By Bob York
The Big Green came close to earning its second straight berth in the New England Prep School Division I Boys Hockey Tournament this winter. The Deerfield skaters had chalked up a 9-5-1 record in league play and were ranked fifth in the highly competitive Western Division – with four games to play.
“It was close most of the way,” said coach Brendan Creagh of his team’s chances of receiving a tourney invitation. But, in the end, “The End” came about two weeks prematurely, as the Big Green dropped those last four games on its schedule and tumbled out of contention.
This year’s rendition of Deerfield hockey, which finished up with an overall record of 9-12-4, “was about as young as we’ve ever been,” said Creagh of a squad that regularly skated three freshmen and five sophomores, including a pair of goalies, as well as a half-dozen juniors. And the youth on this team could well explain the hot and cold streaks Deerfield found itself on this season. In addition to dropping its last four games, the Big Green got off to a rather slow start as well, posting a 2-5-2 mark through the Flood Marr Tournament.
Between Jan. 8 and Feb. 16, however, it’s doubtful you could have found a hotter team in all of New England, as it went on a 7-2-2 run. The highlight of that streak included a 4-0 win over Westminster, which rang up a 22-6-2 record on the season and went on to capture the Large School Tournament crown. It also included a pair of 4-3 overtime victories over Choate and Taft, a 2-2 tie with perennial powerhouse Avon and a pair of wins over Loomis.
Creagh can look to next season’s version of Big Green hockey with optimism, as he will welcome back three of his top five scorers from this season, five of eight defensemen and both goaltenders.
“We should have a good nucleus to build around,” said the veteran Deerfield mentor. And leading that nucleus will be this season’s 1-2 scoring punch in Kevin Roy ’12, who will be one of next year’s co-captains, and Tyler Kelleher ’14. Roy, who has already signed on to play at Brown following graduation, collected a team high 35 points on 19 goals and 16 assists. Kelleher, despite being only a freshman, has already secured his collegiate career with the University of New Hampshire. And a quick glance at the score sheets shows why, as he rang up 26 points on 11 goals and 15 assists. They combined with Jordan Jancze ’13, who posted 16 points on four goals and 12 assists to produce a line that netted 80 points on the season.
Other top scorers included Alex Ward ’11, this year’s recipient of the Deerfield Hockey Cup, who had 19 points on 10 goals and nine assists, while line mate Steve Victor ’11 closed with seven goals and 10 assists for 17 points. Alex Gonye ’13, meanwhile, produced 14 points on one goal and 13 assists.
Sophomores Jake Thoubboron and Adam Ellison split the goaltending chores this season and both received a thumbs up from Creagh. Thoubboron played 702 minutes this winter, allowing 34 goals on 403 shots for a .915 save percentage. Ellison collected 494 minutes in goal, allowing 30 goals on 229 shots for an .884 save percentage.
The blue-line crew consisted of Blake Alessandroni ’11, who won this year’s Seventh Player Award, Matt McDonald ’11 and Greg Browne ’11. Those returning from that unit are Ben Masella ’12, who will also be a Big Green co-captain next winter, along with Anthony Sanniti ’12 and Sunho Park ’14.