Friday, March 18, 2005
Concord-Carlisle Pee Wees are State Champs
It's been a while, 13 years in fact, since a youth hockey team from Concord-Carlisle could be called State Champions.
Last weekend, in Springfield a baker's dozen of Pee Wee hockey players (11- and 12-year-olds) blended skill and teamwork to win the Massachusetts Youth Hockey State Championship.
The road to the title went through Nashoba and Groton in December playdown games earning the Pee Wees the right to represent District 8 in the 16-team state tournament. Once in Springfield, this talented troupe bested Belmont 11-0, Shrewsbury 6-2, Wilbraham-Twin Meadow 6-1, Hyde Park 4-0 and in a dramatic, fast-paced final, Westwood 2-1.
In Sunday's championship, Alex Milofsky finished a spectacular full-ice rush by slipping the puck under a stunned Westwood goalie to catapult his team to a 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Robbie Snook's power play laser beat Westwood for a second time and proved the game winner.
The team's trademark attack offense and stingy defense paid big dividends throughout the tournament. Center icemen Snook and Teddy Swift led the way creating and often finishing many offensive opportunities and inspiring the same from their teammates as every player's name appeared on the offensive side of the score sheet in one game or another. Billy Crosby, Matt Carroll, Mike O'Brien, Jackson Finigan, Nate Marchand and Conor O'Brien spun gritty fore-checking and pinpoint passing to move the puck and keep opponents off balance — sometimes quite literally. The Pee Wees sorely missed Brendan Canty who was injured two days before the tournament, but supplied tons of spirit and decibels from the bench.
Defensively, goaltender Zach Arnold displayed an amazing combination of patience and concentration. Not seriously tested in early contests, Arnold proved the difference when the going got tough by shifting the momentum of the semi-final and championship games with a number of huge saves at critical junctures.
Exceptional team defense was supplied by the defensive tandems of Andy First and Alex Milofsky along with Jake White and Andre Audette, who on his birthday gave his teammates a huge present by blocking a sure goal in waning moments of the final game.
Pee Wee teams at this level end competition with the State tournament, but this exceptional team looks forward to regular season league playoffs at the end of March and early April.
© 2005 The Carlisle Mosquito