November 30, 2013

Juniors Journal: Consistency of excellence for Jr. Bruins

By Shawn Hutcheon

Boston Jr. Bruins goalie Sean Lawrence makes a save during a game against the South Shore Kings. (Photo: Dave Arnold/New England Hockey Journal)

Winning sports programs have success because their players play their best every time they step on the ice or field.

The Boston Jr. Bruins are one such program. The consistency of excellence is like no other in eastern junior hockey.

The Jr. Bruins have been in existence since 1992 and have placed well over 100 hockey players into Division 1 college programs, and several – such as Bobby Butler (Marlborough, Mass.) – have gone on to the NHL.

The organization is showing no signs of slowing down, as they are in first place in the United States Premier Hockey League with a 19-3-1-1 record and are ranked as the No. 1 junior team in New England in our poll.

“We’ve got a great youth program in the Minuteman Flames which feeds into our U16 and U18 teams,” explained Jr. Bruins Coach and GM Peter Masters when asked about how his club maintains a high level of consistency. “We also scout to find players who we can deliver quality ice time to and also the top level off ice training program.”

And find them, they have.

Recently, seven players made their college commitments.

Goaltender Sean Lawrence committed to national power Quinnipiac University for the fall of 2014.

“The best junior goaltender on the east coast, in my opinion,” said Masters. “He can steal some hockey games for you.”

Defenseman Kevin McKernan (N. Grafton, Mass.) will join Lawrence at Quinnipiac.

Masters describes the blueliner as “underrated but one of the top dmen in Massachusetts.”

Forward Christopher Miller is a native of Windham, New Hampshire and has achieved a lifelong dream of accepting an offer to play for the University of New Hampshire in the fall of 2015.

“A great skater and great of face offs. A solid team guy, who’s a leader on and off the ice,” Masters said.  

Forward Brian Bowen (Littleton, Mass.) will be headed off to the University of Vermont.

Masters says Bowen is one of those players who has intangibles that cannot be taught.

“He has a knack for scoring goals. He’s a big, strong, power forward that is hard to stop,” Bowen’s coach said.

“We also have Jake McLaughlin who’s committed to Amherst,” Masters continued. “Vincent Russo is going to Bentley University and our leading scorer, Brian Lemos, will attend Providence College.”

And if that is not enough to illustrate the success of the Jr. Bruins organization, more players will accept offers in the very near future.

“Connor Doherty (Holden, Mass.), Zack Todd (Holden, Mass.), Ryan Cloonan and George Mika will make their commitments before the end of December,” Masters continued. “We’re very excited for all of our players and their families. Once they’ve accepted their offers, that pressure is off and they can relax and focus on winning a championship.”

Championships and college commitments: They go hand in hand for the Boston Jr. Bruins.

Game of the Week

The Eastern Hockey League offers this week’s don’t miss contest.

The North Division’s leading New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (15-4-1-0) will face off against the Central Division’s top club, the Connecticut Oilers (13-5-1-1) at the league’s showcase event on Saturday evening at the Breakaway Ice Center in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.

The two clubs have met once this season with the Jr. Monarchs emerging with a 4-3 win.

The puck is scheduled to drop at 6:10 pm and the action will be fast, furious and physical.

New England Junior Power Rankings

1) Boston Jr. Bruins (19-3-1-1) - The Jr. B’s maintained their hold on the top spot in our poll with United States Premier Hockey League victories over the Bay State Breakers and two more over the Portland Jr. Pirates.

2) South Shore Kings (15-7-2-1) - The Kings barely held on to their ranking as the second best junior club in New England by defeating the Bay State Breakers in a shootout. They can thank Connor Brassard (Fitchburg, Mass.), who scored the winner against the Breakers.

3) New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs (15-4-1-0) - Friday, the Jr. Monarchs won the early season battle for Eastern Hockey League supremacy with a win over the Northern Cyclones. Three Monarchs registered two points each in the victory.

4) Northern Cyclones (15-4-0-0) - The Cyclones had the opportunity to move up in the rankings but unfortunately for them, they came out on the losing side versus New Hampshire. Forward Kevin Valenti leads the EHL with 44 points in 19 games.

5) Islanders Hockey Club (12-8-2-0) - A weekend series split with the USPHL’s top team, the Jersey Hitmen, has moved the Islanders within two points of fourth place. IHC has won seven of their last eight contests.

6) Connecticut Oilers (13-5-1-1) - The Oilers have a seven point lead over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the EHL’s Central Division. Connecticut would like to put a long win streak together to expand on that lead.

7) Boston Bandits (10-7-2-1) - The Bandits went to Pennsylvania and came home with a win over the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers and a loss to the Philadelphia Little Flyers. Boston sits in third place in the EHL’s North Division.

8) Boston Jr. Rangers (8-9-2-1) - The Rangers picked up another win on Friday over Valley but dropped the second tilt of the weekend to the Connecticut Oilers but it was good enough to stay out of the EHL’s North Division basement. They lead Valley by one point in the standings.

9) Bay State Breakers (6-11-4-2) - The Breakers are in the midst of an eight game losing streak and have dropped to sixth place in the USPHL. They are eight points behind the Islanders Hockey Club.

10) Connecticut Yankees (7-13-1-0) - MIred in a six game losing streak, the Yankees are in a seventh place tie with the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders.

11) Walpole Express (7-8-3-1) - Dropping two consecutive games has seen the Express move down to fifth place in the EHL’s Central Division. The schedule will not be friendly to Walpole. Their next two opponents will be the Northern Cyclones and the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.

12) Portland Jr. Pirates (5-16-2-1) - A 12 game USPHL losing streak has Portland mired in last place in the circuit. They hope to turn things around this weekend against the P.A.L Jr. Islanders.

13) Valley Jr. Warriors (8-8-0-2) - A 1-2-0 weekend resulted in Valley remaining in the EHL’s North Division cellar, however, they trail the Boston Jr. Rangers by one point. The Warriors will play their next four games at home which could help bring the desired results.

14) Hartford Jr. Wolfpack (6-8-2-1) - Although, they are in last place in the EHL’s Central Division, the ‘Pack have gone 2-2-1 in their last five tilts and trail Walpole by three points in the standings. They will look to improve on that recent bit of success this week with games versus the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and the Northern Cyclones.

Twitter: @ShawnHutcheon