Northfield Mount Hermon Takes Home Two Awards; Jay O’Brien Named Player of the Year

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Northfield Mount Hermon earned two end-of-the-year awards as the Hoggers rode a successful season to the first spot in the Large School playoffs. Head coach Kevin Czepiel was named Coach of the Year after taking the team to a 21-6-3 record, while Eric Green was named Goaltender of the Year Award after leading prep in several categories. Thayer’s Jay O’Brien took home Player of the Year after leading the league with 73 points, while Dexter’s John Farinacci led Dexter with 50 points to earn Rookie of the Year. Brett Willits earned the Most Improved Player Award after turning in an offensive breakout year for Salisbury.

Czepiel inherited a Northfield Mount Herman team that went 5-20-2. In his first season, he brought the Hoggers to 9-18-5. This season he led a team with no Division I committed players to 21 wins and a No. 1 seed in the Large School playoffs. Steve Jacobs was the runner-up after returning to Cushing, where he took the team from 13-13-2 to 22-8-1 and a No. 7 seed in the Elite Eight. Salisbury’s Andrew Will, Milton’s Paul Canata, Rivers’ Sean McEachern, Exeter’s Dana Barbin and Kimball Union’s Tim Whitehead were all finalists.

Will, who has four titles in the past nine years, led Salisbury to one-loss season while playing against a difficult schedule. Milton improved to 18-3-1 and an Elite Eight berth from a 12-10-1 season under Canata. McEachern made it back to the Elite Eight as a No. 2 seed despite losing eight of its nine players to graduation last year. While Exeter is always an Elite Eight contender, Barbin led the team back without any Division I committed players. Whitehead has developed his young players throughout the season, helping the defending champion Kimball Union to a successful season and a Lakes Region championship.

O’Brien was key in leading Thayer to a second-half surge to make a late Elite Eight push, which resulted in a No. 3 spot in the Large School playoffs. O’Brien, who’s a leader and tenacious worker with high skill, averaged 3.88 points per game in February. Dexter’s Jack Rathbone finished as runner-up. The defenseman missed a portion of the season with an injury but still netted 28 points. One of the best defenders in prep hockey, Rathbone was a dynamic prospect who showcased his stick skills and averaged just below two points per game this year. John Farinacci (Dexter), Vilho Saariluoma (Cushing), Kimball Union’s Andranik Armstrong (Kimball Union), Peter Deliberatore (Salisbury), and Matthew Fawcett (Winchendon) were finalists.

Farinacci earned the Rookie of the Year award after leading Dexter with 25 goals and 25 assists. He was not only an offensive force, but was also reliable defensively, won draws and played in every situation. He was a complete, three-zone center with hockey sense, compete and skill. The runner-up Matt Beniers posted 11 goals and 15 assists for Milton. He used his stick skill and playmaking ability to lead the Mustangs offensively.  Ryan Black (Winchendon), Gunnar Fontaine (Lawrence), Aidan Connolly (Dexter), Casey Severo (Nobles) and Jason Siedem (Avon) were finalists.

Green led prep hockey in minutes played and saves, and his .943 save percentage was second. His performance in net was key as the Hoggers won a slew of close games. Rivers’ Aidan Porter was the runner-up after leading the league with a .950 save percentage, allowing just 31 goals in 29 games. He also posted eight shutouts. Joe Sharib (Cushing), Derek Mullahy (Dexter) and Connor Hopkins (Belmont Hill) were finalists.

Willits led Salisbury with 36 points after netting just 17 over the previous two seasons. He also played on the power play and penalty kill and lead the team with his speed and hustle. Andranik Armstrong was the runner-up after serving as a penalty-killing, energy forward early in his prep career at Kimball Union; he has developed into their leading offensive player who kills penalties, runs power plays and is a consistent Vilho Saariluoma (Cushing), Quinton Fox (Milton), Teddy Wooding (Rivers), Nolan McElhaney (Cushing), Eric Green (NMH) were finalists.

Green, Rathbone, O’Brien and Armstrong also earned spots on the NZ Prep First Team. Joining the trio are Deliberatore and Saariluoma. Saariluoma broke out this season, posting an even 26 goals and 26 assists for 52 points, which ranked second on the team in scoring. He showcased his athleticism and excellent hands this season en route to securing a Division I commitment to Union. Deliberatore, a senior defenseman, added 17 points for Salisbury. He was a leader at both ends, often won races to pucks and played in every situation. Over the season he went from being more offensive-minded to a well-rounded player.

Coach of the Year: Kevin Czepiel, Northfield Mount Hermon
Player of the Year: Jay O’Brien, Thayer
Rookie of the Year: John Farinacci, Dexter
Goaltender of the Year: Eric Green, Northfield Mount Hermon
Most Improved Player: Brett Willits, Salisbury

NZPrep First Team All-Stars

G- Eric Green, NMH
D- Peter Deliberatore, Salisbury
D- Jack Rathbone, Dexter
F-  Jay O’Brien, Thayer
F- Andriak Armstrong, KUA
F- Vilho Saariluoma, Cushing

NZPrep Second Team All-Stars

G- Aidan Porter, Rivers
D- Nolan McElhaney, Cushing
D- Jordan Harris, Kimball Union
F- Matthew Fawcett, Winchendon
F- John Farinancci, Dexter
F- Riley Hughes, St. Sebastian’s

NZPrep Honorable Mentions

G- Derek Mullahy, Dexter
G- Connor Hopkins, Belmont Hill
D- Jayson Dobay, Thayer
D- Michael Kesselring, New Hampton
D- Jayden Struble, St. Sebastian’s
D- Cade Webber, Rivers
F- Albert Washco, Gunnery
F- Aidan McDonough, Thayer
F- Matt Guerra, Cushing
F- Thomas Samuelsen, KUA
F- Christian LeSueur, Brunswick
F- Evan Goggins, Thayer
F- Teddy Wooding, St. Sebastian’s

Young Guns Team (’01 or Younger)

G- Derek Mullahy, Dexter
D- Cade Webber, Rivers
D- Christian Jimenez, Taft
F- Matthew Beniers, Milton
F- John Farinacci, Dexter
F- Jason Siedem, Avon
F- Tyler Young, Lawrence

NZPrep Diamond in the Rough Team

G- Joe Stanizzi, Middlesex
G – Jake Horoho, Portsmouth Abbey
D- Chris Throndson, Kents Hill
D- Tim Rego, Williston Northampton
D- Greg McGunigle, Holderness
D- Aidan Torres, Proctor
F- Dan Sliney, Portsmouth Abbey
F- Jake Hughes, Worcester
F- Calvin Moise, Vermont
F- Luke Grangier, Hebron
F- Matt Iasenza, Canterbury
F- Alex Rivet, Middlesex
F- Jimmy Duffy, Roxbury Latin
F- Greg Koutsomitis, Millbrook
F- Jake Glod, Albany
F- Jonah Gould, Groton

All Senior Team

G- Eric Green, NMH
D- Jack Rathbone, Dexter
D- Nolan McElhaney, Cushing
D- Jordan Harris, KUA
D- Michael Kesselring, New Hampton
D- Peter Deliberatore, Salisbury
D- Andrew Lucas, Loomis Chaffee
F- Jay O’Brien, Dexter
F- Matthew Fawcett, Winchendon
F- Vilho Saariluoma, Cushing
F- Aiden McDonough, Thayer
F- Mark Gatacomb, Gunnery
F- Kyle Kazeroid, NMH
F- Brett Willits, Salisbury

All Junior Team

G- Evan Ruschil, Trinity-Pawling
D- Tony Andreozzi, Rivers
D- Christian Felton, KUA
D- Mike Kennedy, NMH
F- John Farinacci, Dexter
F- Riley Hughes, St. Sebastian’s
F- Liam Gorman, St. Sebastian’s
F- Lynden Breen, New Hampton
F- Josh Kondub, Vermont

All Sophomore Team

G- Joe Sharib, Cushing
D- Christian Jiminez, Taft
D- Jayden Struble, St. Sebastian’s
D- Cade Webber, Rivers
D- Jimmy Rayhill, Gunnery
F- Aidan Connolly, Dexter
F- Nick Capone, Salisbury
F- Danny Ciccarello, St. Mark’s
F- Gunnar Fontaine, Lawrence
F- Briggs Gammill, Berkshire
F- Mark D’Agostino, Gunnery
F- Chase Severo, Nobles & Greenough
F- Liam Connors, St. Sebastian’s
F- Sam Colangelo, Lawrence

All Freshman Team

G- Tristan Mecenas, Groton
D- Ian Moore, St. Mark’s
D- Thomas Messineo, St. Sebastian’s
D- Nolan Hayes, Thayer
F- Jason Siedem, Avon Old Farms
F- Sasha Teleguine, Thayer
F- Brendan Dumas, St. Sebastian’s
F- Max Andrade, Milton

Top 10 DIII Commits:

G- Bryan McGrath, Salisbury, Wilkes University
D-Ryan Carmicheal, Brunswick, Middlebury
D- Josh Corrigan, Rivers, Babson
F- Jack Forrest, Brunswick, Williams
F- Jack Nisbet, Dexter, Babson
F- Kyle Kazeroid, NMH, Castleton
F- Albert Wascho, Gunnery, Bowdoin
F- Ryan Black, Winchendon, Babson
F- Dan Sliney, Portsmouth Abbey, Hobart
F- Quinn Doyle, Andover, Colby

Top 10 Uncommitted

G – Eric Green, NMH
D- Luke Krys, Salisbury
D- Christian Felton, KUA
D- Michael Brown, Belmont Hill
F- Matthew Holmes, Salisbury
F- Andranik Armstrong, KUA
F- Matthew Beniers, Milton
F- Casey Severo, Nobles
F- Tyler Young, Lawrence
F- Ian Murphy, Dexter

Top 12 NHL Prospects

G- Drew Comesseo, St. Sebastian’s
D- Cade Webber, Rivers
D- Jack Rathbone, Dexter
D- Michael Kesselring, New Hampton
D- Jayden Struble, St. Sebastian’s
D – Jordan Harris, KUA
F- Jay O’Brien, Thayer
F- Jason Siedem, Avon
F- Nick Capone, Salisbury
F- John Farinacci, Dexter
F- Matthew Beniers, Milton
F- Ryan Kirwan, Avon

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