February 26, 2014

Prep Journal: Playoff picture filled with new faces

By Arielle Aronson

If Canterbury hopes to be victorious in its first tournament game since 2005, it'll have to beat captain Ryan Donato (Scituate, Mass.) and Dexter. (Photo by Michael Dwyer)

If the amount of change in prep school hockey from year to year was not already obvious, the brackets for the large and small school tournaments this year prove just how much turnover the prep landscape features. Half of the schools competing in the Martin/Earl and Piatelli Simmons Tournaments watched the tournament from the sidelines last season.

One of those new faces in the playoff picture this year, Canterbury School, earned its first tournament spot since 2005 by edging its way in as the eighth seed in the Piatelli/Simmons Tournament this year. The Saints were 5-10 at one point this season, but an eight-game undefeated streak stretching from mid-January to early February helped boost their tournament hopes.

“[Making the tournament] validates the whole idea that we got better as the year went on,” said Canterbury coach Padraic McCarthy. “That’s where we start every year as far as our goals. Hopefully it’s enough to get you in and this year it was.”

The Saints will test just how much they improved over the course of the season when they face top-seed Dexter in the quarterfinals. The match-up will be a test of just how much the Saints improved this season, as Dexter topped Canterbury, 7-0, earlier in the year.

McCarthy said one of the biggest challenges Dexter presents is how to counter star forward Ryan Donato (Scituate, Mass.).

“I’ve seen most of the top teams play this year and Donato’s by far the best forward I’ve seen in prep hockey in a long time,” McCarthy said. “He’s a difference-maker. His line is a difference-maker. They play him in a lot of situations, so our depth will have to deal with him. We can’t lock him down with one line.”

While the Martin/Earl and Piatelli/Simmons Tournaments feature plenty of new faces, the Stuart/Corkery Elite 8 showcases four of the same teams as last year. The other half of the elite field features plenty of returning squads as well, as three of those four teams played in the Martin/Earl Tournament last year.

Here’s a full look at the three tournament fields. All quarterfinal and semifinal games will be held at campus sites while Yale will host the championship games for each tournament.

The Elite 8 quarterfinal match-ups are:

No. 1 Salisbury vs. No. 8 Cushing

No. 2 Kent vs. No. 7 Gunnery

No. 3 Thayer vs. No. 6 Berkshire

No. 4 Exeter vs. No. 5 Nobles

The Martin/Earl quarterfinal matchups are:

No. 1 St. Paul’s vs. No. 8 Proctor

No. 2 Andover vs. No. 7 Taft

No. 3 Northfield-Mt. Hermon vs. No. 6 Loomis Chaffee

No. 4 Choate vs. No. 5 Belmont Hill

The Piatelli/Simmons quarterfinal matchups are:

No. 1 Dexter vs. No. 8 Canterbury

No. 2 KUA vs. No. 7 Millbrook (game will be held at Deerfield)

No. 3 Rivers vs. No. 6 Brooks

No. 4 Westminster vs. No. 5 Groton

In addition to releasing the tournament brackets, the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council also announced its 2014 All-New England Teams this weekend. College recruiters will be paying attention, as eight of the 15 players remain uncommitted. And in what is great news for fans, all of the players who have committed to a college will be staying within New England.

All-New England East

F Ryan Donato – Dexter, Jr. (Harvard)

F Adam Gaudette – Thayer, Jr.

F Miles Wood – Nobles, Jr.

D Jon Barry – Thayer, Sr.

D Richey Boyd – Cushing, Sr. (UNH)

D Liam Feeney – Dexter, Sr.

G Conor O’Brien – Northfield-Mt. Hermon, Jr.

All-New England West

F Max Willman – Williston-Northampton, PG (Brown)

F Evan Smith – Salisbury, Sr. (Yale)

F Joey Caffrey – Choate, Sr. (Harvard)

F Sam Lafferty – Deerfield, Sr. (Brown)

D Will Toffey – Salisbury, Sr.

D Wiley Sherman – Hotchkiss, Sr. (Harvard)

D Johnny Coughlin – Trinity Pawling, Sr.

G Christian Short – Canterbury, Sr.

Prep Power Rankings

Check out Arielle's ranking of the top 20 prep boys teams at our prep hockey power rankings page.

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