NZ Prep Award Winners Announced

With 6 scouts covering New England Prep Hockey, the NZ staff puts together a voting system at the conclusion of each season to elect the various award winners. We will list the winners, runners up and others receiving votes. Keep in mind that NZ does it a bit differently that if you are awarded prep player of the year then you are removed from your positional group player of the year to avoid duplication.

Coach of the Year:   Brian Phinney, Belmont Hill

Brian Phinney has been around prep hockey most his career having played at Hotchkiss School before attending Middlebury College where he was an All American and National Champion. Phinney was an assistant through Salisbury’s three-peat from 2012-2015 and then went on to coach at his alma mater at Middlebury. He returned to prep school hockey in 2018-2019 season to be an assistant at Belmont Hill before taking the head coaching job over last season which ended up not being played due to COVID. In his first year as Head Coach he has brought Belmont Hill to a home seed in the Elite 8 and an impressive 19-2-3 record after the program had gone 32-42-11 in the previous three seasons. Phinney was the unanimous decision here having received all first place votes for his ability to turn the program around, win the ISL Keller Division, the Lawrenceville Holiday Tournament and have an undefeated run from December 1st to February 22nd.

Runner Up:  Alan Thompson, Holderness

Alan Thompson was a former standout at Holderness School as a player which earned him a scholarship to University of New Hampshire. He then went on to be an assistant coach at Holderness before being named head coach in 2015. He has gone 61-73-11 in that timeframe with his best season coming in 2016-2017 when he led them to a 15-12-1 record. Thompson received all the second place votes for bringing Holderness School to their first ever Elite 8 or D1 playoff berth in program history. The Bulls went 20-3-3 this season and made it to the Lakes Region Championship game where they were defeated by #1 KUA and also won their division at the Lawrence Groton Holiday Tournament.

Player of the Year:  Chris Romaine, Milton Academy

Chris Romaine served as captain of Milton Academy this season and led the team in points as a junior defenseman. He was given an “A” grade at the Flood Marr Holiday Tournament and was noted as being the best player in the event. He’s a smooth, effortless skating defenseman with a two-way game and high hockey IQ. Romaine played in every situation this season and was relied upon to play heavy minutes, kill penalties, run the power play and be a leader on and off the ice. 

Runner Up: Jaiden Moriello, Kimball Union Academy

Jaiden Moriello led all prep scoring this year with 32 goals and helped lead his team to a Lakes Region Championship and the #1 seed in the Elite 8 Finals. (more below)

Also receiving votes:  Brennan Ali (Avon) , Michael Fisher (St. Mark’s)

Defensive Player of the Year: Michael Fisher, St. Mark’s School

Michael Fisher led all defenseman in scoring this year with an impressive 47 points, averaging just shy of 2 per game. He not only was a force on their power play but was vital defensively breaking up plays, leading the breakout and getting pucks up to his teammates through the neutral zone. He’s got excellent size and athleticism and was given the highest grade of any skater at their Holiday Tournament and also led St. Mark’s to the #1 seed in the Small School Tournament. One of the very best offensive defenseman in prep hockey this season. 

Runner Up: Nolan Joyce, St. Sebastian’s School

Nolan Joyce is a smooth operator, soft set of hands, polished stride and excellent in the transition game. He’s poised with the puck, has vision and natural instincts both in defense and with the puck on his stick. He was second only to Fisher in points this season by a defenseman and led a young St. Sebastian’s blue line to home ice in the Elite 8. 

Also receiving votes: Dave Brandes (Holderness), Duncan Ramsay (Kimball Union)

Offensive Player of the Year:  Jaiden Moriello, Kimball Union

Jaiden Moriello led all prep scoring this year with 32 goals and helped lead his team to a Lakes Region Championship and the #1 seed in the Elite 8 Finals. More than just scoring is that he scores in big moments, he got the game tying goal against Salisbury in the Flood Marr, he scored the game tying goal against Cushing, he scored the first goal of the game to give them the lead in the Lakes Region Finals game and also the last goal to seal the game.He scores when it matters most. He’s not one dimensional, he’s got size and strength to win pucks and has a strong power gamer complimented with slick hands and a quick, accurate release. 

Runner Up:  Tyler Wishart, Kimball Union

Wishart leads all of prep in total points with 52 and like Moriello, a lot of those came in crucial moments in the game. He’s as intelligent a forward as you’ll find in prep hockey, he sees the whole sheet, he’s got separational speed and elusive stickhandling to make opponents miss and can set his teammates up all over the ice. A heady playmaker who made plays in open ice, in traffic, off the rush, off the cycle, off broken plays, etc. 

Also receiving votes:  Brennan Ali (Avon)

Goalie of the Year: Jake Inzirillo, Brooks School

There is a strong argument that nobody in prep hockey meant more to their team this season than Jake Inzirillo did to Brooks sporting over a 95% save percentage and under 2 goals per game average for a team that didn’t even make the playoffs. He compiled 6 shutouts including the last game of their season against RIvers where he stopped 33 of 33 to tie the game 0–0. He led all prep goalies in save percentage (who started at least half the games) and was top 3 in goals against average.

Runner Up: Conor Callaghan, Avon Old Farms

Connor Callagahan led Avon Old Farms to the #2 seed in the Elite 8 this season and was second in prep in save percentage stopping 95% of the shots he faced. He also had 5 shutouts on the season not to mention another 3 where he hadn’t given up a goal but was pulled late to give the backup some time in the second or third period. He has allowed more than 2 goals just 3 times this season and was a big reason the team had a 22-3-0 record this season. 

Also receiving votes: Sam Scopa, Belmont Hill

Rookie of the Year: Thatcher Bernstein, Nobles & Greenough

Bernstein is an ‘06 true freshman who led his team to home ice in the Large School Tournament and was in a tie-breaker for the Elite 8. He also led his team to the Flood Marr Championship where he earned Tournament MVP. Only five times this season did he give up more than 2 goals against and it took nearly a month and a half into the season for the first team to score more than one against him. He’s got exceptional size, composure and hockey IQ for his age and made the biggest impact on his team for a rookie. 

Runner Up: Lucas St. Louis, Brunswick School

Lucas St. Louis was top 5 in the league in scoring among defenseman averaging over a point per game despite being in his first year in the league. St. Louis is a cerebral, poised, puck moving defenseman who plays beyond his years. He helped lead his team to the #1 seed in the Small School Tournament as well as a finals appearance in the St. Sebastian’s Christmas Tournament. Not only that but he had the game tying assist against St. Sebastian’s to reach the finals and the first goal of the game against Northwood in the finals.

Also receiving votes: Landan Resendes (Cushing), Teddy Stiga (Belmont Hill)

Photo Credit: Dan Hickling/Hickling Images