Super 8

Prep schools Weymouth

Blackwell dazzles for St. John’s

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By Jake Seiner
Globe Correspondent / March 17, 2011

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NORTH ANDOVER — After his team’s 5-1 loss to St. John’s Prep last night, Weymouth hockey coach Matt Cataldo was understandably disappointed and disheartened, and his postgame tone reflected his mood.

At least until he was asked about Prep senior Colin Blackwell, who torched Cataldo’s Wildcats for three goals and two assists in the win, which sends the Eagles to their first Super 8 final.

“That Blackwell kid, I don’t know how you contain him,’’ said a wide-eyed, flabbergasted Cataldo. “Put him in a cage? He’s just so fast and so talented. He was unbelieveable tonight. I’ve never seen anything like it at the high school level.’’

Blackwell netted his first goal 15 seconds into the second period. The Harvard-bound center scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone, and rocketed down the right wing. Two defenders were in prime position, but by the time Blackwell reached the faceoff dot, he was already turning the corner on both players.

With the defenders’ sticks desperately slapping the ice at his heels, Blackwell swung the puck to his backhand and poked it past goalie Brian Brady.

“That kid, I’ve just never seen speed like that,’’ Cataldo said. “His first two steps, it’s like a rocket ship.’’

“Merrimack has a huge surface,’’ said Blackwell, a North Andover native. “It’s a lot wider and a lot longer. If you get an opportunity, like me, I like to use my speed and beat the D wide. They give you that space and you just take it.’’

Blackwell’s third goal midway through the final period was a near carbon copy of his first, but it was the future Ivy Leaguer’s second goal that turned the most heads.

With the Eagles on a power play, Blackwell collected a pass from linemate John Farrow in the neutral zone. Blackwell looped through the neutral zone and, legs churning, began a jet-like ascent into the offensive zone.

Four defenders were crammed in the middle of the Wildcat zone, and Blackwell cut through them all, never losing control of the puck. By the time he reached the hashmarks, he was by himself, and with a forehand-to-backhand shimmy, he lifted home Prep’s third goal at the left post.

“That’s routine for Colin,’’ Prep coach Kristian Hanson said. “We’ve become so accustomed to seeing that. We expect that from him. I say it after every game — he’s the best player in the state, maybe the best high school player I’ve ever seen.’’

That’s high praise from Hanson, whose high school playing career at St. John’s coincided with, among others, that of 19-year NHL veteran Keith Tkachuk of Malden Catholic.

Hanson’s playing days also happened to coincide with the first Super 8 tournament in 1991, but it’s as a coach that Hanson will now lead the Eagles to their first final.

“It’s special for the kids in the locker room,’’ Hanson said. “To make history, it’s pretty special. These guys will remember this their entire lives.’’