MIAA Boys Division 4 Tournament Preview: No. 1 Seed Norwell, Middlesex Rivals Watertown, Stoneham Lead Top Contenders

Jim Clark
Jim Clark
Jim Clark joined Hockey Night in Boston in December 2019, and has covered high school hockey in Massachusetts for more than three decades. He also covers high school hockey and is a multiplatform editor for the Boston Globe, and previously spent two decades as high school hockey reporter at the Boston Herald, where he also served as the high schools editor from 2000-06. Clark was honored by the Mass. State Hockey Coaches Association with its William Stewart Award for contributions to the sport in May 2019, and also received the Joel Perlmutter Award for media coverage in 2006. A graduate of UMass, he also spent eight years as sports editor/reporter at the Sentinel & Enterprise in Fitchburg, and has extensively covered high school hockey in Central and Western Mass. as well as Connecticut.

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The inaugural Division 4 boys’ hockey state tournament will be the biggest bracket on the boys’ hockey side. It should be an interesting mix of strong programs that battled through tough leagues, as well as smaller programs scattered throughout the state.

The tournament gets under way Monday night with South Hadley at Littleton/Bromfield, the first of three preliminary-round games. First-round action begins Wednesday.

Here is a look at each of the 35 teams, in order of seeding:

#1 Norwell (18-1-0)

The Clippers earned the top seed and will chase their first state championship after completing another unbeaten run through the South Shore League. Norwell won 15 straight games after the turn of the calendar since suffering its lone defeat against neighboring rival Hanover on Dec. 29.

Junior Austin Shea has emerged as one of the top scorers for the Clippers, who have gotten scoring depth from seniors Griffin Vetrano, Rob Lyden and Connor Therrien, junior Timmy Ward, and sophomores Ronan Schipani, Quinn Simmons, Nolan Petrucelli and Declan Devin.

Seniors John Coyle and Max Maiellano have been the leaders of the blue line for coach Jim Casagrande. Freshman Quinn Devin is a stalwart in net.

#2 Watertown (10-9-1)

The fight through the tough Middlesex League paid big dividends for the Raiders as they earned the No. 2 seed despite finishing only a game over .500.

Coach John Vlachos has leaned on a strong leadership group all season, particularly senior forwards Colin Campbell (6-5-11), Dante Venezia (3-4-7), Nathan Master (4-6-10) and Mason Andrade (7-8-15). They also have been among the scoring leaders along with junior alternate captain Anthony Venezia (6-14-20), junior Aidan Campbell (3-11-14) and sophomore Alec Banosian (9-5-14).

Junior alternate captain Jack Dickie (4-9-13) has sparked the defense for Watertown. Senior Jared Norton (2.04 GAA) and junior Casey Williams (1.53 GAA) have shared time in goal.

Danny Storella Stoneham

#3 Stoneham (12-8-0)

Much like with Watertown, the Middlesex League grind should prove beneficial for the Spartans – who split a pair of regular-season games with their Freedom Division rivals while repeating as champions on that side of the ML.

Joe Kranefuss Stoneham

Junior captain Danny Storella has been as dynamic as any player in the division, but Stoneham has been far from a one-player show for coach Paul Sacco. Senior captains Joseph Kranefuss, Colby Horgan and Gavin Doherty at forward, as well as senior Gavin Tobias on defense, have helped carry the team all season.

Senior Jack Heneghan has emerged as another top scoring threat, and freshman Jacob Minsk added some big late-season goals.

In net, senior Aiden Goulding has been a solid last line of defense all season.

#4 Sandwich (13-4-3)

The Blue Knights followed up their breakout 2021 season with another strong campaign as they push to return to the Garden for the first time since their Division 2 championship in 2008.

The key for the Knights undoubtedly has been the play of the top line of senior center Colin McIver (14-14-28), sophomore left wing Jack Connolly (12-15-27) and sophomore right wing Chris Cardillo (15-10-25).

Senior alternate captains Drew MacKinnon (6-9-15) and Caleb Richardson have provided strong secondary scoring along with senior captain Kevin Jordan (5-3-8).

MacKinnon anchors the blue line with senior Anthony Kent, junior Harley Ellis (3-7-10) and sophomore Shane Corcoran. Junior Mitchell Norkevicius (1.61 GAA, .928 SP) has had another excellent season in goal.

#5 Winthrop (10-9-1)

The Vikings always are a difficult matchup for teams in the postseason thanks to the strong defensive systems of veteran coach Dale Dunbar.

Senior captains Joe Hayes and Ari Hain will be the leaders of the blue line for the Vikings in front of senior goalie Anthony Indrisano. Hayes was a Northeastern Conference All-Star, while senior captain J.D. Parker was named to the all-conference team along with sophomore forward Peter Silverman.

Winthrop’s tough schedule in the Northeastern Conference also should make them a top contender in this bracket.

#6 Martha’s Vineyard (13-3-1)

A trip to the island is never easy, and it should be doubly so for a road team to try to steal a victory out of a postseason matchup.

Making life even more difficult for opponents is senior goalie Graham Stearns. Veteran coach Matt Mincone believes his captain should be a strong candidate for MVP honors in the Cape & Islands Lighthouse after MV allowed just 31 goals in 17 games.

Seniors John Coogan and Charlie Lakis, along with junior Nick Rego, have provided strong play in the defensive end. Senior alternate captain Finn Lewis, senior Jake Scott and junior Nick BenDavid lead the offense for the Vineyarders.

#7 Grafton/Blackstone Valley (11-6-2)

The Gators have been red-hot late in the season, including a run to the inaugural Central Mass. Athletic Directors Association Class B championship.

Sophomore Zack Baker is the offensive leader and was a Russell Conference All-Star along with senior John DeFonzo. Seniors Ryan Bowman and Roman Gilliatt are the leaders defensively for the co-op team.

Junior Lukas Petone and sophomore Nick Gouveia also have provided timely scoring this season for coach Mike Binkoski, who has split time in goal between seniors Reed Henson and Chase Levasseur.

Anthony Rodrigues Ashland

#8 Ashland (11-9-0)

The Clockers have been a tough matchup against good competition all season, thanks primarily to the play of their senior group.

Senior captain Dominic Boccelli has been the driving force of the offense, and coach Mike Roman has been able to rely on him along with senior captains Jack McGoff, Derek Sheth and Jack O’Brien.

Junior alternate captain Aydin Fish and fellow juniors Jake Keaveny and Anthony Rodrigues have provided timely scoring as well. Fish anchors the defense along with juniors Jackson Riva and Jack Reardon.

Junior Jack Rossi has gotten the bulk of the time in goal.

Joe Bermingham Assabet Valley

#9 Assabet Valley (12-5-0)

The Aztecs hope a strong regular season will carry over into a deep postseason run.

To get there, they will continue to follow the hot scoring of senior Brady Sawyer (14-13-27) and junior Nolan Tomczyk (17-10-27), both Russell Conference All-Stars. Senior Jack Denn (8-6-14), and juniors Joe Bermingham (8-6-14) and Nick Tenaglia (3-10-13) also have been strong forwards.

Russell All-Star Steven Denn (3-3-6) sparks the defense, and freshman Adam Vorce (6-9-15) has been a breakout player on the blue line. Senior Patrick O’Brien is another veteran leader on the back end.

Junior Gabe Aroian has been the regular goalie for coach David Quinn.

Josh Lemieux Worcester

#10 Worcester (10-7-2)

The Wildcats – a co-op of all the Worcester public schools, as well as Leicester and Bay Path – have hung around with the Central Mass. leaders all season.

Senior captain Josh Lemieux has carried the team in goal for coach Mike Vaughan, with strong play in front from senior captain and Russell Conference All-Star Nick Michaelian.

Seniors Luke Evers and Aidan LePoer have been the offensive leaders all season, along with senior Nate LaPrade.

#11 Nantucket (7-8-4)

The Whalers have the distinction of being the highest-seeded team with a losing record in any of the four boys’ divisions.

Senior captain Hudson Perry has led the attack this season along with alternate captains Cole Evens and Cosmo Tedeschi. Seniors Riley Williams and Camden Knapp have provided timely scoring as well.

Look for senior captain Evan Belanger and senior Finn Kelly to carry the defense in the postseason in front of sophomore goalie Griffin Starr.

Tom Sampson Shawsheen

#12 Shawsheen (14-5-1)

The young Rams squad continued their tradition of tough play this season with a solid defense and timely scoring.

Seniors Tom Sampson and Ryan Dusablon have carried the blue line for coach Chuck Baker, along with junior Kevin Ackerley and sophomore Ryan Nazzaro.

Brady Darcey Shawsheen

The Rams offense has gotten contributions all season from juniors Brady Darcey and Nick Calouro, and sophomores Chase Darcey, Kyle Gray and Liam Milne. Senior Zach Patterson also has emerged as a key forward this season.

Senior Tom Dalton has led the Rams from his goaltending spot.

#13 Latin Academy (9-5-3)

The Dragons were off the ice for more than a month during the middle of the season, but responded with a strong second half and figure to be a tough out now that the tournament is here.

Look for senior captains Aidan Farley and Brendan O’Brien at forward, as well as junior captain James Tobin on defense, to be the key players for Latin Academy in the postseason.

Senior Cian Flaherty is in net for the Dragons and coach Patrick Mudie.

#14 Hull/Cohasset (11-8-1)

The Skippers got hot down the stretch, winning their final three games, and will look to carry that momentum into the postseason.

Senior captain Justin Appleby has been a strong two-way play from the blue line along with junior Luke Richardson. Hull/Cohasset has gotten strong offensive contributions all season from the likes of senior captain Hayden Manfredi, juniors Matt Mahoney, Sam McDonnell and Wade Puzzella, sophomores Luke Mullen and Robbie Casagrande, and freshmen Shane Mulcahy and Luke Dunham.

The play of junior Luke Cosentino in net was a big part of the Skippers’ surge in the second half.

Brendan Stamm Dedham

#15 Dedham (9-11-0)

The Marauders battled injuries all season, but put it together with a 7-3 second half that they hope can propel them into the postseason.

The leadership of senior captains Brendan Stamm (14-12-26), John Doyle (4-5-9), Gavin Keogh and Sean Reynolds (3-5-8) helped keep the team together during the early-season adversity.

Dylan Stec

Kevin Cronin (1-13-14), Dylan Stec (1-8-9), Keogh and Ian Stapleton have formed a strong defense in front of goalie Nick Cotto (2.12) that have kept Dedham in tight games throughout the season.

Colin Ward (6-9-15), Ryan Benoit (8-4-12) and Ryan Laughter (4-6-10) have been other top scorers this season.

#16 Dover-Sherborn/Weston (9-10-1)

D-S/Weston is another team that battled through the tough Tri-Valley League to get prepared for postseason play.

Senior forwards and captains Connor Burke and Caden Popiel have been the leaders for coach Alex Marlow, and also have provided offensive firepower along with junior alternate captains Thomas Sacco and Finn Maher.

Sophomore Andrew Goldstein has been in net.

#17 Chicopee Comp (17-1-2)

The Colts were the top smaller program in Western Mass. all season, but despite just the one loss, will hit the road for their opening-round game.

Senior David Girouard (28-11-39) has been the clear offensive leader for coach Brett DiClementi, along with senior Dylan Seymour (20-10-30). Seniors Nick Farrell (11-4-15) and Danny Stefanik (15-6-21) also were double-digit scorers.

Farrell leads the defense along with seniors Cooper Murray, Camden Robinson, and freshman Elijah Saraiva in front of the goalie tandem of senior Victor Canavan and junior Zachary Canavan.

Riley LeBlanc Fitchburg/Monty

#18 Fitchburg/Monty Tech (12-6-0)

The Bulldogs will enter the postseason looking to follow their dynamic 1-2 offensive punch of junior Riley Leblanc and sophomore Sam Jaramillo. Both were Coughlin Conference All-Stars, and will be supported by honorable mention Liam Hickey, a senior.

Coach Steve Lowney has leaned on seniors Peter Stephens and Robert Brogan – both league all-stars – on defense.

Senior Deavin McGivern has been solid in goal all season.

#19 Hamilton-Wenham (12-8-0)

Hamilton-Wenham got hot late in the season, winning its final five games including a championship in the Gulazian Division of the Newburyport Bank Classic.

Coach Rob Ryan has gotten strong play from freshman Mate Tardi, who emerged midway through the season and finished as the Generals’ leader in goals with 13. Sophomores Will Stidsen (10-12-22) and Charlie Collins (10-11-21) have been steady scorers all season with with seniors Lucas Hunt (6-12-18), Rafi Santomenna (5-9-14), and Drew Dolan.

Senior Zack Walles (8-5-13) is a strong two-way player on defense in front of junior goalie Luke Graham (2.14 GAA).

Cam Cavatorta Dennis-Yarmouth

#20 Dennis-Yarmouth (9-12-0)

Forming a co-op this season with Cape Cod Tech and Cape Cod Academy, the Dolphins benefitted from the reinforcements.

D-Y will ride the strong play of junior Cole Rounseville (2.25 GAA) in net, supported by the defense of juniors Luke Spinner (2-11-13), Cam Cavatorta, Hunter Boulette, Micah Leary, and sophomore Andrew Popovich.

“We are excited about the opportunity to play in the tournament,” D-Y coach Lewis Alberti said. “Scoring has been challenging of late, and any run would require us to find the back of the net.”

Junior Aidan Powers (13-4-17) has been the top scorer, and Alberti will be hoping for secondary offense from senior Andrew Medeiros, juniors John Valerio, Aidan O’Reilly and Daniel Julian, sophomore Brecken Veara, and freshman Tanner Chicoine.

#21 East/West Bridgewater (10-8-3)

The first year of the co-op between the neighboring towns was a rousing success, and East Bridgewater players will taste the postseason for the first time since the split with Abington.

“We created a great bond, found some depth, and more importantly, have a bright future for the coming seasons, as many underclassmen prepare for their opportunity to play,” WEB coach Mike D’Errico said.

Co-captains Sean Noonan (senior, 12-11-23) and Anthony Patete (junior, 21-16-37) have driven the first line along with senior Jeff Young (5-6-11). Luke Parry, Brett Peterson, Kyle McDonald, Randy Pratt, and Christian Bates have provided solid depth.

The quartet of Mat Martineau, Sam Hall, Evan Brew and Aiden Baldner have been reliable, and D’Errico says the big key for the team has been the emergence of eighth-grade goalie Brayden Bates.

#22 Rockland (8-11-0)

First-year coach Stephen Murphy was encouraged that the Bulldogs’ tough schedule played dividends in allowing the team to qualify for the postseason.

Senior captain Jake Higgins has been a solid two-way player and leads the team with 25 points. Junior Joey Salamone has a team-high 10 goals, and Ben Romer (14 points) had a solid freshman season. Senior captain John Henry and junior Shane Kimball are other key contributors.

Juniors Sean Geary (captain) and Logan Murphy (15 points) have helped drive the offense from the back end, and junior Chris Fuller has been another solid player on the blue line in front of junior goalie Joey Dow (3.05 GAA).

“When we are on our game we are playing a fast game, controlling the pace and having fun playing the game,” Murphy said.

#23 Northeast (10-11-1)

The Golden Knights have had a balanced offensive attack all season that they hope will make them a more difficult team to defend now that crunch time has arrived.

Sophomore Cam Correia (12-17-29) and freshman George MacKinnon (9-17-26) lead a strong young core, and senior captain Macklin Hudon (10-14-24) has been a veteran leader along with junior brothers Dom Chesna (4-11-15) and Tom Chesna (2-10-12). Senior Jacob McArthur (14-5-19) is the Knights’ top goal scorer.

Look for junior alternate captain Cam Rager (8-8-16) and junior Jake McLaughlin (4-6-10) to be the top players on the blue line for coach Brian Capistran. Senior Aiden Callahan has gotten the bulk of the play in goal.

#24 Saugus (7-12-1)

The Sachems and coach Jeff Natalucci bring their championship tradition and a battle-tested team from the Northeastern Conference into postseason play.

Seniors Massey Ventre, Jason Caron, Chris Regnetta and Jason Monahan have sparked the offense all season, along with junior Dante Mauro. Seniors Ryan Ragucci and Matty Robbins are the leaders on the blue line.

The Sachems are young in net, leaning on freshman Anthony Poccio as well as eighth-grader Matt Smith.

#25 Amesbury (7-10-2)

Despite returning only four varsity players with any experience – Amesbury did not compete during the pandemic-ravaged 2021 season – the program is back in the postseason for the first time since 2014.

Coach Steve Costa will lean on those veteran players – seniors Ethan Lintner, Ian Pelletier, Luke MacFarland and Thatcher Kezer.

Juniors Tyler Bartniski and Trey Marcotte are in goal for Amesbury.

#26 Oakmont (11-6-1)

The Spartans captured the inaugural CMADA Class C championship, slipping past archrival Gardner, and coach Mike Duteau and company will try to keep that playoff magic going.

It’s been a team effort all season, particularly in the scoring department led by senior Evan Thibeault and junior Blake Riggins. Thibeault is a captain, assisted by senior Zach Sarasin, another top scorer. Sophomore Nate Hylan provides scoring depth.

Senior captain Izak Hannula and alternate Drake Nelson lead the defense. Sophomore Cathal Wells has been strong in net.

Dominic Tsoukalas Monomoy/Mashpee

#27 Monomoy/Mashpee (11-8-1)

The Monarchs will have a familiar opponent – Martha’s Vineyard – in their opening-round game, and will be looking to avenge a pair of regular-season losses. Their most recent matchup went to overtime before M/M fell, 2-1, on Jan. 15.

Senior captains Jack Stone on defense and Lucas Tambolleo at forward are the driving forces for the Monarchs. Stone leads the defense along with juniors Mitchell Silva and Chris Matton, and senior August Hand in front of junior goalie Dominic Tsoukalas.

The balanced offense has been carried by juniors Wyatt Archibald and Alex Matton. Freshman Casey Huse also added some timely goals late in the season.

#28 Rockport (8-12-0)

The Vikings make another foray into the postseason, and will rely on the strong play of junior Jack Crompton (2.76 GAA) in net.

The offense has been balanced for coach Kyle Nelson, with senior captain Aiden Arnold (11-7-18) the top scorer. Senior captain Giovanni Recupero (7-7-14), junior alternate captain Dougie Pratt (4-9-13), and junior Michael Murphy (6-5-11) all have had a hand in the offense this season.

Seniors Andrew Amigo (1-9-10) and Benji DiFluri (0-6-6), as well as junior Michael Nocella (3-5-8), have made contributions from the blue line.

#29 Abington (7-12-1)

Despite a seven-game losing streak late in the season, coach Bryan Woodford was encouraged that the Green Wave stuck with it and pulled out victories in their final two games to earn their shot in the bracket.

Now that they are in the dance, the Wave will look to the top line of junior Jake Quinn and sophomores Hunter Grafton and Evan St. Martin to carry the load. Senior alternate captain Kevin Cashman is another forward to watch.

Senior captain Ryan Tobin, junior Aidan Powers and sophomore Zach Buccigross lead the defense in front of solid senior goalie Spencer Merrick.

#30 Littleton/Bromfield (10-8-0)

The Tigers enter their preliminary round game reliant on their defense, which coach Kevin Lizotte says has been key with their two-way play.

Freshman Darren Iversen (15-8-23) has been the leading scorer overall from the blue line, and sophomore Evan Piekos (3-10-13) also has been an offensive spark. Senior Will Murphy, and sophomores David Ming and Ryan Johnson round out the defense in front of senior goalie Aiden Leduc, who has been backed up by freshman Tyler Proteau.

Senior Ryan McNulty (8-10-18) and junior Tyler Edwards (5-13-18) are the top-scoring forwards, followed by senior Kyle Tracey (5-9-14), freshman Zachary Lizotte (4-10-14) and senior Colin Murphy (3-8-11).

Eddie Leary
St. John Paul II

#31 St. John Paul (6-13-2)

Playing in the tough Cape & Islands League, the Lions have been “a hard-working, scrappy team that has really been competitive in most games this year,” according to second-year coach Josh Delman.

Sophomore Eddie Leary has shined in goal for the Lions, with sophomore Joe McManus leading the defense.

Up front, Chuck Baroni and Liam Monaghan have been among the team’s top scorers, and Delman says Brady Meyer and Antonio Pucillo bring strong physical play to the forward lines.

#32 Greenfield (12-6-2)

The Green Wave actually are the last program to win a state championship on the ice – taking the last Division 3A title in 2020.

Junior Shane Prusak (11-24-35) has been the offensive leader all season for coach Adam Bouchard, while juniors Sammy Knight (17-6-23) and Trevor Kuchieski (17-5-22) share the team lead in goals. Junior Matthew Lavone (4-7-11) and freshmen Jake Jurek (5-8-13) and Matt Garvin (7-3-10) have added scoring depth.

The blue line is led by seniors Kevin Baumann (7-9-16) and M.J. Paulin (3-11-14). Junior Josh Bordeaux has played nearly every minute in goal this season.

#33 Gardner (9-7-2)

Once a Central Mass. hockey power, Gardner is back in the postseason for the first time since 2009. The Wildcats have been gradually rebuilding the program in recent seasons under coach Scott Freniere, getting players from Murdock, Narragansett and Quabbin.

Goalie Mark Quinn (2.22 GAA, .936 SP) has been the backbone this season, with Hunter Barlow the top player on defense. Eric Amblo (11-3-14) and freshman Jayden Patel (11-1-12) have led the offense.

“We can play stingy defense and make it difficult for people to score on us with Mark in net and improved team defense,” Freniere said. “We have young but skilled forwards that can get to the net. We keep games close and try to grind people down.”

#34 South Shore (11-7-1)

The Vikings are in the tournament for the first time since 2011 after finishing second in the Mayflower League, and it’s not hard to see how they got here.

Senior captain Preston Channell (34-28-62) centers the top scoring line in the state along with senior captain Cole Sheehan (20-32-52) at right wing, and junior Jacob McAleer (24-28-52) on the left.

“Their ability to remain productive even when teams have keyed on them has been paramount,” longtime South Shore coach Derek Mariani said.

­­Senior captain/left wing Alex Connor (5-4-9) is another forward leader, and sophomore Tyler Hartwell (2-10-12) has been the top player on a young defense. Mariani says the Vikings need to clean up the opportunities allowed in front of sophomore goalie Tanner Graden.

#35 South Hadley (9-8-2)

First-year coach Kevin Stefanik and the Tigers will look to break through as the lowest-seeded team in the bracket.

Senior forwards Joe Meon (15-11-26) and Joe Cigal (14-10-24) have been the sparks all season, along with junior forward Austin Deren (10-5-15). Senior defenseman Kaden Laramee (1-13-14) is an offensive threat from the blue line.

Junior forward Nate Loughman (4-5-9) and sophomores Caleb Lundgren (9-5-14) and Connor McDonnell (4-8-12) are other offensive threats.

Senior Devin Carleton is the starter in net for the Tigers.

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