North Billerica, Mass. — The MIAA Super 8 Play-In games tend to be some of the most exciting contests of the year each season.
Monday night at the Chelmsford Forum was no different. Marshfield rallied from a 3-0 deficit to knock off Austin Prep, 4-3, thanks to a goal with just over two minutes to play in regulation. In the nightcap, Walpole continued its undefeated season with a 2-1 overtime victory over Catholic Memorial.
Marshfield, the No. 8 seed, moves on to face defending Super 8 champion Malden Catholic in a best-of-three quarterfinals series that starts Sunday at the Tsongas Center in Lowell. No. 7 Walpole takes on BC High starting Sunday, as well.
Marshfield sophomore Aidan Connolly lifted the Rams to victory with just 2:09 left in regulation. The ‘01 assisted on the team’s first goal of the night, scored by classmate Nick Hurley. Tallies earlier in the third period by Matt Smith and Andrew Fithian had evened the score at 3-3 before Connolly’s heroics.
Austin Prep had built a 3-0 lead on two goals from Alex Maffeo and another from Louis Finocchiaro. Maffeo and Finocchiaro added assists as did Nick Cafarelli.
Senior Cam Martin’s wrist shot off a face-off win gave the Rebels a 2-1 win in overtime. Classmate Owen Hunter had given Walpole a 1-0 lead early in the third period when he connected off a pretty feed from sophomore Connor Foley who had wheeled around the back of the net. Senior James Corcoran came up with some big saves for Ron Dowd’s team.
Catholic Memorial evened the score, 1-1, midway through the third period on a power play goal from Harry Morrill. Junior goaltender Brendan Clancy was the hard luck loser for the Knights.
Walpole was a senior-laden team that is now 22-0-1. The Rebels might not have any Division I college hockey prospects on the squad, but Corcoran and senior defenseman Andrew Moore both looked to be players that would be nice additions for a prep team looking for post-grads.
Sophomore Conor Foley also showed something on Monday night. He made a really nice play to come around the back of the net from right to left and feed Hunter on the first goal of the night.
The following are the six prospects who stood out most from Monday’s games:
Nick Cafarelli, #19 Austin Prep, Soph., 12/30/01, Center, Shoots Right, 5-9/160 - He had an assist on the team’s first goal, a power play tally, but that wasn’t what really stood out on Monday night. He’s a responsible two-way center who sees the ice well and has strong hockey IQ. He back-checks and reads plays well. He is out in all situations. He has good feet and is a fundamentally sound skater. Once he gets stronger the speed and foot speed should come. He made a few good passes that stood out. He’s worthy of a later round pick in May’s USHL Phase I Draft.
Aidan Connolly, #23 Marshfield, Soph., 5/10/01, Center, Shoots Left, 5-11/145 - He has good footwork, skates well and can create offense. He blew down the right side in transition, turning on an extra gear to get past the defense, but couldn’t finish. Another move down the right side led to the first goal on a centering feed that linemate Nick Hurley cashed in on. He was around the puck to capitalize on the game-winner. He’s a little weak on his skates so he’ll need to bulk up, but there is potential. He’ll head to prep hockey next year. He’s a player to draft late in Phase I or towards the end of Phase II if looking for an ‘01 to put on an affiliate list to watch him develop and gain strength over the next few years.
Aidan Curran, #4 Austin Prep, Soph., 1/22/01, Right Wing, Shoots Right, 5-9/155 - He’s a good skater who can create offense because of his speed. He’s agile and crafty. He had a nice move down the right wing where he cut in on net and scored a goal, but it was waved off for goalie interference. He doesn’t think the game as well as Cafarelli, but he’s a player that would be a nice add for a prep team if nothing else.
Nick Hurley, #16 Marshfield, Soph., ‘01, Left Wing, Shoots Left - He’s not as skilled or as smart with the puck as Connolly, but he has good hands and skates well. He made a really nice toe-drag as he was transitioning the puck up ice. He has good agility, drives the net and plays with purpose. He’d be another nice add for a prep school team.
Thomas Larson, #25 Catholic Memorial, Soph., ‘00, Defense, Shoots Left - He didn’t log much ice time in the first half of the game, but seemed to play more in the third period. He’s a little undersized, but he was the best puck mover and mobile defensemen of any of the four teams on Monday night.
Brendan Clancy, #30 Catholic Memorial, Jr., ‘00, Goalie, Catches Left - This wasn’t his best viewing as he looked to be fighting the puck a little at times, but he’s the best goaltender in high school hockey right now. He challenges at the top of the crease, he has sound fundamentals and positioning, and he moves well in the crease. He tracks pucks and doesn’t give up many rebounds. He’s a little on the small side for a modern era goalie, but he’s worth following.