January 23, 2013

Prep Journal: New crew, same results for Berkshire

By Mike Zhe

Charlie Corcoran and the Bears haven't lost a game in seven weeks. (Dave Arnold Photography)

When Berkshire School graduated 13 players off the team that won the Martin/Earl (large school) championship last March, a step back was predicted, if not expected.

But a step forward? Not many people saw that coming.

The Bears (13-2-3) have not lost a game since Dec. 5, when they traveled to Connecticut to play Gunnery and lost 4-1, their second straight setback that dropped their early record to a pedestrian 2-2.

But since then? Nothing but points. Sweeping three foes to win a Christmas tournament at Avon Old Farms. Taking down preseason Independent School League heavyweights Noble and Greenough and St. Sebastian’s over break.  

“It’s somewhat surprising to me,” said Berkshire coach Dan Driscoll. “We graduated 13 guys. But we’ve got a whole new crew of guys who are buying in to what we want to do.”

What the Bears are doing is defending. A defense led by veteran Bryan Gerstenfeld and Princeton-commit Quin Pompi has been solid, but it’s been a whole team defensive effort in front of goalie Tim Ernst that’s paved the way for wins.

“Our team defense, especially our defensemen, have really limited our mistakes,” said Driscoll.

Up front, the Bears are rolling out three good lines, a unit led by junior Charlie Corcoran, who’s committed to Brown. Newcomers Adam Tracey, Nick O’Connor and Tipper Higgins have meshed with returning players like Corcoran, Craig Puffer, Nate Summers and Matt Renzi to keep the attack formidable.

Last week, Berkshire played road games at Hotchkiss, Choate and Avon, winning the first, 7-2, and tying the last two. After claiming supremacy in the New England large-school tourney last year for the first time ever, outlasting St. Sebastian’s, 4-3, in a championship game that went to overtime, they’re aiming even higher.

“Our goal is to make the (New England) elite tournament,” said Driscoll “We’ve got a big stretch of games ahead that are going to determine that, but we’ve put ourselves in a good position.”

Game of the Week 

Brooks School at Belmont Hill, Wednesday

The respective leaders in the Independent School League’s Keller and Eberhart divisions square off at Belmont.

NEHJ New England Power Rankings

To read Mike Zhe's analysis of each team in the top 20, head to our prep school power rankings page.

1. Kimball Union (17-1)
2. Berkshire School (13-2-3)
3. Belmont Hill (13-2-2)
4. Avon Old Farms (10-3-3)
5. Gunnery (15-3-3)

6. Cushing Academy (15-3-1)
7. Salisbury School (10-3-2)
8. Kent School (9-3-3)
9. Westminster (10-4-1)
10. Brooks School (10-2-3)

11. Dexter School (9-2-3)
12. Choate (9-4-3)
13. St. Sebastian’s (11-5)
14. Rivers School (11-4-2)
15. Phillips Exeter (8-4-3)

16. Kents Hill School (13-4-1)
17. Buckingham, Browne & Nichols (10-5-2)
18. Noble & Greenough (8-7-2)
19. Loomis-Chaffee (9-5)
20. Taft School (6-6-2)

Mike Zhe can be reached at mzhe@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeZhe603.