Bailey MacBurnie and Tim Birarelli both hail from Beverly, Mass., but it turns out the two prep goaltenders have a lot more in common than just their hometown. After this past weekend, both can now lay claim to prep holiday tournament most valuable player honors.
MacBurnie, a '95, was a standout goaltender for St. Mary's of Lynn where he tended the net for Mark Lee's Spartans. A big goaltender who takes up a lot of the net, MacBurnie is very aggressive and plays with an edge. He's extremely competitive, forces the shooter's hand and does a good job cutting down the angle.
MacBurnie was the unquestioned MVP for Lee's squad last year as it earned the No. 1 seed in the MIAA Division 1 North Tournament. The Spartans were upended by eventual Division 1 State Champion Reading in the North Semifinals.
Now at Salisbury as a PG, MacBurnie is off to a hot start. He was immense all weekend long, but played particularly well in the 2-1 win over Westminster in the Flood-Marr Tournament championship game. MacBurnie is reportedly starting to gain interest of some Hockey East schools and has some official visits lined up.
Birarelli was somewhat lost in the shadows last season as his Beverly Panthers easily raced through Division 2 en route to a state championship at the lower level. Beverly only lost one game, compiling a 22-1-1 record on the season, but much of the attention was garnered by some of the high scoring Panthers. Star forward Connor Irving, now a PG at Tilton, and defenseman Nick Albano, now a repeat junior at Proctor, received more of the accolades.
However, any observer who saw the state championship game can attest to how important Birarelli was when called upon. He was terrific as the Panthers were largely outplayed by Medfield, helping Bob Gilligan's squad to a 2-1 win at the TD Garden.
In eight starts Birarelli has allowed just nine goals and has recorded three shutouts, including two in his first two prep school games. Birarelli is tall, but more lanky than MacBurnie. He plays a little bit more of a hybrid style than MacBurnie's traditional butterfly.
It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to see Birarelli and MacBurnie and their respective teams meet in March at Yale with a prep school championship on the line.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.