The All-Northwood Hockey Quarterfinals
Another amazing matchup: Tom Fleming’s 1994 squad (34 -5-1) versus then first-year coach Chadd Cassidy’s 2016 squad (45-5), which established the school’s record for wins in a season. Between them, the teams produced eleven DI scholarships and several top DIII competitors and captains. Both produced huge wins at our home rink: the 2016 group staging a third-period comeback to defeat Shattuck Saint Mary in the 32 Rink, the 1994 team besting exceptionally tough competition to win the Northwood tournament that January.
Both teams had dominant first lines. Chadd’s team had Jack Dugan (the NCAA’s top scorer during his sophomore year at Providence) alongside the clever Alexsi Peltonen (SLU) and power forward Kevin Lombardi (Sacred Heart). For two years in the mid-nineties, Matt Garver (RPI) and BJ Kilbourne (UVM) were two-thirds of the best line in prep hockey, in my opinion. In the ’93 –’94 season, they were joined for most of the season by Francois Albert, who starred at Fredonia and went on to play pro hockey. As I write this article, I have been sharing memories with both Garves and BJ. A couple of weeks ago, I talked with Francois, who was inquiring about Northwood for his daughter, a goalie.
These teams were not one-line wonders, though. The ’94 team’s supporting cast included two eventual Bowling Green Falcons (Jason Piwko and Kevin Armbruster) as well as Jamie O’Leary, an assistant captain at BC, who played for my friend, Jerry York, in the national championship game. The 2016 squad also featured Alexsi’s brother Jesper, currently a senior at Wisconsin, Kaden Pickering, this year’s captain at SLU, and Gabin Ville, now playing pro hockey in Finland. Mattias Samuelsson, only a sophomore then, also plays pro hockey and has spent time with Buffalo in the NHL.
I picture this game as a shootout, though both teams had solid goaltending. I think a seven-game series would go the limit, but for a single game, I would pick the ’94 squad, which went deep with potent scoring threats. I once saw Garves, who was straddling the goal line ten feet right of the crease, score on an eventual NHL goalie, Mike Dunham. Props to two gritty, skilled teams, but ’94 wins 6-4.