Exeter, NH -- After watching Kimball Union absolutely dismantle Exeter on Wednesday afternoon, there's no doubt Tim Whitehead's Wildcats are the best team in prep school hockey.
Maine commit Patrick Shea scored the first of his two goals less than a minute into the game, and the rout was on from there. KUA scored three times in the first and three more in the second to hold a commanding 6-0 lead after two periods. As one would imagine in a game with that score, the Wildcats took their foot off the pedal, and the final was 8-3.
'98 right defenseman Dennis Cesana had a hat trick. Bobby Young, Mike Lombardi, Sean Thomson added goals. Devin Moore, Hunter McCoy and Garrett Foster scored for Exeter.
For the majority of the game, KUA made Exeter look slow. The Wildcats won races to loose pucks, they battled harder on the boards and used their superior skating ability to cycle and bury Exeter for long periods deep in the zone.
The biggest surprise of the game was the play of Kimball Union freshman left defenseman Jordan Harris, a 2000 from Haverhill, Mass. and the younger brother of Brown commit Elijah Harris. The younger Harris has put on some bulk and his game has taken off. He was good at Select 15s and Beantown over the summer, but his development in a few short months is astounding. He's smart, he's smooth and he's tough. Exeter is an older team for the most part, and Harris showed no signs of being a three to four years younger than many of the opposing forwards he was going up against.
It was hard not to notice the play of KUA's top line, even though as a unit, they scored just twice. Shea centers Roope Hirvonen on the right and George Sennot on the left wing. Sennot has gotten a lot better, although his ceiling could still be as just a very good Division III player. Hirvonen is a fun player to watch. He has developed good chemistry with Shea and he's quick. He gets in on the forecheck quickly and is disruptive. He has good hands and there's some creativity to his offensive game. Back to Shea, he's an extremely smart player. The Florida Panthers prospect knows where to be to find the puck. A perfect example of this was his third period goal in which he was skating right through the high slot when he picked up a loose puck and buried it for a goal. He's a strong skater with a powerful stride and has a quick release.
Whitehead has three defensive pairings that are all very good. Senior captain and St. Lawrence commit Ben Finkelstein and classmate Dennis Cesana get the most ice time. Cesana took advantage of his chances and picked up his first prep school hat trick, one on the power play, one four-on-four and one at even strength.
Finkelstein is very smooth and is a great skater. He's a little undersized, but his vision and lateral mobility make him a threat each time he has the puck on his stick. He does a nice job walking the blue line, stepping to the side and clearing a shooting lane.
Harris partners with '99 right defenseman Bryce Dolan, a former Bishop Hendricken star for a very good second 'D' pair. Left defensemen Sean Thomson and right defenseman Chris Konin are the third pairing. Other teams have better defensemen, but no team has a a deeper group as a whole.
Senior Payton Porter got the nod in net for KUA and made a few nice saves, but wasn't tested as much as his counterpart Joey Lazzaro at the other end.