SALEM NEWS BOYS HOCKEY ALL-STAR TEAM
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
St. John's Prep Senior
Left wing/Right wing
The skates he was being asked to fill were huge: take over the leadership and scoring mantle for a St. John's Prep hockey team that had just made its first ever appearance in the Super 8 championship game, but one that had lost a boatload of players from that squad.
Sam Kurker didn't flinch. He hoisted the Eagles on his back this winter and responded in a way that perhaps no one could have seen coming.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound physically dominant winger from Reading excelled in all areas for St. John's. He led his team (and the North Shore) in scoring with 31 goals, 32 assists and 63 points; helped them earn a No. 3 seed in this year's Super 8 seedings, and scored 4 goals and 5 assists in four playoff games as the Eagles reached the Super 8 semifinals — the first time in school history they had done so in back-to-back years.
Having already earned himself a full athletic scholarship to Boston University, Kurker didn't rest on his laurels; he exceeded all expectations by playing with a hunger and passion from the first game of the season to the last. His booming shot from the off wing on the Prep's power play became the stuff of legend, and his ability score in the clutch defined him as both an offensive star and a team leader. He'll graduate from St. John's with 129 career points (66 goals, 63 assists), nearly half of which he recorded this past winter.
The Catholic Conference all-star, who carries a 3.4 grade point average, will either play junior hockey for a year (likely in the United States Junior Hockey League out in the Midwest) or matriculate directly to Commonwealth Ave. this fall to begin his college hockey career.
Strong skating defender from Danvers patrolled Pingree's defensive zone with grit and consistency all season ... Team captain also earned the club's leadership award ... Puck mover also jumped into the play, evidenced by two goals against Brooks ... Credits longtime coach Buddy Taft for his advice and extensive help in the college process.
Team captain led the Big Blue in scoring with 21 goals and 42 points ... Became the sixth player in school history to break 100 career points, finishing with 71-51-122 totals ... Guided team back to the playoffs for first time in three seasons ... NEC South MVP and All-League ... Team MVP made Senior All-Star Game at DCU Center in Worcester ... Had 7-point night (3 goals, 4 assists) vs. Revere ... Plans to attend a prep school this fall.
Went from 5th defenseman status as a freshman to the Headers' top D-man, playing in all situations ... Had six goals and seven assists ... Sturdy (5-foot-11, 200 lbs.) blueliner not afraid to mix it up in front of his own net or along the walls ... NEC all-star ... Had a goal and one of his best defensive performances in win over arch rival Swampscott.
Mercurial talent played first 10 games back on defense (his regular position) before being bumped up to left wing the rest of the season ... Had career highs in goals (16), assists (18) and points (34) ... Now has 33-48-81 career numbers ... Hat trick in Carlin Cup rout of Peabody ... NEC North All-Conference ... Says Bob Orr and his father, former U.S. Olympian Stu Irving, are his biggest influences.
First line pivot exploded this winter for 24 goals and 58 points, good for second in the area in scoring ... After just two seasons of high school he sits four points away from 100 (35 goals, 61 assists) .... Had six separate games with three assists and another four-helper night ... NEC North MVP and All-Conference selection ... Had 2 goals and 3 assists vs. NEC champion Danvers ... Cousin of fellow all-star Andrew Irving and brother of Beverly High senior forward Colby Irving.
St. John's Prep Senior
Four-year starter graduates as the most successful netminder in the storied history of St. John's Prep with 51 victories ... Went 15-6-1 this winter with a 2.06 goals-against average and a career-high six shutouts ... Salem native was a team captain ... Save percentage of nearly 92 percent ... Outstanding focus and concentration and developed into a fine puckhandler ... Catholic Conference all-star ... 3.4 grade point average ... Goalie coach Bob Rotundo and brother Andrew Letarte have been his biggest influences.
Pivot led Headers in assists (18) and overall scoring (27 points) ... Team captain ... Northeastern Conference South all-star ... Had a goal, assist and game-winning shootout tally in playoff upset over Shawsheen ... Carries 3.65 GPA ... Would like to do a post-graduate year at a prep school after his senior year at Marblehead High ... Heads into final season with 18-26-44 career totals.
Four-year starter on the Falcons' defensive corps was as rock solid as they come ... Offense game blossomed this winter as he finished with 2 goals and 15 assists ... Scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in 4-2 playoff triumph over Methuen ... NEC North All-Conference defenseman ... Finished with 29 career points ... Looking at Northwood, Brighton and New Hampton for prep school.
One of the most offensively gifted rearguards in the area, he finished third on his team in scoring with a half-dozen goals and 12 assists ... Only area D-man to earn a hat trick this winter (vs. Lynn Jets) ... Assistant captain for Big Blue has 29 career points ... NEC South All-Conference selection ... Carries a class average of 84 .... Would like to attend a year of prep school after his senior year at Swampscott.
Seamlessly slid from center over to the right side and formed a dominant first line with cousins Andrew and Connor Irving ... Set career highs in goals (18), assists (24) and points (42) .... Panther captain had two goals and two assists in 5-4 playoff loss to Saugus ... Graduates with an impressive 32 goals and 80 points for his career ... Had hat tricks in two games vs. Gloucester ... Had 4-point outings vs. both Danvers and Revere.
St. John's Prep Senior
Burly (6-foot-4, 220-pounds) but smooth defender was a four-year stalwart ... Captain led squad which only allowed 46 goals in 24 games this winter ... Leading scorer among North Shore blue liners with nine goals and 17 helpers ... Graduates with an even 50 points ... Catholic Conference all-star was adept at blocking shots and using his reach to clog passing lanes ... A superb golfer, is going to Boston College on scholarship but will also try out for the hockey team there.
St. John's Prep Junior
The lone 11th grader among the four Prep captains, he more than proved he deserved that honor with a sublime season as the team's top line pivot ... Second on the team in scoring with career highs in goals (18), assists (26) and points (44) ... Takes 20-39-59 totals into his senior season ... Catholic Conference all-star ... Had three assists twice in a game and finished with four points in win over Bishop Fenwick ... 3.7 GPA.
Unheralded yet steadying influence for a young Tanners squad this past winter ... Six-foot-1 inch defender did it all: power play, penalty kill, blocking shots and shadowing his opponent's best scorer ... Saw upwards of 30 minutes of ice time a night ... Dished out two assists in win over Marblehead ... Finished with three goals and six assists ... 3.3 GPA ... Looking at the University of Vermont for either pre-med or engineering.
Highly skilled, productive pivto had 20 goals, 22 assists and 42 points in his senior campaign ... Team captain was Hockey Night in Boston all-star and Highlanders' Offensive MVP ... Also named to the BB&N All-Tournament team ... factored in all three goals in a win voer Brewster ... Thanks coach Buddy Taft for all his help and advice ... Danvers resident will play at Stonehill College.
Captain helped lead Falcons to their first Northeastern Conference North title in 10 years ... Had a goal and seven assists to double his career totals (2-14-16) ... Had plus-22 for the season ... NEC all-star ... Made All-Tournament Team for Newburyport Bank Tournament ... 3.4 grade-point average ... Boston Bruins/MIAA Sportsmanship Award winner ... Considering UNH, UMass Amherst or prep school ... Cousin of fellow News all-star and DHS teammate Joe Strangie.
Had more hat tricks (4) than any other player on the North Shore this past winter ... Junior captain led Falcons in scoring with 21 goals and a like number of assists ... Three-year career totals stand at 41-39-80 ... NEC North All-Confernce ... Netted three goals in big win over league rival Saugus in Kasabuski Christmas Tournament ... Strong student with a 3.5 GPA ... Had three hat tricks in an 8-day span vs. Saugus, Peabody and Gloucester.
Returned to Chieftains for his senior year after playing junior hockey previously and promptly led team in scoring with 18 goals and 35 points ... Had an amazing six goals and an assist in a win over Pentucket ... Eight days after that, he netted five goals in a win over Martha's Vineyard ... Team MVP was also Cape Ann League all-star ... 4.0 GPA on a scale of 5.3 ... Would like to do a post graduate year of high school or play in the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
Beverly: Tim Biarelli, Fr. G; Nick Albano, Fr. D; Matt Hamor, Soph. D; Jack Morency, Soph. D; Sean Munzing, Soph. D; Ryan Santo, Fr. F.
Bishop Fenwick: Joe Shea, Sr. C; Mike Napolitano, Jr. RW; Drew Thibodeau, Jr. RW; Chris Minter, Jr. D.
Danvers: J.D. Hodgkins, Sr. RW; A.J. Couto, Jr. LW; Rob Buchanan, Jr. LW; Steve Wilkinson, Sr. G; Seth Kamens, Sr. G; Jay Calcagno, Soph. RW; Paul D'Orlando, Sr. LW; Matt Flynn, Soph. LW.
Marblehead: Ty Bates, Jr. RW; Austin Haley, Sr. RW; Mike Harper, Sr. G.
Masconomet: Alec DiGiorgio, Jr. LW; Dan Crowther, Sr. RW; Joe Griffin, Fr. D; Brian Hellrigel, Sr. D; Matt Cardillo, Jr. G.
Peabody: Mike Chiappini, Sr. C; Eric Costa, Sr. LW; Mike Vadala, Soph. C.
Pingree: Matt Mattie, Sr. F; Dan Prawdzik, Sr. G; Scott Caradonna, Sr. G.
St. John's Prep: Andrew Brandano, Jr. RW; John Ryan, Sr. D; Tyler Bird, Soph. LW; Jack McCarthy, Soph. C; Brent Murray, Jr. D; Jared Hynes, Sr. G.
Salem: Paul DiMarino, Sr. C; Spencer Bergholtz, Jr. RW; Sam Petri, Fr. LW; Brett Harring, Soph. G.
Swampscott: Matt Videtta, Sr. LW; Corey Carmody, Jr. LW; Patrick Sheehan, Sr. G; Nunzio Morretti, Soph. RW; Chris Carman, Jr. D; Chris Dandreo, Jr. D.