Elite 8 Semis. Dexter Over Berkshire.

Brookline, MA– The 8th seeded Berkshire Bears who upset Lawrence Academy Wednesday headed to #4 Dexter for a semi-final showdown. Dexter dominated from start to finish to earn the 3-0 win and a chance at the Championship tomorrow against the Salisbury Knights. 2004 and recent NTDP Camp invite Dylan Silverstein earned the shutout in limited action making 18 stops. Junior goalie Jed Baliotti was superb for the second straight game stopping 44 shots.

The first period was total domination by Dexter in every aspect. They possessed the puck for most of the period and outshot Berkshire about 15-2. Dexter earned three power plays and only took one penalty. Almost every one of Dexter’s key players had chances and the difference was Berkshire junior goalie Jed Baliotti. He was terrific and gave his team a chance to regroup and get to the room with no score. Aidan Thompson earned Berkshire’s beat chance short-handed but 2003 Dexter defenseman Matt Fusco tracked him down and made a great defensive play. It was as dominant a period by Dexter as we have seen this year by any team.

Berkshire was able to establish more zone time and had a couple of chances that came close to trickling in. However, Dexter still was in full control. They had a goal called back a few minutes in and finally broke through with 11:02 left as senior Jack Dempsey fired a shot on the rush to give Dexter a 1-0 lead. The period was still even in stretches and Dexter’s Dylan Silverstein was challenged but Dexter seemed relaxed and made a lot of puck plays. With 20.5 seconds left, senior Sacred Heart commit Aidan Connolly tipped a waist high shot by junior BU commit Doug Grimes. Jack Dempsey also picked up an assist on a nice keep. It was 2-0 Dexter going into the third.

The third period started with a quick goal by Harvard commit John Fusco. He took the faceoff and played give and go with John McElaney, took off the right side, flew by the Berkshire defenseman and ripped one far-side, up top. Just 12 seconds into the third, it was 3-0 Dexter. The period continued to be dominated by Dexter and Baliotti continued to make stop after stop. Berkshire was able to get a few chances late with their goalie out but the game ended 3-0.

Three Stars

  1. Jed Baliotti, Berkshire
  2. Aidan Connolly, Dexter
  3. John Fusco, Dexter

TTPA: Jack Dempsey, Doug Grimes, Dexter

NZ Notes: The overall speed and skill of Dexter were just too much for Berkshire. The game was never in doubt even as Baliotti made save after save. Dexter’s fate was helped by their ability to take only one penalty while Berkshire was whistled for six (some ticky-tack.) Officiating made no difference here, however, as Dexter was simply the better team today. For Dexter; Dempsey is really strong, a man among boys and he ripped the game winner through Baliotti on a rocket. He can catch and shoot and gets to scoring spots with a prepared stick. Be an interesting add to a DI school as a depth kid with upside. John Fusco showed elite speed, vision and his goal was highlight reel material. He is one of the best five players in Prep hockey. Matt Fusco is skilled and talented. He made a great defensive play on Aidan Connolly to stop a quality chance where Matt used his feet and stick. Great on the PP. He should be squarely in the NHL conversation for the 2021 draft. Connor Blanchard played a hard-nosed game. He got to the net, showed some wiggle and hunted pucks. Played the best we have seen him this year. Matt Copponi continues to impress. Pace and clever hands. Grimes nailed a few players and was a constant at the net front. Fired lots of pucks on the cage. Brendan O’Donnell was solid, strong and steady. He communicated well and made simple pucks plays. Connolly was on pucks all afternoon, drove the net and blocked shots. 2003 Culin Wilson played power play, processed offensive plays really quickly. On one play, he went skate to blade and made a pass on the tape all in under a second. High level of skill with some size. Also showed he could be direct and attacked the net from behind the goal line. For Berkshire; Max O’Brien was good on the penalty kill. The 2000 defenseman clogged lanes and played hard. Jake MacDonald played on the first group and showed well. He spun and fired a puck on net, found pucks and showed a smart defensive stick. Hayden Riva was also good on the penalty kill, blocked shots and was quick to pucks. Briggs Gammill, Wednesday’s offensive hero, didn’t get it going much up ice but played really hard in his end, blocked shots and created back pressure. Aidan Thompson is really tough. He is fast from dead stop, can rip the puck and sees the late guy on the rush. He changed pace and delayed to let plays develop. Skilled, strong, smart and tough.

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images