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Analysis: The Super 8 skinny

2/26/2012

FRANKLIN, Mass. -- With the Super 8 tournament selection and seeding meeting in the books, here’s a couple of lingering impressions from Saturday’s proceedings at MIAA headquarters.

LAST TO BE THE FIRST ONE OUT

Defending Division 1 state champion and Atlantic Coast League champion, No. 16 Marshfield (18-2-2) was the last team in contention for a Super 8 spot, only to split a second-round vote with St. John’s of Shrewsbury, 3-3, with one vote going to Westford Academy.

The Pioneers ended up advancing to the field of 10, taking the No. 9 seed.

While the Rams weren’t considered a shoo-in for the field, they did receive the No. 7 ranking from the Massachusetts State High School Hockey Coaches Association earlier in the day — a legitimate vote of confidence in their resume.

After the meeting, Marshfield head coach Dan Connolly didn’t have any hard feelings on the decision.

It was time to get back to business.

“I’m going to go meet with the team, right now,” Connolly said. “We’ve got practice this afternoon.”

There’s plenty to prepare for, with the Rams looking to make a repeat run to the Garden.

“We had a great regular season, but now it’s over and it’s on to the postseason,” Connolly said. “The truth of it is that there a lot of great teams that got left out of the [Super 8] tournament too, when you talk about Westford Academy and Norwood and Reading and Milton and Falmouth.”

He added, “Now we have to get ready for the D1 South tournament. It’s going to be a battle, there are going to be a ton of great teams in that bracket.

CENTRAL AND WESTERN MASS REPRESENTED

Many pundits, us included, had Springfield Cathedral (No. 6 seed) targeted for the top six, but perhaps the surprise entrant into this year's field was St. John's of Shrewsbury. The Pioneers (15-4-3) pulled a play-in game with the ninth seed.

While we didn't have the Pioneers in our final field projection on Friday, we're not taken aback entirely by the Pioneers selection. Through the year, multiple Eastern Mass. coaches who've had St. John's on the schedule told us about how hard they were to play against, particularly the speed of first-liners Kevin Emmerling (24-25-49) and Vin D'Amato (22-13-35).

Now, whether they should have been put in ahead of the two-loss squad from Marshfield, we feel that will be a point for debate for quite some time.

The only thing that can silence that sentiment will be how the Pioneers perform on Monday night.

WE ARE SPARTA

We touched on it a bit last year, but Saturday only underscored the fact that St. Mary's of Lynn has become an official Massachusetts hockey powerhouse (the boys' team that is).

The Spartans (18-1-3) took the No. 2 seed, to no surprise, behind Malden Catholic, on Saturday. Last year, St. Mary's made its first Super appearance with a play-in game, which they went on to lose in dramatic fashion.

Now head coach Mark Lee can rest easy until his team opens up pool play.

SELF-CRITIQUE

So how'd we do in fingering the Super 8 field? I'd say so-so.

In our last projection, we had nine out of the 10 Super 8 participants correct, with St. John's (S) substituted for Westford Academy.

NOTES

… What should have been a happy day for the BC High community was overcast by the funeral for the father of sophomore forward Steve DeForge. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the DeForge family and the BC High community.

… Talk about putting in extra work. While others might enjoy any downtime afforded to them during school vacation week, St. John’s Prep forward Sam Kurker (26-26-52) was out playing with the U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 team in an exhibition game at the University of Alabama-Huntsville on Friday night.