The small and large school semifinals took place at the Salem Icenter on Saturday.
Didn't see New Hampton defeat the Gunnery or Dexter School win their match against Tilton. Dexter gets a chance to avenge their double-OT loss to KUA a year ago, and it's cool that goalie Kevin Green is still in net for them. He stood on his head a year ago in an epic goalie duel with Panthers prospect and University of Maine freshman Martin Ouellette. Someone had to lose that game, and it was Dexter, but if Green plays today the way he did in 2010, I like Dexter's chances to grab the small school crown. Dexter center Nick Bligh is a draft eligible so we'll check him out tomorrow.
Governor's also beat Albany Academy to advance to the large school final, where they will take on Westminster.
Got over in time to see the final match of the day: Belmont Hill against Westminster. It was a disappointing game for Belmont Hill, who lost by a 3-1 score after taking a 1-0 lead early. The guys looked like they were gripping their sticks pretty tight and failed to execute plays in close to the Westminster net, who got a very good game in net from Patrick Spano.
Belmont Hill had left winger Jimmy Vesey, son of former Boston Bruin and Merrimack College scoring legend Jim Vesey of Charlestown. Central Scouting has Vesey 84th on their mid-term list, and I could see why. He's got good size and is a better skater than he's been given credit for (his father told us that his own heavy feet from his playing days has often erroneously been linked to his son). The younger Vesey's first few steps are just average, but he's got fine top-end speed and is a pretty shifty player when he gets some open ice to work with. He should be able to pick up an extra step if he works at it, and by all accounts, he pushes himself pretty hard. Unfortunately for Vesey, who had 28 goals this season, today was just not his day. He hustled and had some chances, but just couldn't get the puck to settle down and wasn't able to get anything past Spano. You can see that he's a strong puckhandler and has some raw tools to work with, but nobody on Belmont Hill was able to get much of anything going on Saturday.
Teammate Brandon McNally, a '92 who was on Central's list last year but was not drafted is a big winger, but he's lacking in speed and agility. You could see today why the 30 NHL clubs passed on him last June. He's got a big frame and can do some honest work in front of the net, but he just couldn't keep up with the play as effectively as he needed to. Maybe it was just the one game, but McNally was underwhelming to say the least.
So there we have it- each category will have new champions in 2011, with only Dexter returning to the finals from a year ago. KUA, Choate-Rosemary and Avon did not even make the semis.
Piatelli Simmons (small school)
New Hampton vs. Dexter
Martin-Earl (large school)
Governor's vs. Westminster
Stuart Corkery (Elite 8- open)
Kent vs. Milton
Getting on a plane immediately after the final game, so updates will be a little slow in coming, but if you follow @kluedeke29 on Twitter, will try to tweet some of the game action as it occurs and will follow up on the blog here Monday and Tuesday.