ANDOVER —Thomas Manty feels like a new player this winter.

Sure, last season — his first with Phillips Academy — was already impressive. But, since the Big Blue dropped the puck for their 2018-19 campaign, Manty has felt different on the ice.

“I feel like I can do things I couldn’t do before,” said the lifelong Andover resident. “Playing against the same competition, I feel like I have an extra step. I feel quicker, stronger and I feel like I can protect the puck better, get my shot and make more plays this winter.”

 The results has certainly supported Manty’s assessment.

In his second season at Phillips Academy following three at Central Catholic, Manty has delivered a breakout winter. He entered the week with 16 goals and recorded 42 points, good for second on a Big Blue squad that enters the week 16-9-1.

“Thomas has really stepped up his game,” said father Scott Manty, a Phillips assistant coach. “He did OK last year, but this year he has become a leader. He now has the confidence that he wants the puck on his stick in the important moment. He wanted to take his hockey career to the next level, and this year everything is coming together.”

FROM CENTRAL TO PHILLIPS

Thomas Manty grew up an Andover High superfan,

Dad Scott spent 6 1/2 seasons as an assistant for Andover High under Mario Martiniello (2004-11). He then served as interim head coach for the final portion of the 2011 season following Martiniello’s controversial dismissal.

After he was not hired as Andover’s permanent head coach, Scot took a job as an assistant at Central Catholic,

Initially, Thomas wasn’t anxious to cross rivalry lines. But he soon warmed to the Central hockey program, and as a freshman in 2014-15, he made the Raiders’ varsity team. After a broken leg derailed his freshman season, Thomas stepped up with seven goals as a sophomore.

As a junior in 2016-17, Manty scored 11 goals for a Central squad that went 17-6-3 and lost an overtime heartbreaker in the Super 8 championship game at the TD Garden.

Following that season, however, Manty began to consider a move to Phillips Academy, where Scott had taken a job as an assistant starting in the 2015-16 season.

“It was a very difficult choice,” said Thomas, whose family home is down the street from the Phillips campus. “I knew Central was returning an amazing team (in 2017-18) and we had the chance to go back to the title game and win. It was hard leaving my friends. But I wanted to play hockey at a very high level. I felt like Phillips was the best move for me as a hockey player.”

PHILLIPS STANDOUT

It took roughly 20 seconds for Manty to prove he could play for Phillips Academy.

“He couldn’t sleep the night before his first game because he was so nervous,” said Scott. “But on his first shift in his first game, he jumped over the boards, immediately got a pass inside the blue line and snapped a shot home for a goal. After that, he knew he was ready to go.”

Manty continued to deliver last winter for the Big Blue. He finished with 15 goals and 28 points in 26 games.

He then focused his efforts on preparing for his final high school season.

“My main goal was to get stronger physically,” said Manty, who can bench 245 pounds three times. I feel much stronger now. I’ve also improved my skating, speed and shot, which are the strengths of my game along with my skills.”

Manty said he also enjoys playing for his father, who is now in his fourth year as an assistant under Phillips head coach Paul Tortorella

“To share this with him is unbelievable,”said Thomas. “It takes me back to when he coached me in youth hockey. I wanted to play for him, because he knows the game so well. It’s been awesome.”

After graduating from Phillips, Manty plans to play junior hockey as he explores Division 1 college hockey opportunities.

“I’m so proud of the way he’s developed as a player,” said Scott. “He’s taken on every challenge that has faced him. He has a rocket for a shot, great quickness and his hockey IQ is excellent. It will be exciting to see what comes next. He has the drive to take the next step in hockey, and will do whatever it takes.”

AMONG THE BEST

Andover’s Thomas Manty entered the week with 42 points this winter, one of the most prolific seasons for Phillips Academy since the year 2000. Here are the top point totals in a season for the Big Blue in the last 20 years.

Name Final Phillips years Pts

1. Chris Kreider* 2009 56

2. Kyle Kucharski 2005 51

3. Andrew Cox 2007 51

4. Bobby Farnham* 2007 46

5. Matt Carso 2019 44

Stats provided by Scott Manty

*— Kreider plays for the New York Rangers. Farnham has played 67 NHL games and is currently in the AHL.

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Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.

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