In 2013, the Groton-Lawrence Tournament saw overtime thrillers, upset victories, and Culver Military Academy take home the title over Proctor. This year, all eight teams are back from last year as Dexter and Cushing look to win their groups and set up a Saturday Title Game matchup.
Team by team previews
Cushing has gotten off to a solid start in 2014 behind the expert play of its first line of David Cotton (BC commit), Bailey Conger (St. Lawrence), and Jake Simons. All three players are averaging two points per game and have carried Cushing offensively. On defense, Cushing is led by Matt Dillon and Patrick Horrocks, two offensive minded defenseman that form the backbone of the Cushing D corps that play in front of goalie Joey Daccord (93 % save percentage). The only blemishes on Cushing's resume this season are a 3-2 loss to Exeter and a 2-2 tie at Dexter. This team plays Lawrence Academy on Thursday and Pomfret and Proctor on Friday.
Dexter, having lost 10 seniors from the 2013-2014 team, has taken time to form chemistry amongst the forwards. However, in the early stages, the breakout performer has been a transfer from Andover named Pat Daly. He has scored 5 goals and has 3 assists to his name. As always, Ryan Donato (Harvard commit, Bruins draft pick) is a threat offensively who has 7 points. On the blue line, newcomer Luke McInnis (Boston College) has played well while Jack Ouellette has contributed 3 goals. Liam Moore, a sophomore goalie, is the key to Dexter's success if they want to take home the tournament title. Dexter plays Holderness Thursday and Groton and Culver on Friday.
A Large School Tournament playoff team last season, Proctor has gotten off to a decent start this season with a win over St. Mark's and an overtime loss to Kimball Union. Junior forward Jake Pappalardo (Maine commit) has been in fine form as he has a stat line of six goals and nine assists. In net, the two goalies, Beau Collins and Connor Simpson, have struggled this year. They are going to need to play better if the team wants to beat Cushing in group play.
Groton has been a team of extremes this season, as they have crushed Deerfield 5-1 but also have been trounced 9-0 by Loomis-Chaffee. For the Zebras, their key player is Ace Cowans (Vermont commit). He put up over 50 points last season and he already has 11 to his name this season. If the Zebras want to upend Dexter and Culver, they are going to need those two players to have great games.
A prep school from Indiana that has made the trip out to Groton, MA for years, Culver is always one of the hardest working, most talented teams at the Groton-Lawrence Tournament. This year, they are led by Jamie Collins (15 points) and a Miami of Ohio commit, Karch Bachman (seven points in six games). A Friday night matchup between Culver and Dexter could very well decide who makes the Title Game on Saturday.
Lawrence Academy (1-0-1)
Lawrence, coming off a dismal 2013-2014 season, have shown signs of improvement this season. Led by goalie Mike Robinson (New Hampshire commit), the Spartans have tied Belmont Hill and beaten Milton Academy. If Lawrence wants to upend quality teams like Proctor and Cushing in group play, it will need leading scorers Timmy Kent and JJ Harding, both freshmen, to score some goals.
Holderness has had some ups and downs in the first month of the season, having won some close ones, but also losing big as was the case in its 9-2 loss versus Vermont Academy. If the Bulls want to upset Dexter, Culver, or Groton, they will need Frederic Cyr (11 points) to cause problems for defenses and Mark Michaels (88% save percentage) to be a rock between the pipes.
Pomfret has struggled in the early stages of the season, including big losses to Loomis-Chaffee and Avon Old Farms. Only five players have scored a point this season. Pomfret is going to need to fix some things fast if they want to make their presence felt this weekend.
Prediction: Although there could be some upsets, I see both Dexter and Cushing winning out in group play and therefore playing in the Title Game. On December 3rd, Cushing came from behind late to tie it 2-2 at Dexter. Expect a close one on Saturday, but I am picking Dexter to beat the Penguins.