Going into the tournament, all eyes were on the two prep heavyweights Cushing and Dexter. However, after three days of hockey, it is Culver that stole the show and were deserved winners.
Day 1 Recap
The tournament began with Proctor taking on Pomfret. Pomfret, having struggled dearly all season, came out well vs the heavily favored Proctor team. They were up 2-1 in the first period, but 4 goals in 2 minutes from Proctor in the second period put the game out of reach. Next, over at Lawrence Academy, Cushing took on the host Spartans. Lawrence goalie Mike Robinson (UNH commit) saved 30/32 shots and had his team tied with Cushing 1-1 in the third. However, Bailey Conger (St. Lawrence commit), as he has done all season, was the savior for the Penguins as his goal with 8 minutes to play sealed a 3-1 victory. Next, the host Groton School was the first of four victims to play Culver this weekend. Culver scored early and often in this game and by the end of the second period, it was 10-1 Culver. The game would finish that way and Culver made an early statement. To wrap up the night, Dexter took on Holderness. Ryan Donato (Harvard commit, Bruins draft pick) got the scoring started for Dexter while Matt Brazel's two goals in the second period ensured a W for Dexter as the game finished 5-1. An exciting first day of action, but the second day was jam-packed with even more entertainment.
Day 2 Recap
For the morning games, Culver and Holderness started it off. Culver, although not as lethal as they were against Groton, put in a workmanlike performance that earned them a 6-1 W over the Bulls. Next, Cushing took on Pomfret and although Pomfret controlled the third period, the damage had already been done as 5 different goal scorers scored the 6 goals for Cushing in the Penguins' 6-3 win. Over at Groton, the hosts played against Dexter in a game that was a blowout from the beginning. Dexter used a huge first period in which they scored 5 goals via 5 different goal scorers to beat the Zebras 8-2. Luke McInnis (BC recruit) had a sensational game in which he scored 2 goals and assisted on 4 goals! To wrap up the morning slate, Proctor took on Lawrence Academy in a game that Proctor Forward Jake Pappalardo (Maine commit) took over as he scored 2 goals in the 4-1 win.
In the afternoon, Cushing took on Proctor for a place in the tournament championship. In a game that was 3-2 Penguins going into the third, the last period of play was an absolute blowout. Cushing scored six goals via six different goal scorers to win 9-3 and book a date with the winner of Dexter vs. Culver. In the Dexter vs. Culver game, it was a tight first period with few chances. However, Culver scored first late in the period and never looked back. Although Dexter outshot Culver by a wide margin in the second, the Academy got one late in the second and then wore down Dexter in third for a commanding 5-1 win. In a game that had me falling into sleep, Groton beat Holderness, 4-0. Ace Cowans (Vermont recruit) did it all for the Zebras as his goals booked Groton a place in the 5th place game. Next, Pomfret and Lawrence Academy played an entertaining game as Pomfret erased a 2-0 deficit to win 5-3 behind Andrew Shields' three point night.
Day 3 Recap
In the Championship Game played before a plethora of NHL and Division I scouts, Culver Academy put the ultimate team effort in to blank Cushing, 3-0. Although only 0-0 after one period, Karch Bachman (Miami of Ohio recruit) and Culver pulled away from the Penguins as they completely contained the Conger-Cotton-Simons line. In the Third Place Game, Dexter and Proctor played a fast-paced, hard-hitting game in which Dexter Forward Matt Brazel's slap shot with 1:24 left in the third period gave the team a 4-3 victory. Luke McInnis and Jack Rathbone both scored fantastic goals for Dexter in the win. In the Fifth Place Game, Groton's Chris Brown scored a goal 58 seconds into overtime that gave the host team a 4-3 win. In the Seventh Place Game, Mike Robinson of Lawrence Academy shut down Holderness in the Spartans' 3-2 win.
The 41st Groton-Lawrence Tournament this year was jam-packed with scouts, quality hockey, and highlight-reel goals. However, it wasn't the glamour and skill of Cushing or Dexter that resulted in a tournament victory yet rather the brawn and toughness of Culver that has the trophy headed back to Indiana for a second year in a row!