Recap: U19 Southern NE vs Public/Catholic & U19 Northern NE vs Mass East

Salem, NH – We started off week two with a rematch of teams that faced off in separate NEFPHL games last week with U19 Southern NE taking on U19 Public/Catholic. Both teams had close to a full roster after last week missing many players due to schoolwork, illness and injury.

In the first half (each half was 26 minutes) the action started quickly when three minutes in Brooks sophomore defender Kyle Pelletier (Manchester, CT) made a nice feed from the circles to tee up big rig sophomore Exeter forward Charlie McGurrin (Marblehead, MA) for a tap-in and a 1-0 lead for SNE. That lead was short-lived though as eight minutes later, the league’s leading scorer Arlington HS junior forward Leo Piandes (Windham, NH) ripped one top shelf from the right dot to tie the score at 1-1. Four minutes after that, Public/Catholic took the lead when Piandes popped up again shoveling home a loose puck at the net-front: 2-1 Public/Catholic which is how the first half ended.

Nine minutes into the second half SNE was able to tie the score again when sophomore Belmont Hill forward Drew Blackwell (Haverhill, MA) made a nice cross-crease pass to senior North Yarmouth Academy forward Jared Buckner (Topsham, ME) to finish off a 2-on-1 break, knotting the score at 2-2. One minute later, P/C took the lead back for good when Austin Prep junior defenseman Deniro DeMarco (Wilmington, MA) skated coast-to-coast and put one home himself to make it 3-2 P/C. Four minutes later Austin Prep senior forward Nolan Ricci (Wilmington, MA) crashed the net and shoveled one home: 4-2 P/C. With nine minutes left SNE climbed back into it when Exeter’s Tom Yang (Mercer Island, WA) took a feed from McGurrin and knocked it home at the goal mouth to cut the lead to 4-3. But, just seconds later P/C put the game out of reach when Danvers junior forward Calvin Mansfield dragged a defender to the net with him and still managed to score. 5-3 Public/Catholic was your final.

Three Stars:
1. Leo Piandes, Arlington HS (P/C)
2. Charlie McGurrin, Exeter (SNE)
3. Deniro DeMarco, Austin Prep (P/C)

NZ’s Take:

This game was a far more complete and sharp outing than we saw last weekend from both of these teams. Many of the players last week were just getting back in the swing of hockey season while others were still getting used to their new teammates. This time around, the passes were more crisp and the shots more accurate. With that said, there were a few clear standouts today.

First on P/C: Leo Piandes continues to impress – aside from leading the league in scoring, he has been really engaged on each shift. He has decent size for a 2003-born player and he does a nice job of finding coverage gaps or slipping past contact to give himself the best chances to score goals. Today we also thought Austin Prep’s Christopher Roy (Tewksbury, MA) made some good aggressive plays on the forecheck to create turnovers while also doing good dirty work down low to win pucks and put good rebound shots on net.

For SNE, Belmont Hill forward Charlie Cave (Arlington, MA) was intriguing because of how well he played in the neutral zone. His stick was strong and his positioning was sound: he broke up a handful of breakouts solely by getting into passing lanes or keeping tight gaps on rushing defensemen. He also showed good footspeed to the outside in order to keep the offense humming. It was also a strong game for Middlesex 2003-born defender Rex Mabbs (Concord, MA) who was able to consistently move the puck up ice without wasting time or space in his own zone. We liked his ability to use his edges to spin out of trouble and to cut through high traffic areas while maintaining possession.

Game 2: U19 Northern New England vs. U19 Mass East

Salem, NH – The game that followed on the NHL sheet at the Icenter was easily the best game we have seen at the U19 level over the past two weeks. It pitted Northern New England (mostly comprised of Kimball Union players) against Mass East (mostly comprised of Groton players). The offensive deluge started only about two minutes in when St. Paul’s sophomore forward Fitz Frechette (Weston, MA) made a nice sneakaway pass to Jason Bunyon (Westford, MA) of Westford Academy who converted his breakaway chance 5-hole: 1-0 NNE. There was a lot of back and forth action over the next 10 minutes but NNE struck again when Brown commit and Kimball Union D Nicholas Bernardo (Hauppauge, NY) fed Revelin Mack (Anchorage, AK) who took a shot from a very sharp angle along the goal line and found a couple of inches shortside to make it 2-0 NNE. That marked the end of the scoring for the first half.

In the second half it was all Northern New England: Berwick junior forward Padraic Condon drew the goaltender to him and fed the puck back to a wide open Kimball Union forward Donte Pierre (Brooklyn, NY) who slapped it into the empty net: 3-0 NNE. Five minutes later, big senior forward Sullivan Mack (Anchorage, AK) knocked home a one-timer from the slot to make it 4-0 NNE. Most of the action from then on came in the Mass East defensive zone, and sophomore goalie Thomas Giroux (Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC) shut the door for the next fifteen minutes, making a number of big saves. The dam finally broke twice in the four minute mark with NNE scoring twice. First, a nice back pass from Condon enabled Kimball Union junior D Luca Fantilli (Nobleton, ON) to crank a slapper home 5-hole: 5-0. Then, Pierre zipped past the Mass East D to the outside and tucked one home on his way by to make it 6-0, his second of the game. Finally, with a minute left, Pierre did it again notching the hat trick by parking himself in front of the net and putting home a rebound: getting crushed by a defenseman just as he let the puck go. Final score: NNE 7, Mass East 0.

Three Stars:
1. Donte Pierre, Kimball Union (NNE)
2. Padraic Condon, Berwick (NNE)
3. Thomas Giroux, Groton (Mass East)

NZ’s Take:

Despite the final score being lopsided, both teams were able to show a lot of skill and athleticism in this tilt. Realistically, this game was played faster and smarter than any of the others we have seen over the past two weeks. The headline from the boxscore will be Pierre’s hat trick, but there were a lot more great performances to speak of.

For Northern New England: Pierre was all over the ice today. He has quick feet and gains speed with sharp crossovers. His ability to stay strong on his edges was an asset: he set the pace of play every time he had the puck. Stating the obvious: Oliers draft pick Tomas Mazura (Sezemice, CZ) just looked so smooth with his motions. He is fluid when he possesses the puck or when he doesn’t: no wasted motion in his stride. Sullivan Mack looks poised for another big year in prep hockey for KUA as a senior: he was opportunistic here and showed great acceleration for such a big body. Also, keep an eye on incoming sophomore D-man Bobby May (Davidson, NC) at KUA. He showed great vision in the offensive zone in addition to a hard shot and an ability to find good shooting lanes.

For Mass East, there was no shortage of athleticism. First up is a forward we were tracking closely during the Mass HS regular season Winchester HS senior Ryan McCarthy, who looked aggressive and quick to the puck in this outing. He accelerates well given that thick frame and he was a pest on the forecheck all game long. He also created a couple of Grade A scoring chances: one of which he was robbed on point blank by Arizona State commit Zakari Brice (Anchorage, AK). We liked the raw aggressive play of William Noll (Oakland, MI) who is headed to Groton. There is a tenacity to his game: he works hard to maintain possession and twice as hard to get the puck back. On the back end, undersized defender Trey Whitehead (Palmer, AK) was one of the better blue liners we saw on the day. He has quick hands and quick feet and he does a nice job of reading the play to put himself in good position as he retreats. It also doesn’t hurt that he has a lot of confidence with the puck: using the net for a self-pass or making a big deke to step around the opposing player. Finally, there was the play of Thomas Giroux. Normally when you give up seven goals it’s a bad day at the office, but without his spectacular acrobatic saves, the final score would have likely been 12-0. He was challenging shooters all game long and he was able to track the puck well to track rebound chances. He was smooth in crease going post-to-post and made good reactive saves to keep his team going.