December 29 – The long wait is over: MassNZ is finally putting out its first poll of the season! We decided to wait until after the Holiday Tournaments because it’s hard to get a great feel for how each team stacks up until they play other contenders and have a few games under their belts.
It should come as no surprise that the Frates Classic Champion BC High sticks firmly in our Number 1 spot. They are quick, opportunistic and skilled but nipping at their heels are MHL Cup Champions Framingham who pulled off an impressive third period comeback and shootout victory over a physically daunting and mature Xaverian team. Following them is Serino Christmas Classic Champion St. Mary’s Lynn: goaltender Sal Caruso didn’t give up a goal all weekend, which is a pretty solid winning formula. Rounding out the top five is Arlington who may have only played three games so far but their senior-laden roster should keep them in contention all year.
Next comes Braintree, a statewide dark horse to do some damage this season with good team speed and depth. We liked what we saw this weekend from Central Catholic – they are bigger, stronger and more locked into their system play than last season. Austin Prep may be young but they have lots of skill and veteran leadership to lead the way. Pope Francis probably plays the toughest schedule in all of Mass HS, they play fast and they can really move the puck and this next month will be critical for them. Rounding out the top 10 is St. John’s Prep, who played two solid games hosting the Frates Classic: they are tough, smart and responsible with the puck.
Checking in at 11 is Hingham who is once again anchored by a strong core of seniors (literally and metaphorically) but lost two tough games on the weekend. They are followed by Natick at 12: they beat Barnstable and then took a good Duxbury team to OT at the Island Creek Oyster Cup. Speaking of the Dragons, Duxbury jumps into the fray at 13, their goaltender Steve Pisani has been all-world in the first few games this season and the D core isn’t too shabby either. Rounding out the top 15 is Burlington who defeated a good Billerica team last night for yet another sledgehammer drop and Reading who has a nice mix of team speed and moxie along with a mix of veterans and underclassmen who can all contribute.
Unlike most polls: we like to keep our list to 15, but don’t worry…we also included a section below highlighting The Next Five: teams who just missed the cut. There is a great deal of season left and these are teams you will likely see jump up into our poll at some point if they remain on their current trajectory…
Editor’s Note: We took into account strength of schedule, wins against fellow Top 15 teams and this weekend’s Tournament record. We have personally scouted all but one of these Top 15 teams but we plan to cross the final squad off our list in the coming weeks…
- BC High 3-0-1 def Central Catholic, tie St. John’s Prep
- Framingham 4-0-2 def Pope Francis, tie Xaverian
- Xaverian 3-0-2 def Duxbury, tie Austin Prep, tie Framingham
- St. Mary’s Lynn 3-0-1 def Austin Prep
- Arlington 2-1-0
- Braintree 3-0-1
- Central Catholic 4-1-1 def Pope Francis
- Austin Prep 2-2-1 def Hingham, tie Xaverian
- Pope Francis 3-5-0 def Arlington
- St. John’s Prep 2-1-1 def Pope Francis, tie BC High
- Hingham 3-2-0 def St. John’s Prep
- Natick 3-0-1 tied Duxbury
- Duxbury 3-1-1 tied Natick
- Burlington 3-1-0 def Reading
- Reading 2-1-0
The Next Five:
- Walpole 4-0-1
- Woburn 2-0-0
- Bishop Fenwick 3-2-0
- Falmouth 4-2-0
- King Philip 4-1-0