Most sophomores at St. John’s Prep are focused on mastering geometric proofs, synthesizing Leon Uris’s Mila 18 for history class, or – like most 16-year-olds – practicing for upcoming driver’s tests.
But for Brian Carrabes , a sophomore forward on the boys’ hockey team, his goals also encompass his work on the ice.
“Once I come to school, I just try to work my hardest in practice [and] get the team ready to go,” Carrabes said. “Just kind of try to build character with the team and try to get us all ready for the ultimate goal, which is the Super 8.”
Carrabes is not only the top-line right wing for the second-ranked Eagles (11-3-3), but he also is the team’s leading scorer; a role he’s filled with ease after a promising freshman season.
The North Andover teen offers quickness that has been integral to the Eagles’ success this season. Carrabes has used that speed, along with a smooth set of hands and slick wrist shot for 15 goals and 22 points.
Prep is in the midst of a one-year turnaround, after missing out on the Super 8 and being bounced by Austin Prep in the Division 1 North quarterfinals a season ago.
Carrabes is easy to spot in a game, though he isn’t the easiest to pick out during starting lineups. What separates the 5-foot-11 Carrabes is his ability to pick up the puck and dash down the ice in a flash with apparent ease. His skating style is one of short strides and quick feet, propelling Carrabes up ice in seconds while the rest of his opponents – and even some of his teammates – are left in his wake trying to catch up.
“When he uses his speed and goes north with it, he’s such an effective player,” said Prep coach Kristian Hanson . “He has a good nose around the net, and he’s tough too.”
“He’s just so good with the puck,” added senior captain Ryan Farrow, who centers the Eagles’ top line.
“As soon as he gets it, he’s up ice and head up, and his speed is amazing, and combine that with his puck handling and the shot . . . he has amazing potential.”
Earlier in the season, the sophomore was slotted as the right wing on the second line. However, as the year has progressed, Hanson elevated him to Farrow’s line. The difference was noticeable almost instantly.
“He does definitely bring a dynamic to our line,” said Farrow.
His speed and blistering shot were on display in Wednesday night’s 6-0 win over Arlington Catholic.
In the first period, the sophomore collected the puck and skated around the entire offensive zone with the help of his feet and his quick hands keeping the puck away from the opposition. After skillfully toeing the blue line and staying onside, Carrabes wheeled around near the right point and fired a shot on net that deflected in off the stick of classmate Ryan Bradley .
“Just the confidence he’s had since day one, even as a freshman, just to have that confidence and let the other sophomores see that he carries himself in such a professional way,” said Farrow.
Halfway through the second period, Bradley repaid the favor, setting up Carrabes’s 15th goal of the year with a one-timer on the Arlington Catholic doorstep.
While Carrabes has been the catalyst, he credited the senior captains, Farrow and Tim Usalis , along with recently graduated Kyle Hentosh for helping his game develop during the early part of his career.
“As I’ve been able to watch [Carrabes] for two years, especially in practice everyday, you really start to appreciate his skill and the things he can do with the puck,” Hanson said.
“You just hope it continues to develop at the same rate that it is, and he continues to focus on all aspects of the game, which he has been. And with his speed, if he can get stronger, physically, with age, he’ll be pretty hard to stop.”
“He handles the puck really well, he can shoot, he has great vision to dish the puck, he’ll play physical, so he’s strong in a lot of areas, but he’s got a long way to go,” said Hanson, who, in his 11 seasons, has been at the helm of teams that have featured future collegians such as C olin Blackwell (Harvard) and Brian Pinho (Providence).
“They were able to sustain that skill development over the course of four years . . . he’s just a sophomore and still in his second year, but he’s on the right track.”
■ Several marquee matchups are on the slate for the coming days, beginning on Saturday with the Buddy Ferreira Classic in Falmouth. Third-ranked Hingham (9-3-6) will battle fourth-ranked BC High (11-4-1) in the first game of the tournament.
“Obviously we have great respect for their program and all the great players that they have,” Hingham coach Tony Messina said of BC High.
“It’ll be a tough test for us. We’ve got to come out with some confidence. We’ve played a lot of tough teams this year very well; do what we do best and see if we can play a full 45 minutes.”
Catholic Central champion Austin Prep (11-6-1) will play Duxbury (9-5-5) in Game 2 of the tournament at 3 p.m. “We know we have to finish out strong,” Prep coach Bill Pappas said. “It’s a great tournament. We’ve been talking about the same message every day. Lets just compete at the highest level and work together. That’s been the motto pretty much the whole year.”
■ On Monday, the Ed Burns Holiday Classic will come to a close with Weymouth (9-8-2) taking on Marshfield (9-5-5) for the championship in Arlington at 8. No. 10 Arlington (10-4-4) faces Andover (9-4-2) in the consolation game at 6.
■ In the Cardinal Classic at the Olympia in West Springfield, Malden Catholic takes No. 8 St. Mary’s Lynn on Wedndesday at 6. Top-ranked Central Catholic (18-1) will battle fifth-ranked Pope Francis (14-2-3) at 8. Both teams met back on Dec. 29, with Central grinding out a 3-1 win at the Pete Frates Winter Classic.
“We look forward to playing a really good team,” Central coach Kim Brandvold said. “Obviously we played them earlier in the year, so we know they’re good and we know that we’re going to have to bring our best to have a chance to beat them.
“They play very aggressively. They’re well coached so we know that we’re going to have to really play the right way to have a chance.”
Players of the Week
Will Kenney, Hingham – Scoring two goals in a 4-0 win against No. 11 St. John’s (Shrewsbury), the junior forward lifted the Harbormen to their ninth win.
Cam Ludwig, St. John’s Prep – The senior goalie from Groveland shut out Newburyport with 10 saves during Saturday’s 10th edition of the Derek Hines ‘99 Memorial Game, 5-0. He has posted a .906 save percentage for the second-ranked Eagles.
Matt Morris, Walpole – The senior captain powered the Rebels (9-5-5) to a 5-2 win over Cambridge on Wednesday with a hat trick.
Kyle Penton, Waltham – Improving his save percentage to .939, the senior goalie recorded his sixth shutout of the season on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Lincoln-Sudbury.
Justin Pitari, Methuen – Now tied for first in points for the Rangers with 29, Pitari reached his 100th career point on Saturday with his 11th goal of the season over Haverhill.
Games to Watch
■ Saturday, BC High at Hingham, 1 p.m. – Having leapfrogged the fourth-ranked Eagles in the Globe’s Top 20, the No. 3 Harbormen will face off against the Catholic Conference champions in this year’s Buddy Ferreira Classic at the Falmouth Ice Center.
■ Saturday, Waltham at Andover, 6 p.m. – The Golden Warriors will honor their seniors before taking on the No. 13 Hawks in this Merrimack Valley 1/Duel County showdown. Both teams still chase Central Catholic for the league title.
■ Monday, St. John’s Prep at Danvers, 11:30 a.m. – Monday’s matchup marks the 4th Onion Town Classic.
■ Monday, Marshfield vs. Weymouth, 8 p.m. – The Wildcats will take on the Rams for the Ed Burns championship in Arlington.
■ Wednesday, Central Catholic at Pope Francis, 8 p.m. – The No. 1 Raiders (18-1) and the No. 5 Cardinals (14-2-3) meet in the Cardinal Classic in West Springfield.
Dave Souza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.