Lost in the fuss of Super Bowl mania this weekend, the Massachusetts High School Hockey Coaches Association unveiled its Super 8 Watch List.
It’s a comprehensive list, with 27 teams, including four Division 2 squads (Boston Latin, Canton, Franklin and Wilmington), gaining mention.
While the next three weeks play out to reveal who the final 10 teams will be, here’s a crack at our Super 8 field while gazing into a crystal ball, predicting how the teams will stack up a few weeks before the committee makes its ultimate decision.
(Teams are ranked in order of ‘Power Seeding’ so as to determine the field of six, plus four play-in teams, records are as of time of publication)
1. Malden Catholic (10-1-2)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 1
Why they’re in: The Lancers have been No. 1 wire to wire thus far in our poll and their lone loss comes to an out-of-state opponent (Delbarton of N.J.). As the presumed Catholic Conference champions, there’s no reason why MC will not take the top seed in the state’s biggest tournament.
Why they might not be in: Um, seriously?
2. St. Mary’s of Lynn (14-1-2)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 2
Why they’re in: The Spartans are scheduled to be Catholic Central Large champions, and we feel that, in itself, should always gain entry into the Super 8.
Why they’re in this spot: We hate to look too much into individual games, but the Spartans are one of just two teams (the other being BC High) to take the Lancers to the limit and salvage a point against the No. 1 team.
3. Hingham (12-2-1)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 4
Why they’re in: Playing one of the toughest schedules in the state as an independent, the Harbormen are takers of the best challenges from the state’s best, night after night. Not bad considering a young team had even head coach Tony Messina wondering what he had entering this season.
Why they’re in this spot: Pound for pound the toughest schedule in the state of any non-Catholic Conference team.
4. St. John’s Prep (10-5-0)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 3
Why they’re in: Even though they’re behind BC High in the Catholic Conference standings, still feel their body of work constitutes them as the second Catholic Conference team to gain entry.
Why they’re in this spot: We slot them after the Harbormen, despite taking a 2-1 win early in the season, because of their four league losses, including a real head-scratcher against Xaverian.
5. BC High (9-3-3)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 5
Why they’re in: Shoo-ins as presumed second-place finisher in the Catholic Conference.
Why they’re in this spot: Eagles are 3-1-2 in their last six, and while it’s nothing to slouch at, they haven’t been playing their best hockey of the season when other teams are peaking.
6. Central Catholic (9-2-3)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 7
Why they’re in: We’re going to go all Wolf Blitzer and project the DCL/MVC race for the Raiders, despite trailing Westford Academy by a point (Central has games in hand). That, combined with their aggressive out-of-conference scheduling has them back in a top six slot.
Why they’re in this spot: The formula presented above is enough to give the Raiders the final guaranteed position.
THE FINAL FOUR (PLAY-IN TEAMS)
7. Catholic Memorial (6-6-1)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 6
Why they’re in: The Knights split their remaining Catholic Conference games against Prep and MC (we won’t tell you which game they win, however) and take care of the balance of their schedule to qualify. The committee slots the Knights here to make them sweat through a play-in game because of their near .500 record.
Why they might not be in: Simply put, as last year, the Knights fail to qualify for ANY tournament.
8. Burlington (10-1-3)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 10
Why they’re in: The Red Devils wrap up the Middlesex League’s small division and survive any hiccups down the stretch. Given their convincing wins over Woburn, they go on to represent the league over any other squad from the Middlesex (read: Woburn).
Why they might not be in: They cough up few more points, like the 2-2 tie against Melrose on Saturday, and the bubble is burst.
9. Springfield Cathedral (7-4-4)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 8
Why they’re in: Another squad, akin to Hingham, that takes on all comers. Our crystal ball sees the Panthers coming up with some big points in their host tournament in two weeks, solidifying their resume.
Why they might not be in: Given that they came away with two ties against Catholic West rival St. John’s of Shrewsbury, it might be hard to pick the Panthers over the Pioneers and could create a wash.
10. Norwood (12-2-4)
Current ESPN Boston Top 25 ranking: 12
Why they’re in: Consider us among the believers after witnessing the Mustangs’ methodical win over perennial Bay State Super 8 entrant Needham. Coupled with Norwood’s earlier win over Braintree (also listed on the Association’s Watch List), hard to argue it should be anyone but the Mustangs representing the Bay State.
Why they might not be in: Is the out-of-conference schedule (a 2-0 L to Hingham and 6-0 win over Archbishop Williams) enough?