PPHL stars shine bright in Boston
BHA 18U forward Pai, Mount 16U forward Hebert earn
Player of the Game honors
By Kevin Conway
BOSTON – The oldest active event venue in the world indeed warranted serving as the site of the historic Power Prep Hockey League inaugural dual All-Star Games.
Matthews Arena, the 112-year-old home of the Northeastern University Huskies men’s and women’s NCAA Division 1 hockey and basketball programs, hosted the PPHL 18U and 16U spectaculars Dec. 8, christening the league’s third showcase weekend of the season by spotlighting the foremost talent that the first-year Midget hockey academy league has to offer.
Nominated by their home programs and drafted by the all-star coaching staffs, forty players at both levels took to the original Boston Arena ice to compete for league bragging rights. Prior to the action, Ryan Sparks, a national sled hockey champion from Vernon, Conn., was introduced as the PPHL All-Star Games special guest and given the honor of dropping the ceremonial first puck prior to both contests. Included in the pregame ceremonies was Berklee College of Music faculty member and saxophonist Elan Trotman, who superbly performed the renditions of the Canadian and American national anthems.
The Red squad carried a 3-2 lead into the third period on the strength of 17 saves on 18 shots faced by starting goaltender Michael-Anthony Ramsay (Mount Academy) over the first half of the game. However, after falling behind by two goals early in the third, the Black team suddenly found its scoring groove, exploding for five unanswered goals to end the contest leading to a 7-4 victory.
Forward Nayan Pai (Boston Hockey Academy), who was responsible for Black’s lone second-period tally, scored twice during the third-period rally, including the game-winner, to complete the hat trick, earning the Redwood City, Calif., resident the Player of the Game award. Meanwhile, Marius Ottesen (Bourget College) posted a goal and assist for Black in the third, while the forward duo of Robbie Nolan (Elite Hockey Academy) and Gavin McLenaghan (Bourget College) accounted for the other two goals in Black’s comeback effort.
With three consecutive goals in the second half, the Black squad took what appeared to be a safe two-goal advantage with less than 10 minutes remaining in the contest. However, Mount Academy forward Louis-Carl Tremblay and defenseman Tristan St.-Gelais scored just 1:38 apart to pull the Red squad even at 5-5.
The clubs played scoreless hockey for the last six minutes of regulation, leading to a five-minute, 3-on-3 overtime period. That’s where Mount forward Mathew Hebert rifled a wrist shot from the left circle into the top corner of the net with 1:50 left, securing a thrilling 6-5 win for the Red squad as well as the 16U Player of the Game honors for the Halifax, Nova Scotia, native.
Other standouts included forwards Luke Burke (Gilmour Academy) for Red and Gryphon Watson-Bucci (Boston Hockey Academy) for Black, who both netted a pair of goals during the all-star showdown. Meanwhile, Black starting goalie Oliver Kiraly (Mount Academy) turned aside 22 of 23 shots on goal.