Boston High School: Cape Cod Classic

Analysis: Little drama around Super 8 vote

February, 23, 2013
FRANKLIN, Mass. – The proceedings at the annual Super 8 hockey tournament seeding meeting are usually rife with drama.

While many teams remained on the bubble entering the final week of the season, this year’s meeting, held Saturday morning at MIAA headquarters in Franklin, went down with relatively little agitation.

Nine teams selected for the 10-team field flew through the initial vote (click HERE for full field), nominated with unanimous votes. Only Hingham had to sweat it out to the second round with a 6-1 vote in the first round.

Although the meeting went down swimmingly, here are a couple of thoughts from this morning and the look ahead:

In the Super 8 game, the magic number is six. At No. 6, you’re safe and don’t have to tread the win-or-go-home play-in games.

The No. 6 seed also provided the greatest debate on Saturday, with two Catholic Conference rivals battling head-to-head in the court of public opinion.

Catholic Memorial (12-5-2 for MIAA purposes, 3-5-0 Catholic Conference) and two-time defending tournament champion Malden Catholic (11-6-3, 1-5-2) were the two teams in question after St. John’s Prep, Springfield Cathedral, BC High, Austin Prep and Reading settled into the Top 5 seeds.

At that point, Knights head coach Bill Hanson and MC bench boss John McLean took to the stand to advocate for their teams. Both made compelling arguments.

Yet, went the issue went to a second vote, CM prevailed with a 4-3 decision, with the deciding vote casted by former Knights athletic director Jim O’Connor.

While the Lancers might have been the hottest team in the state during the final two weeks of the season, pitching shutouts in four of their final six tilts and a six-game winning streak, Hanson pointed to his team’s hot play of late.

“If we don’t win that game yesterday against Xaverian, that’s huge,” he said. “Then, we wouldn’t have finished in third [in the Catholic Conference], which I think contributed to us ending up where we did.”

Meanwhile, McLean took a different perspective, with the Lancers’ chance to parlay their momentum directly into postseason play.

“I want to play Monday,” said McLean, who guided the Lancers to their second Super 8 title in his first season behind the bench last year. “I want to keep going, so I’m OK with the decision. I don’t think sitting a week helps us. The kids are hot, they’re hungry.”

MC enters Monday night’s play-in game against Catholic Central Large champion Archbishop Williams (8 p.m., Stoneham Arena) as the No. 10 seed.

However, should the Lancers advance past the Bishops, they might just be the most dangerous team in the field.

“Do I think that’s our team that finished that way in the final six games? Yeah,” McLean said. “I think we became a team after Central Catholic [a 4-0 win]. I think they all figured out that they had to work. Nothing was going to be given to us.”

The Knights gaining the sixth seed also added another wrinkle to the Super 8’s first-round matchups. CM will face archrival BC High in the first round of the tournament, adding to the buzz.

When the tournament rules were adjusted to feature a best-of-three, Hockey East-style tournament for the first time this season, such a must-see TV appointment is another reason why the state’s premiere tournament just got that much better.

On the flip side of the teams who are entering the tournament on a tear, there is the case of No. 9 seed Hingham.

The Harbormen, perennial Super 8 entrants, experienced three long bus rides from Falmouth last week, striking out in the ‘W’ column in three crucial games at the Cape Cod Classic. And, as a consequence, Hingham had to sit and wonder if they could still back into the 10-team field.

“The last several games we didn’t finish well,” Harbormen head coach Tony Messina said Saturday. “I think the kids were pressing. I think they were thinking that this is the game we make a statement, and the games kept going by, and it became frustrating.”

Hingham took its frustrations out against South Shore rival Marshfield in their season finale Friday in a 10-1 thrashing before anxiously awaiting their fate at the meeting.

However, things were fairly elementary for the Harbormen making the field. Even though they failed to gain entry on the preliminary nomination vote (there was one vote against Hingham), only two other teams were brought up for consideration at the table. Duxbury, which tied and then beat Hingham in a shootout on Cape Cod, went down in a 1-6 vote against. Bay State champion Braintree didn’t fare much better, with a 2-5 decision.

After no other teams were entered into consideration, Hingham was in.

“We almost have a second life here to show what we can do,” Messina said. “We had a great game against Marshfield yesterday, I guess the goals came a little bit late, but you could just sense a relief.”

Now, the Harbormen can refocus on what comes next.

“We’re looking forward to try to do something in the tournament,” Messina added. “The goal isn’t just to get here, it’s to win the games.”

Hingham plays DCL/MVC champion Central Catholic in the first play-in game in Stoneham on Monday. Puck drop is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

Super 8 tournament projection (Version 2.0)

February, 22, 2013
As advertised, here’s our final Super 8 hockey tournament 10-team projection ahead of Saturday morning's selection committee meeting.

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. St. John’s Prep (17-2-1)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 2

Goal Differential: +63

Why they’re in this spot: Last time out, we slotted the Eagles behind No. 1 Springfield Cathedral. While the teams skated to a 1-1 tie last Saturday, Prep vastly outshot the Panthers, who needed a late third-period goal to come away with a point. Emerging from a 2-1 loss against Central Catholic on Dec. 26, the Catholic Conference champions have been a complete, balanced team deserving of the top billing.

2. Springfield Cathedral (16-1-4)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 1

Goal Differential: +69

Why they’re in this spot: The Panthers were ticketed for the top spot until the last week of the season. Is there a cause for concern that they dropped three of an available six points during the last week of the season? Well, it’s not time to hit the panic button, but perhaps they’ve lost some momentum. Or, perhaps not having to play to the burden of entering the tournament with an unbeaten record will help them in the long run.

3. Austin Prep (13-1-6)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 7

Goal Differential: +42

Why they’re in this spot: No team did more to bolster their resume in the season’s final week than the Cougars. AP claimed wins over fellow Super 8 hopefuls Hingham and BC High before walloping Falmouth 9-0 in the Cape Cod Classic championship game – a truly impressive display. The fact that they failed to claim the Catholic Central Large title cannot hurt them at this juncture.

4. BC High (13-3-3)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 3

Goal Differential: +28

Why they’re in this spot: Truth be told, the Eagles’ loss to AP on the Cape may have cost them the No. 3 seed. What’s more surprising was the manner in which BC High lost that tilt. A typically sound defensive squad was found running around some in the third period. They’ll be sure to tighten up for the playoffs, as they’ve been among the statewide leaders in GAA all year.

5. Reading (16-1-5)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 4

Goal Differential: +55

Why they’re in this spot: The Rockets move down a spot from the last projection, on an account of AP’s RPI boost from the Cape Cod Classic. That could actually help Reading in the fact that they played potential first-round opponent BC High during the regular season. While the Eagles skated away with a 2-0 victory in the teams’ Dec. 29 meeting, the fact that Rockets skated with them and have a familiarity with BC High’s style of play could improve their prospects at getting through in a three-game series.

6. Catholic Memorial (12-6-2)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 9

Goal Differential: +40

Why they’re in this spot: The Knights had a mid-season dry spell, but closed with authority with a trifecta of wins over Super 8 Watch List teams in the final week against Braintree, Central Catholic and Xaverian, improving their RPI standing and moving them out of the dreaded win-or-go-home play-in round. Most impressive of all was the Knights’ 4-3 win over Connecticut powerhouse Fairfield Prep in Bridgeport. It might not look as familiar to the committee voters as the aforementioned opponents, but it should be considered A-No. 1 of their marquee wins on the season.

(Play-in seeds, determined by team records):

7. Archbishop Williams (12-4-4)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 5

Goal Differential: +44

Why they’re in this spot: The Bishops move down into the play-in group on the heels of a performance on Cape Cod that wasn’t what they wanted, only to be deemed by a win over Hingham on the final day of their season – a must have. Archies still shows some lacking in the marquee win department (Chelmsford?), but are propelled by their CCL title and a gut-check win over the Harbormen on the most important day of the year.

8. Central Catholic (13-5-3)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 8

Goal Differential: +35

Why they’re in this spot: I believe the Raiders are free and clear as the DCL/MVC Division 1 champions. Count their emphatic wins over runner-up Chelmsford as their raison d'Ítre. Still, the committee will have to get over a troubling lack of goal-scoring in the last week, when they scored just two goals in three games, as well as being shut out in back-to-back season-ending losses to rival Andover and Catholic Memorial.

9. Hingham (13-7-2)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 6

Goal Differential: +40

Why they’re in this spot: Let’s kick off this pick with a preamble.

I’m a devotee of the Showtime drama “Dexter”. For those of you who need an introduction, the main fulcrum on which the story of protagonist Dexter Morgan – a forensics examiner for Miami Metro homicide who is himself a serial killer – works is something he describes as his “Code.” To that notion, I’m going to go ahead and break my own “Code” while making this final bold selection for the Super 8 field. There is nothing that should lead me to pick the Harbormen ahead of their South Shore rivals from Duxbury. The Dragons hold advantages in all the key categories: record, RPI, goal differential and, perhaps most importantly, the marquee win category. Hingham’s stunning lack of a true marquee win against a Super 8-ready team is implausible. Meanwhile, Duxbury can point to an early win against Xaverian. But in truth, the teams are quite even; we witnessed as much in the Cape Cod Classic when the teams played to a 1-1 tie (in the eyes of the MIAA), although the Dragons claimed a victory in the shootout (for tournament purposes only).

So why Hingham? Well, like many of the passion plays told through the eyes of Dexter’s extreme form of Code of Hammurabi justice, I’m going with instinct, or what you might call gut feeling (for those who believe in such things). I’m ignoring what is logical and going with what I’ve witnessed. In not so many words, Hingham should be in. This pick isn’t who could be here, or who will be here – again, I’m breaking my self-imposed code. Perhaps I’m playing into history. After all, the Hingham hockey name carries weight, as does Duxbury for that matter. I think we’ve seen in recent years who the ghost of Super 8 Past can influence things at the table (Needham last year, anyone?). And so I’m breaking my code. I think that Saturday’s tournament selection meeting will play out with a Hingham vs. Duxbury quandary as its focal point – a la last year’s Marshfield vs. St. John’s (Shrewsbury) predicament.

The question now remains whether the selection committee will break its own “code.”

10. Malden Catholic (11-6-3)

Seeding in Version 1.0 Projection: 10

Goal Differential: +20

Why they’re in this spot: A tenth-seed in title only. You can make the case for the Lancers to move into the Top 6 after handing Springfield Cathedral its only loss of the season in their season finale. My take is coming from the perspective that a team’s entire resume should be considered. Also, points in the Catholic Conference should count for something, with Catholic Memorial finishing third in the league standings; I’m going to go with the Lancers as the final representative from the MIAA’s toughest hockey league. Of the teams that precede them in the play-in games, they’re the only shoo-in. Added benefit for hockey watcher’s everywhere: how about a Prep vs. MC first-round matchup in a three-game series? Not too shabby.

Recap: No. 5 Austin Prep 9, Falmouth 0

February, 22, 2013

FALMOUTH, Mass. -- Austin Prep hockey head coach Louis Finocchiaro remembers most of sophomore forward Bobby Carpenter’s season for numerous pings and clangs that have rung out in rinks across the state this year.

Yet, the only sound associated with Carpenter’s play Thursday night at the Falmouth Ice Arena was the lack thereof, the silence of the hometown Clippers crowd in the championship game of the Cape Cod Classic.

Carpenter scored four times, part of a five-point game, while leading AP to a 9-0 drubbing of Falmouth. The Cougars (13-1-6) scored every which way – twice on the power play and even a short-handed goal – and closed out an impressive run on the Cape this week, which included wins over Top 10 squads Hingham and BC High.

“We just wanted to a win a championship for once,” Carpenter said. “We lost our league, so we wanted to win this one real bad.”

The Cougars opened up to a 3-0 lead in the first period and held the Clippers (10-6-5) without a shot on goal beyond the midway point of the first.

AP kept up the pace in the second with Frankie Candalino scoring his first of two goals and Carpenter tallying the hat trick on an extended 5-on-3 power play.

The Cougars retired to the room after the second period up 8-0. They capped scoring with Carpenter’s fourth of the evening in the third.

“He’s relentless,” Finocchiaro said of Carpenter, the son of former NHL-er Bobby Carpenter. “He’s a coach’s dream.”

Carpenter, who had 10 goals on the season entering Thursday’s action, reflected on the team’s accomplishment as they wrapped up their regular-season schedule, rather than his own.

“Our Number One goal this season coming was to make it the Super 8, no matter what happened. We knew we had to win all these games down here, and we did it.”

Recap: No. 15 AC 1, No. 16 Duxbury 0

February, 21, 2013

FALMOUTH, Mass. -- It took only 26 seconds for Arlington Catholic to find its margin of victory Thursday in its Cape Cod Classic consolation game against Super 8 hopeful Duxbury.

It took a 45-minute defensive effort for the Cougars to claim a 1-0 win.

"We made it difficult to get through the neutral zone and took away the slot," Cougars head coach Dan Shine said. "I think, overall, we played a nice game defensively as a unit."

AC (11-6-4) immediately took to the offensive, scoring just 26 seconds in. Zach Blanch cashed in on the centering feed from Ryan Tierney, with Mark Vercellini credited with the second helper.

"From Mark [Vercellini] chipping it up, to the quick pass [from Tierney], there was no hesitation. It was an unselfish play," Blanch said.

Duxbury (14-3-5) was caught flat-footed for parts of the first and were outshot, 8-2.

However, the Dragons pushed the issue in the second, putting 13 shots on AC goaltender John Richard (20 saves), including some key scoring chances.

"We had our chances in that second period," Duxbury head coach John Blake said. "We hit a post, had a puck trickle through the crease, rebounds were there. For one reason or another, they weren't going to go in tonight."

The Dragons had trouble gaining speed through the neutral zone in the third, with AC clogging up the middle of the ice sheet.

Duxbury was unable to pull netminder Chris Johnson (17 saves) for much of the final minute, after Cougars center Steven Kehoe won an offensive zone faceoff.

"Kehoe, he was unreal," Blanch said. "Okie [Brendon O'Connell] won it do the boards, Kehoe tied it up and I stayed high. It worked out exactly like Coach drew it up."

Duxbury could look back at Thursday's performance as a missed opportunity, with Saturday's Super 8 selection meeting looming.

Yet, Blake said postgame that it was the last thing on the team's mind heading into action.

"It's something we really didn't discuss. We took a one-game-at-a-time approach. That was our mentality. We just wanted to come down here and win our last game of the season."

Cape Cod Classic: Archies, BC High bounce back

February, 21, 2013

FALMOUTH, Mass. -- Wednesday was supposed to be a night of consolation games at the Cape Cod Classic hockey tournament at the Falmouth Ice Arena. However, a few surprising results over the first two days meant that three teams in the ESPN Boston boys’ hockey Top 25 rankings, and one team in the Last 10 Out, wound up meeting in the losers’ bracket.

The night began with No. 6 Hingham (12-7-2) and No. 9 Archbishop Williams (12-4-4) in a game that meant far more than consolation. Both teams were looking for another critical win to bolster their resumes ahead of Saturday’s Super 8 vote.

Both teams struggled under the weight of the game’s importance, but Archies rode the stellar play of goaltender Joe Vinay (27 saves) to pull out a vital 2-0 win over the Harbormen.

Archbishop Williams head coach Derackk Curtis believed that his team needed to get back to hard work and its style of play. He admitted that the allure of playing in the Super 8 and the praise heaped on his team may have affected the Bishops.

“We just wanted to go out and play like we could play, show a little bit of pride and commitment to the team and I think that it was a good game,” Curtis said. “In this tournament, we didn’t play to our fullest potential, but we just wanted to go out there and play up to our opponent.”

The first period was high on physical play but short on scoring opportunities as both teams focused on staying tight defensively. The second period was dominated by Hingham, but the Harbormen had no way past the Bishops’ senior goalie, who produced a series of highlight reel saves.

The best save of the night came at the expense of Hingham senior forward Justin Ryder. After holding strong to make two saves at his near post, Vinay swiveled and dove across the goalmouth to glove Ryder’s attempt to tap in at the far post.

It was a save that left the crowd in awe and added to the pressure that Hingham already felt. The Harbormen have hit a rough patch at the worst possible time and head coach Tony Messina rued his team’s missed chances.

“We’ve actually had a lot of those periods that we deserved a better fate, but you can only say that for so long,” Messina said. “Even the kids realize that. It’s frustrating, really frustrating.”

Archies came out strong in the third and finally broke the deadlock on a goal by Nick Menzel that was set up by fellow forwards Jake Reardon and Ryan Dunn. The Bishops held out against a late, desperate charge by Hingham and tacked on an empty-net goal just before the final buzzer.

Curtis remarked following the game that his team had done what it needed to do, but the team’s postseason destination was now in other people’s hands.

“I don’t think it was our perfect game, our best game, but it was good enough to win,” Curtis said. “I’ll take the win any day of the week, now you just got to hope that it was good enough to get someone to look at you.”

The nightcap held far less pressure as No. 3 BC High (13-3-3) faced off with Waltham (11-8-2) in a game that was dominated by the Eagles’ attack and the outstanding play of the Hawks senior goalie Nick Russo.

BC High outshot Waltham ,48-8, but, thanks to a heroic performance from Russo, only managed a 2-0 victory over the Hawks.

Waltham generally sits back and absorbs pressure, while hoping to catch a team with a lone goal that could win the game. The Eagles made that a difficult strategy with a goal just 1:24 into the game. Junior defenseman Sam Topham with a quick shot that snuck past Russo.

From that point on, a pattern emerged. The Eagles would attack, pepper the goal with shots, and Russo would do his best to repel everything that was thrown at him. He stopped one-timers, slap shots, and tips with a series of quick kick saves and solid positioning.

Despite Russo’s great game, the Eagles wrapped up the victory with 10:35 left in the second period. Sophomore Patrick Riley was on hand to tap into an empty net after Russo made three saves at his near post.

One player that epitomized the effort of BC High on Wednesday was junior captain Tom Besinger. The forward was battered for much of the game as the Waltham defense tried to limit his chances to find open ice. Still, Besinger created several great scoring opportunities, including three shots that rang off the post.

“When you’re as skilled as he is and you’re a difference maker like he is, you’re a target,” said Eagles head coach John Flaherty, who credited his playmaker for staying calm in the face of the constant hits. “Tommy’s got to come to expect that and know that’s going to happen.”

Flaherty was pleased with the effort and the team’s ability to bounce back after Monday’s loss to Austin Prep.

“Very happy with the effort,” he remarked. “The fact that we were able to play the way we played and to control the game against a very good team, I’m very happy with that. It’s a good bounce back from the misstep we took the other day and, going into St. John’s Shrewsbury. We needed a good game to close out the regular season.”

Cape Cod Classic: AP, Falmouth set for final

February, 19, 2013

FALMOUTH, Mass. -- Austin Prep head coach Louis Finocchiaro couldn’t hide his emotions. With the locker room door open for everyone to hear, he exclaimed, “There is no quit in this team and that was the best win I’ve ever coached."

Finocchiaro was not exaggerating one bit.

The No.5 Cougars stunned No.3 BC High 3-2 in the first of two semifinals at the Cape Cod Classic at Falmouth Ice Arena. Austin Prep trailed by two goals and were being shut out in the final minute of the second period, only to post three unanswered goals to steal a much-needed victory in the eyes of the Super 8 voters.

Nolan Vesey pulled the rug right out from under the Eagles (12-3-3) with two third-period goals, the tying and game-winning tallies, after freshman Jake McKenelley gave the Cougars some hope with 31 seconds left in the second period.

"For us to come back against a team like that is a big time learning experience and character builder,” Finocchiaro said. “We were down but there is no quit in that locker room so I’m so proud of every one of those kids in their and it was a big time effort from everyone.”

All was not rosy for the young Austin Prep (12-1-6) squad in the first 30 minutes of play as two glaring miscues contributed to their early deficit.

Goaltender Peter Cronin recognized an out-of-synch line change by Austin Prep and fired the puck up the left side of the boards to Patrick Kramer, who then found Connor Noonan on the doorstep of the crease for the 1-0 Eagles’ lead. Prep was caught as they switched out defensemen along with the forwards and left the far side of the ice wide open.

Noonan was at it again only minutes later as he stole a bouncing puck in the neutral zone off a Cougars defenseman’s stick and went in untouched for the unassisted tally and a 2-0 BC High lead with just under three minutes to play in the second stanza.

Usually, a young team would fold after two huge mistakes resulted in two quick goals the other way, but Austin Prep stormed back with McKenelley’s third goal of the tournament right before the trip to the lockers for the second intermission. Bobby Carpenter fought behind the net taking on three BC High skaters to feed McKenelley in the right slot as the freshman forward popped in his own rebound after one of Cronin’s 20 saves with 31.4 seconds remaining.

“A line change cost us and then we fumbled one at center ice and cost us again,” Finocchiaro said. “I told them, the first period we played well and it was like a heavyweight fight and then in the second we were down two goals. But I came in the room and told them to stay positive because we didn’t really play that bad.”

Vesey picked up a penalty less then 30 seconds into the third period and it looked like BC High would add to their lead. But just as the Eagles’ man-advantage expired, the scrappy Carpenter was at it again, as he slid the puck out of the BC end trying to clear the puck only to find Vesey racing out of the box unchecked.

The senior captain leaped out of the penalty box for a 100-foot breakaway for the easy wrister just under Cronin’s outstretched glove to tie the score and send the pro-Prep crowd into a frenzy.

“Up 2-0, we make a mistake on the first goal they got, we have a breakdown we get beat to a puck – we just weren’t working hard enough,” BC High head coach John Flaherty said. “That team that was on the ice for Austin Prep is a very good team, we knew they were going to be good, we knew they were going to be desperate and we didn’t match that. We allowed them to come in and steal a game from us.”

Vesey was not finished as he captained a 3-on-1 breakout, only to keep the puck on his stick at the point and beat Cronin glove side with a pretty back-handed flip sliding by the right post for the game-winner with 5:15 remaining in regulation.

"Nolan [Vesey] is such a skilled player and usually you want to mix it up and drop the puck off across the ice for the easier look but you have to figure with skill like that, he gets the green light," Finocchiaro said. "You can't complain too much though because he finished it."

Flaherty added, "[It is] very frustrating as we have to know [Vesey] is coming out of the box, he's their best guy, and one of the most lethal in the state. Once it got to 2-0, the guys in this locker room thought it was over, but it was far from over, and it was proven by the way the game was finished."

In the second semifinal, Falmouth outlasted Waltham, 3-0, with a first-period barrage that only produced one goal.But Storm Fotiu had a stick on two of the three tallies as the Clippers advance to Thursday's final against Austin Prep at 7 p.m.

Waltham will face BC High in the consolation round on Wednesday night.

Robbie Souza scored for the Clippers (10-5-5) at 9:30 of the first, as Fotiu slid the puck on a perfect string to hit Souza on a break. Souza left Waltham senior goalie Nick Russo on the ice for the period's only goal despite outshooting the Hawks, 12-2.

The second period was a stalemate other than Falmouth racking up penalty minutes. Waltham (11-7-2) couldn’t muster much offense, even on the power play, as they finished the game 0-for-7 on the power play.

Fotiu doubled up the lead midway through the third period off a face-off in the Waltham end, as the senior forward dragged the puck across the crease for the top-shelf backhander. Cyrus Wickersham iced it with an empty-netter in the final minute of regulation.

Falmouth outshot the Hawks 32-15 overall as junior goalie Jake Beaton registered his first shutout of the season with numerous quality saves, including a picture-perfect glove save on a Bryan Longmoore breakaway in the final minute of regulation. Russo also played extremely well with 30 saves, including two huge glove saves in the third to keep things close before being pulled for the extra man.

Beaton didn’t see much in terms of shots, but has only allowed one goal in two tournament games and has Falmouth on the cusp of winning their own title for the first time since the Cape Cod Classic started.

"If they score with 52 seconds, it is going to be a huge lift for them,' said Falmouth head coach Buddy Ferriera about the breakaway save by Beaton. "He has been bounced around a bit and he's never had a chance to show he's a Number One, but now he is showing it."

Russo stands on head for Waltham

February, 17, 2013

FALMOUTH, Mass. -- Waltham isn’t going to impress you with an array of beautiful offensive hockey. While the Hawks are returning to postseason play with an 11-6-2 record after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Super 8 hopeful Archbishop Williams, Waltham has scored just 39 goals on the season.

Thankfully, playing behind a stout defensive unit led by senior goaltender Nick Russo, the Hawks have maintained a +13 differential in goal ratio and allowed just 26 pucks in their net this season.

In the last couple of seasons, the Hawks have been a .500 team, and then a snake-bitten sub-.500 team last year, when they suffered through a chain of more one-goal losses than just about any squad in MIAA hockey.

The formula hasn’t changed for John Maguire’s team, but maybe it’s just an element of puck luck that created the difference this year. More likely, it’s an element of sound fundamentals in the defensive zone, on display in the Hawks’ shut-out win over Archies on Cape Cod. While 45 shots found their way to Russo, the Hawks’ goaltender saw just about every one of them.

“Sean Kelley, Steve Hanley, Nick Sutherland, Sean Richard, and couple more guys, they’re all great,” Russo said. “They let me see the puck, they keep things wide and they clear things out in front on rebounds.”

While the Hawks continued dodging fate, Waltham finally worked to score the lone goal of the game with 1:52 remaining in the third. Justin Provencher’s blast on the power play was the difference.

“They outplayed us in the first, but it was a whole-team effort,” Russo said. “But then we were even, then [Provencher] put one in and that felt amazing.”

Of all the teams in this year’s Cape Cod Classic, Waltham might be the underdog. They didn’t make the Super 8 Watch List, in fact, they’re the only team in the eight-team field in Falmouth not to have made a Top 25 poll appearance this season.

But Saturday showed the Hawks aren’t to be trifled with and, if Russo continues to make stops at a prodigious pace, they will prove a tough out in the upcoming state tournament.

“These are all tournament teams, or Super 8 teams, so winning down here is huge,” Russo said. “It gets you ready for the tournament.”

Duxbury vs. Hingham, 1 p.m.
Archbishop Williams vs. Arlington Catholic, 3 p.m.
Austin Prep vs. BC High, 5 p.m.
Waltham vs. Falmouth, 7 p.m.

Recap: No. 3 BC High 3, No. 16 Duxbury 0

February, 17, 2013

FALMOUTH, Mass. -- In a day that could be labeled "Separation Saturday" in MIAA hockey, Duxbury needed to showcase their skills in the Cape Cod Classic despite rattling off an impressive 12-0-2 record since the start of 2013.

Too bad 2012 Super 8 finalist BC High happened to be their first-round opponent.

The No.3 Eagles shut out the Green Dragons for the first time this season in a 3-0 win behind 18 saves from Peter Cronin, along with two power-play goals at the Falmouth Ice Arena in the state’s premier regular season-ending tournament.

The Green Dragons (14-2-4) last lost on Dec. 27 to Norwood, but with playing in the Patriot League on the South Shore, the Super Eight competition committee needs to see some bigger wins in Duxbury’s nonconference play to impress the voters.

In the first of four quarterfinals, BC High scored the first of their two power play goals on the second Duxbury penalty of the game. Right off the opening man-advantage face-off, Ryan Shea shuffled the showdown behind him into the right slot where Tim Larocque cued up the lamp with a one-timer as Shea also provided the perfect screen in front.

“We got some good chances and we made some good saves, but Duxbury worked hard, they are well coached, so we knew we were in for a battle and got everything we thought we would get,” Eagles head coach John Flaherty said.

The Eagles held a slight 21-18 shot advantage in the end, but had a difficult time generating offense in front of the net with Duxbury dominating the physical play and controlling the puck with their forecheck, especially in the second period.

The Eagles failed to record a shot on goal for the first 7:57 of the second stanza but were also able to fend off the deep Duxbury bench. Duxbury head coach John Blake features three tough and scrappy lines, but his team also had trouble in front of the net due to the rangy defense of the Eagles.

“[In the] first period, [Duxbury] only had four shots on net and we had eight so we outshot them in the first but they work hard, skate well, throw three lines over and very good lines,” Flaherty said. “So I’m not sure Duxbury limited us as much as they just worked hard and made us work hard.”

The score remained 1-0 to start the third period and it looked as if Duxbury finally caught a break. BC High’s Sam Topham was called for a cross-checking penalty on a failed Nick Marrocco breakaway to give Duxbury a golden power play chance only 30 seconds into the final period.

But the Dragons' again struggled to set up a solid power play, going 0-4 in the game, and the defense turned the puck over in their own end just as the power play was about to expire. Senior forward Michael Brooks' came in trailing the dumped pass from the neutral zone and stole the puck right off the right post and punched home the Eagles’ second goal between the pads of senior goalie Chris Johnson. The short-hander came with three seconds remaining in the penalty at 1:56 of the third period and was the backbreaker.

"You know going in that you're not going to beat BC High in a slugfest," Blake said. "You've got to bear down defensively and try to get out of it, one-nothing or two-to-one."

Brooks’ hustle goal put the Green Dragons on their heels as Tom Besinger put things away with BC High's second power play goal of the game off an easy pass into the slot from Shea, who also assisted on Larcque’s first-period tally.

“The pressure by Michael Brooks and Ryan McDonough was the difference," Flaherty said. "They are captains, leaders, and do little things well. They are short-handed specialists if you will and the turnover happened and Michael Brooks walked in and put it away.”

Recap: Falmouth 2, No. 15 Arlington Catholic 1

February, 16, 2013

FALMOUTH, Mass. -- Change can be a good thing. Just ask the Falmouth High School boys’ ice hockey team.

Head coach Buddy Ferreira shook up his lines during practice this week and rolled out three completely different units than the ones that had skated together for the majority of the season. The new look Clippers responded with their best effort of the season as they earned their most impressive win of the year, upsetting No. 15 Arlington Catholic by a 2-1 score in the final game of the opening night at the 16th annual Cape Cod Classic.

Falmouth senior Durham Ghelfi led the charge for the victors, scoring both goals for the maroon and white. The centerman on the team’s top line, before and after the shakeup, scored two third period goals to lead the come-from-behind effort.

“Mixing up the lines lit a little fire under them,” Falmouth head coach Buddy Ferreira said. “You’ve got to do little things when it comes down to the end, and this is the team that I saw play preseason. That’s a good team.”

After two tight, scoreless periods, Arlington Catholic scored just 20 seconds into the third moments after a carryover power play had ended. Sophomore Ryan Tierney tipped in a pass off the right wing wall from Zach Blanch, touching it to the far post and beyond the reach of Jake Beaton to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead on their first shot of the period.

Falmouth (9-5-5) also scored on its first shot of the third period, nearly five minutes later. At the five-minute mark exactly, Ghelfi one-timed a feed by Trevor Theroux to the far post, through a screen, to knot things up at one aside. Theroux set things up with a takeaway at the blue line and beautiful no-look feed to Ghelfi in the slot, who timed his blast with the puck’s arrival perfectly. The shot whistled by the glove of John Richard and tied the score.

With just 4:22 to go Ghelfi struck again, this time with a power play goal. The team’s top scorer, got his second of the night, and 18th of the year, on a slap shot from the top of the left wing circle that ran caught a piece of Richard’s leg pads and barreled through to the rear of the cage to give Falmouth the lead, 2-1. Andrew Parkinson and Cyrus Wickersham assisted as the Clippers showed great patience setting up the goal before the senior unloaded.

AC (9-6-4) had chances late to knot the score again, but failed to do so. Tierney’s bid for a second, with 2:45 to play, came from the low slot, but missed the net wide to the right. Seconds later Brendon O’Connell let one rip from nearly the same spot, and hit the outside of the pipe.

The game was fast-paced, with up-and-down action over the first two periods, but neither team accumulated a lot of quality scoring chances. Falmouth outshot AC 6-5 in the first period, and 8-5 in the second. During the second period, the Clippers started to take the game to the Cougars with authority, but could not sneak one past Richard.

“The first five minutes of the game, we weathered the storm. They didn’t have a lot of shots, but they had a territorial advantage, but after that we took it to them, all the way through,” Ferreira said.

Arlington Catholic head coach Dan Shine said that Falmouth did an effective job of clogging up the ice and taking away the passing lanes all evening. AC did its best to try to open the ice up, but couldn’t find the angles to exploit.

“Give them credit, they played well,” Shine said. “They were able to play a style of play where they waited for their opportunities and they cashed in on those opportunities. I give them credit, that’s a well-coached team. It was a pretty exciting hockey game, good players on both sides of the rink, the goalies on both ends played pretty well. They’re well-coached, and they took it to us.”

Falmouth advances to the winner’s bracket where they will see another public school that scored an upset on Saturday night, Waltham, which was a 1-0 winner over Archbishop Williams. AC meets their Catholic Central rival from Archies. They are 0-1-1 against the Bishops this season.

Recap: No. 5 Austin Prep 4, No. 6 Hingham 3

February, 16, 2013

FALMOUTH, Mass. -- No. 5 Austin Prep skated a near-perfect first period against No. 6 Hingham, but it still was almost not enough for the young Cougars.

Hingham scored three times in the third period, but Austin Prep held on to the 4-3 victory in one of four quarterfinals in the Cape Cod Classic at the Falmouth Ice Arena.

The Cougars (11-1-6) needed bookend goals from freshman Jake McKenelley to hold on in the final 6:34 of regulation in an all-important battle of top Division 1 squads looking to impress the Super 8 voters at the end of the season.

“I told them I don’t want to be good in the beginning but I want to be good in the end,” Austin Prep head coach Louis Finocchiaro said. “I want to be mature at the end, I want to be disciplined at the end, but our puck possession was good in the defensive zone, our forecheck was good and we got into the body, we got shots off the cycle.”

The game looked well in hand in the first 30 minutes of play as George Sennott set up Andrew Cross to get Austin Prep on the board at 2:29 of the first period. McKenelley scored his first of two tallies moments later on perfect end-to-end defensive passing that picked up assists for Ryan McDonough and Bob Carpenter and handed the Cougars a quick 2-0 lead after one period.

More of the same in the second as the pesky Sennott set up off the right post just inside the slot and wristed home a rebound from a Brendan Leach slapper off the boards behind the net as Sennott’s stick could not have been in a better place at a better time.

John Grenier was playing well in net for Hingham (12-6-1), including stoning McKenelley on a breakaway with a pretty glove save in the second that would have given the Cougars a 4-0 lead with five minutes to go in the period. But Austin Prep held a 15-8 shot advantage and a 3-0 lead after the first two periods of play.

“We took that next step as in the past we would have given that up and ended up in a tie, but we finished, and we need to build off of that,” Finocchiaro said. “Hingham has a lot of experience, they are well coached, and believe me they are not going anywhere and they will be here for the third period and we will have to battle.”

Finocchiaro was right as Hingham drew their forwards towards the net and pulled their defense up right off the opening third-period face-off and the aggressive play paid dividends.

Only 50 seconds into the first shift, Sam D’Antuono found the back of the net for Hingham’s first goal of the game. The goal was nothing pretty but McKennelly answered for Austin Prep with a carbon-copy goal of his first tally --with assists from McDonough and Carpenter again -- to push the lead back to three goals at the 7:08 mark of the third.

“Ryan [McDonough] gave me a really good pass and I could have hit him back door too but [the defense] kind of went off but it was a really nice pass,” McKenelley said.

The up-front pressure from Hingham was a little too late, but John Carlson and Craig Hildreth would score goals 24 seconds apart to cut the Harbormen deficit to one, 4-3, as plenty of time remained with 6:24 left in regulation.

“Going into the third, we talked a lot about playing desperate because we were disappointed in the first two periods and came out a desperate team,” Hingham head coach Tony Messina said. “We showed signs in the first two [periods] but just not consistent enough and it’s been the story all year long. We needed three full periods today and we haven’t done that in any of the big games we have had.”

So was it No. 6 Hingham coming up short with No. 5 Austin Prep playing not to lose or did the Cougars have the Harbormen figured out just long enough?

“We played phenomenal in the first and second and in the third? We are young and that’s a natural thing to happen,” Finocchiaro said. “It’s something I am expecting but you know what – we finished tonight and that’s a learning process for our team.”

Freshman defenseman Luke McInnis showcased his skills up front and at the blue line with not much to show for it in the box score, but Messina knows he has a gem on defense for a few more seasons.

Luke is the son of former NHL-er and Boston College Hall of Famer Marty McInnis and Melissa Hug, who also starred on the lacrosse field for Boston College.

"[McInnis] is all worried that he hasn't scored a goal all season even though he's been on the Number-One power play unit from the start of the season, but he's proving to be a major asset for us," Messina said. "His mother was a great college athlete and he sure has his father's genes on the ice."

Super 8 tournament projection (Version 1.0)

February, 15, 2013
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.

Recap: No. 5 Austin Prep 4, No. 9 Archies 4

February, 14, 2013
STONEHAM, Mass. -- There was no difference between No. 5 Austin Prep and No. 9 Archbishop Williams in their regular season meetings, skating to a pair of ties.

However, Wednesday night’s 4-4 draw between the teams at the Stoneham Arena was enough to net the Bishops their first Catholic Central Large crown since a share of the title in 2009-10.

It was all there for Archies (11-2-4, 7-0-3), which held a 4-1 lead early in the third period. But the Cougars (9-1-6, 6-0-4) came alive in the third period, scoring three goals in a span of two minutes, 25 seconds to pull into a tie.

“You have to be happy that you won the league, but it’s very disappointing,” Bishops head coach Derackk Curtis said.

He added, “Hopefully, we learn from it. You can’t get caught up in it.”

The teams traded goals in the first period (Nolan Vesey for AP and Mike Jessman for Archies), but the Bishops broke loose in the second. Archies claimed its first lead of the game at 2:22 of the second with a power-goal at Jake Reardon tipped home Kyle Leonard’s point shot. Ryan Dunn padded the Bishops’ lead with 22 seconds remaining in the period with Reardon picking up his second point of the game on the assist.

“In the second period, we got back to doing what we do well – taking the body, getting pucks in deep and cycling it,” Curtis said. “I though we carried the play.”

Archies was off to fast start in the third as well with Mike Davis stuffing a shot in shortside on a broken play 1:08 into the period.

AP took over from there. Just 36 seconds later, senior captain Frankie Candelino put the Cougars on the comeback trail and Jake McKenelley brought AP within a goal 24 seconds later.

George Sennott scored the equalizer with 10:52 remaining on a beautiful feed from Vesey (2 points) on the power play.

While the Cougars ultimately couldn’t find the go-ahead and fell short of the league title, all wasn’t lost.

“I liked our effort in that there was no quit and we came back,” AP head coach Louis Finocchiaro said.

Finocchiaro admitted he’d considered pulling goaltender Elijah Harris in the game’s waning moments, searching for the go-ahead goal. But he was content to take the point and take his chances that his team’s resume to date will be enough to gain entry to the upcoming Super 8 tournament.

“We’ll take the point,” Finocchiaro said. “We have a very strong strength of schedule if that comes into effect when they look at us. …

“We have to finish. We have some games in front of us.”

And with that, there’s also the possibility that the Bishops and Cougars could cross paths for the third time this season in next week’s crucial Cape Cod Classic in Falmouth. Both teams will play in the 8-team tournament which features six Top 25 teams and five teams featured on the Super 8 Watch List.

Archies opens the tournament with Waltham in a 5 p.m. faceoff on Saturday, while AP skates with Hingham in a potential Super 8 preview matchup at 3 p.m.

Recap: No. 1 Cathedral 3, No. 6 Hingham 1

February, 3, 2013

HINGHAM, Mass. -- With all the purple and red in attendance one could have confused yesterday’s game between top-ranked Springfield Cathedral and Hingham for the Super Bowl.

Make no mistake, for the overflow crowd at Pilgrim Arena on Saturday, it was much more important.

After a scoreless first two periods, the No. 1 Panthers broke through and were able to hold on and win a physical 3-1 game over the host Harbormen and solidify their spot as the best team in the state.

“Hingham is a storied powerhouse, [and] year after year we know they’ll be there in Super 8,” Cathedral head coach Brian Foley said. “It was going to be a defensive battle, and we were lucky to get a few goals there.”

The first 30 minutes were controlled by the Harbormen who pressed the tempo offensively and brought the crowd into the game with a series of thundering hits. Justin Ryder, Sam D’Antuono, and the Hingham attack buzzed around the ice, especially in the first period, but were unable to finish several golden chances.

Cathedral sophomore Peter Crinella finally broke the stalemate when he stuffed home a rebound 37 seconds into the third.

“Pete’s a goal scorer,” Foley said. “He got some nice rebounds, charged the net, and luckily beat the goalie. Big way to start to the third period.”

Fellow sophomore Nick Chaoush scored the eventual game-winner midway through the third on a breakaway.

Hingham head coach Tony Messina was able to sum up his opinion of the game in one word.

“Disappointed,” Messina said. “We had a good game going into the third, and having the game at home, I expected our team to come out on top. I told the guys we had our chance but we didn’t step up to the moment.”

The game went flying off the rails in the final minutes of the game. D’Antuono put the Harbormen (11-5-1) on the board with a power play goal with just under four minutes left.

The pace ratcheted up and came to a head a few minutes later when a near-fight broke out after a scrum in front of Cathedral goalie John Liquori. Gloves, sticks, and emotion littered the ice and by the time the snow settled each team had two players in the box. Hingham lost one of their biggest weapons in junior Matt Brazel for the remainder of the game, and Cathedral (13-0-2) had to finish the game the bulk of the game with three defensemen.

“[It] kind of threw us off with Brazel in the box for the last three minutes,” Messina said. “Very uncharacteristic of him.”

“We had three defensemen there and we were wondering who would go out, but luckily the younger guys stepped up on D to finish off that kill,” Foley said. “That was key for us.”

Johnny Leonard added an empty-netter late to seal it.

Liquori turned aside 19 Hingham shots and shined brightest during the extended penalty kill in the third.

“I’ve been waiting for these big games to come and I was ready,” Liquori said. “It was fun, nervewracking towards the end. That’s when we stepped it up.”

Liqouri gave credit to the blue liners in front of him, who kept lanes clogged and pucks in front of him.

“It’s rough, but my defense is great,” Liquori said. “They make it that much easier.”

Despite letting a big one get away from them, the Harbormen won’t have much time to stew over the loss as their schedule gets harder down the stretch.

The next eight days includes a trip to play a talented Marshfield squad followed by a visit from Winchester. The Harbormen finish the season at the Cape Cod Classic where they’ll open against Austin Prep in a game that will have major Super 8 implications.

Messina was blunt about the stretch run.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” Messina said. “Every game’s going to be just like that so get used to it.”

Final Super 8 field projection and mixtape

February, 24, 2012
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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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."


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:

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:

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."

Cape Cod Classic: BC High claims title

February, 23, 2012
FALMOUTH, Mass. -- BC High found itself in the championship game of The Boathouse at Pier 37/Black Dog Cape Cod Classic Thursday without having actually won a game in the tournament. The Eagles advanced with shootout wins over Hingham and Austin Prep earlier in the week, but officially both of those games count as ties in the standings.

As Eagles head coach John Flaherty entered the building for the final night of boys’ high school hockey at the Falmouth Ice Arena (a new rink opens in town later this year) he said he was asked by a rink employee if she was going to get to see another shootout.

“I hope not,” he said with a laugh.

Flaherty got his wish as BC High warmed up for their impending trip to the Super 8 last night by squaring off against a team that was fighting for its playoff life, Archbishop Williams. Despite the Bishops needing to secure at least a tie against the Eagles to qualify for the state tournament, the Eagles prevailed 2-1 -- in regulation. The loss denied the Bishops a chance to play in the postseason as they finished at 8-9-3 for the year.

BC High senior assistant captain Bartley “Moe” Regan scored a pair of third period goals, one just after a power play expired and then another with the man-advantage, to power his team to the win as the fourth-ranked Eagles improved to 10-5-5.

Regan was just happy to be back on the ice in the third period after getting a bit of a scare earlier in the game when an errant stick caught him up under the chin and in the area of his Adam’s Apple. The tall forward said that he suffered a similar injury earlier in the season, one of a worse variety that had him thinking he had just died. That previous scare made dealing with this shot a tad easier as he shook things off and was back on the ice in minutes.

“I’m sure he’s a lot happier about the two goals than the scratch on his neck,” Flaherty joked after the game.

Two periods later he was the one delivering the pain to the Bishops, on the scoreboard. Just as Mike Sorenti was exiting the box for a hooking violation the Eagles’ Brian Furey let a bomb fly from the right point that Regan tipped on goal. Bishops keeper Joe Vinay (37 saves), who kept his team in the game with a number of highlight reel stops, halted the tip but couldn’t get a piece of the quick backhander that Regan flung at the net. The goal gave BC High a 1-0 lead at 3:01 of the third period.

“The puck was just coming out and I hit it with my stick and I was falling down. I didn’t even see it go in, but I heard everyone start cheering and I was pumped,” Regan said.

Regan struck again in similar fashion for a power play goal at 5:08 to double the lead on a goal he did see go in the net. Again Furey fired one on that Vinay stopped, but Regan cleaned things up in front and gave his team some breathing room.

Archies head coach Derackk Curtis said that he was perplexed by penalties that preceded the two Eagles’ tallies.

“It’s frustrating, it’s really frustrating, because they don’t call anything all game and then in the third period they’re call all these phantom calls…I can’t figure it out,” Curtis said. “Going into the third period, with 15 minutes to play, anything can happen and then to have back-to-back penalties suck the life out of you, it’s frustrating for the kids ya know. These kids played really hard.”

And they continued to play hard after falling behind. The Bishops sliced the Eagles’ lead in half just a little over two minutes later with their own power play goal off the stick of freshman forward Tyler Bradford. The rookie pounced on a rebound of a Mike Jessman shot to cut the deficit to 2-1 with a half period left to go.

But that would be the only mistake that BC High’s steady netminder Peter Cronin made. Cronin stopped the other 12 shots that reached him in the game and breathed sigh of relief when a Jessman bid from the doorstep with three minutes to go sailed a bit high. The Bishops got Vinay off the ice for an extra attacker inside the last minute, but couldn’t get a shot through to Cronin in the crunch.

The keeper said that the Eagles are happy to close out the season strongly. “We wanted to come out here and get (win) number 10. We didn’t want to let another point get away and we got two today thanks to a good effort from [Bartley] Regan and we beat a good team today,” Cronin said.

And going forward the competition will only get tougher. The Eagles believe that they’re ready.

“The way we’re playing right now, I feel really confident. Everyone’s working real hard and everyone’s playing for the team and that’s what you have to do to win,” Regan said.

Cronin echoed those thoughts. “We’re going to have to come out there with intensity, and the will to win, and I think we’ll be okay.”

In the night’s other game, the Falmouth played the last ever boys’ varsity game at the Falmouth Ice Arena and closed up shop happily with a 2-1 win over Duxbury.

The game featured an on-ice ceremony celebrating Falmouth’s 1979 state championship team with 16 of the 19 players on the roster from that year, and one of the assistant coaches, lining up to recreated their team photograph that hangs in the lobby of the building.

Goalie Petey Negri, who took over the starting goaltender position a month ago, had his best game of the season. Negri made 22 saves in the victory, including a diving stab to rob Cam Daly in the third period of the game.

“That’s what we’ve been looking for from Petey,” Clippers head coach Buddy Ferreira said. “That was the game right there. If he doesn’t make that one it’s 1-1, but he came up big."

Also coming up big was junior blue-liner Zack Zaino, who Ferreira said was one of the best players on the ice. Zaino scored on a first period wrist shot to give the Clippers a 1-0 lead. That lead held for most of the night until things got really exciting in the final three minutes.

With 3:01 to go junior forward Durham Ghelfi popped his own rebound behind Dragons goalie Conor Charland to give Falmouth some breathing room. The goal was the result of a nice back check by Storm Fotiu, who stole the puck from Duxbury as they tried to clear the zone and centered to Ghelfi, who crashed the net. The junior’s initial bid was stopped, but he poked the second try through the five-hole.

Duxbury, which outshot Falmouth 22-12 over the last two periods after FHS held a 10-1 advantage in the first, battled back to give themselves a chance seconds later. Greg Williams let one fly off the right wing boards that sailed through traffic and by Negri at 12:38 of the third.

That would be it for the Dragons though as the 21st-ranked Clippers improved to 12-5-5 for the year. Duxbury is now 9-9-4, and both teams now wait to see what the state tournament has in store for them.