By Mike Zhe
The Stuart/Corkery elite tournament for New England prep schools has become a Conn. job.
All four teams squaring off in the semifinals Friday night at the Icenter in Salem, N.H., come from the Nutmeg State. No. 4 Kent will play No. 8 Gunnery at 5:30 p.m., while No. 6 Salisbury takes on No. 7 Westminster in the 8 p.m. nightcap.
Semifinals in the Martin/Earl (large school) and Piatelli/Simmons (small school) tournaments will be played at the Icenter on Saturday. All three championship games will be held Sunday.
Two of the Stuart/Corkery quarterfinals went down to the wire. Ethan Holdaway lifted Westminster into the semis by scoring at 8:23 of sudden-death overtime to win at second-seeded Belmont Hill, 3-2.
Holdaway finished with two goals and an assist in the win. The winner was on a partial breakaway that beat goalie Ryan McConnell (17 saves). Zac Hamilton made 40 saves for Westy.
Will Golonka forced overtime for Belmont Hill by scoring an extra-attacker goal at the end of regulation.
In other quarterfinal action, top-seeded Kimball Union saw a promising season come to an end with a 4-1 loss to Gunnery.
The Wildcats (28-3) pulled even, 1-1, in the second period when Doyle Somerby finished off a Gregg Burmaster pass, but the Highlanders scored the last three goals to punch their ticket to the semis.
Kent was all over No. 5 Dexter in its 7-1 semifinal win, while Salisbury went on the road and nipped Berkshire, 3-2.
The Martin/Earl semifinals will pit No. 1 Cushing against No. 5 Phillips Exeter, and No. 2 Thayer against No. 3 Avon Old Farms.
Thayer’s 4-3 overtime win over seventh-ranked St. Sebastian’s, 4-3, its ISL rival, was the best game of the opening round. Jonathan Sheedy’s goal at 5:05 of sudden-death gave the Tigers the win.
Thayer led 3-0 before the Arrows stormed back, getting two goals from James McLaughlin to help tie the game. But big Tigers goalie Rob McGovern held the fort from there, making 29 saves in all.
Avon reached the semis by blasting Founders League rival and sixth-seeded Choate, 8-0. Peter McGinley scored twice, and Nick Hutchison collected a goal and three assists.
Exeter reached its second straight semifinal, knocking off No. 4 Milton, 6-3. Colby Cretella (two goals, two assists) and Jake Lessick goal, three assists) led the way.
Exeter will now take on top-seeded Cushing. The two teams split a pair of meetings in the regular season.