#4 Dexter Starts Fast and Beats #5 Hotchkiss 5-2 in Elite 8
Neutral Zone was in attendance in Brookline, Massachusetts to see #4 Dexter School play #5 Hotchkiss in quarterfinal action in the Elite 8. Dexter used three first period goals and a solid defensive effort to skate to a 5-2 victory on home ice. Dexter will face #8 Berkshire (who upset #1 Lawrence) in the Elite 8 semi-finals.
Dexter got on the board early as Ben Raymond (Newton, MA) drove the net hard and finished a nice cross-crease feed from Connor Blanchard (Waltham, MA). They would double the lead a few minutes later, when Jack Dempsey (Natick, MA) and Doug Grimes (Brookline, MA – Boston University) created an odd-man rush through the neutral zone. Dempsey took a slick feed and walked in on Henry Wilder (Needham, MA – Boston College) before slipping the puck through the senior goalie’s legs. Dexter would score the eventual game winner a few minutes later, as Dempsey made a nice move on a zone entry and found Aidan Connolly (Marshfield, MA – Sacred Heart) cross-ice. Connolly accepted the pass and ripped the puck past Wilder. Before the period was out, Hotchkiss would cut the lead by one, as Gavin Puskar (Westfield, NJ) was gifted the puck after a bad defensive-zone turnover. He outwaited Dylan Silverstein (Woburn, MA) and slid the puck into the open net.
The second was filled with penalties by both teams. Dexter scored the only two goals of the period to push the lead to 5-1. Dempsey started the scoring by making a nice play at the offensive blueline to walk around a defender. He then hit a streaking Connolly backdoor for a tap-in. The play was originally called no goal, but after review, it was determined that the puck was not kicked into the net. Culin Wilson would finish the scoring for Dexter after scoring on a net-mouth scramble during a Power Play.
Hotchkiss would try to mount a comeback, but Silverstein was solid in net. They did get one back with roughly three minutes to go in the game when Andrew Esposito (New York) scored from a bad angle. The game ended 5-2.
NZ Notes: Dexter looked strong here. At times they struggled with puck management and will need to sure-up their puck possession as they move forward in the tournament. However, they were fast through the neutral zone and showed their depth. Dempsey was noticeable. He is a big body that has slick hands and a wide base. He is able to use his reach to beat defenders and put pucks into areas where only he can access the puck. He made some nice reads back-door to create easy tap-in chances. Matt Copponi (Mansfield, MA) may not have factored into the scoresheet but was a constant threat on offense. He was slippery through the neutral zone and routinely made defenders miss. He was solid retrieving pucks on the forecheck and made a few nice moves out of the corner to get the puck to the net. Silverstein was not overly tested in goal, but made timely saves when needed. The freshman was calm under pressure in his first playoff start. If he continues to play solid, Dexter will be a tough out the rest of the way.
Hotchkiss struggled to get things going for most of the afternoon. However, a few players stood out. Puskar and Karsen Dorwart (Oregon) play in all situations and create offensive chances each time out on the ice. They were asked to help frequently on the penalty kill and were generally up to the task. Both uses big bodies and strong sticks to cut down angles and get into passing lanes. On the back-end, Jack Kane played a solid two-way game. He is a tall and long and made strong breakout passes. He is used in all situations and was efficient on the Power Play. He moves his feet to create space and get shots through traffic to the net. Despite giving up five goals, Wilder was solid in between the pipes. He faced constant pressure from Dexter at times and stood tall to the challenge.
- Jack Dempsey, Dexter
- Aidan Connolly, Dexter
- Gavin Puskar, Hotchkiss
Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Images