NE Prep: Large School Tournament Preview

NZ Prep scouts breakdown the upcoming matchups this Wednesday, the history between the teams, the players to watch and give our own predictions.

#8 Berkshire @ #1 Brunswick

History:  Berkshire Won 3-1 over Brunswick on 2/12

Record Against Playoff Teams:  Berkshire 3-7-0     Brunswick: 4-6-0

Matchup: This is an intriguing matchup of contrasting styles of play; Brunswick is a younger, faster, more skilled, run and gun type of team whereas Berkshire is an older, strong, more structured team. They have only matched up once this year and Berkshire got the win but Brunswick is the home team and has had the better resume overall. They have similar records against playoff teams, both teams have had a strong schedule and both average about 2.5 goals against per game. Brunswick however has outscored Brunswick nearly 2:1 so the key matchup in this game will be Berkshire’s potent offense, averaging 4.6 goals per game against Berkshire’s defense. Borth Berkshire and Brunswick appear to be playing their best hockey this time of year going 8-2-0 in their last 10 games.

Brunswick Advantage: Team speed, high-power offense and overall team depth

Berkshire Advantage: Size and age/experience

Key Players: Berkshire doesn’t have the high-end talent like Brunswick but they are older and led by senior forwards Ben Boren, Pratt Stetson and defenseman Nick Donaldson. Their starting netminder is Danick Leroux who is playing his best hockey right now. For Brunswick, their star player is Hank Cleaves, a big, fast, athletic forward led the team in scoring but he is complimented by several skilled younger forwards in Eli Friedman, James Shannon, Drew DellaSalla, Sean Gibbons and Luke Drury. All of these forward are legit NCAA D1 prospects in the future and have made an immediate impact in their first season in prep hockey. On the backend young stars Lucas St. Louis, who finished in the top 5 in scoring among prep defenseman, and Sloan Farmer lead the way and make Brunswick a dangerous team on the power play with their skill and puck moving ability. Their starter between the pipes is junior Brendan Holahan who has great size, athleticism and consistency. 

Prediction: You wouldn’t expect a 1 vs 8 seed game to be a tough choice, but this was our toughest call of all the games. Brunswick has the ability to break this game open with their speed and skill but the two teams played already and Berkshire handled them not just winning but outshooting them as well. The fact that Berkshire has 10 seniors is noteworthy as these players will be giving it their all but we think Brunswick’s talent and depth is going to be too much for Berskire to handle and being the home team gives them the slight edge; very slight. 

#7 Loomis Chaffee vs. #2 Kent

History: Kent beat Loomis 6-1 on 12/16  then Loomis beat Kent 4-2 on 1/28

Record against playoff teams:  Kent:  7-5-0      Loomis Chaffee: 6-8-0

Matchup: These two teams have faced each other twice this year splitting the series 1-1 so they are plenty familiar with one another. It’s been a tale of two teams in this game as Kent had a strong start to the season winning the Avon Christmas Tournament which is one of the toughest tournaments of the year but lost five games after that including two in their last four games. Loomis on the other hand started the season an even 7-7-0 but went on a run at the end going 7-3-0 in their last 10 including impressive wins over Westminster, Kent, Andover and #2 ranked Avon.. They are two of the three teams that were able to beat Avon this year and both had high strength of schedule for the year. 

Kent Advantage: More depth offensively, older and more experienced, goaltending

Loomis Advantage: Team speed

Key Players: Kent has five senior forwards averaging over a point per game in Geno McEnery, Jake Kraft, Max Resnick, Dante Palombo and Michael Hurst. On the backend Kent has two-way defender Joey Sciabarra as well as ‘06 Kai Mencel. Loomis has less fire power up front and are more scoring by community but Oliver Flynn may well be the best player on the ice in this game. They also have a clever puck mover in Charlie Andriole who runs their power play and is a breakout machine. Both goalies can win games for their teams, Loomis’ Heinze has been dominant in the last 10 outings while Kent’s Hopewell and Fogel are arguably the best one-two punch in net in the league. 

Prediction: This prediction comes down to the better team; Kent, against the hotter team, Loomis Chaffee. The Pelicans have closed the season strong to put themselves in the hunt for the large school tournament which tells us they can win under pressure. Kent on the other hand faltered down the stretch and were knocked out of the Elite 8 which seemed ot be their destiny all season; however, Kent has a winning record against playoff teams and quality wins over some of the best teams in the league including Avon and Salisbury twice. If Kent plays their best they win and because of that we’re going with the better team, but it wouldn’t at all surprise us to see Loomis keep this late season run going and knock off Kent either. 

#6 Andover @ #3 Exeter

History:  Exeter is 2-0-0 against Andover this season winning by a 3-2 score both times (1/15 & 2/26)

Record against playoff teams:  Exeter: 6-5-1     Andover: 2-12-0

Matchup: Exeter and Andover have faced off twice this year, both close contests with Exeter getting the better of Andover. Exeter has a much better record against playoff teams and while Anodver has beaten all the teams they should, but struggled against the better teams winning just two games against playoff bound teams while losing 12. Andover has been sliding a bit in the second half of the year going 4-6-0 in their last 10 games including a 2-5-0 stretch to end the year. Exeter on the other hand is 7-1-1 in their last 8 games. Exeter is a little older and more experienced but both teams are made up mostly of upperclassmen.

Exeter Advantages: Age/experience, team depth in all positions (particularly defensively) and more consistent goaltending

Andover Advantages: First Line

Key Players: Exeter is a team mostly made up of seniors led by leading scorer Kurt Gurkan who does it all, plays in every situation and four seniors/PG’s in Michael Dinges, Kodi Dotterer, Ryan Sordillo and Charlie McGurrin including sophomore forward Christian Maro. The key to their success this season however has been between the posts in junior goalie Michael Salvatore. For Andover they have a potent first line in Nick Royster – Jonathan Surrette – Conner Fitzpatrick who combined for 50 of the teams 104 goals on the season. They have a pair of junior defenders in Robert Corkery and Rory Booth who make plays at both ends and are backstopped by Shane Shelest

Prediction: While it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season, it would be hard to go against Exeter here, not only because they just beat them on the road last week but they are playing their best hockey right now, have a winning record against playoff teams and one of the best goalies in the league. One thing to note would be that Andover has actually outshot Exeter in both loses but their 2-12-0 record against playoff teams has us leaning toward Exeter, possibly 3-2 like the other games. 

#5 Northfield Mount Hermon @ #4 Nobles & Greenough

History: Teams have not played this year

Record against playoff teams: Nobles & Greenough: 5-5-2    Northfield Mt Hermon: 2-5-1

Matchup: Nobles started the season on an impressive run winning the Flood Marr championship and not losing a game until middle of January. They would however go on to lose 5 of the next 6 from that time and then finished the year 5-3-1 but lost their last two games of the season to punch their ticket into the Elite 8. NMH on the other hand has finished the year 6-2-1 with big wins over Loomis and Andover to get into the playoffs. Both of these teams are good in net, they both are led mostly by upperclassmen and both teams have good team speed which will make this an even game.

NMH Advantages: Goaltending and offensive depth

Nobles Advantages: Defensive Depth and experience

Key Players: NMH is a balanced offensive attack but they are led by senior Nicholas LeClaire and a pair of skilled juniors Frankie Hipp and Brock James. On the backend Jack Turowsky and Josh Furman do most the heavy lifting from power play to penalty kill to 5v5 and they have split netminders in Mason Rosado and Nick Bevilacqua who both sport over .93 save percentages. Nobles has a deadly first line in Ben MacDonald, Roman Tacelli and Austin Tasca as well a deep blue line from senior puck mover Aidan Lyons, stout Johnny Logan to junior defenders Brian Grant, Matt Tully and Will Brophy as well as sophomore standout Joe Mense. In net they have Rookie of the Year Thatcher Bernstein who has stolen games for this team throughout the season and always gives them a chance to win. 

Prediction: Nobles is .500 against playoff teams, they won the Flodd Marr and were nearly in the Elite 8 which put together makes them a tough squad to bet against; however, they needed to win one of their final two games and faced two opponents they are better than and lost them both. That concerns us and also have been relying heavily on their ‘06 goalie to save them which is tough to do in the playoffs. NMH might not have the depth of Nobles or the experience but in their two must-win games against Loomis and Andover they came to play not only winning but by a margin of 11-2. We think that streak continues and NMH steals one on the road against a better team.