Malden, MA: The Austin Prep Cougars took home a dominant victory over the Hingham Harbormen to win the Serino Christmas Classic Championship 4-0 tonight at the Valley Forum II. The matchup featured of two of the best teams in Mass HS but the game was never close and didn’t live up to the hype.
The first period was even as both teams felt each other out. Austin Prep played a smart forecheck game and forced a few icings and some zone time while Hingham took advantage of some bad gaps by the Cougars’ defense to create on the rush. No real great chances for either team. Hingham’s Jake Higgins fired a few pucks during a late power play but Austin Prep senior goalie Rob Farrell (Wilmington, MA) was up to the task.
The second period belonged to the Cougars. Right away they had a couple good chances. They controlled play and were able to put two goals past Hingham’s senior goalie Aaron Richardson. Just 2:52 in, junior Nolan Ricci (Wilmington, MA) popped a puck home in the slot. Assists went to sophomore Doug Russo (Billerica, MA) and 8th grader Jack Farrell (Wilmington, MA). The play was started by senior goalie Ron Farrell as he caught Hingham on the long change and hit the stretch man on the tape for a clean zone entry that left Hingham scrambling a bit. Then with 3:51 left sophomore Joe Solimine (Middleton, MA) won a puck, wheeled up the boards and hit senior defenseman Evan Foulds (N. Andover, MA) with a hard pass that he fired on the cage. It appeared to go right in but sophomore Joe Thibodeau (Danvers, MA) was credited with the goal as he must have tipped it. We didn’t see that. Austin Prep headed to the room with momentum and confidence while Hingham had to search for answers as they were badly outplayed.
The third period again belonged to the Cougars as they played with too much pace and intensity for Hingham. 3:31 into the final frame, Ricci and Solomine finished a pretty 2 on 1 as Ricci fed Solomine who went forehand to backhand against the grain for the neat goal. Then with 9:44 left, senior Max Pineo (Middleton, MA) wheeled and ripped a puck from the slot for the fourth and the final Cougars score to put them up 4-0. Assists went to freshman Aidan Elkins (Wilmington, MA) and senior Sullivan Marino (Peabody, MA.) The game ended 4-0 and was never in doubt.
- G Rob Farrell (AP)
- F Nolan Ricci (AP)
- D Will Cohen (AP)
NZ Take: Overall, it seemed that Hingham just could not skate with Austin Prep. They never really mounted a challenge and had very few quality chances to score. They looked big and slow and Austin Prep did a good job of disrupting Hingham’s offensive cycle and breaking pucks up ice. Quite frankly Austin Prep wore down a bigger, stronger Hingham team by making them chase the puck all night. It worked and was a statement win for the Cougars.
For Austin Prep, Will Cohen (Billerica, MA) was excellent on the blue line and the best player on the ice most shifts. He has some size, nice feet and is poised under pressure with the puck. Can run a PP and play physical. Can carry or pass from his end. Rob Farrell is experienced in the goal and aggressive while remaining calm. Loved his ability to fire pucks up ice, that’s a nice weapon to have especially in the second period. Pineo is a shifty player who is tough to defend in space and plays the point on the PP, Solomine had a nice game and used his points well, likes the high cycle. Elkins is a younger player who is unusually sturdy for his age. Not ready to for a lot of ice yet, he has nice upside. Colin McGrath (Medford, MA) is steady and played a smart game. Sullivan Marino showed vision and played all 200 feet. His game is solid.
For Hingham, senior D Jake Higgins was by far their best player. He can do a lot. Has size and is really poised. He stretches the play laterally to create cross-ice seams but never forces passes. Two-way player who was good and one of the best D we have seen in the MIAA this year. Junior Tim Carroll played with pace in spurts and showed some slick skills but never got going. Senior Will Kenney is huge but struggled with the pace. Had some good touches on pucks. Jacob Clark played fast and is strong on the puck. Worked and tried to get to the net to no avail. We liked his effort a lot. Senior D Caleb Woodin played a heavy game and really hits with authority on the wall and in space. Tough to play against.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images