Elite 8: #8 Berkshire Stuns the #1 Spartans

Groton, MA– In the Elite 8 first round, #8 Berkshire School Bears travelled to the #1 seeded Lawrence Academy Spartans and came away with the upset win; 3-2 in overtime. Jed Baliotti got the win and played well for the Bears. Tomas Pientka got the start in net for Lawrence and played well in a loss. Yale commit Briggs Gammill figured in all three Berkshire Bear goals and buried the game winner in OT.

The Spartans came out with energy as they controlled play in the Berkshire end for solid stretches. 2002 Kyle Furey who was everywhere hit a post about half way in. Berkshire started to get their legs and things evened out. Sophomore Jake MacDonald had a quality chance in tight after staying with a 2v1 shot. Both goalies were up to the task and players on both sides worked hard to block shots, create back pressure and clear rebounds. Clean period with no goals and no penalties.

The second period both teams came out flying. With 10:41 left, senior Holt Oliphant got in behind the Berkshire and popped in a rebound a Matt Connor shot from the point. Kyle Furey picked up a secondary assist. After that Lawrence had two great chances to extend their lead. Oliphant went in on a clean breakaway and David Sacco had an excellent look at the dot on a partial break. Baliotti was up to the task on both chances. Soon after Logan Greene made a perfect cross-zone pass to an open Hayden Riva. He hit the pipe but Briggs Gammill jumped on the rebound to tie the game. Lawrence had a couple more quality chances but the period overall was pretty even. Berkshire got the first power play of the period with under two minutes left with not much going. 1-1 after one.

The third period started with Lawrence stringing several shifts together in the Berkshire end. The Spartans were making a hard push. It paid off with 12:29 left when Riley Duran dragged and ripped a shot home to make it 2-1. Matt Connor and Anthony Cafarelli picked up assists. Lawrence then took a penalty which they had mostly killed off before taking another penalty. Berkshire would have 11 seconds of 5v3. They took advantage; as Gammill won a face-off to his right that Denver commit Aidan Thompson tracked down quickly and roofed home. Game was tied again and Berkshire gained more momentum after the remainder of the power play. It looked like anyone’s game going down the stretch but no one was able to put one home. Off to the locker rooms they went tied 2-2 with sudden death overtime looming.

The first three of four shifts of overtime, it was all Lawrence. They came within inches of winning it and gained a power play about half-way through. The power play was excellent and again, chance after chance but to no avail as Berkshire blocked shots, dove for pucks and Baliotti battled in the cage. Soon after the power play was killed, Aidan Thompson started transition after a collision at center ice. He passed quickly to Gammill and off he went 2v1. Gammill fired a low shot as a left shot on the left wing and it found its way into the cage for one of the biggest goals in Berkshire hockey history.

Lawrence had a great season. Berkshire will play at Dexter on Saturday in the Elite 8 semi-finals. Time TBA.

Three Stars

  1. Briggs Gammill (Berkshire)
  2. Jed Baliotti (Berkshire)
  3. Aidan Thompson (Berkshire)

TTPA: Jack Bavis (Berkshire)

NZ Notes: We had notes on virtually every player. Just going to mention a few here as we will have a Prep report at some point. This was a terrific game where the home team pushed hard to get to a two goal lead all game. Baliotti and Berkshire would not let it happen. It was a classic road win. They withstood some pressure, played smart when in trouble and stayed mostly out of the penalty box. Plus, they got scoring from their best players and terrific goaltending. Recipe for a great win. The second Berkshire goal was a nice faceoff by Gammill that showed Thompson’s speed and touch in tight. It was opportunistic with a short amount of 5v3 time. Their first good chance in overtime ended up on the sticks of their two best players and they came through! Gammill was a target all afternoon. He got whacked and knocked down. Gutsy performance by a tough player. Thompson is plain dangerous and gets to top speed from a stop quickly. Colby commit Griffin Grise kept his gaps tight and used his long stick well. Max O’Brien has a clever stick and broke the puck out well and by carrying, passing, reversing or using the indirect. Abdoul Diouf is a late 2000, 6’3” and almost 200lbs. He played through contact, made some nice keeps and is really, really strong. He saw some first unit PP as well. Interesting. Bavis played with intensity, blocked shots including a huge one in the third. Showed speed, played PK and was on Lawrence players like glue. He had some great shifts. For Lawrence; This was obviously disappointing and everyone watching the start of overtime thought they would put one home. They didn’t, that’s hockey sometimes. Pientka had a terrific year coming into the starting role a championship caliber team. He was ready and says a lot about the staff and his own preparation every day. Riley Duran was on a mission tonight. He rifled one home but won puck races, dove on a PK to stop a pass that was a sure goal, hit, backchecked and went to the cage. He played a great game. Kyle Furey was the best player on the ice. He was everywhere. He defended Berkshire with ease, created up ice and fired at least 8 shots on net.He was really good today. Furey and Duran created close to half Lawrence’s quality chances. Merrimack commit Conor Lovett was solid. He played the whole ice and we really like how he helps his defense. Made some steals and ripped a few on net.

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images