Entering the 2014-15 season, predictions on favorites to win the CIAC Division II title included Branford, Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks and Conard.
North Branford has a winning tradition and under coach Ralph Shaw’s guidance the Thunderbirds have always been competitive. But the T-Birds weren’t exactly on anyone’s preseason radar as a favorite to win the D-II title.
After all, the Thunderbirds had never even had a state championship appearance.
After completing a typically successful 14-5-1 regular season, North Branford senior forward and captain Alec Martone set the tone in the CIAC Division II first round. He had three goals and two assists in a 6-2 win over Wilton and the Thunderbirds were off to a deep run in the D-II tournament. After beating Newington/Berlin/Manchester 3-0 in the quarterfinals, North Branford went on to defeat No. 1 seed Conard 4-3 in double overtime to advance to its first state championship appearance.
North Branford suffered a tough 4-1 loss to Suffield/Granby/Windsor Locks in the final. Martone led the team with a team-high five shots on goal in the game, including four in the third period. He scored North Branford’s goal in the third period.
For his effort and impact on the Thunderbirds’ success, Martone has been selected the Register’s All-Area most valuable player.
“We came into the season having lost a few key parts from the previous season,” Martone said. “But we did achieve a lot. Our preseason goal was to play on March 21 (date of the championship game) and to finish in the final was very special. Unfortunately we didn’t get the result we wanted in the championship game.
“Throughout the season we had a tremendous effort from our team on offense and defense. We got a great coaching effort from all our coaches. In the end we proved people wrong. We proved we were a high-caliber team that could get to the final, the kind of team we always thought we were.”
While Martone and Shaw will both tell you it was a team effort to get to theD-II final, Martone certainly made an impact.
“Alec had a tremendous impact on this team, his effort and drive motivated his teammates to give more,” Shaw said. “He also influenced his teammates as a leader. He has a great ability to give feedback and direction to his peers in a positive manner that was well received. He is the type of guy coaches want on their team, someone who is hardworking, respectful, just a solid individual.”
Shaw said Martone’s strength on the ice was his drive.
“Alec is very competitive, he wants to win every time he steps on the ice,” Shaw said. “Not just the game but he wants to win the little things like races to pucks, face-offs, the stuff that wins games. As a coach you know he is going to do his very best and give his very best from from the drop of the puck to the final buzzer.”
One of the highlights for Martone during the season was the support from everyone at school and in the town when the team advanced to the D-II final.
“People were texting me and emailing me from everywhere,” Martone said. “The school supported us and the town rallied behind us. That make the entire experience being in the final so special. It was nice.”
Martone will attend the University of South Carolina where he will play hockey.
More New Haven Register Winter All-Star Teams
- All-Area Boys Track :: Akiel Smith MVP
- All-Area Girls Track :: Danae Rivers MVP
- All-Area Wrestling :: Chidi Broderick MVP
- All-Area Gymnastics :: Abby McGuirk MVP
- All-Area Girls Basketball :: Maura Fitzpatrick MVP
- All-State Girls Basketball :: Kiah Gillespie MVP
- All-State Boys Basketball :: Mustapha Heron MVP
- All-Area Boys Basketball :: Tyreek Perkins MVP
- All-Area Hockey :: Alec Martone MVP
- All-State Hockey :: Jack Pardue POY
- All-Area Swimming :: Karl Bishop MVP