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Monday, March 12, 2012

Division III Final Four Preview

By: Luke Devoe

An overtime thriller and three seven goal games lead us to the Division III semifinals.  Four teams remain of the original 17 Division III teams that began the year.  Fittingly enough, those four teams happen to be the best four teams, at least as far as rankings are concerned.  Below you'll find a breakdown of those four teams and my pick for the two teams to make it to the DIII finals.
Newington-Berlin Captain Alex Ericson

The times for the two games have yet to be announced but the games will be played at Ingalls Rink in New Haven on March 13th at either 5:30 or 7:30.  In one of the two semifinal matchups the #1 Newington-Berlin Indians takes on the #4 NFA-St. Bernard-Bacon Saints.  The teams met once during the regular season with the Saints taking the game 2-1.  But that was back in December and the teams have both changed in different ways since then.  The upset minded Saints finished the year abysmally going 0-4 but forgot all of that with a 7-0 shellacking of Joel Barlow in the quarters.  They went 2-1 against Division I competition this year including a win over a quality East Haven Yellowjacket club and a tough loss to a top ten Glastonbury team.  They struggled a bit against Division II competition going 4-5 but in the process gained much more exposure than Newington-Berlin playing double the amount of games outside of the Division III ranks.  Newington-Berlin went 1-0 against DI play but that was against the only borderline Division I team, Windsor-Farmington-Avon.  They also posted an impressive 4-1 mark against Division II opponents.  The Saints will rely on stud senior forward Blake Biancamano who's tallied 15 goals on the year.  The Indians will counter a dynamic duo of senior Nick Briganti and junior Brendon Richard.  Briganti is over 60 points for the year and Richard has notched 25 goals during the Indians' campaign.  The Indians enter the matchup with a little more long lasting confidence than the Saints winning 19 straight heading into Tuesday's semi and have one of the hottest goalies in the state in Drew O'Leary and his microscopic 1.68 goals against average.  Newington-Berlin is the team to beat at the DIII level and I think they get through this game and on to the finals though it won't be easy with the offensive power NFA/St. Bernard-Bacon possesses.  I'll go Newington-Berlin 4, NFA/St. Bernard-Bacon 3.

BBD's Luiz Dibble
In the second semifinal the #2 Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury IceCats take on the #3 Northwest Catholic Indians.  This game has a lot of intrigue when it comes to a noted defensive squad taking on a potent offensive unit.  The Indians possess three players who've tallied over 40 points this year, junior Jeff Greenwood, senior AJ Massaro and the red hot junior Patrick Melanson who's notched an incredible 10 goals over his last three games.  The Indians are 3-1 against Division I competition but all three three of those games (2-1) were against Windsor-Farmington-Avon.  They went 5-2 against Division II opponents so they have plenty of experience against higher tier teams.  They carry a 12 game win streak into Ingalls and defeated the IceCats 2-0 less than a month ago.  BBD is as defensively sound as they come.  They went 0-2 against Division I competition losing to Amity and North Haven this year but did go 5-1 against Division II competition.  They have one of the best goalies in the Division III tournament in Luiz Dibble who has single handedly won games for the IceCats this year.  I think ultimately, Northwest Catholic's offensive potency will be too much for Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury and they will break through to head to the finals.  For a prediction, let's go with Northwest Catholic 5, Brookfield-Bethel-Danbury 2.

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