MARLBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are some notes and observations from Sunday's Garrett Reagan Hockey Summit played at the New England Sports Center:
Wamps provide the ‘D’: Burlington and Braintree squared off in a battle of Middlesex League and Bay State Conference powers with the Wamps playing their patented, sticky brand of hockey in the neutral zone. Braintree slowed down the Red Devils’ speed through center ice and limited their quality scoring chances behind All-Star defenseman Troy Tenaglia.
A race worth watching will be the Wamps’ goaltending battle. Junior Nick Anson, who earned the shutout Sunday and who is also a member of Braintree’s football team, is the leading candidate to assume Dan Murphy’s old post. Once settled, the Wamps, who will have a strong returning presence up top led by David Fasano and Tom Troy, could be the preseason favorite heading into Bay State play.
Guiding the ship now: We saw major flashes of the promise of Hingham’s junior class last year when they were sophomores playing with the Harbormen in the Super 8. Another year mature, the Harbormen should be poised for another deep Super 8 run behind that tremendously talented class. That talent was on display Sunday as the Harbormen roughed up Peabody. Matt Brazel (11-23-34 in 2011-12) and Sam D’Antuono (9-19-28) will be called upon to shoulder a greater offensive load after Hingham graduated four of their top six scorers from last year. The Harbormen also have a steadying presence on the blue line in John Carlson (2-10-12) who’s already generated plenty of college interest in his two-year career.
‘Work in progress’: Returning Super 8 finalist BC High squared off another of last year’s Super 8 entrants in St. Mary’s of Lynn. And while the Eagles looked crisp at times offensively, the biggest news of the day was who wasn’t on the bench. BC High’s leading scorer Tom Besinger (14-18-32 in 2011-12) was held out by an illness.
“We return a lot of bodies [at forward],” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said, “but we’re finding our lines and some combinations there. We’ve had Michael Brooks and Ryan McDonough have played together for a couple of years now, there’s definitely good chemistry there. Stevie DeForge can skate, so he’s up there with them. Tom Besinger is a dynamic player, too.”
Of course, the constant for BC High has been goaltender Peter Cronin. The senior looked near midseason form while going the distance against the Spartans, showing some fine rebound control.
Panthers can hang: No team was more snake-bitten at last year’s Super 8 than Springfield Cathedral. The Panthers suffered three one-goal losses — two of which came in overtime, the other in a shootout.
While years come and go, Cathedral picked up where it left off on Sunday, skating with two-time defending Super 8 champion Malden Catholic to a 2-2 tie.
The Panthers suffered losses in key areas like any squad, but return a strong nucleus of seniors, including top defensive pairing Matt Foley and Jack Williams.
“They’ve been playing together since they were six years old,” Panthers head coach Brian Foley said of his four seniors. “Along the way, they’ve won championships. It’s a good leadership group. But outside of that, we’re young.
“We’ve only got one junior [goaltender John Liquori], but our young kids are really fast and really skilled. I wasn’t sure what we were going to have coming into tryouts, but we had a great first week.”
With Liquori (2.63 GAA) backstopping the Panthers for a second straight year and with sophomore forward Peter Crinella (8-10-18) poised for a break-out season, Cathedral could be in the hunt again.