- Scott Barboza, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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As advertised, here’s our initial Super 8 hockey tournament, 10-team projection.
We still have a pivotal week ahead for the teams looking to qualify, including some must-see holiday week tournaments, so there could be plenty of movement on this list.
We’ll have Version 2.0 to you next Friday, following the completion of the remaining games of note and before Saturday’s Super 8 selection committee meetings.
Of course, we’d like to hear your input, and feel free to give us your 10-team field below in the Comments field or via Twitter (@espnbostonhs).
1. Springfield Cathedral (15-0-3)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 1
Why they’re in: No matter what happens this weekend and at their host holiday tournament next week, carrying an undefeated record into final week of the season and playing a schedule that includes nearly all the teams that will be mentioned in this piece there’s no question about the Panthers’ resume. The question is where they’ll end up and it most assuredly will be in the top six.
Why they’re in this spot: For now, they hold the poll position as the lone Super 8 Watch List team without a loss to date. But Saturday’s test against No. 2 St. John’s Prep will open the debate.
2. St. John’s Prep (15-2-0)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 2
Why they’re in: The Eagles captured their first Catholic Conference championship since 1994, going 7-1-0 in the state’s elite league, so they’re a shoo-in. They are perhaps the state’s deepest team from the goal out.
Why they’re in this spot: Prep has been perhaps the state’s most consistent team and enters Saturday’s pivotal matchup at Cathedral with a 10-game winning streak in tow. The No. 1 spot is in sight.
3. BC High (11-2-3)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 3
Why they’re in: The Catholic Conference runners-up led the state in RPI ranking in terms of strength of schedule with their only losses of the season coming against the two aforementioned teams.
Why they’re in this spot: Again, there’s nobody ahead of them that hasn’t beat them and there’s nobody behind them they haven’t beat.
4. Reading (14-1-5)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 4
Why they’re in: The Rockets claimed the Middlesex Liberty (Large) Division title, compiling one of the state’s best goals scored to goals allowed ratio (77-25). While Reading’s strength of schedule might not compare to some of the parochial schools making this list, as the top team in the state’s best public school conference, that’s reason enough for automatic entry into The 8.
Why they’re in this spot: The Rockets skated with No. 3 BC High (a 2-0 loss at UMass-Boston) in a competitive December game. That’s why they should be right there with them in seeding. However, they do have some unfinished business with a Middlesex League matchup against fellow Watch List team Wilmington.
5. Archbishop Williams (11-2-4)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 9
Why they’re in: The Bishops earned the Catholic Central Large championship with Wednesday’s 4-4 tie against Austin Prep, their first outright league title since 1997. While Archies (7-0-3 in CCL) claimed the title over AP (6-0-4) by just one point, laying claim to the title all but assures the Bishops a seat at the Super 8 table.
Why they’re in this spot: The Bishops have just one “quality win” over a fellow Super 8 watch list opponent (Barnstable on Jan. 9), so putting them much higher than here would be a stretch. However, Archies will have at least one shot at another Watch List-er at the Cape Cod Classic this week. A victory in such a game should all but do it for the Bishops.
6. Hingham (12-5-1)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 6
Why they’re in: Because we couldn’t feasibly have Super 8 tournament without the Harbormen, right? On this week’s podcast (LISTEN HERE), Bruce Lerch and I discussed Hingham’s troubling lack of a marquee win to date. I think the Harbormen will emerge with at least one of those in the upcoming Cape Cod Classic. But, even still, going it alone, playing as an independent, Hingham takes on all the best the state (and other states) have to offer. They’re in; it’s just a matter of where.
Why they’re in this spot: Again, the lack of a marquee win prohibits them from moving much higher than here (at least for now), but again, I’d like to see at least one quality win from the Harbormen in the final week to feel safe about this pick.
(Play-in seeds, determined by team records):
7. Austin Prep (10-1-6)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 5
Why they’re in: A 2-2 tie against Matignon last week cost the Cougars a share of the CCL title, and it could cost them a top-six spot. I still believe the Cougars will carry a second CCL selection into the tournament. After all, it would be mighty hard to shut out a team with one loss on the season. Yet again, I’d group AP in with the teams that would be greatly advantaged by a win in Falmouth in the final week because they’re just a tad shy (to date) in the marquee win category.
8. Central Catholic (13-3-3)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 10
Why they’re in: The DCL/MVC champions (11-0-0 in league play) will almost assuredly be the conference’s lone representative, having swept the season series from fellow Watch List-er and league rival Chelmsford. While it happened at the beginning of the season, the Raiders hold one of the more impressive wins on their resume of all Super 8-considered teams – a 2-1 victory over St. John’s Prep in December. Still, there will be many sets of eyes on Central’s Monday matinee matchup with Catholic Memorial at Walter Brown.
9. Catholic Memorial (8-6-2)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 7
Why they’re in: Once again, the Knights find themselves near the end of their schedule and haven’t yet clinched a postseason tournament berth. I think that will occur early next week, but CM would be woe to head into Friday’s Catholic Conference finale with Xaverian having not done so. Again, as it has been in the last two seasons when the Knights have failed to qualify, if they qualify, they’re in. Yet, CM would do well to run the table in its remaining four games against fellow Watch List-ers Braintree, Central Catholic and Xaverian, in addition to Connecticut power Fairfield Prep.
10. Malden Catholic (8-6-3)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 8
Why they’re in: As in CM’s circumstance, if the Lancers qualify, they’re in. The two-time defending Super 8 champions have been hovering around .500 for most of the season and fighting for their playoff lives. Last week’s emphatic 4-0 win over Central Catholic was a huge shot in the arm. But again, the Lancers are looking at winning out (remaining schedule: Mount St. Charles, St. Mary’s of Lynn, and Springfield Cathedral/ Needham at Cathedral tournament) as their best chance at making it in. Just imagine the disgust of a potential No. 1 seed that could be staring at an opening-round, three-game series against this group. No thanks.
As advertised, here’s our initial Super 8 hockey tournament, 10-team projection.We still have a pivotal week ahead for the teams looking to qualify, including some must-see holiday week tournaments, so there could be plenty of movement on this list.