FRANKLIN, Mass. – With the field set for the Super 8 tournament, here are a couple lingering thoughts from a somewhat speedy deliberation at the MIAA headquarters Saturday morning:
Somewhat according to script: An interesting subplot to the Super 8 selection process is how the tournament committee processes the recommendations handed on from the earlier Massachusetts State Hockey Coaches Association (MSHCA).
While there is recent precedent for the committee flip-flopping selections from the Top 10 recommendations, this year, the committee was in lockstep. After a lengthy deliberation between Catholic Memorial and St. Mary’s of Lynn during the MSHCA meeting, the Knights earned the 10th spot in the nominations and the committee selection.
The Spartans will start the Division 1 North tournament among its top seeds and a threat for the state championship title.
Interestingly, with the Knights taking the 10th and final play-in game spot, CM will have a rematch from their season-ending loss to Braintee (3-0) on Friday.
Publics have its piece of the pie: Speaking of those aforementioned Wamps, who ostensibly punched their ticket on the final day of the season at Walter Brown, they were among two of the hottest teams in the state – both of which happened to be public schools.
After questioning whether the Super 8 would be an all-Catholic affair for much of the year – myself included – Duxbury and Braintree played their way into the Top 10 in the final weeks of the season. Both teams left their best hockey for the final weeks, with the Dragons beating No. 1 seed BC High in the Buddy Ferreira Classic championship game, and the Wamps ending the regular season with a win over CM.
Duxbury slid into the No. 6 seed, assuring them Super 8 berth, while No. 7 seed Braintree faces their second straight tilt against CM in a play-in game, Monday (7:45 p.m.) at Stoneham Arena, before what is assured to be an overflow Braintree contingent.
“In the last five years or so, we’ve been in that 11-to-15 spot, or in the Top 20, but couldn’t make that last jump,” Wamps head coach Dave Fasano said. “Even though we started out of the gate slow, we made the run we had to make. Do we wish we could have had some game back early in the year? Yes, but what we did in the last two weeks shows we are a good team.”
The day was met with such optimism that a extemporaneous “viewing party” broke out at Fasano’s home – unbeknownst to the coach. When he left the meeting, his son sent pictures of Braintree’s team huddled around the living room television, watching the stream of Tweets from the meeting room from a connected computer feed.
For a group playing its best hockey at the right time of the year, Fasano was simply looking forward to getting back in the rink.
“The good thing is we’re playing next week,” he quipped.
Meanwhile, the Dragons have a few more days off before they begin their best-of-three, first-round series against No. 3 Springfield Cathedral.
“Our guys, they were just focused down the stretch,” Duxbury head coach John Blake said. “They wanted to play meaningful games. But I think our strength this year is that we’ve been able to focus on one game at a time, and we knew we had limited opportunities in our schedule where we needed to make some noise in big games. And our guys are battle-tested.”