“There’s no question St. John’s is a great team; they were a unanimous No. 1 choice (for the Super 8 seedings) and they have depth, senior leadership and great balance among their four lines.”
The biggest difference between the two parochial powers is that St. John’s Prep has 16 seniors on its roster, while the fourth-seeded Cougars have just six. Among the team’s top nine forwards, three are sophomores and four are freshmen. Maturity, said Finocchiaro, is a big reason why his team is in the Super 8 semis.
The Reading High team that Austin Prep just dispatched had 17 seniors on it, so clearly it isn’t afraid of going up against older, more experienced players.
Nolan Vesey (the team’s leading scorer with 32 points), Cam Russo and freshman Eric McAdams of Salem make up the Cougars’ first line; McAdams (8 goals, 10 assists) had a goal in his team’s 2-1 victory over Reading in Game 1 of their quarterfinal series. Sophomore Bobo Carpenter, son of St. John’s Prep legend Bobby Carpenter, centers the second line for Austin Prep, flanked by classmate Ryan McDonough on his right and freshman Jake McKennelley on his left. Senior Frankie Candelino is the pivot between freshmen George Sennott and Brent Hill on the third line, and seniors Sean Pickens, Matt Dube and Charley Shippee are the checking unit.
On defense, junior Andrew Cross is the main cog; he double shifts, kills penalties, heads up the power play and is a true on-ice leader, paired with senior Zach Fuller. J.J. Layton of Peabody (8 points) has had a terrific freshman season on the Cougars’ second D-pairing with sophomore Matt Morgan, with junior Brendan Leach and sophomore Kevin Kiley the third set. They keep the front of the net clear for Harris, a seemingly unflappable netminder who has allowed less than two goals per game.