By BOB YORK —
You may want to avoid mirrors and long memories, for this was a season best not revisited.
It’s not that it was a bad season, because it wasn’t. In fact, due to its highly competitive nature, Big Green boys hockey coach Brendan Creagh described his 10-11-4 campaign as “a strong season.” The problem was, it just wasn’t quite strong enough.
In the end, Deerfield missed its goal–of making the tournament–by a goal. Had any of those four ties been wins, it would have qualified for the Great Eight of the New England Prep School Athletic Council’s Large School Tournament. And in the same vein, one more score in any of the five games it lost by a one-goal deficit would have extended its season as well.
“It’s painful to look back on how close we came,” admitted Creagh, whose charges missed out on the eighth and final seed in the Large School Bracket to Proctor Academy–by .001 in the RPI rankings.
“It’s all based on that RPI rating,” explained Creagh, which stands for Rating Percentage Index. “It’s based on a team’s wins and losses and its opponents’ wins and losses. It can get rather complicated, but what it basically combines is your overall record and your opponents’ strength of schedule.”
The mirrors and long memories would leave any member of Big Green Nation shaking their head at a 2-1 loss to Salisbury, the top seed in the Open Tournament, as would a 4-3 overtime loss to Kent, the second seed in the Open bracket. Then there’s the 4-4 tie with Andover, the second seed in the Large School bracket, the 2-2 tie against sixth seed Loomis and the 3-2 loss to seventh ranked Taft.
“Losing out on the final seed is bad enough,” said Sam Lafferty (14), who led the Big Green in scoring this season with 55 points on 21 goals and 34 assists, “but losing out by point, zero, zero, one … now that’s real bummer.”
Missing a playoff berth will turn out to be just a speed bump in Lafferty’s career, however, as his play during the regular season alone earned him a berth on the New England Prep School Athletic Council’s 2014 Boys Ice Hockey All-New England Team.
Lafferty, who was the recipient of this year’s Deerfield Hockey Cup and will be playing in the British Columbia Hockey League next winter before heading to play his collegiate hockey at Brown, nearly eclipsed the century mark in career scoring while at Deerfield, as he rang up 95 points over three years on 38 goals and 57 assists.
“Being named to this all-star team is really something,” said Creagh. “There are 60 prep school hockey teams throughout the New England area and so you can just imagine how many hockey players that would include. (Deerfield had 24 players on its roster this season, so figure on close to 1,500).
“Then, of that number, you select only 12 players … six representing the East and six representing the West,” added Creagh, who pointed out that no coach could vote for his own player, “and that’s a tremendous honor. And Sam’s well deserving … he’s not only a tremendous hockey talent, but he’s also a terrific leader, a true competitor and an outstanding young man.”
Being named to the NEPSAC All-Star Team puts Lafferty in an elite fraternity of Deerfield hockey players such as Ben Lovejoy, Alex Killorn, Antoine Laganiere, Tyler Kolarik and Rob Fried.
Two other Deerfield players–forward Trevor Yates (14) and defenseman Ryan Wolter (15)–garnered all-star votes, but not enough to earn a berth on the first team. For Yates, who will be playing hockey at Cornell next year, the voting followed an all-star season, during which he chalked up 48 points on 25 goals and 23 assists. That figure, plus the 35 goals and 37 assists he accumulated through his first three seasons with the Big Green, gives him 120 points and makes him one of Deerfield’s all-time top scorers.
Camil Blanchet (14), who is off to Bowdoin, wound up with 22 points on the season with eight goals and 14 assists. Dave Lackner (14), who split this year’s Seventh Player Award with Cullen Geary (14), produced six goals and nine assists for 15 points, while Patrick Hadley finished with a dozen points on three goals and nine assists. Kevin Doyle (15) also hit double figures on the season, with four goals and seven assists for 11 points.
Geary, who is also headed for a hockey career at Bowdoin, and Wolter, who has been elected captain of next year’s team, with Adam Koeppel (15) and Doyle serving as assistant captains, led the Big Green defense. Another big contributor was Louis-Philippe Page (15), and the three had to help pick up the slack left by the absence of Sunho Park (14), who missed most of the season with a groin injury.
In goal this season was Jake Kahler (15), who spent a busy winter between the Deerfield pipes, as he turned away more than 600 shots in more than 1,200 minutes of work.