March Madness is upon us in many different variations; from the Mass Super 8 Tournament to the Hockey East Semi-finals – there is a sense of finality and a palpable feeling in the air that makes this time of year so very special. Behind every team that succumbs to defeat in their respective tournaments, is an emotional player who must struggle with the harsh reality that ‘today’ will be the last day in their current uniform. As we transition throughout the varied stages in life we realize that change is inevitable; because we are aware of this inevitability, doesn’t lessen the magnitude of the life changing decisions we are forced to make in our late teenage years.
Many of the top New England high school hockey players and future HE talent are winding down their high school careers as we speak. Given the nature of player development these days, a majority of blue chippers will transition to obscure places like Des Moines, Iowa or Muskegon, MI to play junior hockey before their college experience becomes reality. That said, the camaraderie and identification young players have for their respective high schools will never be matched in the hockey factory that is junior hockey.
Some of the most prolific high school prospects are currently experiencing this ‘life transition’ and the only two teams standing in this year’s Super 8 showdown are perennial Catholic Conference powers BC High and Malden Catholic who have earned the right to play on Garden Ice –Sunday 6PM. Now, granted, I have never been to Minnesota and have great respect for the hockey tradition in that region- BUT, I find it hard not to think of the Massachusetts Super 8 as the premier tournament in the country.
Boston Herald Blog, “In The Slot” compiled a spreadsheet that breaks down the entire history of the Super 8 Tournament (RIP Don Bosco)..amazingly, Bill Hanson’s Catholic Memorial has won more than half of the championships. CM has produced a plethora of NCAA D1 and NHL talent including Chris Nilan, Ted Donato and Garrett Noonan (BU).
This year’s tournament is laden with talent -as always – and features perhaps the most talented duo of any high school team in the country in Brendan Collier and Ryan Fitzgerald. Both Fitzgerald and Collier both lit the lamp in the semifinal win at Lawler Arena and helped MC advance to Sunday’s game against BC High. Fitzgerald and Collier best bask in the glory of their joint success now because they chose opposite sides of the Comm Ave rivalry; Fitzgerald chose the Heights and Collier will take his talents to BU…should be interesting to see how this evolves in the coming years.
Just as the high school, ISL prep league and junior playoffs come to an abrupt end and much of New England turns their attention to the Red Sox and Bruins- one of the most acclaimed amateur showcase tournaments takes shape. The Beantown Classic first dropped the puck in 2001 and has proliferated ever since – the tournament can stake claim to over 500 alumni who have went on to play Division 1 Hockey or the NHL. The basic premise of the select “Spring” tournament was based upon the Pro-Elite Tournaments of the 80’s and 90’s and the fact that the timing of the event was impeccable given the end of the Super 8, junior playoffs and ISL prep school playoffs in March.
What is the Beantown Spring Classic?
|The Beantown Spring Classic is a three day event held every spring following the EJHL, Super 8 and Prep Championship. The tournament features two boys divisions.Draft Division- Only players of NHL draft eligibility (92-94 birth years) will qualify to be selected into the top spring showcase of its kind. This division will consist of 4 teams. Each team will carry 12 forwards, 6 defenseman and 2 goalies. Each team will practice one day then play a round robin showcase versus the other three teams. Each team will be coached by a current NHL scout. Each game will consist of two 25 minute halves.
Pre Draft- This division will be for players between the three birth years below the draft division (95-96). This division will consist of 4 teams. Each team will carry 12 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goalies. Each team will practice one day then play a robin showcase versus the other three teams. Each team will be coached by a current NHL scout. Each game will consist of two 25 minute halves.
This year’s rosters are filled with the very best (’92-’94) players from the New England/New York region including an abundance of Forum Futures who will be calling HE home in the next several years.
Included in this group are: Brendan Collier (BU), Jimmy Vesey (Harvard), Sam Kurker (BU), Jarrid Privitera (BU), Kyle Smith (UNH), Vinny Scotti (Merrimack), Ross Olsson (Northeastern) to name a few.
Elsewhere in Forum Future News:
Kirk Luedeke from the New England Hockey Journal looks at Harvard bound, Lawrence Academy star, Devin Tringale (Medford, MA) who led his team to its first ever New England Prep School Championship this year.
Shawn Hutcheon of the New England Hockey Journal wrote a great piece on the current success of the South Shore Kings (EJHL). Hutcheon explains the evolution of changes that have taken place since the team joined the EJHL in1993 as the NECDL Classics. Coach Scott Harlow (BC alum) has been at the helm of the program which currently has several other future HE commits.
Harlow has stressed the importance of player development and had this to say in the New England Hockey Journal article:
“Our main goal is to place as many as possible into college hockey. We’ve done OK college-wise,” Harlow said. “We have ten who are placed for next season.”
According to Hutcheon’s piece, the Kings have placed the following players in NCAA D1 Hockey programs:
|Jimmy Vesey (North Reading, Mass.) heading to Harvard, Nick Bligh (Milton, Mass.) going to Dartmouth, Nick Cruice committed to Union and both Joey Prescott (Norwell, Mass.) and Derick Roy heading to Brown. Rounding out the list of college-bound Kings are Mike Reardon (Bentley), Shane Walsh (UMass), Dean Niezgoda (Norwich), James Murray (Babson) and Jared Wiedemann (Babson).|
College Hockey Prospective (CHP) posted slots 41-45 of its Top 60 NHL Draft College Prospects on the CHP site this week. Included in this list are a few players with New England and Hockey East ties:
45. Zach Aston-Reese 6-1 185 C Lincoln (USHL) committed to Northeastern
Doesn’t shy away from physical contact as he adds offense.
44. Riley Barber 5-11 193 RW USNTDP committed to Miami
Recent success in international play has him trending upward.
43. Matt Beattie 6-3 175 F Phillips Exeter Academy (HS-NH) committed to Yale
Combination of size, skill and smarts.
42. Frank Vatrano 5-10 216 C USNTDP committed to Boston College
Doubles as a scorer and a strong guy who can muck in the corners.
41. Morgan Zulinick C 5-11 185 Salmon Arm (BCHL) committed to Wisconsin
Playmaking pivot who also leads Salmon Arm in goals.