarusso (12-14-26). Juniors Tommy Craig (16 pts) and Colby Pierce (13 pts) and freshman Campbell Pierce (16 pts) add to the mix up front.

Mike Provvisionato

Coach Derek Doherty is blessed to have three veteran senior defensemen to rely on in Jonathan Fowler (19 pts), Ryan Flynn (12 pts), and Ryan Morris (9 pts). Freshman Patrick Letourneau (1.93 gaa) has played well in goal for the Redmen.

#7 Lincoln-Sudbury (12-5-3): The Warriors are the defending D2 North sectional champions. While they don’t have the firepower of last year’s club, they still are a dangerous club.

“We have a more balanced team,” said coach Hal Gill. “Our defense has been very solid. We have been scoring by committee this year and I hope it continues in the post-season. To have success, it will be through 3-4 lines. It’s going to take a total team effort.

Cam Kessler

What the Warriors do have is a veteran senior goalie in Cam Kessler, who backboned last year’s run to the Garden. Senior Ryan Tobin and junior Michael Provvisionato anchor the blue line.

Up front, L-S will look to the likes of senior Ryan Rogers and juniors Dan Desmarais and Owen Toland for production.

#8 North Andover (12-6-3): The Scarlet Knights enjoyed some good success in the regular season that they look to duplicate in the tournament. The team has been getting great production from its junior and senior classes.

“We do have a very strong junior class that has been getting a majority of the points but our seniors are doing a great job leading the team,” said North Andover coach Peter Marfione.

Braden Haley

Junior Matt Lucy (15-24-39) spearheads a forward group that includes senior Mark Bosco (19 pts), Nolan Heinze (18 pts), juniors Zach Keating (13-11-24) and Tyler Buonopane (14-10-24) and freshman Patrick Moran (12-11-23).

Seniors John Phinney and Casey Hughes are cornerstone of the defensive unit, and senior Ben Carlson has played consistently well in goal all season.

Ronan Cunningham

#9 Marblehead (12-6-4): The Headers got off to a terrible start (0-4-1) but have been a blazing hot 12-2-3 since and will be a tough opponent.

Senior Braden Haley (18-23-41) headlines the offense for coach Bob Jackson, with help from seniors James McCarthy (20-12-32) and Drew Cioffi (11-19-30), junior Sam Cioffi and sophomore Jacob Garfield.

Junior Aidan Gillis and senior Ridge Driscoll are a pair of solid defensemen, while senior Ronan Cunningham should get the nod in goal.

#10 Pentucket (11-6-3): After a 13-year absence, the Sachems return to the post-season, an immediate goal when coach Mark Morreale took over as head coach.

“From Day 1, we made it a point that our goal for the season was to make the state tournament,” he said. “I’m very proud of the leadership and effort from the captains and upperclassmen, and very impressed with the improvement from the younger guys on the squad.”

Johnny Orlando
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Liam McDonough
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Anthony Orlando

Four senior forwards – Johnny Orlando (17-20-37), Brendan Lincoln (10-21-31), Max Whitmyer (8-22-30) and Ben Gardner (9-12-21) – pave the way offensively for the Sachems. Freshman Josh Smith has chipped in with a line of 6-8-14.

Jake Burridge

Defense is under the control of slick junior Liam McDonough (6-17-23) and junior Ethan Dore (10 pts). In goal, senior Anthony Orlando (1.68 gaa) has been nothing short of spectacular.

A.J. Sousa

#11 Stoneham (10-8-2): The Spartans were able to qualify from the rugged Middlesex League and look to make a nice post-season run.

Junior Jake Burridge and senior Eric Roberts will be keys up front for coach Paul Sacco, while senior A.J. Sousa and junior Cam Sacco will lead the defense in front of senior goalie Anthony Scarpa.

Brendan Patterson

#12 Saugus (9-7-4):  The Sachems achieved their goal of a post-season berth after a couple of sub-par seasons.

“It was our number one goal,” said coach Jeff Natalucci. “It was just a matter of us playing as a team to accomplish it, especially with a lot of returning players.”

Brendan Ronan

Seniors Brendan Ronan (18-12-30) and Brendan Patterson (11-8-19) will be key in the offensive zone, along with juniors Dante McGrane (17 pts) and Ryan Groark (14 pts).

Seniors Mike Sarnachhiaro (14 pts) and Jimmy Alcott (10 pts) should see a lot of minutes on the blue line with junior Nick Sanderson in goal.

#13 Lynnfield (10-8-2): The Pioneers have gone 3-1-1 down the stretch and hope to bring that momentum into the tournament.

Coach Jon Gardner will count on senior Johnny Percoskie and junior Cooper Maregni up front, and junior Joey Mack and sophomore Jarrett Simpson on the blue line. Goalie Dave Langone was named a Cape Ann League All Star.


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