North Andover, Mass. -- The Pete Frates Classic brought together four of the top ten teams in the state, and arguably the top three, over the weekend at Merrimack's Lawler Rink.
St. John's Prep left with the trophy to its own tournament after a 2-1 win over Pope Francis. The Prep advanced to Sunday's title game with a 2-1 overtime victory against Catholic Conference rival BC High in the first semifinal. Pope Francis downed Central Catholic, 4-3 in overtime, in Saturday's other semifinal. BC High routed Central Catholic, 8-2, in Sunday's consolation game.
Pope Francis led the way with two Division I commitments, Providence's Riley Prattson and Northeastern's Dan Petrick. Central Catholic had the tournament's most high end prospect in Boston University commit and top '00 left-shot center Jake Wise, who had three of his team's five goals on the weekend.
The All-Tournament team consisted of St. John's Prep senior forward Anthony Quartieri, BC High senior forward Kayser Raei, Central Catholic sophomore forward Jake Wise, Pope Francis junior defenseman Dan Petrick, BC High senior defenseman Billy Roche and St. John's senior goaltender Kyle Martin, who was also the MVP.
There were several uncommitted players that piqued this observer's interest as having Division I talent while a few others were noteworthy for being kids that could fill shoes at a prep school for a PG year or at the Division III level down the road.
St. John's Prep
Anthony Quartieri - Mitch Shaheen - Scott Newton
Kyle Hentosh - Billy Falter - Kyle Lynch
Shawn Thomson - Danny Tighe - Dan Hennessey
Paul Edson - Christian Kukas
Tim Usalis - Seth Murray
Josh Cole - Ben Essensa/K.J. Sarni
Kyle Martin - Cam Ludwig
He keeps getting overlooked because of his size, but '98 senior goaltender Kyle Martin just keeps stopping pucks for the Prep. He's athletic and has good reflexes. Unlike the stereotype for small goaltenders, he's sound fundamentally and usually in position so he doesn't have to move around acrobatically to make saves. A few prep schools are on him hard for next season as a PG.
Paul Edson, a late '99 sophomore, has the most upside of anyone on the Prep. A left defenseman, he can chip in offensively, but he has a real good stick and could be a shutdown defender if he can pull his game together. He's still raw, but he's an above average skater for his size. Some might question his hockey sense, but he's a player this observer sees having a big time future.
Kristian Hanson's team has the best defense of any in high school hockey. After Edson, senior captain Seth Murray has become a really good high school blue liner. The right-shot isn't flashy, but he's solid and does his job. He gets pucks through to the net, is smooth and has good gaps. He'd be a nice get as a PG for a prep team next fall. Sophomore Tim Usalis does a good job getting in shooting and passing lanes and is a solid young defender to watch. Junior Christian Kukas has been solid after coming over from Pingree where he played last season.
Just like last year, the top producing offensive line for the Prep is a trio of a seniors, Anthony Quartieri, Mitch Shaheen and Scott Newton. Quartieri has a knack for the puck and definitely is a pass-first player, but can also finish. Shaheen has good speed, his motor never stops and creates chances with his ability to get time and space. Newton has good hands and has showcased his ability offensively after seeing minimal ice time in prior seasons. All three are potential PG candidates for prep schools.
'98 Kyle Hentosh, a left-shot junior, is as heady of a hockey player as there is in high school hockey. He's instrumental on the Prep penalty kill and is good cycling the puck. Watch him for a period, and you'll rarely see him out of position or not making a smart play with or without the puck. He'd be a good addition for a prep team, and if he can improve his foot speed, he could be a really good Division III player.
His linemate, senior Kyle Lynch, is a competitor. He made several big time blocks in yesterday's win and has a nose for the net. He's not afraid to go to the dirty areas and battle for pucks and rebounds.
If you're a fan of a team with no true superstars outside of its goaltender, take a look at a Prep game this winter. Hanson's team buys into the system and plays solid defensively. There is no selfishness. It's a real throwback. Kudos to Hanson and his staff.
Kayser Raei - Thomas Kramer - Ian Murphy
Mitch Grenier - C.J. Marshall - Sean McDonough
Danny O'Connell - James Sexton - Michael Ball
Blake Graham - Matt Lakus - Troy Ladka
Joe Kelly/Will Dugan - Billy Roche
Jayson Dobay - Sean Healy/Ryan Campbell
Brandon Payzant - Eddie Merrigan
Sophomore left defenseman Jayson Dobay had a nice weekend for himself. There is no defenseman in high school hockey with better vision than the sophomore from Weymouth. The '99 makes good looks from the point down low as well as lead passes in transition. He has good footwork which allows him to get off good one-timers. He gets shots on net and thinks the game well offensively. If you're nitpicking, his gaps could use a little work defensively, but there is way too much upside to ignore. A few NHL Eastern Conference scouts I spoke with took notice of the left-shot defenseman.
Another '99, junior Ian Murphy, has high end speed. The right-shot right wing is clever with good hands and can create offense. He has a Division I skill set offensively, but is still learning to play the game in all three zones after playing just sparingly in his first two seasons. He plays the left point on the Eagles' top power play unit.
Kayser Raei, a late '97 left wing, is an undersized forward that could excel at the Division III level. He's gritty and isn't afraid to throw his weight around. He's around the puck a lot, makes good passes and has a knack for finding the net with quick snap shots from the circles. He does a nice job setting up on the half wall and below and getting the puck from low to high to his point men. Sunday might have been the best game this observer has seen him play. He's a player that D3 coaches should be after and would be well served with a PG year first.
'97 right defenseman Billy Roche doesn't have a Division I skill set, but he's solid and logs a ton of minutes for the Eagles. He has a decent stick and good size. He gets shots on net from the point. He worked well as the big guy in front of the net as a screen on the top power play unit. He's an all around athlete and good locker room guy who is a good baseball player as well. A prep coach would be wise to bring him in for a PG year.
The third BC High senior who often gets overlooked is '97 goaltender Brandon Payzant. He's somewhat small for today's standards, but he's athletic and made several big stops in Saturday's semifinal against St. John's. His only weakness is his tendency to sit back in the crease, but he's a goaltender that could help a prep team as a PG next fall.
A trio of '00 forwards showed promise for the Eagles. Freshman Thomas Kramer centered the top line. A left-shot, he's very poised for his age. He wins the majority of face-offs, he wins battles along the boards and does a nice job moving the puck low to high. He skates well and has above average speed. He definitely has Division I potential. He's the younger brother of Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) forward and Merrimack commit Pat Kramer. Freshman left wing Blake Graham had a goal off a nice face-off win from fellow rookie Matt Lakus. Graham, the brother of USHLer and BC recruit Monte Graham, is a prospect to keep an eye on. He has a quick release and is solid. Troy Ladka is another young forward to watch for BC High on that line. Sophomore Danny O'Connell had a power play goal in the third period, but did some nice things all game. He's a good skater who has above average speed and plays an honest game. Sophomore right defenseman Sean Healy scored a goal, and has some potential upside defensively. He has a good stick and has size. He's raw, but he's a player to watch to see if the size turns into anything.
Cam Peritz - Riley Prattson - Cole Foster
Tim Zmuda - Devan Tongue - Kyle Kazeroid
Joe Brosseau - Sal Kacoyannakis -Brendan Nehmer
Jacob King - Dan Petrick
Cam Griffin - Matt DeLoria
Ryan Crawford - Joey Salvon
Zack Roncarati - Aidan Tiernan - Zac Steigmeyer
Late '99 left-shot center Devan Tongue is the top uncommitted player on the Cardinals. This observer has been waiting for him to truly break out since he made the varsity as an eighth grader. He's still working to put it all together, but the physical tools are there. He's a good skater, but needs to be more of a consistent force around the puck.
Cam Peritz, a late '98, is an undersized left wing with good speed, grit and craftiness to his game. He's also an outstanding lacrosse player so his future might not be in hockey, but he's the type of winger that could be a really productive player for a Division III school.
One kid who has come a long way is '00 sophomore left defenseman Jacob King. You could see the progression in his game towards the end of his freshman season, but it was even more evident this weekend. He skates well, has a good stick and has strong gaps. Some coaches might be thrown off by his size, but keep a watchful eye on him.
Junior forwards Kyle Kazeroid and Sal Kacoyannakis and senior defenseman Cam Griffin are all players that should be on the radar of Division III coaches.
The Raiders' lines were a little jumbled on the weekend with several upperclassmen returning from a MIAA-imposed suspension.
'99 sophomore Cameron Gendron played right wing on Wise's line all weekend. Sean Brown was on the left side Saturday before Robert Ferreira took his place Sunday. He's quick, skates well, has grown and has solid net drive. He's the only player on the Raiders roster who can even remotely keep up with the pace Wise brings. He buried a turnaround backhander in Sunday's consolation game, showing off his hands in tight. He appeared to suffer a concussion midway through the game.
Speaking of Brown, a right-shot freshman, he's a late '00 who showed some flashes of potential this weekend. He knew where to go to find the puck and had overall good offensive instincts. He's a player to keep an eye on.
Sophomore Manty Thomas is an undersized right-shot forward who had good net drive and a high compete level. He's a player to keep an eye on, especially for D3 coaches and prep coaches looking for a PG down the road.
Central was the hardest team to gauge in the tournament as the Raiders collapsed on Sunday with a continuous trail of bodies to the sin bin. However, a few young defensemen, freshman right defenseman Steve Birch, sophomore right defenseman Nick Foderaro and freshman left defenseman Landon Krekorian are players this observer thinks are worth taking a second look at.