On the final day of the regular season, and with less than 24 hours remaining before Saturday’s Super 8 committee selection meeting, we’ve cobbled together our final field projection for the state’s premier hockey tournament.
The top six seeds have remained pretty consistent down the stretch, but we see two new squads slipping in the back door to nab the final play-in game positions.
Also, we thought it was fitting to take a cue from friend, colleague and longtime Super 8 supporter Chris Forsberg, by way of John Buccigross, with a little musical tribute to each team, chronicling some of our favorite (or not so much, or otherwise noteworthy, whatever fits, right?) songs of the last year or so.
1. Malden Catholic (15-1-4)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 1
Where they ranked in last projection: 1
Why they’re in this spot: Lancers’ only loss of the season came against an out-of-state opponent (New Jersey powerhouse Delbarton), in addition to one of their ties (Hamden, Conn.). MC’s also been at No. 1 in our poll from “box to wire” to steal one of Chris Serino’s expressions. Plus, the Lancers will be a motivated squad headed into the tournament, playing for their ailing former coach.
Song that fits: Coldplay, “Us Against the World.” I’m a much bigger fan of the Brit-band’s early catalogue and was in attendance for one of their first U.S. shows. Not a huge fan of Mylo Xylato (or the last two albums for that matter) but this song fits, not to mention we know a couple Lancers will appreciate the nod. The message is clear, they’re doing it for Serino this year.
Lyric that fits: “Through chaos as it swirls/ It's us against the world.”
2. St. Mary’s of Lynn (18-1-3)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 2
Where they ranked in last projection: 2
Why they’re in this spot: The Spartans lone loss of the season came to the aforementioned Lancers in the first game of the high school hockey season; they even improved upon their first result, tying MC at the Kasabuski tourney. Perhaps the most steady team of the season, playing in front of sophomore goaltender Bailey MacBurnie (1.30 GAA in 21 games), who’s been a revelation.
Song that fits: My Morning Jacket, "The Day is Coming." Last year's "Circuital" wasn't one of my favorite band's best efforts (you see a pattern beginning to emerge here?), but this one's a gem from one of the most imaginative bands working today.
Lyric that fits: "If opportunity, rears its head/ Will you answer, or stay home in bed?"
3. Hingham (16-4-2)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 3
Where they ranked in last projection: 3
Why they’re in this spot: The wildcard of the season. Obviously, the Hingham brand of hockey is synonymous with the Super 8, but not even head coach Tony Messina knew exactly what he had coming into this season. The inexperienced, but talented Harbormen haven’t missed a stride this season. There’s no single sensation that’s carried the load, but Hingham is deep, evidenced by their five forwards (Sam D’Antuono, James Gordon, Matt Hughes, Ryan Linehan and Patrick Mannion) with 18 or more points on the season.
Song that fits: Real Estate: "It's Real." My favorite break-out band of the year. Their sophomore effort "Days" was one of the best albums of last calendar year. A must-listen for anybody who enjoys The Smiths, or songs about the Jersey coastline.
Lyric that fits: "I skated on the frozen Sea/ It's real as far as I can see."
4. St. John’s Prep (13-5-2)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 5
Where they ranked in last projection: 4
Why they’re in this spot: This spot could be a toss-up between the Eagles and the Eagles of BC High. In this instance, we’re going to slot Prep ahead of their Catholic Conference rivals on the tail end of their schedule. Although Prep and BC High tied their season series, both claimed two-goal victories, the committee might look at BC High’s recent ties at the Cape Cod Classic (wins for tournament purposes) as reason to slide them to No. 5. Looking beyond the play-in games, Prep’s top line of Tyler Bird, Brian Pinho and Sam Kurker is one of the few lines in the state that create problems for MC’s vaunted top line.
Song that fits: Avicii "Levels." A staple of Prep's warmup mix this season, and as ubiquitous a dance song in society this side of anything off of Daft Punk's "Discovery." Fully expect to hear this song about 1,000 times during the Super 8 at Lawler. Get ready.
Lyric that fits: "Oh, sometimes/ I get a good feeling." (Well, come to think of it, that's about all there is for lyrics.)
5. BC High (10-5-5)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 4
Where they ranked in last projection: 5
Why they’re in this spot: As we explained, there’s little separating the Eagles of Morrissey Blvd. and the aforementioned Eagles. It’s just that the Eagles’ two shootout wins and one-goal win over Archbishop Williams in the Cape Cod Classic this week might cost them a higher seed than this spot. In either case, they’re a shoo-in and a dangerous squad at that as goaltender Peter Cronin (.915 save percentage) has only matured since his eye-opening performance in last year’s tournament. Let’s not forget either, the Eagles a relatively young squad as well, with only four seniors (Adam Conway, Brian Furey, Bartley Regan and Matt Sullivan) on the roster.
Song that fits: M83, "Intro." This is the lead-in to Anthony Gonzalez's masterpiece "Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" (yes, the song you skip over to get to "Midnight City"). My favorite album of last year, for those of us who still actually believe in the concept of the album.
Lyric that fits: "The battle's fought/ The deed is done/ Our silver hum runs deep and strong."
6. Springfield Cathedral (10-6-6)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 6
Where they ranked in last projection: 9
Why they’re in this spot: Outwardly, the Panthers don’t have the most striking record, but only three of their losses have come in-state. And all of those losses came against teams ranked before them in this projected field (BC High, MC, St. Mary’s). They’ve shown they can skate with the best in the state, albeit, they coughed up a point in a 5-5 with Prep after holding a 4-goal lead. But Wednesday’s hard-fought 1-0 win over Needham in their host tournament showed how difficult this team can be to play against. As in that game, sophomore John Liquori has been solid and senior captain Frank Crinella (13-15-28) is as tough to play against as he is talented.
Song that fits: The National, "Conversation 16." Trying to figure out what lead singer Matt Berninger's lyrics are about is like trying to do a Rubik's cube blind-folded. But they sure are interesting, if not entirely depressing. Great band, the band that Coldplay wishes they could be but are not, what with adoration of critics everwhere (including me).
Lyric that fits: "I was less than amazing/ Do not know what all the troubles are for."
THE FINAL FOUR (PLAY-IN TEAMS)
7. Central Catholic (12-3-5)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 7
Where they ranked in last projection: 6
Why they’re in this spot: We had the Raiders avoiding a play-in game in our previous field, but given their play down the stretch (3-0 loss to Andover stings), it feels like that’s exactly what they’re staring down for a second straight year. Still, as in year’s past, Central has made a Super 8 push with a strong second half and things seem to be falling into place with ESPN Boston preseason All-State goaltender Kyle Williams (2.00 GAA) playing his best hockey down the stretch.
Song that fits: At the Drive-In, "Rolodex Propaganda." OK, not a new song, but the reunion of the late-90's greatest band has me excited.
Lyric that fits: "Pinch history feel the pinch blistering/ Pinch me in my dreams cause I'm still not listening."
8. Burlington (14-1-6)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 10
Where they ranked in last projection: 8
Why they’re in this spot: An emphatic 7-3 win over a quality Chelmsford team Thursday night in the Cahoon Tournament championship is exactly the kind of emphatic statement that can help a team this time of year. As the winner’s of the Middlesex League’s small schools division, we believe the Red Devils will be the lone team representing one of the state’s toughest conferences. The only thing that could work against them is a high amount of ties. They’re also a little light in the marquee win category. Senior forwards Trevor Cimino and Brett Romkey were two of my favorite players to watch this season.
Song that fits: Bon Iver, "Minnesota, Wi." Just because Justin Vernon's Grammy acceptance is still one of the most priceless moments in recorded internet history.
Lyric that fits: "Never gonna break/ Not for a part in any gamut of the dark."
9. Needham (16-4-1)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 8
Where they ranked in last projection: Out of Top 10
Why they’re in this spot: You could make the case that Wednesday’s Springfield Cathedral Tournament game against the Panthers was a battle for the right to take the sixth seed. Given that the Rockets played well, but came away with a 1-0 loss, that’s why they’re here. This isn’t an offensive juggernaut, and hopefully the Rockets’ recent goal-starved performances will not negatively affect them, but they play solid team defense. It starts from the goalmouth out with a dependable, experienced goaltender in Connor Murray. Senior captains Lucas Davis and D.J. Walsh are equally adept in the offensive zone as they are in their own end.
Song that fits: Jack White, "Love Interruption." As soon as we lost The White Stripes, White came back with this solo effort that cuts to the bone. After a couple tough Super 8 appearances, Needham's looking for more than just another appearance.
Lyric that fits: "Yeah, I won't let love disrupt, corrupt or interrupt me anymore."
10. Westford Academy (12-2-4)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 17
Where they ranked in last projection: Out of Top 10
Why they’re in this spot: Alright, so this is our boldest prediction, given that the Grey Ghosts still have one paramount game to play (as of the time of publication) against another Super 8 Watch List team in Milton at the Irish-American Shootout championship. We’re going to project that the Grey Ghosts make the DCL/MVC the only public school league with two representatives; you can make the case the DCL/MVC was the strongest public conference this season, top to bottom. In addition, I like the way the Grey Ghosts attack with speed. They also have one of the most underrated D-men in the state in senior captain Pat Houghton (1-15-16) in front of senior goaltender Zach Webert.
Song that fits: Holy Ghost!, "Hold On." Ghosts, get it? Plus, they're a Brendan Hall favorite.
Lyric that fits: "It seems like I've been here before."