MIAA hockey championship Sunday picks

March, 16, 2014
Mar 16
3:01
AM ET
GIRLS’ DIVISION 2
No. 4 Westwood (15-2-5) vs. No. 2 Wellesley (20-1-2), 9 a.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Westwood – F Kim Egizi, F Ela Hazar, F Kelly Healey, F Allie Damren, D Christine Regan, G Siobhan Burke; Wellesley – F Carley Boyle, F Keely Corscadden, F Cecily Docktor, D Sarah Goss, G Meghan King.

Breakdown: Two strikingly similar teams, who possess good forward depth and play a sound team game. Both possess top-flight scoring trios (Egizi, Hazar and Healey for Westwood and Boyle, Corscadden, Docktor for Wellesley), but play a strong brand of team defense, as well.

X-factor: King. The Raiders netminder was simply dominant in their state semifinal against Falmouth. If she can repeat the performance, Wellesley could skate away with the hardware.

Pick: Westwood, 3-2.

GIRLS’ DIVISION 1
No. 5 Duxbury (16-1-6) vs. No. 3 Arlington Catholic (19-2-2), 5:45 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Duxbury – F Jane Dudley, F Marissa Fichter, F Jacqui Nolan, F Julia Nolan, D Ally Hammel, G Rachel Myette; AC -

Breakdown: Both teams are making a third straight finals appearance. AC is looking for its second title in three years, however, after falling to Catholic Central rival St. Mary’s last year. Meanwhile, Duxbury won each of the last three Div. 2 state titles before moving up to D1 this year.

X-factor: Myette. Simply put, when she’s on her game, she’s nearly unbeatable.

Pick: Duxbury 2-1.

BOYS’ DIVISION 3
Shrewsbury (20-2-1) vs. Hanover (18-7-0), 11 a.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Shrewsbury – F Dave Belbin, F Drew Caldwell, F Dan Quinlivan, F Jack Quinlivan, D Matt Dillon, D Sean Hallice; Hanover – F Mitch Beard, F Matt McDougall, F Pat Nevins,

Breakdown: The Colonials have been pegged from Day One as a Div. 3 state favorite, while the Indians hovered around .500 near the midpoint of the season, before embarking on a nine-game winning streak, running through the postseason.

X-factor: Dillon ranks among the state’s leading scorers as a sophomore.

Pick: Shrewsbury, 6-4.

BOYS’ DIVISION 2
Medfield (18-3-3) vs. Beverly (21-1-1), 7:45 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Medfield – F Pat Lawler, F John Maclean, F Jack Scanell, F Matt Treiber, D Matt Crowell, G Dan Graham; Beverly – F J.J. Bachini, F Graham Doherty, F Connor Irving, F Jesse Maclaughlin, F Jake Straw, D Nick Albano, D Matt Hamor, G Tim Birarelli.

Breakdown: These teams can skate and score. The Panthers have been on a tear after getting over the proverbial “hump” in a shoot-out win over Northeast rival Danvers and most recently rolled all over a talented Tewksbury squad in the North final. The Warriors reach the Garden in their first season at the Div. 2 level, after competing at Div. 3 previously.

X-factor: Irving. Evidenced by a four-goal effort Monday in the North final, he’s an elite player capable of taking over games on the biggest stage.

Pick: Beverly, 5-3.

BOYS’ DIVISION 1
Reading (16-8-2) vs. Braintree (16-5-3), 1 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: Reading – F Jake Barbera, F James Donaghey, F Matt Thomson, F Mike Thomson, F Sean Verrier, D Mike Seibold, G Ian Lapham; Braintree – F Dylan Casserly, F Brian Gallagher, F Kyle Leslie, F Nick Ward, D Joe Harrington, D Kevin Howard, G Nick Anson.

Breakdown: The Wamps overcame a heart-wrenching loss in the Super 8 play-in game to win the program’s first Div. 1 South title. Meanwhile, the Rockets, who slumped in the second half of the season, have played like a team of destiny while surviving the North tournament, including an 11-round shootout against Middlesex League rival Wilmington in an instant classic of a sectional final.

X-factor: Karma? Both squads seem to have something special brewing in their postseason runs. Only one can end with a win.

Pick: Braintree, 5-4 (OT).

BOYS’ DIVISION 1A – SUPER 8
No. 4 Austin Prep (16-4-4) vs. No. 2 Malden Catholic (19-4-0), 3:15 p.m., TD Garden

Players to watch: AP – F Bobo Carpenter, F Mike Egan F Eric MacAdams, F Ryan McDonough, F Jake McKennelley, F Cam Russo, D Andrew Cross, D J.J. Layton, G Elijah Harris; MC – F Matt Filipe, F Ara Nazarian, F Tyler Sifferlen, F Jake Witkowski, D Will Lawrence, D John McLean, D Nick Rolli.

Breakdown: In a rematch of last year’s Super 8 final, the Lancers are looking for their fourth straight title. Austin Prep survived an eight-round shootout against BC High in its semifinal – thanks to J.J. Layton – to advance and makes its second straight finals appearance.

X-factor: Harris. The junior goaltender has been sensational throughout the tournament and has the ability to steal one for AP.

Pick: Malden Catholic, 4-2.

Scott Barboza

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
Scott Barboza joined ESPNBoston.com as a high schools editor/reporter in May 2010. He spent the previous three seasons working in the New England Patriots media relations department after a stint at the Taunton Daily Gazette, where he covered everything from Little League baseball to the Boston Red Sox.
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