Back to Back-Junior
Bruins Win Regular Season Title Again!
BACK TO BACK
Bruins Repeat as Empire League Champs
MA-On Wednesday afternoon the Junior Bruins and NE Jr. Falcons
had a matinee at the New England Sports Center and a win would lock
up the Empire Junior League's Regular Season Championship for the B's.
The B's, behind a four goal game from Derek Arnold (pictured-below
right), won, and, for the second year in a row, are regular
Bruins got out to a 5-0 lead on goals by Arnold (2), Justin Mansfield,
Paul Cinquegrana and captain Sean Sullivan. After the Falcons got one
back the B's scored three more off the sticks off Arnold (2) and Nick
Foy. The Falcons got two late goals to close out the scoring at 8-3.
Goalie Clay Witt picked up the win making 18 saves.
The B's had a season for the ages as the team and players
set league records in numerous categories. The team and its players
also led the league in several offensive and defensive categories.
All this done as being the youngest team in the league. "To accomplish
what this group has has been remarkable," coach Andy Powers commented.
"As defending champs we knew we would have a target on our backs
and having 15 new players on our team made the challenge that much
greater. We lost a lot of firepower from last year's team but the returning
players and the new guys did a great job filling those shoes and not
missing a beat."
The Bruins finished the regular season with a 40-3-1
record which matched the win total of the prior year which is an Empire
League record. No other team has put up a 40 win season, let alone
two in a row. The Bruins two season record in regular season play in
league is 80-7-2 which is good for a .900 winning percentage. En route
to their second consecutive regular season title the Bruins led the
league in goals against with 85 and GAA with 1.93 on the season. That
1.93 is second best in Empire league history. The
Bruins goaltending duo of Connor Knapp (pictured-left)
and Clay Witt (pictured-right) were big
reasons the team had the success it did. Knapp had a big year leading
the league in virtually every goalie statistical category.
Knapp, a '90 goalie out of York, NY, led the league
in wins (22), GAA (1.66), save percentage (.932%) and win percentage
(.960%). He was third in the league with three shutouts. Witt, a '91
out of Brandon, FL, was right behind Knapp as he was 4th in the league
in wins (18) and GAA (2.13), 3rd in win percentage (.86%), 5th in shutouts
(2) and 7th in save percentage (.912%). Knapp's 22 wins is a league
record and his 1.66 GAA is third best in league history while his save
.932 save percentage is second best in league history.
addition to the strong play out of the teams' goalies the defensive
corps of Tommy Monteiro (pictured-left),
Evan Gogonis, Joey Dillon (pictured-right),
Colin Shea, Steve Ginand, Danny Federico and Ryan Brothers were strong
all season. In addition to their strong defensive play that led to
leading the league in fewest goals allowed at 85 they also had a pair
that were among league leaders for defensemen in scoring. Evan Gogonis,
a 1990 from Northboro, MA, led the Bruins in scoring and broke the
team record of points for a defensemen in a season (league play) with
his 6-50-56 line. Those 56 points were second only to '88 Mike Kavanaugh
who led the league in scoring for a defensemen. Gogonis' 50 assists
were second in the league (including forwards). Dillon had a 34 point
season which was good for 4th in scoring amongst defensemen and his
33 assists were 3rd amongst defensemen.
Bruins, in addition to being the league's stingiest defense, also had
the most explosive offense leading the league in goals scored per game
with a league high 253 goals scored and an average of 5.75 per game.
The team was the only one in the league to have four players in the
top 10 in league scoring. Derek Arnold's 38 goals-39 assists for 77
points was second in league scoring, Steve Morra's (pictured-left)
31 goals-41 assists for 72 points was third in league scoring, John
Henrion's 43 goals-25 assists for 68 points was sixth in league scoring
and Cory Kane's 29 goals-32 assists for 61 points was eighth in league
scoring. Henrion (pictured-right), a '91
forward from Holden, MA led the league in game winning goals with 12.
Arnold, Morra, Henrion and Kane were also the top four scorers in the
black and gold's special teams were also among team leaders. The penalty
kill unit was second in league with a 90.21 success rate. They also
were fourth in short handed goals scored with 12. On the other side
of the penalty the team had the third most power play goals with 63.
"One of the goals we set at the beginning of camp
way back in August was to repeat as league champs and to realize that
goal the players deserve all the credit. We feel the teams in the league
are better than last year and winning was tougher this year than it
was a year ago. The most positive sign is the development and improvement
of the players and the team as a whole. We are a far different team
than we were at the beginning of the season and the improvement across
the board is the result of the players' hard work throughout the season,"
coach Chris Masters commented. "We are excited at accomplishing
one of our goals and are excited at the prospect of getting back to
the playoff championship game and taking one step further than we did
The Bruins, who have earned home ice throughout the
playoffs, will host the Green Mountain Glades in the first round of
playoffs starting March 3 at NESC in Marlboro, MA.