#7 Cushing Beats #3 Nobles to Punch Ticket to Large School Final
Cushing Academy travelled to Nobles in the other semi-final matchup of the Large School tournament. The winner would move on to St. Anselm’s and play Kent, who beat Deerfield earlier in the day. The rink was filled to capacity and each team had strong support from student sections. The atmosphere was electric from puck drop.
The first period was generally uneventful as neither team scored and there were only two minor penalties called. The pace however was fast and the game was physical. Each goalie, Joe Sharib (Natick, MA – Union) for Cushing and Marc Smith (Hanover, MA) for Nobles was tested with some quality chances but were up to-the-task.
Cushing would strike first over 12 minutes into the second frame. Anthony Cafarelli (Middleton, MA) jumped on a loose puck in the slot and fired the puck past Smith. Cushing would increase the lead to two less than a minute later as Jake Hewitt (Ashburnham, MA) broke in on a two-on-one and dished a feed to Jacob Banks (Westminster, MA) who finished the play. The second would end with the score 2-0.
Cushing looked to have put the game away as Cafarelli got his second of the game with 13 minutes to go in the game as he cut down the off-wing and ripped a shot under the bar past Smith. However, less than a minute later, Cushing took two minor penalties on the same shift. During the delayed penalty, and with the goalie pulled, David Jacobs (Needham, MA) took a long stretch pass through the center of the ice and broke in on Sharib alone. He fired the puck past the Cushing goalie to cut the lead to 3-1. On the following 5-3 Power Play, Nobles would get to within one as Jack Cronin (Hamilton, MA) one-timed a feed at the top of the circles past Sharib. This was as close as Nobles would get as Cushing held off the final push and would add an empty-netter. Cafarelli would finish off his hat trick as he banged a centering feed into the empty goal. 4-2 Final.
1st Anthony Cafarelli, Cushing 3-0-3
2nd Joe Sharib, Cushing
3rd Jack Cronin, Nobles 1-0-1
NZ’s Take: This was a physical grinding game played by two skilled teams. Cushing is a heavy team with some big forwards and defenders. They got in on the forecheck and really beat up Nobles’ defense. They also are tough to penetrate in the defensive zone. Sharib is extremely tough to beat in net and made some difficult saves look routine. Cushing should have won this game going away but was extremely undisciplined which let Nobles back into it. For the home team; John Murray (Dorchester, MA) played well. He is counted on to log huge minutes and he didn’t disappoint here. He isn’t the biggest defender but he plays physical and has a mean streak. He also made some slick reads in his own zone to escape pressure and start the breakout. Up front, Casey Severo (Pittsford, NY – Merrimack) and Cronin drive the offense. They are good together in space and push the pace through the neutral zone. They were effective off-the-cycle and created some good opportunities. Both had trouble at times getting to the interior of the ice to create chances. Finally, in net, Smith played a strong game. He was tested frequently and was generally up to the challenge. For the visitors, Cafarelli was all over the ice making plays. He has really come on in the second half of the season and looked strong in all three zones. He plays physical and skirts the line as a pest. Hewitt was also noticeable all night. He is smaller but has slick hands and can break down defenders one-on-one. He made a few nice plays in transition that created scoring chances. On the back-end Lukas Gustafsson (Alpharetta, GA) was active all game. He is slick with the puck and made some good decisions on breakouts. He also takes chances and a few times was caught out of position. Bryce Montgomery (Bowie, MD – Providence) was a force on the back-end both in the defensive zone and pushing the pace offensively. He is physically gifted and is tough to stop once he gets up to speed. He is still putting it all together but has a high ceiling.
Cushing moves on to St. A’s tomorrow where they will play Kent at 2:30 pm.
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images