NZ Prep Awards Announced

The regular season came to and end yesterday and in an effort to remove all bias from playoff performances, we are releasing our NZ Prep Award winners as teams head into the playoff rounds. We not only give you the selection but back it up with our scouts explaination of each winner.

Our MVP award winner IS NOT eligible for Forward, Defenseman, Goalie or Rookie of the year awards.

Most Valuable Player

Sam Caufield, G, Milton Academy

Selection Explained: If Milton had an above average goalie this season they aren’t likely in the Elite 8; with Caufield they are not only in the Elite 8 but a #3 seed with a chance to win it all. Nobody in the league this year has had a bigger impact on their team than Caufield. He led his team to the prestigious Flood Marr Championship; leads the league in save percentage, top 5 in GAA and also posted two shutouts. More than the stats is how Caufield played in big games that gave him the edge with wins over Kimball Union (32 saves, 1 GA) and Nobles (38 saves, 1 GA) and ties to Salisbury (40 saves, 1 GA) and Nobles (36 saves, 2 GA). It’s his play in big games and his impact on his team’s success this season that make him the leagues most valuable player.

Candidates: Jackson Kyrkostas, F, Kimball Union; Landon Resendes, F, Cushing; Joe Connor, F, Avon Old Farms

Forward of the Year

Jackson Kyrkostas, Kimball Union

Selection Explained: Kyrkostas and Resendes were tied in our intial voting. Resendes was the best forward at LA-Groton tournament earlier in the year; Kyrkostas was the best forward at Flood Marr. Cushing beat KUA twice which gave Resendes some edge but there were two factors that gave Kyrkostas the edge. In the biggest game of the season in the Lakes Region final in an win-to-get-in scenario for Elite 8 seeding; KUA found themselves tied 1-1 late in the second period and were being outplayed. The KUA captain went on to score the next three goals to win the game for his team and send them to the Elite 8. While Resendes has more points per game average than Kyrkostas; he has the benefit of playing with Ethan Gardula, making up the best one-two punch in prep hockey this season. Only two points separate at the two whereas Kyrkostas has 15 more points than the next closest Kimball Union forward. For those two reason Jackson Kyrkostas got the nod. He is closing in on 100 pts in his two year career at KUA and had an impressive 10-game scoring streak this season.

Runner Up: Landon Resendes, F, Cushing

Candidates: Joe Connor, Avon Old Farms; Ethan Gardula, Cushing, Charlie Gollob, Avon Old Farms

Defenseman of the Year

Jack Darby, Albany Academy

Selection Explained: While Albany Academy is technically a prep affiliate team and not a member for NEPSHIA, Darby played over 15 games against NEPSHIA teams and was the best defenseman we saw in the league. Tall, mobile, versatile defenseman who defends at a high level, can handle the puck and make plays up ice and excelled in special teams situations. Other strong candidates here were Ryan Phillbrick, who earned runner up, for being a balanced, two-way defenseman who led #1 Cushing blue line this season. James Mackey is a big, physical shut-down defender likely the toughest to play against; veteran prep defender Zakrzewski of Salisbury was a well-rounded puck mover who ran the power play and one of the best puck retrieval defenders in the league. Caeden Harrington and Andrew O’Sullivan also got votes as offensive defenseman who led their respective teams to the Lakes Region Championship.

Runner Up: Ryan Phillbrick, Cushing

Candidates: James Mackey, Hotchkiss; Alex Zakrzewski, Salisbury; Caeden Herrington, Holderness; Andrew O’Sullivan, Kimball Union

Goalie of the Year

Beau Lane, Thayer

Selection Explained: With Caufield out of the running after winning MVP we came down to give goalies and they can all make a case for Goalie of the Year. They all have impressive stat lines; Bernstein and Peck are leading teams in the Elite 8 and Guimond, Lane and Heinze are their team’s best players. Our final analysis was that Guimond won Taft several key games this season, got them to a #1 seeed in the large school playoffs and faced second most shots against among prep goalies and still managed a .941 SV%. Beau Lane got the selection because we weren’t convinced anyone else could have done what he did this season given he’s the only one in this group who is not playing infront of a playoff caliber team (9-14-4). He had to single-handedly lead his team to wins they wouldn’t have otherwise had. He faced as many quality scoring chances as any goalie we saw this season and still finished with .936 SV%.

Runner Up: Rudy Guimond, Taft

Candidates: Thatcher Bernstein, Nobles & Greenough; Stephen Peck, Avon Old Farms; Rudy Guimond, Taft School and Andrew Heinze; Loomis Chaffe

Rookie of the Year

Andrew O’Sullivan, D, Kimball Union

Selection Explained: This was likely the hardest selection of them all. Four strong candidates that were essentially even after the first round of voting: Greydon Robertson-Palmer likely the most complete player; Andrew O’Sullivan the best rookie defenseman and then Liam Kilfoil was the most skilled and Cam Caron was the most productive. Robertson-Palmer is a balanced, two-way centerman and their teams best player as an ’07 but they didn’t make the playoffs. Kilfoil is the second leading scorer on a quality team, played the point on the power play and likely the most talented rookie in the league. Runner up went to Cam Caron, led his team in points with 46 in 32 games and brings a power and finesse combination that is rare for his age and led his school to a small school seeding. The winner however went to Andrew O’Sullivan, who is easily the best rookie defenseman in the league with an impressive 26 pts in 33 games and plays in every situation for an Elite 8 team. He runs their power play, has a high hockey IQ and has been his teams top defenseman all season.

Runner Up: Cam Caron, F, New Hampton

Other Candidates: Liam Kilfoil, F, Salisbury; Greydon Robertson-Palmer, F, Andover; JJ Thibodeau, G, Belmont Hill

Coach of the Year

Paul Cannata, Milton Academy

Selection Explained: NE Prep is blessed with a lot of high quality coaching and there were several deserving candidates this year with Cushing’s Paul Pearl and Avon Old Farm’s John Garnder with just two losses against all season guiding their teams through challenging schedule. Tim Joncas at Westminster and Ryan Shannon at Taft got the most out of their respective teams showing great improvement at season end without the same level of talent as their counterparts. Joncas started the year with ent 0-4-0 in the Flood Marr, faced some adversity and managed to go 10-2-0 down the stretch including a big win against Belmont Hill in the final game to punch their ticket into the Elite 8. Brian Phinney of Belmont Hill, last year’s award winner, lost his starting goalie and his two best forwards and yet found his way back into the Elite 8. Same could be said for Holderness’ Alan Thompson who lost four of his leading scorers and was one game away from the Elite 8 bid and Tim Whitehead who lost 8 of his 9 leading scorers last season and managed to win Lakes Region Championship and secure Elite 8 seed. Two other coaches who are worthy of consideration are Brunswick’s Mike Kennedy who captured a St. Sebasian’s Holiday tournament championship and won the final 9 games of the season to make the Elite 8. Last, but not least, is Carl Corazzini at St. Mark’s who lost their best player in Gallant later in the season and still managed to lead his team to 7-game win streak to end the season and earn #1 seed in small school playoffs. The runner up goes to Paul Pearl of Cushing, who has won LA-Groton Holiday tournament, the EG Watkins Tournament and have been #1 or #2 team all season long. The winner is Paul Cannata who has gotten the absolutely most out of his tame this season with just one loss since January 5th despite playing 11 games against playoff bound teams. Cannata’s team is younger than many in the Elite 8, has fewer D1 commitments and had one of the toughest strengths of schedule this season.

Runner Up: Paul Pearl, Cushing Academy

Candidates: John Gardner, Avon Old Farms; Tim Whitehead, KUA; Tim Joncas, Westminster; Ryan Shannon, Taft; Brian Phinney, Belmont Hill; Mike Kennedy, Brunswick; Alan Thompson, Holderness; Carl Corazzini, St. Mark’s