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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Division III Primer

By: Luke Devoe
Here is a primer for today's Division III first round games.  Read the preview of each matchup, my prediction and below check out players to watch in this year's D3 State Tournament. 

ALL GAMES THURSDAY 3/7 (Times and Locations included)
(8) New Fairfield-Immaculate @ (1) Newington-Berlin (6:30 @ Wonderland of Ice, Bridgeport)
Newington-Berlin's Drew O'Leary
Newington-Berlin, the defending D3 champs drew the winner of the "play-in" game for their first round contest.  NFI got here after topping (9) Housatonic-NW-Wamogo 3-2 on Monday night.  The Indians boast as good of a defense and offense combined as any team in the state.  Senior goalie Drew O'Leary (1.55 GAA) is back for his swan song and his chance at a repeat.  Their offense is loaded and fronted by senior forward BJ Richard (18 G, 17 A, 35 Pts.), junior Matt Harackiewicz (8 G, 11 A, 19 Pts.) and six more players who've scored in double digits this year.  One of these is junior transfer Dan Roberts who's scored 16 points in only nine games with New-Ber.  The two teams haven't faced off this year.  NFI is lead by senior Bailey Brown and his 22 goals.  Junior Ryan Dobos was excellent in net down the stretch run and will need to be in order for NFI to keep this one close.  Newington-Berlin is loaded and ready to make a run at a repeat.  Newington-Berlin 5, NFI 1

(5) Masuk @ (4) Hall-Southington (7:15 @ Northford Ice Pavilion, Northford)
In the lone regular season matchup between the two, Hall-Southington and Masuk tied 4-4.  For the fans in Northford's sake let's hope this one is as closely contested as that one.  Masuk who recently lost in the SWC semifinals to BBD has a youth movement going on with 5 of their top 6 scorers being underclassmen.  They are lead by sophomore Shane Dushay (27 points) and sophomore Charlie Christo (24 points).  Masuk has what it takes to topple a Hall team that has already beaten Newington-Berlin twice and East Catholic earlier in the year as well.  Hall gets production from up and down the lineup and names like Owen Kantor, Jared Florian and Jeff Moore will be heard frequently.  Moore has been solid in net for Hall and their hopes may lie with him.  If he is on the Warriors have proven they can top anyone but when he falters they've been susceptible to a bad loss.  This one is close to call but I'm going with Hall.  Hall 4, Masuk 3

(7) Sheehan @ (2) NFA-St. Bernard-Bacon (7:30 @ Trinity College, Hartford)
Sheehan put together a winning season mainly beating up on lesser D3 squads.  The Titans went 0-6 versus their D2 competition.  These teams did not face off during the regular season but it's safe to say the Saints had a much more difficult road to where they are and a beast of a schedule.  They went 2-0 versus D1 competition, a respectable 6-8 versus D2 teams but only 1-3 against D3 schools with their lone win coming against Fitch.  The Saints have as spread out of an offense as any team in the state but rely on seniors Denzel Dickerson, Joey Mitchell and defenseman Jason Steele.  The Saints have seen battle at a clip that Sheehan hasn't.  I think they will have no problem handling them in this one.  NFA-St. Bernard-Bacon 6, Sheehan 1

(6) EO Smith-Tolland-Windham @ (3) Bolton-Coventry-Rockville (5:30 @ Trinity College, Hartford)
In what I think is the most intriguing first round matchup you have a near impenetrable BCR club against a good Smith-Tolland-Windham crew.  The Bucks lost the season series to BCR 0-1-1 but in the most recent tilt they held them to a 1-1 tie.  The Bucks are coming off a recent win in OT over Northwest Catholic in a game where they scored 6 goals.  In fact, EO has scored 6+ goals six times this year.  It'll be interesting to see how they handle arguably D3's best goalie Cam Earle and his 0.87 goals against average.  The kid has posted seven shutouts this year and has dominated opponents.  On the offensive end for BCR sophomore Kevin Morton has been outstanding this year as has senior J.R. Piretti.  But Earle is not alone.  BCR has a solid D core lead by juniors Hunter Byram and Liam McGrath.  I think Earle is too good and BCR is too stout for E.O. to take em down, but this one will be close.  BCR 2, EO Smith-Tolland-Windham 1
BCR's Cam Earle has been fantastic in net this year leading BCR to a program best finish.

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