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Cathedral takes boys' hockey preseason No. 1

12/16/2014

For the first time in the history of ESPN Boston's MIAA boys' hockey Top 25 poll, Springfield Cathedral begins the season at No. 1.

The Panthers host six Division 1 college recruits on their roster to begin the year, but start the year with a pair of Catholic Conference powers in BC High (No. 2) and four-time defending Super 8 champion Malden Catholic (No. 3) on their tail.

For a look at the complete preseason poll, click HERE.

Here's more on how our first poll of the year breaks down:

Super 8 takes shape?: Projecting out a way-too-early field of 10 for the Super 8 at the top end of our preseason poll, there's a bit of a different look from last year's tournament field.

The old stalwarts are included, with Central Catholic, Catholic Memorial, Xaverian and Austin Prep all represented in the top 10. However, there could be a bitter race developing in the Catholic Central Large, with both Arlington Catholic and St. Mary's (Lynn) debuting in the top 10. Our top 10 also features one public school side with Reading checking in at No. 6.

Looking further down the poll, all of last year's field of 10 teams make the initial cut. Braintree (No. 11), Duxbury (14) and Archbishop Williams (15) remain in the Top 25 to start the year. We wouldn't be surprised at all to see the Wamps make another run at the state's premiere tournament.

CCL bears watching: As we just alluded to, the key to the Super 8 this year could be the Catholic Central Large race. Aside from the Catholic Conference, (which finds all of its members in our opening poll), the CCL checks in with the second highest number of member teams in the poll with four. We could be in for a real treat watching AC, St. Mary's and the incumbent AP vie for the league crown, and don't forget about Archies.

It's highly feasible that the league will carry up to three Super 8 berths this year, so the drama will be aplenty.

Handicapping the statewide races: Looking beyond the Division 1 ranks, Tewksbury ranks as the highest Division 2 squad at No. 21. The Redmen should be view as a prohibitive favorite to win the state crown after losing to eventual champion Beverly in last year's D2 North final. In the South region, Canton checks in at No. 25, leading a strong contingent of Hockomock League schools (Franklin and Oliver Ames) in the Last 10 Out section of the poll.

Defending Division 3 state champion Shrewsbury also cracks the poll at No. 24. The Colonials could be primed for a repeat performance with a high-flying offense led by brothers Dan and Jack Quinlivan -- both of whom will challenge for the statewide scoring title this season.