The 2020 MIAA Division 2 North boys hockey tournament gets under way Tuesday with all 16 teams in action. The “16” is the magic number, making for a complete bracket with eight first-round games and no teams earning a bye.
Here is a look at the field:
No. 1. Masconomet (16-3-1): The Chieftains are the top seed for the second year in a row, after also repeating as Cape Ann League champions. However, what coach Andrew Jackson’s team has to try to erase is the memory of last postseason, when the Chieftains were upset by CAL rival Triton in the quarterfinals.
To do so, they will ride the goaltending of senior captain Tucker Hanson, who was named the Cape Ann MVP after posting a 1.66 GAA and .913 save percentage with a pair of shutouts. Hanson has been backed up capably by Shane D’Agostino, who won all four of his starts with a 1.24 GAA and .909 SP.
“Our mantra has been balanced scoring, tough D and solid goaltending,” Jackson said.
That offensive balance features nine players in double figures in points, led by senior forward Jason Schueler (13-16-29), junior Payton Defeo (9-15-24) and freshman Kai Roberto (9-14-23). Juniors Logan Campbell (6-12-18) and Aaron Zenus (9-7-16) also are key contributors, along with senior forward/defenseman and captain Shawn Callahan (4-12-16).
Senior forward Kirby Glynn (6-9-15) is another captain with senior defenseman Jack Corcoran. Sophomore Richie Guarino (7-6-13) and senior defenseman Matt Elliott (3-9-12) are the other double-digit scorers.
No. 2 Lincoln Sudbury (16-3-2): If defending Division 2 state champion Canton remains the talk entering the postseason, then so is the team that snapped its 43-game unbeaten streak, which the Warriors did two weeks ago. Now L-S enters the North bracket as a team everyone is watching after winning the Merrimack Valley/Dual County 2 championship.
The good news is that, according to coach Matt Carlin, “Right now we’ll be the healthiest we’ve been.” Senior Jack Hankey was named the league’s Goalie of the Year, and he will be supported by a strong defense with seniors Tim Duffy and Colby Jones, while senior Will Dale also jumps back in after missing most of the season with an injury.
Offensively the Warriors will look to seniors Johnny Oblak (11-15-26) and Angelo Venuto (18-15-33), as well as junior Jacob Noyes and emerging sophomore power forward Brendan Quinn.
“I’m proud of these guys,” said Carlin, noting L-S was the least penalized team in its league. “They play hard, and they play the right way.”
No. 3 Tewksbury (14-3-3): A year after winning the Division 2 North title, coach Derek Doherty’s Redmen won’t be sneaking up on anyone. Particularly after the season they had in the Merrimack Valley/Dual County 2 and against nonleague competition, proving once again to be among the teams to beat.
The clear sparks have been senior Campbell Pierce (18-17-35), the MVC/DCL 2 player of the year, along with junior forward William O’Keefe (14-29-43) and sophomore Jason Cooke (21-11-32). The defense led by senior Tom Barbati (6-14-20) and sophomore Caden Connors (4-14-18) also has been capable of contributing offensively. Sophomore Cole Stone (3-8-11) and juniors John Beatrice (6-3-9) and Asa DeRoche (4-5-9) add scoring depth at forward.
In goal, senior Patrick Letourneau had another standout season for the Redmen.
No. 4 Marblehead (14-3-4): The Headers overcame some “bumps in the road,” as coach Chris Wells called them, to be crowned Northeastern Conference North champions and earn a high seed in the tournament.
Marblehead has gotten strong play from a solid group of NEC All-Stars, including all-conference picks Peter Santeusanio (senior) in goal and Will Shull (junior) at forward. Shull has bounced back from missing several games at midseason because of injury and will join fellow NEC All-Stars Colin Hart and Zach Piersol, both seniors, at forward. Senior defenseman Loch Sheridan was another NEC All-Star.
“These guys have really been the motor for us this season while the rest of the team fills in their roles around them,” Wells said.
“Heading into the playoffs we have stressed as coaches how we need to be smart with the puck in our own zone, to not have turnovers and give other teams easy opportunities. We need to use our speed, physicality and depth to wear down teams. We can’t have any let-ups and have our foot on the gas at all times.”
No. 5. Triton (14-4-2): Vikings coach Ryan Sheehan said his team will continue to rely on its veteran defense and some solid depth at forward as it looks to make another deep run through the tough bracket.
Senior captain Tyler Godfrey is the leader of that blue line group and was named a first-team Cape Ann League All-Star along with senior captain Brad Killion and junior James Tatro at forward.
Senior Connor Kohan, an alternate captain, joins Godfrey on defense along with junior Brady Lindholm. Both were second-team CAL All-Stars. Junior Trevor Quigley rounds out the top two defense groups.
Freshman Wesley Rollins has stepped in as the starting goalie for the Vikings.
No. 6 North Andover (12-3-6): The Scarlet Knights are another in a strong cast of teams out of the Merrimack Valley/Dual County 2 that are capable of making a run through the bracket. The Knights are solid in the key position with sophomore Patrick Greene posting a .934 save percentage this season.
Greene will be bolstered defensively by senior Keegan Hughes, juniors Nick Herald, Liam McAdam and Tim Berube, and sophomore Brendan Donnelly.
Up front, junior Cole Fagan (11-12-23) has been the leading scorer for coach Peter Marfione and North Andover, followed by senior Jimmy Boyle (8-14-22), sophomore Andrew Perry (14-5-19) and junior Adam Heinze (4-13-17).
No. 7 Gloucester (12-5-3): It’s almost been two different seasons for the Fishermen, who started out 0-3-2 before turning in around after the New Year. Coach Derek Geary gives much of the credit to senior goalie Connor Vittands, who was named Northeastern Conference North MVP. Vittands made 44 saves in a 3-1 win against Lynnfield on Jan. 1.
“Who knows where we’d be had we started 0-4-2,” said Geary, whose team went 12-2-1 from that point forward.
Sophomore Jack Costanzo (18-17-35) and senior E.J. Field (15-19-34), both NEC All-Stars, power the Gloucester offense along with Jeremy Abreu (13 goals, who transitioned from defense to forward. Freshman Jack Delaney (5-14-19) also turned in an impressive debut season.
No. 8 Everett (12-7-1): The return of the Greater Boston League was a big boost for coach Alex Naumann and the Crimson Tide, who are back in the postseason for the first time in four years. Bolstered by a co-op with Mystic Valley, the Tide have a clear top three forwards in sophomores Maxell Brown (18-12-30) and Brendan Currie (15-11-26), as well as freshman David Saia (11-10-21).
Junior Brian Delorey (6-6-12) has added some scoring depth along with freshman Dante Masucci (3-5-8).
Senior captain D.J. Schovanec is in net, with a defense that includes juniors Aaron Hickey and Kaleigh Snook.
No. 9 Boston Latin (11-6-3): The Wolfpack were one of the clear best Division 2 teams in the state for much of the season before struggling down the stretch, going 1-5-2 in their final eight games. However, they still loom as a team that can make a deep run after making the D2 North final a year ago.
Senior captains Owen O’Brien and Sam Hutchinson have sparked the offense all season, but coach Frank Woods’ team has had plenty of depth. Senior captain and forward Joe Bova has been a key contributor along with senior Noah Sargent, junior Tom Butler and senior Nick Pappas.
Sophomore Damon Alexander and junior Robert Melvin have been solid two-way players on the blue line in front of sophomore goalies Luke Young and Aidan Fitzgerald.
- Wakefield (11-6-3): The Warriors are among three Division 2 teams that qualified out of the tough Middlesex League facing predominantly Division 1 opponents, so expect them to be battle-tested for the postseason.
Coach Mike Geary’s Warriors have had balanced scoring throughout the lineup, led by senior captains Cam Souza and Scott Elwell at forward, as well as Chris Coombs on defense.
Other key contributors include juniors Oliver Miller, Cal Tryder and Brendan Vacca, sophomore Joey O’Brien and freshman Matthew Elwell. Junior Matthew Moniz is out for the season with an injury.
Senior Luke Roberts has been strong in net for Wakefield, which yielded just 2.3 goals per game and finished 4-0-2 in its last six games.
No. 11 Lynnfield (11-7-2): The Pioneers skated to a fourth-place finish in the tough Cape Ann League, which included a win over Newburyport and tie with Triton, as well as a tough one-goal loss early in the season against CAL champ Masconomet. So coach Jon Gardner’s team should be competitive with the best in the bracket.
Senior forwards Ronnie Fuccillo and John Simonetti have led the way along at forward along with senior alternate captain Sam Pifko, with senior captain Danny Mack anchoring the defense. Seniors Jack Hammersley and Sean Robbins also have come up big offensively.
Junior Jake DeBenedictis is the starter in net for the Pioneers.
No. 12 Winthrop (9-8-3): The Vikings were in the rare position of needing a win or tie in their final regular-season game to get into the tournament. They got the win, and now coach Dale Dunbar’s troops will look to keep it rolling throughout the postseason.
Senior forward Mike Brooks and junior forward Joey Holgersen were named to the Northeastern Conference All-Star team, Brooks is one of the senior captains along with senior forward Joe Deeb and defenseman Noah Evangelista, with Holgersen as an alternate captain.
Ryan Holvernale is in net for the Vikings, who allowed an even 2.00 goals per game.
No. 13. Wilmington (9-8-3): The Wildcats are another team that loom as a dangerous first-round opponent. “We feel that having gone through the gauntlet of the Middlesex League we are a battle-tested team,” veteran Wilmington coach Steve Scanlon said.
Scanlon will look to the senior trio of Christian Robarge (9-10-19), Joe Hill (9-10-19) and Jared Venezia (5-11-16) to spark the offense. Junior Matt Pendenza (4-9-13) is the top player on the blue line, while the Wildcats have gotten typically strong goaltending from junior Sam Cedrone (2.04 GAA, 2 shutouts).
“We will have to play well for three periods in all three zones,” Scanlon said. “Can’t have an off night in the tourney.”
No. 14 North Reading (9-8-3): The Hornets had one of the best turnarounds in the state this season under first-year coach Brian McAuliffe after going 2-18-0 a season ago. Among the key wins were against fellow Div. 2 North tournament team Danvers as well as traditional Cape Ann power Newburyport.
Senior captains Alex VerColen (12-14-26) and Billy McCann (13-12-25) have shouldered much of the scoring load for the Hornets. McAuliffe also credits sound team defense in front of senior goalie Cam Alter (2.40 GAA, 4 SO), who McAuliffe said “is playing his best hockey heading into the playoffs.”
No. 15. Danvers (9-9-2): The Falcons got on a roll in the latter part of the season after starting out 1-6, which could make them a tough matchup for a team out of the bottom of the bracket.
Sophomore Brett Baldassare (19-19-38) and senior captain Cal Mansfield (17-20-37) are the clear 1-2 punch offensively for the Falcons, who also have gotten strong play defensively from senior captain Cam DiMeglio and junior Michael Papamechail. Junior Adam Bridgeo was solid in goal (9-5-1, 2.37 GAA).
Baldassare, Mansfield, Papamechail and Bridgeo were Northeastern Conference All-Stars along with senior forward Tyler Puska. Mansfield was named all-conference.
“We are playing our best hockey at the right time of year,” said Danvers coach Steve Baldassare, who noted his team has been tested already with games against Masconomet, North Andover, Boston Latin, Marblehead and Triton.
“(That) will hopefully have us prepared for this year’s tournament,” Baldassare said.
No. 16 Stoneham (7-11-2): The Spartans needed the MIAA’s “Sullivan rule” to qualify – they earned more than 50 percent of their points in their games against Div. 2-3 opponents while playing in the mostly Div. 1 Middlesex League. But evidenced by their run to the state final two years ago, they can be a big factor from anywhere in the bracket.
Stoneham also already has a win this season against top seed Masconomet, its first-round opponent.
The defense has been a strength for coach Paul Sacco and the Spartans, led by senior captain Will O’Brien and alternate captain Mike Shannon in front of junior goalie Michael DelTrecco. Freshman Danny Storella has emerged as a scoring threat at forward.