CHELMSFORD -- As usual fans, coaches and media members were treated to two terrific high school hockey games in the Super 8 play-in games on Tuesday night at the Chelmsford Forum. Franklin rallied to edge Xaverian, 3-2, in overtime while Woburn shutout Burlington, 3-0, in the nightcap in a game closer than the final score would indicate.
Here's five players who stood out as having good performances on Tuesday night:
Justin Alves, LC, Soph., Woburn, 6/20/99 - The Tanners' first line center is small, but he is a good two-way player. He anticipates plays well, he backchecks and gets in the passing lanes in the defensive zone. He has really good hands, can stickhandle through traffic and he can really find his linemates on the ice. According to his coach Jim Duran, he spent a good chunk of his youth in Tampa in the Junior Lightning organization, playing for a few former pro players who taught him the game well. It shows. The only knock on his game, and this will come with time and growth, is that he sometimes tries to be too fancy.
Josh Boulos, LD, Jr., Burlington, 7/197 - A big blue liner, he's incredibly raw and a few fellow Middlesex League coaches described him as the best defenseman in their league. He has good skills with the puck, can be physical and has a good stick. He needs to keep it simple and play with more focus each shift, but the physical tools are there if he can put it all together.
Anthony Nikolopoulos, RW, Jr., Burlington, 4/20/98 - He had his moments Tuesday night. He made a real nice play in the second period and displayed some good stick skills. He's a natural goal scorer, but Woburn's defense did a good job of getting in shooting and passing lanes and preventing the entire Burlington offense from generating too many quality opportunities.
Tim Sweeney, RC, Sr., Xaverian, 12/19/96 - His father, also Tim, played in 291 NHL games after a solid career at BC. The younger Sweeney has been a little snake bit this season, but he's a good skater who is strong on his skates and strong on the puck. A real rugged kid, he does a good job getting into the scoring area and using his strength. He'll likely spend next season doing a PG year or playing juniors. The Islanders HC in the USPHL are one of the junior teams reportedly interested in his services.
Sam Best, G, Soph., Woburn, 8/7/98 - A true rink rat according to his coach Jim Duran, he works with Brian Daccord of Stop It Goaltending. He's quick and sees pucks through traffic well. He's a little smaller than the typical modern day goaltender, but he's the best goaltender this observer has seen out of the public school teams this season. Tuesday night was his eighth shutout of the season, quite an impressive feat for a player in his first season playing full-time at the varsity level.
Other Notes: Burlington is a good hockey team and is certainly going to be very tough to beat in Division 1 North. Bob Conceison's team skates well and creates a lot of offense from the blue line... Senior forward Ryan Spillane, Franklin's top scorer and son of head coach Chris Spillane, is a good little player who moves the puck well and skates pretty well. He reminds this observer a little bit of Beverly alum Connor Irving, who is now doing a PG season at Tilton... Franklin's top defenseman was senior Kyle Filbert, who had some good size, skated well and was physical... Xaverian senior forward Jake Farrell had the Hawks' first goal and impressed some with his size. A three-sport athlete, who also plays football and baseball, is committed to play baseball for Northeastern...Xaverian was without senior captain and top defenseman Ryan Walsh, who missed the game due to an ankle injury... Woburn '98 junior right wing Evan McDonald really showcased his speed and made one highlight reel move. He has good hands and speed and decent size...As mentioned above, the Tanners' defense has eight shutouts on the season. Tyler Shaw leads the way with a good stick and sound fundamentals, but all four of the Woburn blue liners deserve mention for their performance Tuesday. Connor Power, Nick Lissner and Tim Concannon all played well for Duran's team.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.