The Leafs entered Nationals as the ESHL’s #1 seed after going 5-0 in the ESHL playoffs and defeating the Boston Junior Bruins 4-1 in the ESHL championship game.
The Leafs first opponent would be Empire’s entry Philadelphia Revolution. The Revolution would build a 3-0 lead in the first period and had been the owner of several upsets of their own at the Empire League Western Conference playoffs. The Leafs would slowly chip away and pummel the Revolution goalie with shot after shot would tie it up at 4-4 in the 3rd period and would take the lead with 2 minutes remaining on an unassisted goal by Eddy Botelho and then iced it on an empty net goal by Joey Fernandes to win the game 6-4. The Leafs 4 lines would figure in the scoring showing the depth they possessed. Other Leafs goals were by CJ Cordeiro, Evan Marek, Keanen Romero, and Kurtis Garcia.
The Leafs next opponent would be a very strong Atlanta Knights team in the Empire South. The Leafs had taken on Atlanta earlier in the year and was a very hard fought contest as both teams were missing players. The early contest the Leafs won 7-3 and was Coach Tony DeSilva’s 600th win.
The Knights who have represented the South extremely well since its inception by David Falkenstein especially at Nationals would be another very formidable opponent at Nationals. The Knights first game was a tough loss in overtime to NH Monarchs last years Nationals runnerups. The Knights would come up hungry with a tenacious hard hitting attack. Atlanta would strike first only to be followed by a goal called back by the Leafs with the net being off. The Leafs seemed to fuel off that and even it up moments later by a perfect tip in by Sidney Thomas. The score would be tied until another controversial call with a Atlanta goal going by Leafs goalie Cody Stocker at the buzzer to take a 2-1 lead going into the 3rd period. The Leafs would even it up on a shorthanded strike by Brandon Person. Both teams’ goalies would exchange some big saves to bring it to 2-2 at the end of regulation. The Leafs would once again show depth as all 4 lines and 6 defensemen would take the ice in overtime period until Romero won an offensive draw to line mate Ryan Fehnel who shot at Atlanta’s goalie and line mate Adam Mcgrath would knock in the rebound for the Leafs 3-2 win and advance for the 1st time ever ESHL entry to make the Final Four.
The Leafs would then take on NH Monarchs who were also 2-0. The Monarchs would not waste any time and took immediate control of the game scoring 5 goals in the first period. The Leafs were overmatched in every aspect of this game and went onto to lose and snap their 13 game winning streak by the score of 9-1. One of the lone highlights of the game was Leafs net minder Austin Miller in relief of Leafs starter Donald Hesse made some spectacular save variety had 26 shots and 24 saves.
The Leafs would then advance to Final Four and take on the Brewster Bulldogs who like the Leafs were an underdog in their own right during their playoff run. The Leafs would immediately establish their 4 line attack and jump on board on a break away goal by Fernandes on a very slick pass by Leafs defenseman Rick Loveless. The Leafs would continue a constant offensive attack and received stellar performance by Stocker between the pipes. The Leafs 4 line attack proved to overwhelming for the Bulldogs and went onto win 5-1 in convincing fashion to advance to the National title game.
The Leafs entered the final with a 3-1 record meanwhile the Monarchs were 4-0 including a 9-1 drubbing of the Leafs in the preliminary round.
The Leafs established from the very beginning that they were champions and were determined to play like one and refused to be rolled over and be pushed around. The leafs would strike first on a breakaway goal by Fernandes thanks to some fancy passing by Sam Jenkins and Cj Cordeiro. The Leafs would hold the lead until the 9 minute mark of the 2nd period when the Monarchs scored on a power play goal to tie it up. The Monarchs would then capitalize on a Leafs breakdown to go up 2-1 to conclude the second period. The Leafs although discouraged would roll over continued to skate hard and hustle but could not take advantage of scoring chances or power play opportunities. The Leafs would have another defensive breakdown and the Monarchs capitalized to make it 3-1. The Monarchs would score an empty netter to close out the scoring to end the Leafs very memorable season.
The 2011-12 Leafs edition finished with a 58-20-5 record with a 35-4-2 ESHL record. The Leafs championship roster goalies Austin Miller (Colorado), Donald Hesse ( Salem, MA) and Cody Stocker (Arizona). The defensemen Rick Loveless (Missouri), Ian Maisonnueve (Indiana), Tyler Person (New Jersey), Michael Owen (Maryland), Jake Dyl (Somerset, MA), Kevin Murphy (Walpole, MA) and Sam Jenkins (Dartmouth, MA). The Leafs forwards CJ Cordeiro (Somerset, MA), Kurtis Garcia (Wareham, MA), Joey Fernandes (Milford, MA), Keenan Romero and Ryan Fehnel (Arizona), Adam McGrath (Bridgewater, MA), Evan Marek (Connecticut), Brandon Person ( New Jersey), Sidney Thomas (Nevada), Ryan McCarthy (Stirling, MA), Craig Parry (New Mexico), Steve Hole (Bellingham, MA and Eddy Botelho (Bristol, RI). The Leafs staff was Head Coach Tony DeSilva and assistant coach Kris Metea.
The Leafs have won their 7th playoff championship and made their 10th Nationals appearance in their 14 year reign.